Category Archives: Blog

Picking the Right Hot-Dog Product; Prefecting the taste


A lot of people experiment with adding more spices to the ketchup or relish or get a special kind of mustard, but that will greatly limit your customers to those that prefer your ‘special taste’. Your objective should be to perfect the simple taste. Yes, we come back to the simplicity clause again.


One trick that I learned down the road is that rather than spending too much on big brands or expensive alternatives for mustard or ketchup, I could greatly increase the quality of the taste by purchasing better quality buns and hotdogs. As it turns out, mustard is just mustard, and hardly many people ask for ketchup anyway. As for relish, unless you are serving Chicago style, a decent quality relish would do the trick. Again, experiment with a few sauces before you find a quality product at a decent price.


As for hotdogs, the most expensive aren’t always the best, and the cheapest wouldn’t necessarily save you the most money. Low priced hotdogs have high contents of fat that can easily burn and turn a dark brown and while they are still servable, the chances are they wouldn’t really go well with your customers.


Next come the buns. The good thing about buns and hotdogs is that you don’t necessarily need a branded product, as the customer would never really see the brand name. However, a customer will easily identify poor quality. Look for buns that will hold up better in the steamers; again experiment with a few products until you find the right one.


Fast and Easy Money Myth . . .


There is NO Free Lunch . . .

My dad used to always say this to me . . . and now I know what he means.

We are not pushing the fast and easy money myth here. We are talking a real business, with real work, real effort  . . . and, in the end,  . . . real money.

Stay in it for the long-haul and have the mentality of a long-distance runner.

At times, it can take weeks or even up to a month or two to find the right location, and the only way to find it is through hard work. A lot of hard work. There is nothing that can align your stars the way hard work can.


Why am I telling you all this? I want you to prepare yourself for the hiccups. Know that you will come across times when a catering gig may run longer than you had expected, you may face difficulty collecting payments after a private party or you may have days when you just don’t want to open shop.


All this is as natural as the daylight that shines on us every day. The idea is to keep going at it, to keep on working hard and to stay disciplined. Motivation will push you on through.


The fact is, an athlete running a marathon will get tired, will get thirsty, he might even have difficulty getting water, might fall, feel weak and lag behind. But the only way the athlete can make it to the finish line is to keep on running. And no, there is no reason why he can’t sit down and enjoy the sunset every now and then, only to get up one more time and to keep on going. 


Make sure you remain focused and constantly try to learn new things, new tactics and news to add value to your life and your business. The more defined your goals are and the more focused you are on them, the more small will almost seem insignificant.


Hot-dog carts: keeping start-up costs low. Part #1


Carts and Startup Costs


Start up costs can vary depending on a number of factors. For instance, if you purchase a hotdog cart, it can cost you somewhere between $2,000 up to $4,000 for added equipment.  A kiosk on the other hand will cost you around $5,000 – $7,000. If you purchase a used hotdog cart, it can cost you around a $500 to $1,500 depending on the condition.  


OK. I know. Money is always tight starting out. So, let’s talk used carts.


Yeah, you might even get lucky like I did starting out. I was scouting around for a used cart and I had so little money even starting a hotdog business seemed out of reach to me. But, sometimes, the universe works in your favor. My friend was at a junkyard getting a used part for old clunker of a car, and there it was – my baby. I saw it in the distance – off to the side of the building, a very dirty, dented, and generally beat-up hotdog cart with flat tires. While for most, it was no prize, for me I saw its beauty in the form of potential dollars signs. To make a long story short, after much haggling, I went home with my first used hotdog cart for just a little over $200. To be fair, I had to spend almost $150 to replace missing or broken parts, and I did put a fair amount of elbow-grease in and labor time to get it back to “running” condition.


Will you find a $200 cart? Maybe. But it could take a long time. Remember: there is also lost opportunity cost in NOT having cart. How many $500/days will you miss out on in waiting? Don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish. So while it would be super to find such a deal, it is not altogether likely. The real range you should seek out is the $500-$1500 range. And the sweet spot in this range is likely closer to the $750-$1000 range. In other words, try to budget this amount. You will still be getting a good deal on a used cart, and you are likely to find numerous carts in this price range.


Big money hot-dog business locations!


Why I love Industrial Parks!

Most people clamor for the down-town areas of the city center. And while these could be lucrative, there also tends to be lots of competition, and licensing can also be stringent and expensive. That’s why I prefer suburban industrial parks. Why?

ØLarge Hidden Population: You may not realize it, but an industrial park with 20 businesses might have 100 employees each. That’s 2000 potential customers! These business parks tend to be hidden out of the way, so many vendors never think of them.


ØHigh Dollars per Hour: Let’s not mince words. We’re here to make money. And no one wants to stand around for eight hours and have only two hours worth of serious business. And that’s why I like industrial parks. You know just when the hordes of people will coming running to your cart to eat. At lunch-time! No need to waste your time wondering when business will come. Go there from roughly 11-1pm. (You can figure out their exact schedule from a few days experience). You will get a crazy steady stream of people during set, limited hours – and you may wall make your $500 a day in just two hours! $250 an hour? My heart surgeon barely makes that!


ØCaptive Audience: Your customers are stuck out in the middle of an industrial park at lunch hour. Sure they could drive 10 minutes each way to a restaurant, but with a 30 minute lunch hour, and 20 minutes of round-trip driving, that would leave them only 10 minutes to eat lunch. Sound awful. And they know it. So they would much prefer to relax and have food offered on site. This is where you come in! You are offering convenience and smile and they are lined-up throwing their dollars at you!


ØLess Competition: there is much less competition here than in the city center. Why? There are multiple industrial parks, many hidden out of the way. Sure there might even be another food vendor, but with hundreds of potential clients, there is still no real issue. Much better to compete with one or two other vendors and 80!


ØLess Regulation: there tends to be very little licensing regulation for serving at industrial parks. Well, far less than is involved in working city centers.