Hot Dog Vendor Income


Many of the websites that sell courses and plans for getting started, including some manufacturers of hot dog carts tout huge incomes.  Although some hot dog vendors make huge incomes, it’s not all of us.  Some of this information is just there to entice you into purchasing their goods.  This can attract many people to the business that have unrealistic expectations.

It would be similar to a website claiming that the average medical doctor makes over $300,000.00 annually, gets weeks off each year to vacation, drives the best cars and lives in the best homes.  But if they fail to inform and educate the buyer of all the  challenges, the insurance, the 12 years in school, the enormous education debt and their risks; then these sites are doing a disservice and are hurting others – only to sell their information.

I have done stories about hot dog vendors making well over $100,000.00 annually, even with a single cart.  I have also talked to  hot dog vendors that make $30,000 a year.  Without talking to 100’s of vendors and getting an accurate income from each of them, it would be impossible to get an accurate average.

I have spoken to several hundred vendors and some have been forthcoming with their incomes, BUT; vendors are notorious for “poor mouthing”.  Remember, this is an almost all cash business.  Most vendors will share what income they report on their taxes, but not all will share how much they made in total.

Being self employed offers a hot dog vendor the opportunity to take advantage of tax incentives and tax breaks, it allows us to claim expenses that can help us reduce the amount of “income” shown on our tax returns; thereby lowering the perceived income.

Let’s do some math, but before I do, let me share with you the variables.  Some websites proclaim that vendors can make $200 a day but then they multiply this by 30 days a month and total it up to show over $6,000 in monthly income.  I don’t know a vendor working 3o days a month.  Weather, sickness and many other unforeseen obstacles can prevent a vendor from working that much.

Figures based on personal experience and figures provided by hundreds of other hot dog vendors.

50 hot dogs a day (approx. 25 people)
50 x $2.00 = $100 hot dogs
50 x $1.00 = $50  soda or water
20 x $1.00 = $20 chips or snacks
Total $170  Not a bad day, huh?  We could easily through these numbers up on a website, multiply the total by 365 (days in a year) and proclaim an annual income of $62,050.   But I don’t know anyone getting their supplies for free.  We still have costs of goods sold (COGS) and we have all the incidental costs; napkins, foil, sanitizer, ice, propane, etc. etc. etc.

For an accurate estimate, I use 34% cost ratio from gross sales.  So now, let’s re-do the above annual income based on working a reasonable schedule and taking into account all expenses and COGS.

$170 daily  x  20 days a month =  $3400./mo
$3,400 monthly   x  12 months = $40,800./annually
But we still have our total costs to remove.
$40,800. minus 34% = $26,928 annual income

Not bad huh, you get 10 days off a month, you are only going to work 3 to 4 hours daily and still have a take home of over $2,000/monthly, free and clear money.  Even though it’s not great money, it allows for tons of free time and allows you to make more monthly than millions of other Americans.

Consider this:  What if all we changed was to add $1.00 to the cost of our premium all beef hot dog?  That would be an additional $1,000/monthly and there would be no additional costs to consider.

Now that’s the low end of the spectrum.  I’m not satisfied with that and although I don’t vend 20 days a month, I still make more than that from vending.  So let’s look at some figures from the go getter vendors, those hot dog vendors that use all the marketing ideas, the menu ideas, the up-sells and who market their business as something above average.

100 Meals a day x $5.00 (2 dogs, chips and a drink) = $500
Now lets assume you can only work 15 days a month.  That’s $7,500/monthly
Minus the 34% costs and you net $4,950/monthly or $59,400/annually

Click for show info

Wow!  You are only working a half a year but are making more than 200% more than a vendor  we exampled above.  You are now working only 15 days a month!

A $1.00 increase in your meal price would net you about $18,000 more annually and we haven’t even discussed tips and those crazy tip jars.

You can work these numbers several ways, you could work more and sell less and still come out in the top 20% of incomes Nationwide.  Are there any hot dog vendors making less?  YES!  But here’s the facts.  A vendor can control their income, they can increase their incomes with some key changes;

  • find a location that supports 25 to 50 customers daily
  • market your business (see my marketing articles)
  • team up with your community and become a community asset
  • menu selection
  • menu pricing
The bottom line:  A vendor can make as much as they want, within reason.  They can make over $100,000/annually by working more and working smarter.  Vendors can make between $48,000 annually and $60,000 annually and have so much free time to fish and enjoy life.  Vendors can make $24,000 annually and have tons and tons of free time and still enjoy a quality of life that many would envy.It’s all up to you!  It’s not luck, it’s not a rare few – IT’S THOSE THAT INVEST IN EDUCATING THEMSELVES to make the most of the time they spend working.
I pride myself in offering tons of free videos, articles, tips, tricks, secrets and training of all sorts so that you can become a successful and happy vendor.  I do this for the love of humanity, for the love of you and it may seem selfish, but it makes me feel great.  It boosts my ego and it allows me to sleep great every single night.

Be sure to listen in to the radio show as we will discuss more about how much you can make as a hot dog vendor and what you can expect.  Hot dog vendor income, event income and making more and more each day.

Previous helpful articles on hot dog vendor incomes.
Can I make a living?
I ain’t making no money! 


Leave a Comment

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Lee June 17, 2012

Although I was aware of these types of numbers to have you post them as honest and outright as you have is a mark of excellent character on your part and is greatly appreciated and respected. I Thank You Sir!


DUGGS DOGGS June 17, 2012

I raise my prices the first of last year, some of my regular customers notices and even said “WOW” but after a month or so no one complains anymore. I agree with Ben except for the fact that you have to allow for weather. I am one of the lucky vendors because I have a fulltime income, a retirement and my hotdog cart. duggsdoggs good!! good!!


Greg Neumann June 17, 2012

Excellant, Even though I have been selling dogs for a short time, your formula (s) are on point


Todd Hubik June 17, 2012

Excellent article Ben!


Joe June 17, 2012

We only work the cart on Saturdays at a flea market. We always sell about $400-$500 (and as much as $700.) in about 5 hours selling, 3 hours prep the night before. Our cost is about 37%, ice is our biggest expense.


Darren Culbertson June 17, 2012

I was a union construction worker for 15 years pretty good money, been doggin for a couple of months love it make about the same income


M.R. Good Dogs June 17, 2012

As usual, Ben, great advice without the hype. Thank you.


Dugan June 17, 2012

This is a great article for me to share with my spouse because she is not completely sold on the “slinging dogs idea”.
Thanks, Ben. This is honest information that I need.


John Armstrong June 18, 2012

Same with my wife, her mouth says yes but her eyes say “I’m not so sure” I’m working on her.


MItch C July 5, 2012

I’m in the same boat guys…but my current job is a 60k+ job. That’s what my spouse and family see. Problem is I am a salaried supervisor and I live in that place!!


Cynthia June 17, 2012

Thanks for your honesty. It is such a blessing to have you sharing your knowledge.
BTW – Happy Father’s Day!! 🙂


Ed Jones June 17, 2012

Great Info…. And it was free … Thanks to Ben.. Want more… BUY HIS BOOK…Hot Dogs Saved My Life… It’s Cheap and FULL of More Great Info. Just like this…You can also jet it on line… This has been a Free Pop-Up Ad for Ben… MY ME… But the book really is very good,,,


Mark June 17, 2012

Ben as always a great piece of information. Thanks


Chuck Smithers June 17, 2012

Good info to know Ben. So far for now I’m a wannabe slinger. Got your book and gathering more info to take the leap some day.


Josh June 17, 2012

Thanks Ben for this info. I havent started yet but now I feel like I can see more clear on some of the income things ive been worried about. But THANKS for the FREE info Ben!


Rich June 17, 2012

Ben I understand the need for generalization to make your point. Truth is some locations just don’t tolerate you up your rates a dollar per hot dog so if you do up your menu a buck a dog you may want to seriously consider moving your location before you do that. My humble opinion. When you do make time to watch the foot pedestrian traffic count and take notes are there seats near where people can sit down is there shade? If there are a gazillion people walking by with no time to stop a high foot traffic count might not be the answer either. Like you say though it’s a constant attention to the small things that will bring in the bacon. Thanks interesting post.


Dennis Figueroa June 19, 2012

Rich, notice how Ben talked about supporting 2-50 customers a day….he didnt put in a traffic count of 10,000 folks going by… Agreed that your site has to be somewhat enticing to get folks to stop and then come back again ( that the real key, building repeat happy customers, because they always bring a freind with them to get a hot dog)


Eltz Hot Dogz June 18, 2012

Once again, the free information given out by Ben just amazes me. Thank you Sir!


Robb Harper June 18, 2012

Still not bad for a “part time business”


Michael Smith June 18, 2012

Great insight, as always!


Bhing June 18, 2012

Thank u for being so kind in sharing all these knowledge to us!


Josh June 18, 2012

Ben is a big help! not many people give out info or even care


Bravo Dawgs June 19, 2012

Great Info and well presented!!!


Josh June 19, 2012

What time does bens show come on today?


Eltz Hot Dogz June 19, 2012

8:30 EST


Mac June 19, 2012

lets get ready to get ready!!! I’m anxiously awaiting.mayby I’ll even call in.Where the heck did I put that new string?……


John Armstrong June 20, 2012

This is great info!


Eltz Hot Dogz June 20, 2012

Another fun show!


Joe June 20, 2012

Received in the mail today “The 29% solutions” suggested by the Veinna Beef director of sales on the radio show. Anxious to get started reading.


Josh June 20, 2012

Great show


Russ June 20, 2012

Total disclosure . . . I love it! Thanks for keeping it real and for all of the good advice. I’m similarly working on my wife to “buy-in” to my dream for a spring 2013 opening in the burbs of Chicagoland. Thanks again Ben!


Josh June 21, 2012

all advice ben has is great


Bhing June 21, 2012

Can’t wait to get started. Still finishing up the red tapes with the naval base here in Mayport, Florida. Thank y’all for the tips!


Cory @ O'Doggy's June 22, 2012

This is just our first week out, and we have learned so much already. But I wouldn’t be this far along if it wasn’t for you Ben. Thanks.


Eric June 22, 2012

Great Info


Bhing June 23, 2012

Just want to say thank you Ben.


Joe June 24, 2012

We had a fair day at the flea market yesterday. Was there for about 5 hours sold 415.00. Enjoyed watching the crowd during slow downs.


John C June 26, 2012

good info


Mike James June 27, 2012

Great info.


Sharon Riley January 28, 2013

I enjoyed the site,,I’m tryin 2 open a hot dog trailer and I was needing information on how 2 start…I love watch those food show about food trailer if you could send me anything that mite be of help…I been in food for over25years and now I wanna go out on my own…


Snack Shack March 16, 2013

Thank you for putting it out there. I am excited about getting started. So tired of working my life away for so little. I have realistic goals. Just want to spend more time with my children. If any of you have any more great tips …would love to hear them. Opening May


Roger Craig April 4, 2013

Good sound advice!


Chris J Baker April 7, 2014

Looking forward to more information on Hot Dog Vendor facts & stats.
Very interested in starting my own business.


Matt Brock November 4, 2014

What would be a realistic amount of money you could make in the first week of business? I just started in the business and this week is my first week.


Mike Frymark March 7, 2015

I’m looking to make an investment with a partner in purchasing some hotdog carts to work the streets of Birmingham as well as trying to get into events around the states. We are trying to figure out the best way to start to be successful. The problem is we both have 6 figure full time jobs and want to find someone to manage the carts and pay people to run them at about $9 an hour + tips.
We are looking to start with 2 carts to get them up and running and then hopefully expanding to at least 8 so that we can do events.
What would be your thoughts on this and do you think we could make this work?

Thank you,
Mike Frymark


Ben April 17, 2015

Hi Mike,

I’ve done several videos and articles on doing just that. Search, “expanding” “growing” in the search box.


potatoe April 20, 2015

i put my face on a clock and call it face time
i put my face in a book and call it facebook
i eat a hotdog/hamburger and think america is awesome


Joe k April 26, 2015

How would you figure in permits, sales tax, self employment tax, federal and state taxes?


Joe k April 26, 2015

Lets say that I work a full time job and decide to start slinging hot dogs part time. I set my business up as a Sole Proprietorship with no employees. I am used to having everything taken out of my check from my full time job. I know that I have to collect sales tax for my product. I know that I have to pay self employment tax, Federal and state. Is this all my taxes?

Incase you havent noticed I am completely new at this business thing. The only way I can explain this is to give an exampel of what Im trying to say.

Lets say I keep my full time job and sling dogs part time. I am averaging a net of $100 each day for three days during the week on my cart. So thats $300 profit. So I now have $300 thats my money. (The part I need help with) with my $300 for the week i decide that I should keep money saved back for my Self Employment tax,sales tax,state and federal taxes. I also have to save back money for permits, vendors insurance, a book keeper and for the tax preparer.

My question is this out of that $300 how much should i save for all of that and how much do I actually get to keep for my self after everything is taken care of? Is there a safe percentage that I can put back each day or week to cover all of this? I hope this made since. Thanks for the help


kenneth Edmund June 11, 2015

I am currently unemployed and are seriously looking for a way of repaying the monetary loans accorded me by family friends and having tapped into the hot dog vendor discussion, I am hoping to being part of this lucrative trade . But just like every business out there, cash and equipment purchases are involved and I would like to know how much is involved in the hot dog cart and the money to operate the business. The do’s and don’ts of the business , including the profit and losses. Thank you.


Cherry December 28, 2015

I was wondering what your predictions would be for me only working 4 days a month I work full time and have another person that uses the truck the other 2 weekends of the month. How can I increase revenue? I am a new business owner and was also was wondering do hot dog vendors file taxes and if so how do you calculate it into the price and do I need to keep a book of all taxes on every item sold for when I do my taxes? Sorry may be easy questions to answer just a newbie so trying to do a lot of research to make he most out of my hot dog truck. Thanks!


Ben December 30, 2015

Hi Cherry. We are going live on Sunday to take calls and questions. You’ve asked some great questions, so please call in or submit questions at this Sunday. See ya there. 🙂


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