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Vending machines are a fixture in most offices. Even if you can't afford to operate a full-service cafeteria, vending machines offer employees a convenient way to snack or grab a quick meal without leaving the office.

Modern vending machines offer more than just candy bars and soda. You can opt for frozen breakfast sandwiches or dinners, healthier snacks like animal crackers or baked chips, ice cream products, or even fresh sandwiches that are delivered daily.

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Full-service vending machines are the most popular option because they are completely free. The machines are owned and operated entirely by the vendor. The vendor fills and restocks the machine, maintains it, collects the money and keeps the profits. You have some say in which items are stocked, but not complete control.

The downside to full-service machines, however, is that vendors usually require a minimum of 25 to 75 employees to install them. Otherwise, they won't turn a profit. Snack machines are less profitable than soda machines, so they tend to have higher minimums. Some vendors require you to install both.

If your company is too small for a full-service machine, you'll have to lease or buy one. The advantage is that you can choose the products and keep the profits, but don't plan on getting rich. Also keep in mind that with a lease, most vendors require you to buy the products from them - usually at an inflated price.

Vending Machine Lease Average Costs

Leasing a vending machine typically involves a monthly fee. Prices begin at around $50 per month and range upwards of $150 per month. Often, snack machines are slightly more expensive than soda machines.

In addition, you'll have to purchase enough products to keep the machines stocked. It's difficult to estimate the total cost of products because it depends entirely on what kind of products you choose and how often the machines are used.

Some leasing companies will require a down payment or security deposit of several hundred dollars; others will not. Some will throw in deals like free or discounted delivery and no payments for 90 days.

One thing to keep in mind when you're looking to lease is that a dealer will check your credit score. You don't have to have a stellar credit history, but it can't be horrible. And the lower your credit rating, the more you'll end up paying each month.

Purchasing a Vending Machine

If you prefer to have complete control of the vending machine and its operation, you can opt to buy the machine outright. This is a costly option, however. Most machines sell for anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000.

The advantage to buying a vending machine is that you can choose which products to purchase and where you purchase them. You can take advantage of wholesale prices to save money. However, don't count on the machine as any significant source of profit. And be prepared to cover maintenance costs yourself.

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