How are you working with the locals. By that, I mean you might promote yourself thru local car clubs having a drive in once a week or month. I did this on the cart and brought business in thru the week.
There are so many other ways to promote yourself thru NON-Profit.
Homes for Humanities is another. Hook up with local chapter. Volunteers remember and word of mouth is cheap and the best way to advertise. You help here and they return.
Finding a campground that will take the three of us with the Class C, hot dog cart and two jeeps!
Now that I have been open for 4 months and still struggling with keeping payroll. utilities, etc paid(sometimes late!), what are some of the nightmares you guys have encountered within your first 6 months? I can’t be the only one who has had these problems.
We’ve been at it 5 years now but can still remember how tough the first year was. I don’t know if you are B/M or mobile but either way there are a lot of things you can’t control, like utilities, license fees and such but there are a lot things you can. Payroll for instance. Don’t hire anyone to do something you can do yourself. For my wife and I, during the first year anything less than 12 or 14 hr days was a vacation. Food cost is another. Watch your food waste. Don’t over cook. At the end of the day try to throw away nothing. Another thing. Don’t use food suppliers. They are convenient and deliver to your door but you pay for it. We go to Sams, Cosco or Walmart and save 20% or more over what a supplier charges. We were selling 20oz bottles of pop that coke delivered at a cost of $.75 each. Now we go to Sams or Walmart and buy the 24oz for $.50 and even less if they are running a sale. Sell good food but don’t over pay for it. Insurance, shop around. We saved $1,200 a year by changing companies. Watch for auctions of places going out of business. Often you can get used equipment, dishes, glassware, fflatware and paper products for 10 cents on the dollar. I know it all takes time but when you’re starting up, time is money, money in your pocket. Make a list of everything you spend money on. Mark each item fixed or variable. If it’s fixed, live with it. If it’s variable, find a way to cut it. It won’t do you a bit of good if people say, “They had the best food and cheapest prices I’ve ever seen, before they went broke”. Good luck.
My struggles is keeping the population under max. allowed by fire code. The fast food joints here are thriving in the last 3 mos. Granted my clientele is a whole lot different than most here(99.9%) . I only open 3 days a week and one week a month 4 nites. We struggled thru August (1st month) but since we add some items in Sept. the numbers have been alright.
We are seeing in our area more local tourism, by that I mean people within a 2 hour drive.
Look at the markets McDonalds is trading at all time highs. People still want to eat out but doing so in different fashion. Buffets Rest. parking lots are full all day long.
Have you thought of doing some catering? Any small shops in your area that have around 30 or more employees? We have a small restaurant here locally that puts together box lunches and delivers them once a week to various shops in the area. We do this one day a week at two businesses and it does well. Something you may want to look into. I was approached by these shops, but I don’t think you would have any problem taking a menu into one of these local businesses and telling them you can deliver lunch to them once a week. Have them place the order and pay the day before or if it is a big shop, just cook up enough food so that you hopefully sell out. The way it works up here, is that for every 150 employees, you can figure around 60 to 80 sales on any given day, if they like the food.
Hope this helps!
All of the above, still behind on the bills, business has picked up allot after the first 7 weeks in my one location, going into my ninth week, but winter is coming. I know if I can make it through the winter and the economy holds together, next year will be a money maker, maybe close to 6 figures if my math is correct and quality of the food is top notch.
Hang in there, get out there with flyers and maybe add something different or unique to your menu to bring people in. My biggest seller are my Cheese Steaks. I play them up with every customer, they know that I source my bread and meat from Philadelphia, not Sam’s Club, I also play up the fact I used to live in Philly and know what a real Philly Cheese Steak is. It seems to work, as my sales are increasing on a weekly basis through word of mouth. Stay true to the food and do not be afraid to charge a bit more then the competition. I charge a couple bucks more on just about all of my food than the area is used to, but I have had more than one person comment that they do not mind, and expect to pay more for a quality product. I have also worked diligently in controlling my food costs and finding different suppliers when needed. That alone has saved me hundreds of dollars a month and maybe more as business continues to grow.
Good luck and hang in there!
I can totally relate to your situation. We’ve been at it for almost 3 years and I am just starting to feel like we are digging out of the hole we needed to get here in the first place.
The best things we’ve done are working with local charities and organizations. My biz partner is a dog freak and we have a “dog friendly” patio. We host two events a summer with our local Humane society and other dog oriented businesses. We have food and drink specials that day, the local dog treat guy comes up with a “doggy menu” and we donate proceeds to the humane society. They do a TON of marketing for the event because the greater the turnout and participation, the more money they stand to make. Then we also get the loyalty of the dog lover community for being a local business that gives back to the community.
The other really fun event is with the closest high school’s show choir. They needed to raise $$ to travel to some competition or other so we hosted two benefit nights for them on our slowest nights (Monday/Tuesday). It was holiday time so they came in decked out in holiday garb and caroled our customers. They TURNED IT OUT because all their family and friends wanted to support them and our regular customers those nights thought it was a blast. Again, you get all the benefits of being a good neighbor in the community, and the traffic of clients that might be new to your business.
On the humane society events 60%+ attendees had never been here before or even heard of us.
The key is to pick organizations that you are passionate about and have a good grass roots organization that can get people to the event.
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