How To: Start an Ice Vending Machine Business (Easy Guide)

Ice and vending machines are all the rage these days because they’re convenient, and I must admit a cool side hustle. Here’s how to start a vending machine business:

To start a vending machine business, you need to essentially invest in an ice vending machine, look for a good location that could attract a good number of customers, and do some math (profit, revenue, costs, etc). Once you have the paperwork done, you can start with your vending machine business.

Starting this business is not limited to what I mentioned in the previous paragraph, but it is enough for a kickstart.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through the step-by-step details of what it takes to run a successful ice vending machine business.

What Is an Ice Vending Machine Business?

An ice vending machine business is where you own an ice vending machine that is placed in different locations to bring in money. You can also set up multiple ice vending machines at different locations and earn money from their sales.

In my opinion, an ice vending machine business is a great way to start your own business, and it’s a very simple concept.

Basically, you buy an ice vending machine, find a location for your machine and get the necessary permits from the city.

Once you have everything set up, you can start generating a handsome amount!

» Read more about this in my post: Getting Rich from Vending Machines?

How Much Does An Ice Vending Machine Make?

Time PeriodAverage Income of an Ice Vending Machine
Per Day$100 – $125
Per Month$3,000 – $3,700
Per Year$36,000 – $44,400

Ice vending machines make around $3,000 to $3,700 a month in net profit with estimated costs of $200 to $500 that go into the rent and maintenance (which are occasional and minimal). The annual net profit of a vending machine business is around $44,000.

Most machine owners set their prices ranging from $1.50 to $2.50 per ice bag.

The sum of sales varies on what type of ice vending machine you own and how much it has cost you. Moreover, the local utility bills and rent costs also put an impact on the income. 

The owners can also occasionally change the placement of their vending machines every few years or buy multiple machines to further increase their profits. 

I’d say you calculate your profit according to your assumptions and how much you are planning to charge for your ice in the profit calculator offered by Everest Ice and Water Systems on their website. 

How Much Does an Ice Vending Machine Cost?

An average small ice vending machine costs around $43,000 and it goes up to $150,000. The cost of ice vending machines depends on their size, special features, and installment charges. These machines typically have a one-year warranty and can last up to 20 years maximum. 

Starting an ice vending machine business means you need to buy one and place it in a place that could attract a great number of customers. Buying one means you need to refill it each week with clean water.

According to my research and what the experts say on this matter, a person needs to buy a machine that could hold enough ice packs for 10 to 12 hours of continuous runtime.

Here are some vending machine sellers you can visit to find one for your business:

Can You Make a Passive Income With Ice Vending Machines?

You can make a passive income with ice vending machines because they can be operated remotely with minimal management and maintenance. Using remote management software, vending machine business owners can manage their hustles from their homes, and also get to see which part of the machine needs cleaning or repair.

It is ideal for people who want to retire and relax after years of working but still want a constant stream of income coming into their bank accounts. This is where running an ice vending machine business comes into play.

I have some tips for you to follow if you want to make your vending machine business as passive as possible:

  • Invest in a high-quality vending machine that won’t need constant repair. So you can avoid some major repair expenses there.
  • Select machines that accept all cash, card, and QR scan payment methods. Most people do not prefer using vending machines just because they only accept payments through cash. This drives away potential buyers and decreases sales.
  • Install good security and monitoring software to track your vending machine’s status and its progress. Keeping such software can help you monitor your sales as well as when your machine needs maintenance. Along with that, you can even detect theft through this software. 

» Read my blog post about: Top Passive Income Ideas for College Students

How to Start an Ice Vending Machine Business: Step-by-Step Guide

To launch your ice vending machine business, before anything else you need to set it up. Let me help you out with a step-by-step guide. 

#1 Set Up Your Business Details

The first step of starting a vending machine business is to bring it to life, and what better way to start than by coming up with a name and a logo for the business. This gives the business an identity and sets it apart from the lot.

Brand Image

A strong brand image is important as it plays a big role in making the venture a success. Make sure that your ice vending machines stand out from the rest of the crowd. To do that, you’d need an original business name and business logo.

Other than that, you may also invest in the designing of your vending machine’s exterior to make it look trendy and attractive.

You can even customize ice shapes to attract a certain type of ice buyer such as late-night snacking individuals, sports teams, etc.   


The promotion of a business is almost directly proportional to the profit, so it is essential to have a foolproof marketing plan.

For starters, I’d say advertise your ice vending machines via ads on the local news or buy billboards for publicity.

You may also start a partnership with nearby local businesses to further increase the number of customers and grow your business. Another brilliant way to promote your business is to offer discounts and vouchers to your customers.   

And hey, how can I forget social media? Design posts, write captions and schedule them on different platforms for regular posting to increase retention

Build an Online Presence

In this modern era, your business cannot survive without an online presence. The best way to bring your ice vending machine business to the internet is by launching a user-friendly website.

You can make a website easily with minimal charges on Wix or WordPress.

The website must have all the necessary information that a customer may wish to inquire about, including how your ice is made, where you source your water from, and what locations your ice vending machines can currently be found.   

#2 Come Up With a Business Plan

A solid business plan acts like a guide that leads your vending machine business towards success. It is a comprehensive document that outlines your goals and how it is possible to meet them shortly. 

Having a good and thorough business plan is necessary to appeal to potential investors or other important business partners.

Your business plan should include your business overview, SWOT analysis, financial budget plan, target market, and competition. Other than serving the purpose of bringing in investors, a professional and detailed business plan will also help you keep track of your venture’s growth. 

#3 Pick a Location

Selecting the right location for your ice vending machine business is a crucial step as it decides how profitable your business will turn out. Keeping in mind your target audience is an essential part of this step.

An easy-to-access and on-the-go location work best for this audience as people need ice to grab and go, or for their coolers during a hot day out.

You may also want to go for a location that gets a good amount of traffic because to have a good monthly profit, I’d say you have to have 30 to 50 customers every day.

Another point to keep in mind when deciding on an area is to note if that area is safe or not since the vending machines won’t have any employees guarding them against vandalism.

Therefore, installing your ice vending machine in a dangerous and unreliable area will put it at risk of theft and frequent graffiti. 

To prevent this, you should select places with 24-hour surveillance or install other security methods for safety.

Here are some sites which I highly recommend that are best for ice vending machines: 

  • Gas stations.
  • Convenience stores like seven eleven.
  • Beaches.
  • Marinas
  • Rest stations on superhighways.
  • National parks and amusement parks.
  • Cinemas.  
  • Supermarkets

#4 Buy Good Quality Ice Vending Machines

What is the main focus of our business? The ice vending machines themselves. So it is important to buy good quality machines to ensure minimum maintenance and maximum operation. 

Since I have already talked about the costs of the machines, all there is left to do is discuss how to choose which ice vending machines to invest in.

In my opinion and knowledge, select a machine that comes with a service warranty, so if it’s defective or dulls down, the company takes care of it. 

Make sure the machine also has proper facilities and features such as credit card usability and the packaging of the ice before its disposal.

Other factors to keep in mind are how often you will need to clean the machine for it to stay sanitized and how frequent your maintenance visits should be for it to work properly; these things will be included in your budget. 

A used one will probably require more maintenance and attention so it is advised to invest in a new machine so it doesn’t trouble you later on. 

You can buy vending machines from Ice House America, Kooler Ice. The Ice Depot, and Everest Ice & Water Systems

#5 Study the Legal Regulations 

Lastly, launching an ice vending machine business will require you to follow some protocols based on where you are located. It is essential to perform your thorough inspection and be considerate of these laws as they can result in disputes later on if ignored. 

To start with, you may need a business license or permit to allow you to go forward with your business. 

Secondly, if you aren’t the owner of the location where you are installing your ice vending machine then you may need to sign a contract with the rightful landowner to rent his place. 

For this, I suggest you study how contracts and legal documents work, and it is better to have your lawyer with you during these times.

Lastly, before putting everything into action, you may also want to do your research about the business taxes and vending laws in your state to prevent getting fined.

If you have completed all these steps diligently, then you are now pretty much ready to take on this ice vending machine venture. 

» Read my blog post: Insane Passive Income Examples » (How to Do It RIGHT)

Advantages of Owning an Ice Vending Machine Business

Like each business, this one also has many advantages, and here I’ll walk you through these individually.

Easy to Scale

Scaling an ice vending machine business is super easy.

You can easily start with just one vending machine and as the business grows and profit increases you can buy multiple machines and expand your locations.

Low Overhead Costs

There are almost no overhead costs in running an ice vending machine business.

Since vending machines in general do not need employees and they don’t take up much space so you won’t have to worry about making payrolls and spending too much money on rent.

Passive Income

An ice vending machine is a great source of passive income. With vending machines, all you need to do is buy a vending machine, find a good location for it, and start making dollars. 

The only costs you have to bear are the maintenance and repair costs. Ice vending machines only need water refills, but there are no inventory requirements.


The world needs more eco-friendly businesses like this one. Unlike other vending machines, ice vending machines are eco-friendly.

For instance, with ice vending machines in the game, people avoid buying packaged ice and lessen the use of plastic.

With vending machines, they can bring refillable jugs or containers for ice.

Tips For Starting an Ice Vending Machine Business

  • You should make sure to choose the right vending machine for your business.
  • Study your funding options thoroughly before investing or starting. Go through startup costs and expenses to make a careful decision. 
  • Learn about the perfect locations, and list down your business on Google, so people looking for bags of ice can reach out to you.

» I have also written this post, about: $5000 Per Month? Here’s How Much Ice Cream Trucks Make!

Do Vending Machine Owners Pay Rent?

The vending machine owners have to pay rent or commission to the owner of the building where their vending machine is located.

The owners usually pay about 5% to 20% of their vending machine sales to the building owner as rent depending on the location. 

Final Thoughts

Owning an ice vending machine business can generate a good amount of income and can last you a lifetime since vending machines have taken over the world for being convenient and less expensive. 

If you are wondering whether starting an ice vending machine business is a great idea or not, I hope my guide helped you solve that confusion. Thanks for checking it out! 

About Hi' my name is Simon. I am the owner of Top Work Life. Together with a my team, I write content about income generating ideas, entreprenurship and growth as a person Read more about Simon & TopWorklife

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