Probably the most requested part of this course, locations. In this episode we will find out the tried and true locations vendors worldwide use to achieve success, plus we will discuss those special locations that the average vendor never considers. Most successful vendors, contrary to public opinion – are NOT working some street corner.
Not that a street corner can't be a successful location, but facts are that more vendors compete for the same spots and the same customers – when they chose to work the street-side locations.
Learn here what some of my most successful customers have found to be the best hot dog vendor locations and without competition. Enjoy.
- Location – Location (expanded)
- Location – Location – Location (special)
Part 9 A- Z
Let’s talk about location, I have had some questions previously before the show even started about locations and we are going to cover that you will notice that I am going to talk faster and try to get you through this and again I apologise for how long it’s going but it’s packed. Okay, menu pricing we have discussed that location is crucial to your success and my favourite is walking traffic. I believe that’s best because they have already stopped, they don’t have to make a decision to pull off the road, get out of traffic hope that they can get back into traffic. You know when you are on your way to somewhere you feel like I have got to get there, I have got to get there, I don’t even care if my bladder busts I am going to go there, I am not stopping for gas I am not stopping period. That’s how a lot of people feel on their way to and from work. Now lunch people are usually searching for people like you and they don’t mind stopping but I am just giving you a heads up, a lot of people will be I am in a place where 80,000 people go by in this intersection and I am just not making it here, well because it’s an intersection and people are wanting to go, go, go, go and they are not wanting to stop and they are not wanting to figure out how to get to you if you are not easily accessible from the road, you can hang it up find a new location, unless you are real patient and can build up a following. Retail locations are fantastic these would include places like dollar general, family dollar, you will find there are certain days that you can be there and make more I have tried dollar general for 7 days a week for 2 weeks and ago okay, I have figured out that Friday and Saturdays are the best I have even done this long enough to know that I know that the first week of every month is always better than any other week in the month at those locations and the reason why is that people get their checks, they get their welfare they get their social security or whatever and they are going to dollar general and so dollar general is typically busier on those weeks. Now once you build up a rapport with the Manager in the store they will probably give you some of that information, they will go you know what Tuesday’s because we do that Tuesday coupon day that’s our busiest day every week Tuesday and you will go oh great I will try Tuesday and you come Tuesday and you do double the money and you go you know what I don’t really need to be here Wednesday and Thursday because it’s almost dead and it’s not worth being here, I can go and work somewhere else or I can go fishing and I am making enough here on Tuesday you know and with my other days I don’t need to work Wednesday and Thursday here anymore and that’s how you make those decisions.
Family Dollar I have already mentioned, All the Dollars you know there are lots of those type of dollar type stores. Co-op which is your agriculture, farmer places and most of your Cities they have a Co-op, Farmers Co-op and they are excellent on certain days some Co-ops are busy enough you could be there 7 days a week, Tractor Supply is another one you could get and probably kill it, I have got a buddy that does Tractor Supply right now and he does an unbelievable amount of money, he probably averages, I know he only works 3 days a week and I know he does 200-300 a day but he is only there 3-4 hours each day which is damn good money. Goodwill is another fantastic spot, some Goodwill’s are busy every day, every single day no matter what and remember if you are not writing these down you don’t have to you are going to get the videos you are going to get my show notes list it, but if you want to write them down if you see one that just sparks your attention and go I didn’t think about that and then keep that in mind, Goodwill is another one, there are different times of the month that Goodwill does better so keep that in mind too and different days of the week that are better. Harbour Freight Tools, that is a busy place and big thrift stores I forgot, big thrift stores kick butt. If you have a big thrift store that does a lot of volume that may be a heck of a good spot to set up. Harbour Freight Tools is like Northern Tool they are busy, busy, busy, they are real busy on weekends and once you build a rapport and you go in, I know I haven’t told you yet but I would go in and approach them and go hey my name’s Ben me and my wife have a hot dog cart kind of the same pitch that I did for [inaudible 04.50] that’s how we make our living and we are looking up to open up somewhere on this side of town and wanted to see if you would like us to try it out next week maybe Thursday and he may go oh my gosh or he may go Tuesday’s would be better or whatever and once you are there and I always suggest feeding the employees and them at least the Manager’s even a few employees whatever you decide to do and whatever you can afford, feed them that day the first day you are there then from then on you will know what they like and what they, you will have a rapport with them you will be able to ask them hey how are you, what’s your busiest day here and they go oh my gosh Saturday is our busiest day. It all comes down to building that rapport and getting that information so you can figure our your work schedule because you don’t want to be there, they may say Friday’s the busiest day they ever have but you find out that Saturday is actually busier from 10-2 than Friday is from 10-2. So Friday may be a busier day but you don’t want to be there all day you just want to work 10-2 so you find out that Saturday is the better day, the best way to do this is to keep that yellow pad handy and write notes how does this place do, how does this place do, those are smart things to do, keeping notes will help you so much in making decisions you know I have gone back and you know everybody is requesting jalapenos and I am just like I can’t believe that and then you write down need to add jalapenos and then you get to thinking about it and you say next time I am going to write down these things people say I wish you did tomato slices okay I am going to write it down, tomato slice request and you may have only heard it twice a week it feels like you heard it a bunch and so you add it and it really doesn’t do that well because it’s just something. If you all know I did that video recently of Sergeant Pepper’s [inaudible 7.09] Tennessee in front of the book store and I had never considered a book store and that book store is busy, busy, busy, I have been there 100 times, I always buy books there it’s a long way for me, it’s 3 hours but it’s loaded up with some books and they have them in order and it is easy to find I like to read and so you can go to Find you Something Busy anything like that and you will do well, they were tickled pink to have them they wanted them there, it was like you know bread and butter met they were tickled pink to have them and they were tickled pink to be there. Walmart is another one and I have talked about this several times it is a little trickier because you almost have to attach yourself to a charity, I do know a guy right now who is not attached to a charity, Walmart was like yeah set up and he set up and so it never hurts to ask but typically you have to attach yourself to a charity what I mean by that is you have to go to Humane Society or Safe Space and go hey we would like to donate a portion of our sales every day to you and they would go absolutely and then you go can we get some stickers do you mind if I use some of your signs do you have any shirts, t-shirts anything I can wear and then you have got to Walmart and go hey we are raising money for Habitat for Humanity locally or the local Humane Society and they go absolutely, set up and now you are set up because you are using the charity and you are giving back to the community and you are able to make more money and you are able to be in front of a key place like Walmart. There is also places like Kmart I know some vendors more than one that are able to get there it is easier and that’s without a charity. Plant Nurseries the big ones the ones that supply lots of plants to other places those are great and then you have got a, this one I did a blog article about a guy he is at a Habitat for Humanity outlet store where they sell furniture it’s like a thrift store so same deal and that’s what he does, then I have got the you know those unexpected stuff and I call that my location, location instead of just locations and you don’t need all these spots but this gives you an idea of how many opportunities there are to make money, I talked to, well even Pam she is fixing to add more carts there are lots of vendors fixing to add more carts and have added more carts this year that I worked with last year because they have added more locations and need more carts, the potential is there for all of us so you can really make quite a bit of money doing it.
Let’s go through these real quick my favourite spots are the ones that no one thinks of you know those out of the way like Hospitals you know the inside cafeteria usually closes like at 4 like at most hospitals that means all the staff and all those people because hospitals don’t close up ever, they don’t like close for the day and so you have still got people coming and going you have got employees coming and going and you might could open up from 4 till 7 or 4 till 9 and rake it in I know people that are, I know a lady, this isn’t the lady that’s illegal but she does barely speak English and she has 2 carts now all because of hospitals, so they can be very lucrative. Factories as you know they are my second spot I kicked butt that was an awesome spot preferably when their cafeteria is not only during the day so the third shift the night shift doesn’t get food they have to bring their food, it’s too far out for them to drive into town so it was like shooting fish in a barrel they were hungry and it was wonderful to have hot fresh food they had, a guy called it the wheel of death they had one of those revolving things you put $2 in and get a cheeseburger that you could heat up in the microwave and now they were getting fresh hot food with Coca-Cola and onions and all my fixings and out there I was able to serve more because there was no help [inaudible 11.45] going to be there so I had accidentally had cheese and stuff. Construction sites those are often overlooked they are not overlooked in your bigger cities with big food trucks that pull up there and feed but there are some construction sites where they are building something for the Government or they are building on something and you know your City doesn’t have food trucks like Miami would or something like that or maybe Nashville it’s more like my town a big construction site comes those people just leave for lunch or have brought their lunch, you show up with a hot dog cart and you are a hero for the day, you don’t have to show up every day you can show up every now and then and just make them happy. Government office complexes are another good one, business office complexes, Industrial complexes all those, you know those people leave for lunch and a lot of them would stay and eat with you if they knew that every Tuesday and Thursday that hot dog boy he is going to be down here and I don’t even need to bring my lunch today and that boy is going to be here and I am going to get me a hot dog and so that’s what you do you find those spots and you try them. Auto Salvage Yards are another good one, Saturday’s are really buys at Auto Salvage Yards Saturday’s and Sunday’s because people are off work and they are able to go and get the parts for the car to fix. Public Boat Ramps if you can get permission to be there they are superb especially on the weekends or during a Fishing Tournament or something like that. State Parks there is a lot of State Parks that have shut down their concessions because they weren’t busy enough and the Government lost funding and so they cut it out or somebody had the little restaurant opened at the State Park and it’s closed down now because there wasn’t enough volume, there may be enough volume for you to show up on Saturdays and the state may welcome you, I do know vendors working in state parks, I know vendors working in military bases that are able to come and go out of a military base and serve hot dogs so you may find that to be a lucrative. Auction Houses, they do these weekend auctions where we are going to auction stuff you can pick up a spot like that and make fantastic money at an auction those people are captive they don’t want to leave and they are going to be there for the auction and knowing they can step outside the door and get a good hot meal, it’s superb. Bars, I have already talked about the bars and the clubs and you know those are wonderful spots you can ask my buddy Rob he’s on the Hot Dog Vendor Radio with me he’s still got a cart that works at the bar and they do good with that. Auto Auctions find of like your regular auctions but you have got some big auto auctions and they do an auction once a month, they do it every Tuesday night it’s a dealer auction and if you get your foot in the door there and some of them don’t have any food service or they just have machines, coke machines and snack machines and you get your foot in the door there and you could make just hand over fist money at an auto auction there may be 600-700 dealers there and you make a tonne, we had a vendor on Moncrieff Williams look up his on Hot Dot Answer Man’s Pod Cast recently I interviewed Moncrieff and he talks about the auto auction that’s right here in Tennessee and so that’s another one to keep in mind.
Here’s more location, location, location this is my third page of locations, easy money stuff the one day, one week pay type places huge neighbourhood or multifamily yard sales I have talked about them before it’s no secret but you know if you missed it or you didn’t hear it it’s a heck of good [inaudible 15.40] if you look up in the newspaper or online a community blog or you know whatever and they go we are having a multi-sale yard sale over on 5th and blah, blah, and we are doing such and such call for information you call the number and you go hey my wife and I have a small hot dog cart and catering company and wanted to know if you would like us to come out we see you are having a huge yard sale a multi-family yard sale, we will come out and set up like 10-2 and feed some of your guests, it won’t cost you a dime and everybody will be happy and they would love it, I have not heard of anybody getting a no I guess you could but I have not heard of it, so you could really make, really good money at doing one of those and you could actually make a week’s worth of money working one of those and so those are always good little cash Cal jobs that you can get on the side and make full time income those obviously seasonal but there are other things like those. Churches and Communities do fund raisers those are also fantastic for ways to come in and help and you may if you know if it’s a community fundraiser and you want to go in and go listen you know we will give a portion of our proceeds we will be there if people want to eat, they may stay longer, they may shop longer they may come by because you are offering you know you got hot dogs here and part of the proceeds help us build the wamboozel kiddie park thing and then they are broadcasting that on the radio and here you are making money and you got free advertisement and that is another one that works.
You can also create events like I know you would have heard me on the radio show talking about this but creating events is fun you can create your own event, if you know the school is having trouble raising money for the Senior Prom or whatever you can go and say hey you know we have got a small catering cart and we can set up and serve and what we will do is give a portion of the proceeds from the ball games that we are at or we will do this fundraiser you bring out art and blah, blah, blah and you can create your own event, you can raise money for something and help the community, let’s say somebody’s house burned down and the community is getting together to raise money to help you know at least have money to replace some of their lost items and you could create an event around that and then you would be the caterer then you are killing multiple birds with one stone, you know you are helping your community, recreational fields, a lot of recreational fields same way they don’t have a food service or they don’t have enough money to run one and you know when it’s Government they have to provide insurance and liability and this and that and they just don’t want to deal with it so they close the little concrete building they built to sell concessions and they close it up or they close it up and put in you know vending machines and some of those would love to have you in there, there are people out there that do those there it is just a matter of asking, City pools I know for a fact of some vendors that are working City pools that didn’t have you know in the summer time the City pool didn’t have food vending at all they had nothing and so people you know parents that drop their kids off you know for all day swimming and then they take lessons and then they swim all day until the parents get off work and they are at the pool all day, well they are hungry instead of bringing their lunch they know the hot dog guy is going to be there and that’s another good one. School games a lot of school’s don’t have concessions or they would have limited concessions and they would love to have you out that’s another one to go after, gun shows, auto shows you name it any kind of show would be awesome, knife shows you could really have a captive audience number 1 what you have to do is get hold of the event planner typically listed in the information only ad like if it’s on TV going knife and gun show Knoxville and the Civic Coliseum, blah, blah, blah call 865 such and such for information well I call that information number and go hey we have got a small catering cart, hot dog cart and it looks like those New York Hot Dog Carts and do you have anybody doing food service you know we would like to be there at the entrance and they go oh my gosh we would love to have you and that’s how you get in those places just asking. Any shows just basically and events is hard easy money and I am not going to go into events real, real big here for tonight because it is such a huge subject, I have done some blog articles on it, if you type in events in the search engine you will find them over at Learn Hot Dogs.com but you can make tonnes of money in one fell swoop, $8,9,000 in a day but it is lots of work there’s more risk involved and you to have some pretty deep pockets to get it going as far as to do one because you have to buy all that stuff that you are fixing to sell so that stuff that you have to think about.
Catering this can be huge even on your cards and I am not talking about sneaking it into your name I am talking about this can be a huge money maker saying we care, we do drop off service we do all of this so that you can make money, so that you can provide food for your employees, your picnic, the Fire Department gallow thing whatever it is, you can show up at an event that the Fire Department recently had a wreck day where they tested them skill tested them stuff and he basically invited himself with his hot dog cart to that skills and brought his cart, set it up and he told me I don’t know I don’t know if I even believe this 100%, he told me that he didn’t ask permission he just showed up and nobody questioned him and he just showed up and started serving dogs to people and people were like oh man that’s great hot dog vendor here and he got 300 fireman out there doing all these skill tests and practice day and stuff like a wreck day and he served them hotdogs. Corporate party and meetings and employee picnics and kids parties the drop off service and packaging service if you haven’t heard me talk about that I just recently learned about that, it’s not something I have been doing this is a brilliant way to make money it’s where you drop off the cart and show them how to use or drop you and the cart off, renting you and the cart or you go listen we will supply everything you need it will be ready to go. We will drop off the cart to your event with enough weenies, enough condiments what do you like blah, blah, blah we will drop it off already to go here’s how you cook it, here’s how you use it and you drop it off to them, it’s like a drop off package and I never considered it for the hot dog business, but I actually did it on July 4th, I was able to drop off the cart, drop off the food and they cooked so there’s things like that you can do and make extra money in this business.
You have heard Jason talk about the wine tastings, he is serving you know exotic meats you know pheasant, quail, bison and ostrich meats and sausages at wine tastings and making a killing, being very successful. You can do open houses like a realtor does a huge open house and advertises it and you can contact them and go I see you have got open house, have you got somebody catering that, oh no we are not doing food or anything, well I have a small catering company and we have a hot dog cart that would be perfect for that how would you like it if we came up there what’s a good time and they go man if you could be here by 10 this would keep them from leaving and you know that would be awesome and they go are you licensed, and you go yep we are licensed, bonded and insured we are ready to go, we have been checked for ticks and everything, so you are good to go and you are able to, you have created jobs for yourself.
Let’s see I want to back up, I think I missed something for you there, I think I got click happy, check your local newspaper for local events and announcements absolutely those were the local events I was talking about before, yard sales and stuff like that.
Food Safety is crucial I am not going to blow your mind with all the information here but it’s a requirement in some states that you take a Food Safety and Handlers course usually that course is 3 or 4 hours, they call it a 1 day course, it is usually 4 hours long and you pay $75 or $50 and you take it and they guarantee you to pass it and you leave and it teaches you all about Food Safety, even if your state doesn’t require it I advise you to get one it’s smart to get one a lot of restaurants require their employees to have one because one is it going to look good on the side of your cart a certificate you know passed the Food Safety Course or had the Food Safety Course or is Food Safety Certified or whatever and now you look a little more professional and you do know about food contamination cross contamination and those things so it is good either way. Proudly display your Certificate, wear gloves all the time, check temperatures this is stuff you will learn in that and even if you don’t have to I am providing you with a link in the package of stuff that I send you in the email with links and stuff it is going to have some basic knowledge guidelines on food safety, if you don’t want to do the food safety course it will at least teach you some stuff things to look out for and your Health Department will give you limited information but this will keep you ahead of the curve. If in doubt fill it out, I get calls from people they go Ben my gosh I messed up I had a flat tyre and I left the cart and I didn’t realise I had those hot dogs in there and do you think they are okay and I always say if you are in doubt, throw it out, okay so you lost $40 dollars yes that’s a big deal if you are really tight and you are just getting started, I understand that but much rather lose $40 dollars than get somebody sick or hurt somebody or anything like so that is you are in doubt throw it out. Extra apron and utensils, always, always have an extra apron and utensils you don’t want to drop your tongs on the ground and then go over in front of a customer and wash them off and clean them and start back to work you know digging out their weenie off the tongs you just dropped on the ground because the concept just messed with their head you just dropped these tongs, I know you cleaned them I know I saw you clean them but you just dropped them on the ground so it’s always better to throw them under the sink or hang them off the arm thing on your cart and grab you another set of tongs, keep them in a plastic Tupperware container or something and that way it looks professional and you are professional.
People get scared of competition, don’t be the red truck theory oh my gosh there are so many people getting into this how am I ever going to make it, I am using a picture here showing multiple vendors you know together, it really doesn’t matter, I asked somebody recently they called me they said I am in a little biddy town I don’t know how I am going to do it, what if other people get in is my town big enough. Well how many gas stations do you have? Oh I got three, so your little biddy town has 3 gas stations and 3 convenience stores, yep, I don’t think it is going to be a problem for your hot dog cart then and if somebody else comes in all you are looking for is some of the business you are not looking for all of it, you are not going to get all of it, it’s not like people from one side of town are going to go you know what Bob’s on the other side of town on that hot dog cart we have got to go over there, no, they are not going to do that for the most part unless you are giving away $50 dollar bills or something. So don’t worry about that it’s like the theory the red truck you know you buy a red truck and suddenly you see them everywhere and it’s not that there are more red trucks out there it’s just that you are tuned into them and now you are noticing them so it’s like hot dog carts now that you are in the business you will start noticing them and you will start noticing other people talking about them and you go oh my gosh if I don’t hurry everybody is going to be in this and the market is going to be all burned up, hot dog vendors have been out for years and years and years and you don’t have to worry there’s plenty of room for you.
Okay let’s see, the competition helps us all because especially in these towns that never heard of us the more that come in and the more that apply the easier it gets, they realise that this is a viable business we shouldn’t be scared of it, it actually makes our streets safer, you have got to read that IG PDF that I am going to send you, it is proven to make our streets saver, proven and scientific and so that’s what you need to worry about is encouraging other vendors, you don’t want somebody moving right next to you, but if there are enough people it just doesn’t matter. When I went to the flea market there was 9 people vending hot dogs and I am talking a little town, it wasn’t the end of the world still had huge days one day we did 1407 with 9 other hot dog vendors.
Marketing another important one, market, simple and effective ideas even if you can’t afford it at first, go to the poster board route and a sharpie marker, just make it look neat, if you have a kid that can write nice then let them do it, or use stencils or something make it look neat. Your advertising doesn’t have to say everything that you do or your company name, nobody cares what your company name is on the side of the road as, you can have your company name on your card but as far as your sign don’t put your logo and stuff on there yet I would, because you are not doing a branding what you are trying to do is let them know that you are there and you have something, well what do you have, well I have got my logo I have got all kinds of stuff on here that there is no possible way you will be able to read by the time you pass this sign so just put what you do, fresh hot dogs or hot dogs or all beef hot dogs or lunch for 5 dollars you know stuff like that gets people’s attention not your logo. Flags, this is an example of a flag here in the middle of your screen those are handy, you can get banners cheap, business cards, post card business cards, you can call the radio and the paper and stuff and say hey we have just opened up we are going to be at such and such and they do a story on you and that’s free advertising. You can do magnets that you can hand out with like the local team’s football schedule and give them these business card magnets that they can hang on the refrigerator but it’s got your information, hot dog cart corner of third and fifth. You know that kind of stuff but none of that has to be immediately, as long as you have some decent looking signs at first buy some coloured poster board and a black chopping marker you can make a good looking sign.
Testing locations and we are getting their folks I know that this has gone on way longer than I anticipated but we are almost there and then we are going to go into some questions and stuff like that. Testing locations is key I have already mentioned it but I get questions like how long, how long shall I test it I have been there a week, well a week probably wouldn’t do it, if you are not making enough to survive I wouldn’t stay longer than that, but if you are making enough to survive even if it’s not real good you may want to stick it out longer because it maybe not the first of the month yet or it may be that your signage isn’t right yet or you are not in the right spot in the parking lot yet, I had a lady call me and she had tried so many different things she was in front of Auto Parts Store and I had her just move positions, I said are you allowed to be anywhere in that parking lot and she said yeah and I said have you been in the same spot and she said yeah because everybody can see me from here and I said well try this I had her move a little way further from the store front but out in the parking lot, she stuck out then like a sore thumb she didn’t blend into the store and now she stuck out like a sore thumb with her big bright red umbrella and she started doing well that’s all it took was moving just 20, 30, 50 feet something like that, it’s all relative to the location, the situation to give you an idea of how long, but I wouldn’t stay anywhere very long if you are not making enough money to survive or making enough money to make it worth your while to be there and that’s going to have to be a lot of independent decisions that you are going to have to make. Multiple locations are excellent like I talk about going 2 days a week to such and such because those are the two best days there and then on Friday and Saturday go over here because those 2 days are good and they are the only 4 days I am going to work and now you have got a 3 day weekend every week and so there’s things like that that you can do that you can tell locations and you find out that the piggly wiggly the best day to be in front of there is Tuesday’s and so I am only going to work there Tuesday’s and now I am going to find somewhere else the other days that I am going to work and so you can do multiple locations now I don’t like moving from location to location in one day, I won’t do it, so find a location that’s good from 10-2 or whatever schedule you are going to work and work it that time, don’t be like I am going to be here from 10-2 then I am going to run down to Bob’s Bees Wax Parts and I am going to be there from 6-9 at night. No, only do that if it is really really worth it, otherwise it becomes a lot of work and a lot of moving the cart around and setting up and resetting up and you have got all these extra time involved and I know some vendors that do it and they do it with success, only do it if it’s a success though don’t just try to do it. Different times and days yes, there’s different days like I said and there is also different times of the days like I was giving you the example that Friday maybe the busiest day for them but Saturday in between 10-2 they may actually get more people and so between 10-2.
Record keeping, if you don’t keep records of what you are doing then you will not even if you are just hand writing them on a yellow pad you are never going to know what you are doing so I say write it down and go okay last Tuesday I did this, this Tuesday at the same place, same time I did this and if you just write it down on a piece of paper you will be able to look back and go okay now I have been at this a month and I have been to this location 6 times and I have been at this location 18 times and look here Thursday sticks out as a busy day and now you can recognise stuff easily instead of being influenced by I had a busy day and a big rush, I have had big rushes and get home and man we had a busy day holy cow we probably racked it in and you start counting your money and go I didn’t do as good as I did yesterday and you go oh it’s because of that big rush stuck out in your head. Yeah you took in a lot of money real quick but it wasn’t really overall a busy day so that’s why record keeping is really going to help you. Obstacles, you are going to have them I am going to have them it’s just part of it, there’s competition, there’s law changes, there’s obstacles with getting events, you can get a lot of obstacles there but we are all going to get them it’s just the nature of the beast and there’s no way around it, most of them are all, well I would say they all obstacles are overcome able, you can overcome any obstacle as long as you know the ways around it as far as you don’t look at and go oh I can’t serve here because they won’t allow me, like when I got my cart I was like well that ends that now I am done, no I found a different way to vend and that’s what it comes down to I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t attacked that obstacle head on.