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How to buy a vending business in 2024

The cost, revenue, and profitability of starting a vending business, including how to get a loan to start a vending business

For many entrepreneurs, the idea of owning a vending business is an attractive proposition. Vending businesses can generate cash flow anywhere between $20,000 and $916,145 a year, with an average cash flow of around $104,897.78 annually.

Here are the details on the revenue and cost to acquire a vending business, plus how to purchase a vending business in 2024. And, we include the best financing options for funding your business.

How much does a vending business make?

The average vending business* has an annual net cash flow of $104,897.78. This equates to roughly $8,741.48 a month over a span of a year. However, the profitability of your vending business business comes down to its location, size, rent, wages and more.

Chart: Cash flow range of vending businesses currently listed for sale

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How to buy a vending business

  1. Find a vending business for sale. You can find vending businesses for sale locally or online. Online you can search "vending businesses for sale near me" to find a list of business or broker websites that lists vending businesses for sale. It's important to also take note of your finances by knowing how much you have saved towards the purchase of a new business, as well as how much you may need to borrow to buy the business.
  2. Figure out what the business is worth. Use various valuation methods to get a general idea of the fair market value of the business you're trying to buy to make sure you're getting a good deal.
  3. Do your due diligence on owning and operating a vending business. You'll want to weigh the pros and cons before taking the jump. Consider important factors that can affect the profitability of the business you're buying such as location, equipment, utilities and maintenance.
  4. Get a business loan and make an offer. Unless you have a lot of cash on hand, you'll need a business loan to finance the purchase of a vending business. Check out our top picks of lenders for a vending business business loan. Once you're ready to buy, contact and negotiate with the seller or agent of the business and finalize your offer. It may be helpful to have a lawyer look over any negotiations and final contracts.

Our top picks for a vending business business loan

Highly-rated

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  • Required time in business: 1+ years
  • Required annual revenue: $50k+
  • Min credit score: 525+

Best for small businesses

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  • Required time in business: 6 months
  • Required monthly revenue: $20k
  • Min credit score: 550

Good for online businesses

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  • Required time in business: 6+ months
  • Required annual revenue: $60,000+
  • Min credit score: 550+

Cost of buying vending businesses

The average vending business for sale costs $184,138.57*. Although prices vary widely depending on the location, the age of equipment and whether you're purchasing real estate as part of the deal. Many are listed well below the average price, and some are much higher than the average price, especially in urban locations.

With the average annual cash flow of a vending business at $104,898, you can expect to make back your investment in roughly 1.76 years - this translates roughly to a 56.97% APY.

Chart: Cost of vending businesses available for sale

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Cost, revenue and cash flow of a vending business

The average price-to-cash flow (P/CF) ratio of a vending business business is 1.76. The P/CF ratio measures how much cash a company generates relative to its price. You might've heard of the term price-to-earning ratio (P/E ratio) before, which is a more commonly known ratio. Essentially, this measures how much you are paying for each dollar of the company's earnings.

The average operating cash flow margin of a vending business business is 0.21. The operating cash flow margin can be calculated by dividing operating cash flow by revenue. The operating cash flow margin reveals how effectively a company converts its sales to cash.

The average price-to-sales (P/S) ratio of a vending business business is 273%. The P/S ratio measures the revenue of the business divided by the cost, which indicates the percentage of the revenue you are paying for the company. Typically the lower the percentage, the better. However, it's best to look at a company's P/S ratio in comparison to the P/S ratios of similar companies in the same industry.

Chart: Cost, revenue, and cash flow breakdown of the lowest priced vending businesses currently listed for sale

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Chart: Cost, revenue, and cash flow breakdown of the highest priced vending businesses currently listed for sale

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Steps to buying a vending business

Buying this type of business involves finding one for sale, running the numbers and getting the right financing.

1. Search business listings

Start your search by Googling "vending businesses for sale near me." This brings up a list of business or broker websites with this type of business for sale in your area. From there, you can search listings and contact the seller or agent to get more information. Loopnet.com, Bizbuysell.com and us.businessesforsale.com are also good places to start your search.

2. Determine what the business is worth

Determining what a business is worth is both an art and a science. While this is by no means a complete list of the valuation methods available, you can get a general idea of the fair market value of a business with these calculations.

  1. Times revenue method. This is calculated by taking the revenue generated by a business over a certain period times a multiplier. The multiplier depends on the industry. For example, a retail company may be valued at 2.45x revenue, while a restaurant may be valued at 2.12x revenue.
  2. Liquidation value. This value is calculated by adding up everything a business owns, including real estate, equipment and inventory, and then subtracting the company's liabilities and debts. This can give you a rough estimate of what a business is worth, although it doesn't take into account future earnings.
  3. Discounted cash flow method. This calculation is based on projections of the future cash flows of a business, then discounts them to today based on inflation. It's a complex calculation best determined by using an NPV calculator.

Always consult with a qualified financial advisor if you have questions. In particular, look for a professional with the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) designation, which means they specialize in business valuation.

3. Do your due diligence

In addition to understanding what a particular business is worth, it's important to take into account the pros and cons before signing on the dotted line.

Here's a list of the top factors to consider:

  • Location. The most successful businesses are located in areas with a lot of retail stores and traffic. However, consider the type of customers you foresee frequenting your establishment and their specific needs.
  • Equipment. If your business requires special equipment, new equipment is more expensive upfront but can bolster your bottom line with reduced energy costs, less maintenance and more customers through the door.
  • Competition. Consider the local competition and what sets your business offering apart.
  • Utilities. If your business relies heavily on electricity, gas, water, trash and sewage services, you'll want to analyze the availability of these services and their costs carefully.
  • Insurance. This is a must-have for any public-facing business. You'll want to make sure you have sufficient coverage to pay for a range of unforeseen circumstances.
  • Maintenance. Who will do the repairs, mop the floors or answer the phone? While this business can be a part-time operation, no business is maintenance-free.
  • Security. Depending on the location, your business may require extra security features, like cameras.

As with any large business purchase, be sure to educate yourself thoroughly about buying and running that type of business. Many online resources are available from experts who can offer in-depth guidance for your particular industry.

4. Get financing and make an offer

Business loans come in a wide range of flavors, but the most commonly used types for buying a new business or business assets include SBA loans, like the SBA 7(a), 504 and microloan lending programs, equipment loans or personal loans. These loans are offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders.

Online business loan marketplaces like Lendio, Lendzi and Businessloans.com can also be a good place to start your search. You'll want to compare multiple loan types across several lenders to find the best deal.

How to finance a vending business

Vending businesses can be financed with these options:

  • Personal finances. Cash from savings, an inheritance or from selling another business can be an ideal way to finance your purchase.
  • SBA loan programs. The SBA 7(a) loan program could potentially be used to purchase this type of business. To qualify, you need to have a 700+ score, a minimum 20% down payment and financial statements from the business of interest.
  • Personal loan. Because they don't have a time-in-business or revenue requirement, personal loans can be another way to finance your purchase, especially if you can get a competitive rate.
  • Equipment loan. Equipment loans can sometimes be used to finance this type of business equipment, depending on the business's eligibility. But it may be trickier to get an equipment loan if your business is a mostly cash business or considered a restricted business.

Tip: If you're going for an SBA loan to purchase your business, try to find a preferred SBA lender to help push your application through faster.

Steps to get a loan for a vending business

Here are the steps to apply for a business loan:

  1. Check your eligibility. This step involves checking your personal score and determining if you have any collateral to pledge if you choose a secured loan.
  2. Gather your documentation. These typically include bank statements, tax returns, the business's financial statements and a personal guarantee.
  3. Complete the application. Fill out the full application, upload documents or link your financial accounts and review the application for accuracy.
  4. Wait for approval and funding. Next, you need to wait for approval and funding. SBA loans can take weeks to months to process.

Where to buy a vending business

We've found vending businesses publicly listed for sale in the following states. Updated daily.

The annual cash flow of the vending businesses range from $20,000 to $916,145.

Chart: Cash flow of vending businesses that are currently listed for sale

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*Based on 259 vending business that are listed for sale from businessesforsale.com.

Sources

Compare business loan options for a vending business

Compare and find the right business loan for you.

1 - 5 of 5
Name Product Filter Values Min. Amount Max. Amount APR Requirements
Lendzi
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
Lendzi
$5,000
$2,000,000
Starting from 3.9%
525+ credit score, one year in business, at least $50,000 annual revenue
Compare lending options and get funded fast.
Lendio business loans
Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Lendio business loans
$1,000
$5,000,000
Starting at 3%
Operate business in US or Canada for 6 months or more, have a business bank account, minimum 500 personal credit score, around $8,000 in monthly revenue
Submit one simple application to potentially get offers from a network of over 75 legit business lenders.
Fundera business loans
Finder Rating: 4.9 / 5: ★★★★★
Fundera business loans
$2,500
$5,000,000
Varies based on lenders
$60,000+ of annual revenue, 550+ personal credit score, in business for 6+ months
Get connected with short-term funding, SBA loans, lines of credit and more.
Clearco
Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Clearco
$5,000
$1,800,000
6.50% to 19.00%
Eligible online business, average of $10,000 monthly revenue, 6 months of revenue, LLC or corporation.
Merchant cash advances for e-commerce and SaaS startups.
BusinessLoans.com
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5: ★★★★★
BusinessLoans.com
$5,000
$3,000,000
Varies by loan type and lender
Must have been in business between 1 to 2 years, have a minimum revenue of $75,000 to $250,000 and have a minimum credit score of 500 to 650.
Complete a three-minute form to see loans that fit your business’s needs. Compare offers without a hard credit check.
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