It was back in May when Mr. Tom Fanella decided to get into the hot dog vending business. That was the easy part, the hard part would be to convince his wife that this was their light at the end of a dark tunnel. Tom enlisted the salesmanship from their son, Tim, to help convince Ms. Fanella. After much kicking and screaming (just kidding) Ms. Fanella agreed to give it a go.
See she knew that this would be her baby, this would be her business to run. Mr. Tom has some health issues that make a task such as standing a challenge. Fortunately for both, Tim, their son was going to play a big role as well.
They set up in an gas station parking lot next to a McDonalds and surrounded by many other fast food joints at a very busy intersection. Trying to build a loyal customer base they have been deluged with sweltering heat and then days of rain. Even had they been much younger, braving the extreme temps would have been dangerous, so they were unable to remain consistent.
Finally the weather has broke and they have been able to become regulars. Even local drive thru customers at the neighboring McDonalds are noticing and grabbing their $1.00 sweet teas and heading over for a fresh cooked meal from the Tasty Dawg Cart.
Today I received a call from Mr. Fanella about his weekend. Well a one day event called Rock the Ranch where he took the Big Dog Cart and Rocked the concert! $4300 was his income for that single day. Nine or so other vendors and the Tasty Dawg Dominated, it was a crowd favorite among some big name food vendors.
I am in awe! 73 years old and they buy a hot dog cart to help supplement their incomes and if that isn't amazing in itself, they take on an event. Well Tim, their son, he played a big role, lining up the event, advertising and promoting the cart and doing all the leg work – getting, preparing and arranging food
to be on hand. See – a big challenge with events is you must have lots of food on hand, not only is this expensive, but where are you going to store it all. Well Tim must be a genius because he arranged a deal with their food supplier to have a refer truck at the event. (not that kind of refer – this is a family concert) Well Tim struck a deal that allowed them to have ample supplies of dogs, brats, sausages, condiments and buns on hand inside a big freezer truck. Best of all, anything they didn't sell, the food distributor would take back. Incredible!!!
We all need a Tim.
You can hear my impromptu discussion with Mr. and Ms. Fanella I recorded while we spoke on the phone. One of the most difficult things for vendors planning for an event is deciding on how much product to have on hand. I learned today that the sometimes the wholesale food supplier has a much better system to figure this out. Most of us use the 5% and some 10% figure, we take enough to feed 5 to 10% of the expected crowd. Problem is there are too many variables, weather, how many other vendors will be there competing for the same hungry stomachs and how many people will sneak in their own food. This is my first attempt at recording an interview so in 20 or 30 years I will have it down to a science – in the meantime, please bear with me. Note there are some audio problems, I was recording in my fancy studio off a cell phone. Edit: the audio file is too big to put here. Sorry about that.
If you have an upcoming event or may be considering doing events, I have an article on this blog by another successful vendor who did a 250,000 person event and it may help you with planning and preparation for yours. Already a pro? Great, share the knowledge, we all can use help and advise and would be very thankful!