Editor’s Note: This is part three of a three-part installment of a blog series called “How To Start A Street Food Vendor Business.”
Finding Your Suppliers
Depending on your startup budget, you may need to access the local grocery store for your first few days. After that, you may find that Costco, BJ's, or SamsClub has everything you need and the best prices. If you plan on using name brand dogs, consider getting an account with a food distributor like Sysco. These companies supply products at a huge savings to you and will often have access to Vienna, Boars Head, and other national premium brands. Most of us use the bulk stores though, like SamsClub.
NOTE: What Brand Should You Carry?
There are as many opinions on this as there are vendors. The best way to ensure you pick the right brand of hot dog is to see what the local grocery stores stock and sell the most of. I would also suggest you do blind taste test. Most vendors steer clear of the basic national brands. Not that these hot dogs taste bad, but they are a dime a dozen and don't have the consumer confidence a premium brand would have. Pick 5 or 6 brands to sample. Invite over some friends and family. Fix the hot dogs on the cart if you have it at this point—it will make for some great practice. Take one hot dog and cut it into about 6 bite sizes with the bun. Place the same colored toothpick in each bite size portion. Repeat this with different colored toothpicks for the remaining taste test dogs.
Allow your family and friends to sample a bite of each brand. Encourage them to taste the bites without condiments so they can actually taste the hot dog. They won't know which brand is represented by which toothpick color, and your results will be much better. Tally up the votes, and tada! you have the favorite. You will then have to decide what size of hot dog to serve to your actual customers.
Practice Makes Perfect
I tell vendors each week not to worry, no one is going to recognize your mistakes unless you tell them, but practice will help you feel more comfortable for handling that first day or that first rush of customers. Remember, this ain't an ER, so don't panic. Just take your time, smile, be friendly, and serve them the best hot dog they've ever put in their mouth.
Now go make some money!
Get More Free Training
You can access comprehensive free training videos and articles from my website. Why start as a new vendor when you can start off with years of experience learned from the free training blog? Imagine being 5 years ahead of other new vendors.
You will certainly have more questions about that first day, and over the years, I've received thousands of questions from nervous new vendors. Here's the top 40 questions I get asked (audio) by new vendors.