Unbelievably there is one vending machine for every 139 people in the UK. That’s a lot of tea and coffee – ten million cups a day to be exact! The variety and convenience of vending machines is hard to resist, and this makes for a profitable industry. According to the Automatic Vending Association, UK consumers spend approximately £1.5 billion on vending machine items every year.
There are 420,000 vending machines in the UK, and they serve everything from hot and cold drinks to sandwiches, confectionary, ice cream and even full meals. The location of a vending machine is key, and while it would probably be frequently used in most public spaces, sites such as hospitals, leisure centres and railway and bus stations are particularly popular, as this is where there is a high percentage of people waiting or in need of a quick and easy-to-eat snack.
It is easy to see why vending machines are a hit with consumers across the country. They are available all times of the day and night, they offer a huge choice of food and drink, their food is chilled and stored in a hygienic environment and they generally have affordable prices. What’s more, it’s not just snack-lovers that see the appeal of the vending machine – even some businesses are starting to benefit from a convenient and cheap alternative to on-site catering.
Challenges in the Industry
In the past, vending machines have had a reputation for being filled with unhealthy food, particularly items which are high in sugar and salt. As a result of changing consumer needs, franchises that provide vending machines filled with healthy foods are on the increase, improving the reputation of the vending machine. Offering a range of nutritious options alongside the familiar packets of crisps and chocolate bars makes these vending machines versatile enough to entice consumers.
However, if vending machine businesses are to stand the test of time, they should also ensure that they limit their carbon footprint. Many consumers are reluctant to buy from a vending machine if items are contained in single use, non-recyclable packaging. While this can be convenient for consumers on-the-go, growing awareness surrounding the impact of single use plastics on the environment could have a detrimental effect on vending machine companies. Therefore, businesses should dedicate time to finding more ethical and sustainable alternatives. These could include packaging food items in recyclable cartons, substituting plastic cups for paper ones and introducing biodegradable straws.
Vending Machine Franchise Opportunities
Despite the challenges that the industry is currently facing, it continues to thrive, with vending machines selling approximately six billion products every year. Their popularity can, in part, be explained by the fact that four out of five of the most popular snacking foods in the UK are commonly sold in vending machines. While fruit is the go-to snack for hungry Brits, with 51 percent choosing it, crisps (43 percent), chocolate biscuits (40 percent), chocolate bars (36 percent) and other sweet confectionary items (27 percent) are also everyday choices, all of which are sold in UK vending machines.
There is no doubt, then, that vending machine franchises can be extremely lucrative. So, let’s take a look at some of the options at Point Franchise.
Having established exclusive business connections with brands such as Haribo, The Jelly Bean Factory, Smarties and M&M’s, Tubz vending towers appeal customers and franchisees alike. Tubz has its finger on the pulse when it comes to consumer demand and has recently introduced the ‘Health Tower’ which contains an assortment of dried fruits, nuts and seeds. Offering healthy vending machines that also cater to the needs of those with a sweet tooth, Tubz stands out from the competition.
Tubz represents an attractive business opportunity for those starting out on their entrepreneurial journey. It is eminently affordable, with franchise fees of under £3,000 and there is plenty of flexibility when it comes to working hours. Franchisees can opt to work on a part-time or full-time basis, adapting their work-life balance to suit their needs. There is also the option to expand by employing additional staff and covering more locations. Franchisees have the power to shape their business from the very first day.
Cause-Related Marketing Franchises
Cause-related marketing is becoming increasingly popular for franchises and has proven to be an effective way for charities to raise funds and franchisees to make a profit. Vending companies can benefit from charity partnerships by placing charity-branded snack boxes and a moneybox in locations with a high footfall, such as shops, pubs and doctors’ waiting rooms. Customers can then select their chosen product and put cash in the moneybox. Every couple of weeks, the vending company collects the money and restocks the box.
Instead of donating the collected money to charity, the franchisor makes a set donation beforehand and then keeps the moneybox cash, making a profit from the food they provide. What’s more, there are no ongoing fees or royalties, and franchisees can choose the working hours that suit them.
There are two franchises in the vending machine sector that operate this way; Snack Aid and Charisnack. Snack Aid are an official partner of the Make-A-Wish Foundation UK and are committed to improving the lives of children by raising money through financial pledges and the sale of snacks. On the other hand, Charisnack has partnered with a number of other charities, including Kidney Research UK, Arthritis UK and Mind.
As with most franchises, Snack Aid and Charisnack provides franchisees with full training. Investors will also benefit from meetings with existing franchisees to pick up business tips. Charisnack offers one standard franchise package, while Snack Aid provides franchisees with the option to choose from four franchise packages offering varying numbers of charity boxes.
Although neither of these franchises offer healthy vending machines, they come with a charity partnership and flexible business models, and could be profitable and relatively inexpensive business opportunities for entrepreneurs eager to start their journey in the food or vending machine sectors.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©