Michael Wood even practiced how he'd offer carts to incoming Walmart customers. So how did he go from thinking Walmart greeter to hot dog vendor? Because, ultimately – he chose hot dog vending instead.
In His Own Words
The following is the email I received from Michael. Now 10 years into the business he's proven his wife wrong. Michael is a lifetime Vendors United® member and helps, gives advice and shares daily in our VU Street Food Pro group.
Michael also helps vendors all over the world who call into the tech support line. His wife filmed him for me over a few days of vending so that we could create the DAY IN THE LIFE OF A HOT DOG VENDOR video set. It's a must see.
Why did I ever get into the Hot Dog Vending Business??
Well the story started back in 2003, I was in Iraq doing another combat tour working about 12 to 16 hours a day and then I had another 8 hours to kill; yes there are 24 hours in a day..
Well the plan started out with when I retire what am I going to do!! I had spent 24 years in the military and when I retired what would I do. Then the plan became I guess I will get a job a Walmart working the door, would you like a shopping cart today, oh!! You should know that I even practiced how I would give out carts and greet people, sound nutty now that I look back.
I even practiced how I would give out carts and greet people
Long story short, I retired in 2005 and did not know what to do so I completed my resume and drop a copy off at the Sheriff Department. I keep thinking that I was too old for anyone to hire me, hell I was 49 years old. The next thing I know I have a job with the Sheriff Department as a Jailer. I liked the job because I only worked 14 days a month and that fit me good.
Fast forward a little, 2008 a friend ask me if I wanted a better job and I said yes, now I was a Fulltime Armed Security Officer working for a large Chemical Company, great pay, great benefits but I still only work 14 days a month.
Then the little thing I call a brain started rolling and I started looking for something to do. Truth be know my wife was tired of me working on the house. I had worked all my life and now I wanted something to call my own, my own business. Something I could run when and how I wanted to run it.
I wanted something to do that I could do alone or with very little help
I was an Operations Sergeant and a Senior Personnel Sergeant with a Combat Heavy Engineer Battalion. Which means I can operate about any heavy equipment you can name and I can process about any kind of paperwork you want by the truck load. I can handle about any type of weapon system you can think of and not too bad at blowing things up. But that just does hit the spot.
What is this stuff called free training
Then I found a thing called Google. I started looking a different businesses but I wanted something to do that I could do alone or with very little help. I wanted something I could do when I wanted to do it. I also wanted something that I could make money doing. Truth be known I really did not need a lot of money it was more a way of doing something for me.
Well I looked at a lot of different business but I wanted to work outside, did not want to spend a butt load of money to start so I set myself a limit on the amount that I would spend, the limit was $4000.00. Now what could I do for $4000.00. Then I saw an ad for a hot dog cart for sale, that’s it, anyone can cook a hot dog. Problem was the first one that I saw that I liked was $9000.00 way out of the budget.
So I keep looking and found Bens Carts. What is this stuff called free training, no one will give you free training, but there it was You Tube Video’s showing me how to do this. Then there it was a Big Dog for $3195.00 out the door. That would give me about $800.00 for all the other stuff I would need.
Then it hit me, I am an old man that has been around the world more than once and I am not going to fall for a con and damn sure not going to give away $4000.00 of my hard earned money to some one that was a con.
I looked at everything that I could find about the vending business but I keep coming back to the “Big Dog”.
It fit every thing that I wanted and the price was right. Now I needed to find out if this is a con or not so I told a little lie to my wife and told her that we were going to Altanta to the Zoo and see the pandas (she loves pandas) and off we went.
This is where it get strange. I drive through Atlanta (Where I was raised) and all along talking to my wife about the mountains of Tennessee and how it would be nice to ride to the mountains so we keep driving.
What I did not tell her was that I had an appointment with Keith to look at the Big Dog. So we arrived in Tennessee and I broke the news to my wife that I really wanted to go and look at this thing called a Big Dog. Keith met with me and I was hooked.
she thought that it was just a fad or something that would pass in about 6 months.
Keith showed me the cart and a few others and explained how it worked; well in short. He was a smart down to earth type person that I could understand. I thanked him and went on our way. Then I started thinking maybe this is not a con; maybe this will work; but I need a plan.
Now for plan A: Figure out how to do this hot dog business and convince my wife that we needed to do this. If you ask her today she will tell you that she thought that it was just a fad or something that would pass in about 6 months.
Plan B was to setup on the local military base and that plan seemed to be a good one but I always have to have a backup plan so Plan C was to set up in our little town.
I am not going to go over all the stuff I went through but in short plan B fell apart and went to hell so on to plan C.
Well, a few weeks later I called Ben and gave him my credit card number and a deposit for a New Big Dog, that was in 2009.
The question everyone ask is there any money in the hot dog business and/or “I always wanted to do something like that”.
Well, I did it, yes my business is a lot bigger than I had planned because the first plan was to only take the cart out about once or twice a month. Catering, Birthday Parties, Grand Opening, Customer Appreciation Events, Parades and other events were not in the plan. I just wanted to have one street spot a couple times a month.
I still do this as Part Time but I average about 6 times a month taking the cart out. I will be laid off in August 2017 from my Fulltime job but the plan today is to continue to run Duggs Doggs the same way; part time but I will add about 3 more days a month.
Would I do it again knowing what I know today and the answer would be yes.
One last thing, my wife was wrong, I still love doing this today. Yes it is work but to me it is fun work. I get to be my own boss. I get to meet people and have a large following of people that will eat hot dogs every time I set the cart up.
People call me for events and gigs and I have done this by word of mouth advertising. Yes, I have had to turn down business. I guess I am not getting rich but I will tell you that everything that I have that is called “Duggs Doggs” is paid for 100% and the business operates in the “Green”.
I will say that if you don’t make a plan, plan the work and work the plan you will not make it in this business. This is a business and that is as simple as I can say it. Would I do it again knowing what I know today and the answer would be yes.
Michael S. Wood
IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?
If you are self motivated – have an entrepreneur mindset and love being in control of your life – then yes! And if you want to see what it's like – you can follow Michael and his Big Dog from Setup / Cooking / Serving and closing down for the day. A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MICHAEL WOOD
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