As promised, the 2nd part of the AtoZ course. It's been my most popular course for over 2 years now and it's your's for free. If you are behind, please watch part one here first: https://learnhotdogs.com/free-a-to-z-course-hot-dog-vendor-training/
In part two we will move forward and learn about state and local codes and discover some about city and county ordinances. I will show you how to find them and what to do with them so we can move on and get you started faster.
- State Codes
- Local Codes
- City / County Ordinances
How To Become A Hot Dog Vendor Part II – AtoZ Part 2 – Vendor Training
Now you’ve contacted the state and made contact with your local inspector. Now the nice part is you’ll be able to skim through your codes and find the ones relating to food carts. Sometimes they will be mixed, like here in Tennessee, sometimes they will have concession mixed with food cart, open carts. The rules are different but all the rules are in the same group. And so it’s hard to tell unless you have a law degree and so if you read it your supposed to have sinks big enough to submerge your largest pan. Well if you read it correctly is well, NO they don’t even require sinks on carts in Tennessee, they do require them in concession trailers and they have to be big enough to submerge the biggest pan, so problem solved. Its knowing to contact them and doing it, because you want to have your rules in front of you once you start asking the right questions you make sure your getting the right answerers.
If they are giving you arbitrary rules, for instance your health inspector says “well your water box has to be orange with blue polka dots, that’s the only way that’s our code here” and you’ll be able to go SHOW ME THAT because I’ve got the codes and can you tell me where to look that up or can you email a copy of the code where I can find that rule. Most of them will say, “Well that’s something we do locally” then please send me the local code. They cannot come up with rules they cannot back up with paper. This stuff has to be voted on and state health codes can be added to, or expounded upon by a local government. For instance your particular county, we’ll say Wolman County, Wolman can say the state requires two sinks but were going to require three in our county. Yes they can do that, but they have to have some paperwork showing that the county council voted and that is the new code. Most states don’t have that issue. Most states it’s a state code and its state inspectors that work out of each county and they follow the same rules. Sometimes you’ll get a different answer if you ask two different inspectors, and it’s because of their different interruption and that’s why I’m arming you with this knowledge. This way you’ll know what to look for and what to ask.
I have written an article in the past called “Are their lips moving?” they are lying. I know that’s a blanket statement and they are not all like that; but often times when you hear something ridiculous; like recently I heard a lady that they wanted a bug net over her entire cart A BUG NET. So she is supposed to work inside of a bug net and that’s the rule they gave her and she called me in a panic and I explained to her if she asked them for the codes, show me where it says that, and it doesn’t’, but she is all good to go know. The point is that you may hear some of this crazy stuff and I want you to be armed so you feel like “you know what I have the knowledge to combat anything and at least if I’m going to follow somebody’s rules I’m going to know that it is a real rule”.
Because often times these inspectors get a big head, they can get cocky in their position and they go “you know what in my county I’m real strict over here and I don’t allow whole wheat hot dog buns and so that’s just the way it is”. Show me that on paper, I want to see what creates an arbitrary ignorant rule. You will find some places are like that but some of you will go through a breeze this is easy in most areas.
I know at least one of you is from Michigan because I saw that in the comments section of the last video. Michigan can be tricky because you can get somebody who is horribly anal retentive in Michigan and then you can get someone who is like “YEA, we’d love to have a hot dog cart” and they are real good and they help you and they are more open minded and even though they follow the rules they are not ignorant and some you will find are like “Nope we don’t do hot dog carts” you make sure you know the rules.
One of the common things you will hear in Michigan is NSF, “its got to be stamped NSF I’ve got to be able to look at the NSF stamp”. NSF stands for National Sanitation Foundation but they will demand your cart be NSF. If you go to www.learnhotdogs.com/NSF you will see an article I have written and according to NSF’s own standards and guidelines they can’t even approve a cart, they can approve the push carts the ones with the bicycle wheels but they cannot certify to compliance anything that is pulled behind a motor vehicle or is a motorized vehicle. Even though they still have done it and there are some pending legal issues over that because they have been charging some well meaning hot dog cart manufactures, thousands to certify their carts and then come to find out from their rules they don’t certify carts; so be aware of that. IF you want to listen to my rant and explain that more I have a NSF page at hotdogcartstore.com/NSF and that will give you a good break down of NSF, I give you the details “can they really approve a cart” some people don’t know this stuff and I spend my day answering email and phone calls and so this is a lot of the stuff I hand out there and even though I’ve put this on the blog before it just seems to get lost and it gets buried so I just want you to know its there and its accessible and to arm yourself. If they give you that ask them to “SHOW ME THE CODE” ask them to show you where it says your cart has to be NSF stamped. If they use the words “approved” well NSF doesn’t approve carts and I’m being serious here. All they do is certify compliance and there is no approving department at NSF and now UL you’ve seen them on your light bulbs and now they are doing it as well. No state can demand NSF they can demand the certification of one of the certification companies most of them don’t’ so be careful and don’t be discouraged and don’t be like “Well that’s it I can’t be a hot dog vendor, I just wasted all that money” don’t be that person. Don’t take no for an answer and take their crap for an answer, let me know or come back to this and go through this information I just told you and its going to help you.
Take notes of who you speak with and when and about what. There is nothing worse than getting someone who is noting more than a moron. Quick example, there was an inspector and she was horrid, she would make up stuff and tell vendors “nope can’t have it, can’t have it, its got to be NSF sticker its got to be NSF approved or I won’t take it, I don’t want black tires I want Red tires and I like frilly bows on top of the cart”. She would make what we call “stupid rules” so I reported her numerous times and this state doesn’t even require anything to do with NSF it was just this ladies power to boost her ego. Ultimately I took notes, every time I called her I took notes when we talked and about what the conversation was about in general and who I called at the state level and I did this over and over and I created this small portfolio over a period of about a month and then I started doing some research by calling some other people in the area that she worked with. And it turns out that her brother, HER BROTHER, owned two restaurants in town; she was protecting him. So here is a health inspector that had a brother that was a restaurant owner and she was making up arbitrary rules. Well she no longer works there. Needless to say take notes even if you don’t think things are going wrong, take a note it doesn’t matter how simple because there is nothing worse than getting to the top and you can’t remember who told you what. If you give them names and dates with your problem you have given them something to act on and you give the appearance to them that you are not going away. I hate doing all this because I don’t’ want to scare you but I do want to arm you so that you are protected. Some of you won’t have any problems some of you will go trough it with flying colors. Some of you are going to have issues because I get these calls daily and that’s why I made it a part of this course and I’m trying to be as thorough as possible.
I’ve already mentioned about going to the top. Always go to the top if your not getting help or the answers or they are treating you like crap or some people have this impression that hot dog vendors are scum, and the truth is they are better off with you there and you want to go the top if you have to. There are a couple things you’ll hear like; the normal stuff like we require the food safe, you need to provide and adequate way to maintain temps. Some of you will go through this so easily and some of you will have issues. Now you have the information on what to do and now you won’t have to chase the wrong goose through the woods and you can back up and take 10 and go ok I know what to do now I remember Ben told me to do this and you’ll come out a whole lot better.
This is something I didn’t check and I don’t know of those reading if you know my story. It was just four and half years ago or something like that I was bankrupt I had lost a multimillion dollar corporation I was bringing home hundreds of thousands of dollars annually and I had a plane and a farm and CXT truck (biggest in the world) I was just the king of my little world and it came crumbling down. To make a long story short I started selling hot dogs on the side of the road in the same little town where all these people thought I was just IT “he does all the charity he’s always helping and now look at him he’s selling hot dogs on the side of the road” and it was a blow to my ego and my pride because it was almost embarrassing I thought I was above that. The bottom line came down and it was that I had five children at home, we have nine kids four adopted but at the time we had five at home, now we were in a rental home a little two bedroom trailer and now I has to make a living and I got into the business immediately. I flew by the seat of my pants, I found out yes I could vend but then I got my cart and I was so excited I went down to get my license and all that stuff set up and I find out immediately that the local ordinances, which are in my city and county says we don’t allow vendors here in the city limits and I’m like “oh my goodness, what your kidding”. But now I’ve learned a lot, and that can be a long hill to climb if your not willing to climb it or if you don’t have time to wait.
I’m going to teach you ways around it, cause I’m sneaky like that; but I’m also going to share with you that before you make the decision that you are going to jump into this and your like I can’t even serve this here I can’t even go into my town. I was so excited because over 12.5 million visitors come to our town each year because of the Smokey mountains and Dollywood and I was so excited to capitalize on that just a little bit then I got my bubble busted and I found out that yeah we don’t allow hot dog vendors. Not at all! If you know that you are going to work in such and such city I’m going to call down to their code enforcement or the person that does zoning, they call it different things but the bottom line is remember they work for you. Call the city offices and ask where can I find out about permits for street vending, which will get you started in the right direction; sometimes its code enforcement or zoning ordnances, or something like that.
If we looked up a random city, Virginia Beach, they may or may not have their codes available online, some of them do some don’t. It comes down to the same thing, you may not understand or be able to properly understand the information or interrupt the information they are giving you. Because they try to make these things vague, they try to make it difficult, remember its lawyers writing it and I don’t have anything against lawyers but they write in a different language, a foreign one.
I don’t necessarily like going online to find codes because it can take so long but at least you can find a number online and then you can surely find someone that can help you. Either way we need to find out from them if we can vend, and when and where. Because some cities have certain restrictions on what time when you can vend. Lets say you got this brilliant plan of working a bar from 10 at night till 2 in the morning and then you find out the local zoning code says no vendors after 11p.m. on any public right of way. Well what if the bar doesn’t have any private right of way what if their only door is on the sidewalk, like many cities have, so the only place you can be is on the public right of way. Well now your plan is shot and if you have done you due diligence your not going to have any issues. Your going to jump right in and take off with it and you’ll be tickled pink that you did.
Go to part three here.