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How to Get a Free Vending Machine

Every business in every industry can benefit from adding a vending machine to its building. Whether you choose to include Pepsi vending machines, a Coke machine, or some variety of food machines, employees will be a lot happier with the work environment. Plus, these machines can easily generate some extra income for businesses every week.


No matter the size of your business, you may be keen on acquiring a vending machine that is at least affordable, if not entirely free. Below, we’ll explore how to get a free vending machine, what financing options are available to help make vending machines more affordable, and where to find cost-effective machines.

Get a Free Vending Machine That Needs Refurbishing

A hand holding a light bulb in a daylight suggesting a hint

Before taking steps to get free stuff, you’ll have to be well-versed in the ins and outs of how they work. Most vending machines that you get for free will require some repairs and refurbishing—otherwise, they wouldn’t be free stuff. Konami code won't get them up and running so you need some knowledge. If you take this on as a DIY project, you’ll save money with the repairs and avoid the cost of service fees in the future by maintaining the equipment yourself.

There are a few ways to find a free drink or snack machine. Every vending machine company will rotate its units at some point. If you’re lucky and call at the right time, they may be able to hand an old machine over for free and you may get free stuff.

Vending machine warehouses are also an option if you need many machines: they may have extra stock or unclaimed products that are damaged, broken coin slot, have been easily hacked with fake paper coins or similar, and not taking pennies. A third solution is to contact vending companies that you have an established relationship with; you're not just relying on pure luck and they may be willing to give you an outdated machine that takes dimes for free.

Let’s explore these options in detail.

Cold Call Vending Companies

If you’ve never had the need to hunt for free item before, you may not know where to start looking for a free machine. After all, they aren’t the most common products for the general public to own. One of the best ways to find a free snack or drink machine is by cold-calling vending companies. With some persistence, this trick works.

Although calling a business and asking for free items is not the most intuitive solution, it is also not as unwarranted as it sounds. Vending companies commonly hand off free machines to other vendors when they don’t want to go through the hassle of selling it or fixing it themselves. They may be happy to find someone interested in taking one of those "coca cola machines" off their hands.

You will need to be prepared for disappointment when you go in this direction, but with persistence and a little bit of pure luck, you’ll be given a vending machine for free that will only require a touch of refurbishing to make it functional. Then, you’ll be able to satisfy your customers and employees and earn money at the same time.

Visit Vending Machine Warehouses

Cold calling may not be your style, especially knowing you're actually asking for free stuff—that is perfectly understandable. Oftentimes, looking at a vending machine in person before accepting it is necessary in order to be certain that its refurbishing needs are within your wheelhouse. If you’d need other options and prefer a more hands-on approach to getting a free drink or snack machine, visiting warehouses is the logical course of action.

Vending machine warehouses will likely have a number of vending machines and free stuff that need to be discarded, but no one has gotten around to it yet. You’ll also be able to find a variety of machines and free stuff in these places. Whether your business is suited to standard food and drink machines or bulk-style toy, candy, and gumball machines, a warehouse is a place to find them. When going to warehouses, just make sure you carry a packing tape and can transfer one of the older models they are willing to give away immediately.

Reach Out to Vending Companies You Have a Relationship With

If you’ve got a vending machine business running already for your employees and/or customers, it is likely that you have a relationship with the vending company that sold you your initial machines. It isn’t uncommon for these companies to reach out themselves trying to offload problematic machines in favor of newer models, but you can also take the initiative to reach out to them.

Networking with vending companies that already know you is one of the easiest ways to get free vending machines. That's why it's a good first step. It won’t take up as much of your time as cold calls or in-person visits to warehouses, and you are more likely to get a complete picture of the repair and refurbishing costs. This way, you’ll know whether the ‘free’ machine is worth the investment.

Although the machine itself will be free, you’ll have to put in some time and money to get it back in working order. Learning as much as you can about the inner workings of vending machines will ensure you have the special skills needed to minimize costs and maximize profits of the machine. These skills will also help you avoid service calls for problems when you insert money - like the insertion of fake coins or paper money, damaged coin slot. You’ll also know how to dislodge items stuck inside.

Find Affordable Financing Options

A young man with headphones on laptop searching for affordable financing options

If you are new to the vending machine industry, it can be daunting to either rent or finance a new machine and all of the servicing and maintenance each unit will require. It also may sound that finding free stuff is a hassle and there are too many ways to go about it. If you find yourself in a position to add vending options to your office building, store, or other establishment but aren’t sure how to afford the snack machines or soda machines you want, we have good news.

There are a number of ways to help your vending machine endeavor take off. For example, you can reach out to family, friends, and other people you know to assist with financing, as many entrepreneurs do, or you can investigate loans or grants for your vending machine.

Let’s explore these and other possibilities in more depth.

Request Financial Assistance from Family, Friends, & Potential Investors

One way, and the least strenuous one, is to acquire additional funding for the beginning of a vending machine business is having a conversation with friends, family members, and anyone else who knows you. This approach can go one of two ways: you can ask for a loan, or present it as an investment opportunity. Your wealthiest acquaintances may even help you out by funding the project with no strings attached.

The main reason that this low-key financing is beneficial is the trust that is already established. Your family and friends know you are trustworthy and will be quite likely to put their money where their mouth is if they are in a position to do so. It is also the norm for family loans to be interest-free, so you can take your time repaying that debt without any additional costs adding up. Just keep in mind that integrity is not free stuff, so it's needless to say that you should be extra responsible when indebted to your loved ones.

For family and friends that choose to become an investor rather than offering a loan, you can repay them with your profits or consider them a partner in the vending machine going forward. Receiving financial assistance from friends and families is the most ideal for owners of small businesses, as you’ll likely only be needing one or two machines and the purchase cost won’t be too high.

Maximize Affordability with Vending Machine Leasing

Many people are not aware that vending machines can be leased just like buildings and cars, but it is one of the safest ways to invest in a vending machine for your large or small business. You have the opportunity to negotiate the terms of the contract with the supplier, and at the end of the lease period, you can choose to return the vending machine or claim ownership for a small fee.

Leasing allows you to have full access to the vending machines while making regular payments that are affordable. This is the most ideal solution for businesses that may only need a vending machine for a short period of time, or would like to see how the investment pays off before fully committing to the purchase. Breaking up the cost of the machine into regular payments means it can be affordable for every business owner.

Take Advantage of Vending Machine Grants

Government funding in the form of grants is the most financially sound way to purchase vending machines for your business. Why? You won’t ever have to pay that money back as long as you meet the requirements. This means you could purchase a brand new, fully-functional vending machine for free: no repairs, refurbishing, or immediate maintenance required.

Choosing to pursue a vending machine grant does require some extra footwork, though. You’ll need to complete an application and wait for approval, and there is no guarantee of receiving the funding. However, if you do qualify for the grant, it can be used for all of your vending start-up costs in addition to the actual purchase of the machine.

Acquire a Loan to Assist with Startup Costs

Bank loans are one of the most common solutions for financing a new business endeavor, and they can be used for starting a vending machine business too, even if you are only purchasing a single machine for your office building, retail space, or other type of establishment.

Loans do come with a set of restrictions and an application process, but they are certainly easier to get than a government grant. As a result, this is a great backup option if you can’t get free machine from another source.

The requirements for getting a bank loan for your vending machines will usually involve having a certain credit score, business longevity of at least six months, and a revenue threshold for the business. These loans will also come with repayment terms and accumulating interest, but for an established business, they can be a very reliable option to get started in the vending machine industry.

Plus, having a successful experience with the first loan can help you qualify again for your next purchase or an entirely different business endeavor in the future.

Partner Up with a Third-Party for Financing

Third-party financing for the purchase of a vending machine (or multiple) may not be the most obvious choice, but this method is gaining traction in the industry. There are a number of third-party loan providers out there, including Klarna and Lendzi.

These third-party companies will typically offer a number of financing options to make the purchase of your vending machine(s) more affordable. This may take the form of a set number of installments that are interest free (typically payments will occur every two weeks), monthly payments of your choosing, or a pay in 30 days setup.

Working with a third-party will often require only a simple application process and perhaps a soft credit check, so you’ll be able to get your vending machine up and running more quickly. The variety of repayment options is beneficial for every business type, and you’ll be able to purchase any style of vending machine whether you can afford it on the spot or not.

Collaborate with a Vending Franchise

A handshake signaling a partnership

The structure of vending franchises will vary depending on location and brand, but they are a relatively risk-free way to enter the vending world. In most cases, you’ll pay a buy-in fee and then setup regular payments going forward; these payments can look like a flat monthly fee or a percentage of the profits.

Getting started with a vending machine franchise comes with a number of benefits, primarily the ready-made marketing, established supply chains, and loyal customer base. You will have to give up some of your profits or pay a regular fee for membership in the franchise, but this strategy lowers your costs and risks during start-up.

Plus, if you find that this system doesn’t quite work for you, you can always choose to leave the franchise, purchase your own vending machines with separate funding, and manage it yourself. Membership in the franchise will have given you a thorough understanding of vending machine ownership and the popularity in your vending location. It will help ensure you find success when you branch out on your own.

Find Cheap Vending Machines

If you aren’t interested in the hassle of financing for a brand new vending machine but you’re also struggling to find one for free, do not lose hope. There are a number of ways to find vending machines for sale that won’t break the bank.

A great local option is to browse Facebook Marketplace for vending machines—this also gives you opportunities to negotiate better deals and minimize costs. You're likely to find anything here - coke machine, soda and snack vending machine, , gumball machines, soda machines, etc. If you don’t mind waiting for shipping, eBay is another option for purchasing through a private seller. If you’d like to go in a more reputable direction, there are many vending machine resale companies that you can look into.

Let’s take a look at how each option works and what pros and cons are associated with each source.

Browse Facebook Marketplace for a Local Machine

Believe it or not, Facebook Marketplace is a great site for finding older vending machines that are cost-effective. The main benefit of shopping on this platform is your ability to negotiate; if any mechanical or aesthetic problems are disclosed on the listing, you can use them to argue for a lower price. Similarly, you could ask for delivery to get more value out of the purchase.

The main drawback of using Facebook Marketplace is the selection. This will mostly be determined by your location and willingness to travel, but unless you live in/near a big city with other vending locations around, you likely won’t see much of a variety. As a result, this method is the best for a business owner that can be flexible with their vending machine purchase.

Scope Out a Great Deal on eBay

Undeniably, eBay is one of the top buy and sell platforms for businesses and the general public alike. Shopping for a used vending machine on eBay will allow you to browse a wider selection and even have the vending machine shipped directly to your location.

The prices on eBay will vary depending on how much refurbishing took place before the unit was listed, and how new it is. It is also possible that you can find older models that haven’t yet been refurbished, and this may help lower purchase costs. There should be enough selection to search by brand name, such as Coca Cola or Pepsi, and type of machine (drinks, snacks, candy selection, etc.) and still have some options.

Purchase a Machine Through a Vending Resale Company

Vending resale companies are a great resource if you’re in need of an affordable machine. They specialize in acquiring discarded or inexpensive vending machines, repairing and refurbishing them, and selling them for a sustainable profit. There are numerous companies to choose from, and you can set any budget you’d like as the price will vary depending on the original condition and over all value of the machine.

Wrapping Up

For a business owner, there is really no reason not to supplement their establishment with soda or snack vending machines. This is especially true when you consider all of the options for acquiring older vending machines for free, the myriad of solutions available for lowering purchase costs of new machines, and the relative ease of locating inexpensive older models.

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