PLAN OF ATTACK: Machines and Configurations

As a new vendor, you might be thinking: “Why should I use one head machines when a 4-way Vendesign or 8-select Uturn with multiple canisters will provide my patrons with more choices?” One fallacy many new vendors hold is that more product choices will result in more profits.


Experienced vendors can promptly recount having to discard candy from their machines because of spoilage. Back when I located my very first machine, this is exactly what happened. Placed in a small hotel lobby, I thought my brand new 4-way Vendesign was going to sell out every service cycle. In my machine, I decided to vend Chiclets gum, m&ms, Skittles, and Mike&Ikes. One month later, the Chiclets gum and Mike&Ikes were still filled all the way to the top. The small hotel simply did not generate enough foot traffic to warrant four choices of product. Begrudgingly, I eventually tossed out both products. My take away: Different locations require different machine configurations.

Before selecting a machine, you need to determine which type of machine configuration(s) best suits you and your location’s needs. Listed below are some of the pros and cons of various machine configurations.

+ Easiest to locate
+ Easiest to manage
+ Fits just about anywhere, space wise
+ Limited spoilage
+ Quick service time
+ Can upgrade with double or triple head bracket
– Easiest to steal
– Must have an army of machines and locations to earn significant profits
– Must drive to numerous locations to earn significant profits
– Can only vend one product at a time
– Potential loss of revenue due to only one choice of product

For vendors just starting out, I recommend buying singles only and expanding into new configurations as experience is gained.

Popular brands (Not an endorsement): Beaver, Northwestern, Oak, Eagle, A&A Global

+ Easy to locate
+ Easy to manage
+ Fits almost every location, space wise
+ Limited spoilage
+ Quick service time
+ Can downgrade or upgrade with bracket
– Easy to steal
– Can only vend two products at a time
– Potential loss of revenue due to only two product choices

This is my standard selection for a majority of my locations. From this configuration, I can upgrade or downgrade the number of machine heads by using a bracket.

Popular brands (Not an endorsement): Beaver, Northwestern, Oak, Eagle, A&A Global

+ Takes up less space than double head configuration
+ Fits just about anywhere, space wise
+ / – Depending on machine, can be easy or difficult to service
+ / – Depending on machine, can or cannot vend toys
– Must be placed in high traffic locations
– Greater chance of spoilage
– Cannot downgrade or upgrade the number of canisters/dividers

Assuming you have limited time to devote to vending, these machines are fantastic for part-time vendors.  Unlike the single head or double head configurations, these machines must be placed in locations with high amounts of traffic. If placed optimally, these compact machines will provide you with a steady stream of income without having to place hundreds of them.

For individuals who want to become full-time vendors, I recommend limiting the use of these machines on your route and sticking with singles or doubles. Once your route grows in size, you will be able to condense your route into rack placements by removing heads from poor performing locations and relocating them for rack purposes. Consequently, profits will increase without having to buy new machines. However, if you bought numerous multi-canister/divider machines to build your route, you’ll have to fork up extra dough to build racks.

Tip: If a location can support a triple canister/divider machine, that location is a prime candidate for a rack placement of four or more machine heads.

Popular machines (Not an endorsement): Vendesign 4-way carousel, 8-select Uturn, Vendstar 3000, 1800 vending triple, Northwestern triple play, Eagle tri-vend

+ Highest profitability
+ Need fewer locations to make significant profits
+ Difficult to steal
– Difficult to locate
– Limited in choice of locations
– Takes more time to service
– Need a large vehicle
– Greatest chance of spoilage
– Most difficult to manage
– Typically requires a commission

By a country mile, racks are the most profitable configuration if you can find willing locations.

Popular brands (Not an endorsement): Beaver, Northwestern, Oak, Eagle, A&A Global

Although vendors use a combination of the configurations discussed, you need to select what works for you and your location. Once you have that figured, start searching for your first machine!

Next step: New vs. Used Equipment / Plastic vs. Metal Vending Machines / Set-up, Service & Care


  1. Performa Vending says:

    This is an excellent guide to setting up your machines. Another essential read for the new vendor. Well done Vendelicious.

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