As I said before, I don’t have any direct competition in my town, as there are no hog dog vendors here period, save for one pitiful little shop that just opened and will probably be gone in six months. Even if they aren’t, their little $1.50 by-product dog with choice of ketchup, mustard, or canned chili is not my market anyway. My only local competiton will be what people can make for themselves at home. That is unless someone new opens up before I do.
My nearest, closest, existing "competitor" is 30 miles away in another town, so I don’t really don’t see him as competition at all, but an ally. I don’t know many people willing to drive 60 miles round trip for a hot dog, except maybe me.
I did just that this morning in fact. I wanted to see what kind of lunch business this guy is doing and I also just wanted a good hot dog. I’ll have to say I was very impressed. People were lined up all the way to the door. Service was quick in spite of the crowd, and the food was top notch, as always. He brands with Vienna Beef exclusively and his menu is mostly typical Chicago dog-house fare (in small town Alabama). The cheapest thing on his menu is a corndog at $2.69. The most expensive is a giant Italian beef sandwich at $11.99. Most of his specialty dogs run between $3 and $5. The prices sure aren’t keeping away the people.
The owner of this place and I seem to have a lot in common. We’re about the same age. He opened his business about 6 months ago with no prior food service experience, and also works a full time job elsewhere with no plans to leave it any time soon. He’s also very image and marketing savvy. The place looks slick enough to be a chain store, but it’s not. He’s the only hot dog vendor in his town, and like I said his business appears to be booming.
All and all I’d say not a bad place to use as a model for the food and service side of my business. Of course my theme and brand image ideas are very different.
I am now pretty much convinced I should brand with Vienna Beef myself.