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The many benefits of a vending machine in your workplace

There are many benefits to buying a vending machine for your office or business with more and more office managers installing self-service vending machines for their staff. By having a vending machine in the office you are able to offer your staff a wide range of snacks and drinks from the typical chocolate and crisps offering in snack vending machines to cold drinks and coffee machines. There is also the option to offer things such as healthy snacks, sandwiches or even alcohol.

In this guide, we’ll explore the cost of a vending machine, and the various ways to finance it. We’ll also provide tips on what to consider and what not to forget.

So how much does a vending machine cost?

When deciding whether or not to invest in a vending machine for your office or workplace, one of the biggest considerations will be the financial outlay needed to buy a vending machine. The overall cost depends on a number of factors.

Vending machine size

The most obvious factor would be the size of the vending machine you choose. Smaller countertop vending machines will cost you considerably less than a larger floor-standing machine. The size of vending machine you need will depend on how many products you wish to offer and how many people your vending machine will be required to serve. A countertop machine may only set you back a few hundred pounds whereas floor-standing machines can go into the thousands.

What products to offer in the vending machine

Another factor that will impact the cost of your machine will be the products you wish to offer and the technology needed to supply these. Naturally, larger, higher-end vending machines that have features such as refrigerated units or sophistical dispensing systems will be more costly, with price tags of several thousand pounds, than smaller, lower-end vending machines that just offer the basics.

The way you buy your vending machine

A final thing to consider is the purchasing option you choose. There are four main ways you can choose to pay for the vending machine you decide to go with:

  • Purchase outright
  • Leasing
  • Renting
  • Free-on-loan

1. Buy a Vending Machine Outright

Buying a vending machine outright is the most straightforward way of purchasing a vending machine, a one-time payment and the machine is instantly an asset to your business. However, the ability to purchase outright will depend on the cash flow of your business and the amount you wish to spend on your office vending machine. If you want a more high-end, expensive solution, it may be more cost-effective to spread the cost of your vending machine over a lease period.

Another factor to consider when purchasing outright is the responsibility of maintaining and servicing the vending machine which falls directly onto you as the owner. With other purchase options such as leasing and renting, this responsibility may be solely or partly on the supplier depending on your lease/rent agreement. You will need to factor in the potential costs of service call-out and breakdown costs when purchasing a vending machine outright. You do not want to start an office riot by not being able to repair a broken machine, leaving your staff under-caffeinated and hungry. Choosing the right purchase option is critical, and will depend on your business type and available cash flow.

2. Lease a Vending Machine

If you cannot afford the initial outlay of buying one, then leasing a vending machine may be a better option for you. With this purchase option you usually have the possibility to own the machine when the lease comes to an end. Leasing agreements usually span over a 3-5 year period during which time the ownership of the vending machine remains with the supplier. This option allows you to spread the costs of the machine with manageable monthly payments. By choosing this option you are able to retain cash flow within your business for further investments. Lease payments may also be tax deductible unlike rental payments.

When entering a lease agreement with a vending machine supplier you will be required to sign a contract on terms of use and an outline of which servicing and maintenance packages are provided within your agreement. This often means that some or all of the costs of servicing and repairs of your vending machine during your lease are covered within the contract so you don’t have to worry so much about forking out large sums of money if something goes wrong.

When searching for a lease, make sure you compare a range of different quotes to make sure you get the right package for you. It can be hard to directly compare quotes due to the differences in services and packages available so be aware that the cheapest quote may not always be the best for you.

It’s worth noting that leasing tends to end up costing more than buying outright due to interest rates being applied. It is nearly always cheaper to purchase a vending machine upfront. Lease rates will often depend on credit rating and lease agreements are usually subject to a credit check. If your credit history isn’t great or you’re a new start-up, then leasing may not be the best option for you.

3. Rent a Vending Machine

Another option is rental. Renting a vending machine can be a good option if you only wish to have a machine in place for a short amount of time, maybe while you’re waiting for a full kitchen to be installed. It can also be a good option if you don’t have the capital to purchase outright or adequate credit history to enter into a lease agreement. Rental prices are usually charged weekly making them a small manageable amount each week from around £8 to about £20 per week plus VAT. Rental is usually available on the larger machine types which serve drinks and snacks. Smaller machines may only be available to buy outright.

Other advantages to renting is that most of the servicing and maintenance responsibilities fall on the supplier so you don’t have to worry about paying for any services or call outs. However, this will vary from supplier to supplier so make sure you check that this cost is covered.

A downside of renting is that there isn’t the option to own the vending machine so the money you spend on renting the machine is leaving the business. However, some of these costs may be claimed back from profits from sales of stock. Renting does, however, give you a level of flexibility to change your vending machine with ease if the needs of your business change or you decide to expand and see a bigger machine.

4. Free-on-loan Vending Machines

There is also the option to have a free vending machine installed and stocked in your business. These type of agreement is called a “free-on-loan” agreement whereby the supplier will install and stock your vending machine for ‘free’. We say ‘free vending machine’ cautiously because, as you probably suspected, there is a catch: any profits made through sales of products goes back to the supplier. This means that although the vending machine is free and doesn’t cost you anything, it also doesn’t make you anything either.

There are also a number of limitations involved with free vending machines such as a minimal amount of employees you have in order to ensure sales levels are met and the range of products you will be able to offer. We recommend carefully reading the terms of any free-on-loan agreements to make sure there are no hidden clauses that catch you out.

Free vending machines can work well in institutions such as education centres or public spaces, where the emphasis is more on customer experience and meeting needs rather than making a profit. Or, a free vending machine could work in an organisation where the appeal of convenience for drinks/snacks is an essential part of the overall proposition, e.g. shared workspaces.

Our top tips for buying a vending machine

*Consider all purchase options before deciding which is best for you. Leasing a vending machine can be complicated. Read our guide to how commercial coffee machine leases work to get an idea of what to look for.

*Think about your space. This may sound obvious but make sure you get a vending machine that fits within the environment you plan to place it.

*Carefully read any lease and rental contracts to make sure there are no hidden costs.

*Do some customer research within your workplace to make sure you are offering your staff the range of products they want.

*Shop around - Bibium will get you as many as four quotes from different suppliers - don’t be afraid to drive a bargain.


Other things to consider when getting a vending machine for your workplace

The cost of the consumables inside your vending machine

Most vending machine suppliers will sell you a unit model and then let you choose from a “menu” of consumables to offer, which in turn they will have bought from a wholesaler. This is where the vending machine distributors make the biggest margin, though depending on the deal you sign up for there will typically be a commercial arrangement where the business owner gets to keep a cut of the gross profit from the sales of the food/drink; a typical figure is 10-20%. Some vending machine suppliers will let you stock your own food and drink, meaning you get complete free reign to source the products (e.g. from a wholesaler yourself) and set the prices you charge, and keep all of the profits.

The cost of powering your vending machine

One cost that people tend to overlook is the price of keeping the vending machine running. Whenever it’s switched on it will need to be plugged in and will be consuming power for refrigeration, lighting and ePOS system. There are energy efficient models available, and depending on the size of your machine it’s worth talking to your supplier to get an estimate of the monthly running costs.

The cost of servicing your vending machine

The more complex the vending machine, the more expensive it can be to fix a problem when it goes wrong. Things to be aware of here include warranty length and coverage and any additional service coverage; some vending machines will require an annual service and it’s worth finding out what this costs and what typical faults/updates are and how much they cost to fix. Then, if you’re out of your warranty period or service isn’t covered as part of your lease/hiring plan, you’ll want to understand the cost of engineer call outs (particularly out-of-hours) and the expense around fixing the most common problems, should anything go wrong.

Necta Canto main image

The Necto Canto Hot and Cold Drinks Vending machine can offer up to 22 drinks including coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and soup. The coffee selection is quite sophisticated, offering lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas.

It also gives you the option of multiple cup sizes ranging from 7oz to 12oz.

The Necta Canto is also a cost-saver with a super energy-efficient design.

Necta Festival Main Image

You can use the Necta Festival to offer meals, sandwiches, and fruit in the unique rotating display -- up to 150 food items in total.

It can also be configured to serve cold drinks and full length baguettes up to 27cm in length.

The Necta Festival features an A+ energy rating as well, which will save you pennies and keep the earth happy.

Coffetek Neo commercial bean to cup coffee machine left side view black model

Stylish hot drinks machine with a full-size custom exterior. The Coffetek Neo can be set up to serve a variety of coffee, chocolate, and fresh-brew tea drinks to your colleagues and customers.

Fully configureable to accept contactless payment via a number of different systems, the Coffetek Neo only needs to sell a few drinks a day to turn a profit.

Crane Voce Media main image

The gorgeous touch screen on the Voce Media hot drinks machine presents a more premium aesthetic, which means you can charge 10% to 50% more for your drinks.

Your customers can buy serve coffee shop quality drinks at the touch of a button and can configure their specialty drinks into up to three different drink sizes. In total, you can present up to 66 different hot drink options.

It's ideal for busy environments, because the Voce Media's pour time is also significantly quicker than its nearest competitors.

Crane_BevMax_45_main image

The Bev Max 45 Cold Drinks Vending Machine is a workhorse that can do a number of jobs very well. It can hold up to 45 different cold drinks across its five rows, which gives you and your customers unrivalled selection.

You can top the Bev Max 45 up with 405 drinks per day, which means the vending machine can potentially generate over £1,000 per day without needing a refill.

What profits can be made from a vending machine?

Not only are vending machines are a great asset to your business by boosting staff morale, increasing productivity and being reasonable affordable, they can also make you money. Through the sales of snacks and drinks, you are able to offer staff a cheaper and more convenient way to getting their daily drink, coffee or snack whilst actually making money for your business. It’s a win win!

If you decide to buy your vending machine outright then profits can be made immediately with just the initial outlay for the first stock of products. Your vending machine will soon start paying for itself. However, if you choose to lease or rent your vending machine make sure you carefully read your contract to get the best agreement on profit. Many suppliers work on either a fixed income or on a commission basis. It will pay for shop around for the best deal.

There can be a decent profit to be made on a vending machine which can provide a well needed income boost to small businesses. The profit margin on chocolate and crisps in a snack vending machine can be around 30%-40% depending on how much you wish to charge your staff or customers. Some products are more profitable than others with coffee profit margins being as high as 70%. By offering a range of products you will be able to keep your staff happy by saving them time and money whilst bringing in a steady profit for your business. What is not to love?

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