Its not about hotdogs but a lunch style shop, a friend bought a francise from a small operation (5 stores) had a building built in an area familiar with the francise and tried to make a go of it for 2 yrs before selling it all back. I don’t know all the particulars but I do know he lost his shirt (and car, bike, boat) The francise didnt have any luck with the location either and the building is now a pawn shop. Even large francises have troubles but Id definately steer clear of any small ones
Indeed, the only way to win the game is to own the game.
I’d rather be selling franchises, than buying them. It’s less work and more cash flow. As an independent, food costs are 25-30%, not including rent, equipment, insurance, and sales tax. Now, factor in monthly franchise fees, along with initial start up costs. I prefer to own my own business, be my own boss, and keep my over head to a minimum.
Hmmm, legwork versus money. First off, I am having a blast selling dogs on the street. I just finished up my first year and think I am wired for this kind of work. I was lucky enough to have a friend in the business, that showed me some tips and tricks. Granted I did have to fly to Alaska to go to "Weenie U" for a few days, but that was enough to get me started. I think HiHat is right…location is going to be the most important thing. If you have some spots in mind, check em out. Also there seem to be a lot of knowledgeable people on this forum that love to dish out info and help. What a great resource. There may be someone close to you that wouldn’t mind showing you some ropes. Maybe? I don’t know of too many established hot dog franchise type places in Colorado here. Except the Lowes here. They are all Woody’s franchises. I think they start around $75,000. They do alot more than just hot dogs…but those are the main selling point. Chicago style mostly. They do well, and they can work year round cause they’re inside here, and they have a captive clientele (sort of). But $75,000 is quite a few dogs just to make the original nut. Plus the monthly rent, and the off the top percentage. I’m not sure where you’re at, but ChicagoStyleDogs Hot Dog U, may be a perfect way of getting your feet wet and seeing if you like this stuff. I don’t think I helped here. Me, I like not answering to anyone but myself (and a few hundred customers). I think franchisees do have some hoops to jump through daily. But you know, if the pay is worth it…then it’s worth it.
I wonder what kind of tastes Vermonters have. We don’t have very many hot dog vendors around here.
I agree, for the most part with what HiHat posted. Just look at Nathans. There is so much variation between the individual stores. In fact, many people on this site have a negative opinion of Nathans because of the low quality of the product at many locations. Some use the skinless dogs and prepare them on a roller grill. Others use old dogs that have been sitting on the griddle or roller grill too long. My town had 2 Nathans that served the same natural casing dogs as the Coney Island Nathans and prepared them on the griddle. But they weren’t cooked long enough resulting in a subpar dog.
Hot Dogs are very regional. Without going into too much detail, there are 2 main types of dogs in the eastern U.S. One is a beef/pork blend. This type of dog is also more common around most of the country than the other type, which is a more well seasoned kosher style all beef dog. People that like the spicier dog think others are bland. Those who like the beef/pork blend, even a quality dog like Thumanns, Sahlen’s, Grote & Weigel, etc. say that the all beef dogs are too spicy. Or just don’t like the garlic/paprika flavor.
I do disagree with the statement that "Jersey prefers (or may be more accustomed to)a pork and beef dog made locally vs. a Vienna Beef dog". The main reason that New Jerseyans for the most part don’t get the Chicago style dog isn’t because they prefer beef/pork dogs to Vienna dogs. In Jersey, beef/pork dogs and all beef dogs that are spicier than Vienna are in abundance. Most people who eat hot dogs regularly have been exposed to both types. Although deep fried dogs (pork and beef) are more common in the northern part of the state, most Jersey hot dog lovers have tried these as well. While some people prefer both styles, there are a lot who are partial to one or the other.
I’ve found that there are 2 main reasons why Chicago dogs aren’t liked as well here as other areas. One is the unique toppings. This was stated in the previous post. The perception here is that "if you want a salad, get it on the side." This is what I thought until a guy opened a place selling authentic Chicago dogs with the ingredients shipped in from Chicago. I’ve gone so much, that I’ve aquired a taste for them. And he is doing well with a steady base of customers. The other reason is that people around here who prefer all beef dogs are used to brands like Sabrett, Hebrew National, Nathan’s, or Best which have more flavor. While Vienna is spicier than a beef/pork dog, it doesn’t have the spiciness of the other beef dogs that people grew up with. The reality is that Vienna has a flavorful, but subtler blend of spices. The more I eat this dog, the more I like it. In fact this dog, being milder than other beef dogs, blends in better with the ingredients on a Chicago dog. I enjoyed one today at J’s Beef in Linden, the only place I know of in Jersey, New York, or Connecticut that serves a truly authentic Chicago Style Dog.
In many, if not most parts of the country, the focus is more on toppings such as chili or slaw than on the dog itself. This is particularly true of the South. I’ve heard people say that the dog doesn’t matter; it’s just a holder for the toppings. And what passes for a hot dog in many places is bland even by the standards of those who like a quality milder beef and pork based dog.
Sorry to go off on a tangent, but what I’m trying to do is echo what HiHat said about hot dogs being regional.
Generally, hot dog franchises do not work. There are extremely few "chain stores." This is because hot dogs are usually regional. For example, Chicago Dogs may not fly outside the midwest because of the unique toppings and brand of dog. Another region may not have those items available for distribution. In addition, an area like Jersey prefers (or may be more accostomed to)a pork and beef dog made locally vs. a Vienna Beef dog.
There are "local" franchises, such as in Connecticut(Frankies). But as mentioned above, you should only go franchise if it has the marketing power behind it, as well as the history of longer term success. That’s why Subway franchises still make money, but Quiznos are suffering (and Dunkin succeeds, while Krispy Kreme only works in the South).
Take a small business class, study about operations, costs/margins, etc. Most importantly – the three L’s: Location, Location, Location!
A former customer had been in the donut biz for many years when he bought a Dunkin Donuts franchise. He did a week’s worth of business on the first day that he opened as a DD in the same location. His unit ingredient costs dropped by a third, and covered a good part of his on going franchise fees. He paid big , big, $$ into the ad fund that he resented at first, but he came to appreciate what the ads did for him as he became rich. The fun ended when he went through a nasty divorce with his wife/partner. I have not seen him in years.
Off hand, I can not think of any hot dog franchise that has the marketing clout of a McDs, BK, Subway, Quizno’s or Dunkin Donuts. You need to make a pro forma, with a franchise and without. A pro forma is not always accurate, due to the old garbage in, garbage out thing, but it can give you a place to start. Before investing, I would also spend a little $$$ for a road trip to visit existing franchises. Don’t say who you are, just take a quiet look around. After some observations, you can introduce yourself and ask questions.
What are peoples thoughts on starting up a hot dog place on their own verses an established franchise. Obviously the biggest obstacle is the franchise costs a ton more but they’ve done a lot of the leg work. Share with me your thoughts.
Franchise verses self start up
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