April 25, 2016

Owning a hot dog cart

Ever think about running a hot dog cart?  They do seem like a cool little business to have, being independent, yukking it up with locals having a great time downtown or on their lunch break.  It seems these mobile food carts and trucks are beginning to increase more and more.  Especially in Portland, OR area where the food trucks line up and down the street with a good sized crowd making the hard choice of which stand smells the tastiest.

Here’s an article about Mindy and Patrick Harney talking about running their own hot dog cart in Yellow Springs, OH. This has good info about business rules, regulations, and other dealings – licenses & permits, working among other brick and mortar food establishments,  and partnering with stores to sell on the property.  But despite all those, the best part of having your own stand would be serving up tasty food to many interesting personalities.

Just as any business has to  work with rules and regulations, I think having a hot dog stand would be fun.  Partnering up with local businesses as Mindy and Patrick did would be an ideal way to initially attract customers.  Find an area with good traffic and approach shop owners if you can set up on their lot or near their door.  A lot of cases might involve giving the shop owner a percentage of sales or a daily flat rate.  This could involve some shopping around as some owners will want a greedy amount of money.

An ideal situation is a more down-to-earth person who will see this as a partnership giving shoppers a more pleasant experience while visiting their store and will let you set up at no charge.  Back in my days of working as a personal trainer, I worked in different scenarios where the greedy corporate health club took a 60-40 split in their favor on personal training fees.  During college back in Texas doing a session here and there at a small independent gym, the owner had the attitude of “As long as you bring in paying members and keep them happy, you can charge and keep what you want”.

If you can score a vending permit for a territory in your downtown area, that would be ideal as there’s plenty of traffic and nearby workers would be plentiful.  Be available for lunch during the week, set up weekends around any popular attractions if you can.  Remember how hungry you get after a night of bar hopping?  That’s another possibility.  I know I would’ve bought one with a name that goes something like “Double Barreled, 12 Gauge Hot Dog”.  And if it was bacon wrapped, two or three!

Naturally, word of mouth could spread fairly quickly if you’re dogs are mighty tasty, saving on your advertising costs.  Another free way of generating traffic is to set up a Twitter account and tweet your location on a daily or hourly basis for your customers.  Have a Facebook page to post pictures of your creations, other people’s creations, post coupons, upcoming specials.  It also provides a platform for your regulars to give their feedback, talk to each other about you, and pass the word to their “friends”.  Locals will also find out about you when searching Facebook groups for local food pages.

Use the power of social norms – post at your cart and on your FB page “Our Most Popular Dogs” listing your high selling types of hot dogs for the previous week or all-time best sellers – like your beef franks, veggie franks, bacon wrapped, along with popular toppings ordered.

Hopefully it would become a great success and could open more carts or just keep it simple and be a one person show enjoying your independence.

Would you like to run a hot dog stand?  What would you name it?

Read more about Mindy and Patrick’s hot dog business >>  Dining a la carte in village

About Mitch Jensen

Hello! I love to learn how people make their money, whether it's out in the offline world or through various online sources.SideJobIdeas.com was created to consolidate these ideas, pass them on, and provide inspiration.Hope you find some sort of inspiration here, thanks for visiting!

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