If you follow NASCAR, it’s in Martinsville this week. I can almost guarantee they will mention their Dogs. Jesse Jones on a Sunbeam bun. $1.90 a ten-pack, $1.69 for a 12 pac of buns. Around here, it’s premium.
$20 for 50 dogs and 48 buns????
If I had to tell newbies anything I would say to be flexible. The way I’m selling dogs now is completely different then how I first started. I never thought my market would change but it has and it’s been going great! There is your niche…..you just have to find it!
My opinion is the business does not fail, you do. A B&M has to pay rent and employees, etc. Can’t pay rent, utilities, suppliers, payroll, you go outta biz.
If you have a cart, and can pay for insurance and licenses, you have a money maker in your driveway. My annual fees come to about $500.00, including insurance. Today I spent $20.00 for 50 dogs and 48 buns. I think I can turn that into cash.
If your food is good and a good value, word will spread. I get a lotta people tell me they heard my Dogs were the best in town. If they spread the word, well, then I have a sales force. I do give out a punch card and they are starting to work.(They are the back side of my biz card)
Winter has been a bee-och. Very cold Spring.
Got a spot I can use for free, has an awesome pull-in pull-out feature. Get a lotta folks say they have meant to stop but had reasons not to. Have been there “hit-n-miss” based on the weather thru the winter. Will establish regular days when weather permits.
I think I’ve branded myself, so folks will come back.
As long as people don’t get the idea that they can just quit their jobs and make enough selling hotdogs to maintain their house, car and kids payments right out of the gate… This business is hard… And hard to get started, so if you treat it like it’s an ATM on your driveway, that’s the right approach, and after a while it starts spitting out more and more $$…
My biggest problem (a good problem) is keeping the cart out on the street… My workers keep getting snapped up by other businesses… I think running a hot dog cart is probably the surest way to getting offered other good jobs that I can think of… We just need more carts and we could solve this countries employment problem… nahhh!
Funny you mention this. Just today I discovered there were no buns available (4 stores out), WTF. Because tomorrow is the home opener for the Tigers. Everyone thinks they should be eating hot dogs. A guy told me about how his work is having 2 carts in for employee appreciation, and his plant is 1/4 mile away from my home. ding..ding..never thought about marketing for that. I pick up more events and learn these kind of lessons for next year all the time. I think I am learning the value of EXPERIENCE, hanging in there and learning things I have not necessarily heard before. Shear determination that this IS going to work, and the time put in does appear to be the formula, at least for me (along with a quality product and customer service of course).
I bought a used TopDog cart in 2009. This is my fifth season:
Season 1 – Worked lunches at a college campus until December. Not bad but alot of competitiion. Had another PT job.
Season 2 – Did weekends at local bike trail, college football games and a few events. Shut down by December. Had another PT job.
Season 3- Continued the bike trail, college football games and a few more events. Shut down by December. Managed a restaurant FT.
Season 4-Suddenly I started getting calls for alot more events. Ended up doing over 20 events. Left my FT job to concentrate on the cart. Worked events well into December (Christmas festivals).Only had one month that I didn’t sell. Took on some very part-time to fill in during my slow time.
Currently – Working outside a new bar on Fri/Sat nights. Waiting for the invitation to work downtown once/week for urban farmers market. 25 events booked through December so far. The very PT job dovetails really well with my cart and insures the cash flow all year.
Moral of the story…..perserverance and patience pays off. I keep calling, networking and getting more gigs. There’s a Food Truck Association starting up in town and I have been a part of it since its formation.
Encouragement for Newbies
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