Been a tough road....

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djdawg
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Been a tough road.... - Sun, 07/14/13 4:17 PM
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It's been almost a year since I started slinging dogs and I think I'm about done.  I have come to the realization that there really is not much money in this business UNLESS you have a very, very good location.  Everyone's situation is different but for me at least, if I sell any less then 40 dogs a day on a regular basis, I fall behind.  I'm single, have no other work and this is my sole source of income.  My biggest mistake when I started all of this a year ago is not placing enough importance on having enough cash flow for essentials...thinking in my mind "it's only hot dogs".  But even with "just hot dogs" things add up and quick.
 
There is a company that I wanted to go work for a few weeks ago but I will need to wait 12 months until I get on with them...I won't get into why but that's the reality.  Until then, I will push forward with slinging dogs for another year trying to hold on....I do have a brand new location that I'll be starting in a little over a week and who knows, if it turns into a gold mine, I might just hang around.  (See my thread about cheapest way to make a sandwich sign)
 
I hope some of you are doing better..... 

Rcoy
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Sun, 07/14/13 4:25 PM
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I hope things turn around for you @ the new spot. (or even at the old one) Are you in Seattle proper or in an outlying area? I ask because I live across the water but get over to your side pretty frequently. Sounded like your ice cream trike was a hit?
<message edited by Rcoy on Sun, 07/14/13 4:26 PM>

djdawg
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Sun, 07/14/13 4:44 PM
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The ice cream trike has been working well.  Weird how things worked out though....the whole reason I made it was because at the time I was doing the lunch thing at 3 different companies 4 days a week.  It was short and sweet and my day was over by 2 or so.  I had all this extra time to be making $ so that's why the trike was built.  However, every single one of my companies crapped out and sales were so low that I pulled out of all of them.  So now that I'm back to a regular, longer slinging day I really don't have much time to do the ice cream....let alone have the energy to pedal around town.

jcheese
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Sun, 07/14/13 5:52 PM
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Mr. Dawg, I've been following you since before you started. Thought you were doing better.
Maybe take a good look at your overhead. Streamline your menu, especially with things that don't carry from day to day. How much do you toss? How much do you eat?
I'm single and my kids are grown, so it's me and my dogs.They love the dirty water on their food. They also expect at at least a dog a piece when they see the cart roll in.
One thing I do is feature one item, one day a week.  Meatball Monday or Pulled Pork Slider Saturday. That way if I have to eat what's cooked, I don't get sick of it.
Watch your propane use.Don't need all burners going full speed.
Make your own ice. Freeze water bottles and put them in your sodas.
Remove any excess weight from your truck to help gas mileage.
Check your suppliers and see if you're getting the best prices.
Hope this helps.

Foodbme
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Sun, 07/14/13 7:36 PM
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Gentlemen, it's a numbers game.
You need people---Lottsa' People---Lottsa' foot traffic people!------A High Density of people!
Small towns do not provide the numbers of people you need.
Now, there are exceptions but if you're in a low density population area, your chances of having enough people to support your business are slim.

jcheese
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Mon, 07/15/13 5:40 PM
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Life's a bitch, ain't it? I live in a small-town area by choice. I bought an 8 acre plot with a 2 bedroom house for $23,000 ten years ago, with cash. My '89 Toyota has only 82,000 miles on it, paid for. I live in the country. I grow a lot of what I sell, or get it locally. I don't wanna get rich, just pay the bills and a little extra. It's been tough, but what are my choices? I'm semi-disabled so I can only do so much. My former profession is out of the question.
Most restaurants go outta business pretty quick. Because of overhead.
Rent, wages for employees, food costs, taxes, etc.
It costs me about about $500 a year to stay in business......that's lisences and insurance. So this business will never go under, just may not make me the money I need. If I do something else, I can always hit the street, or whatever and make a few bucks.
No business succeeds w/o a lot of work.
Success takes time. Put your heart into it, or get out of it.

brickboo
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Tue, 07/16/13 12:05 PM
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Jack,
It's more of a bitch when you're being told that you can do $100,000 a year slinging dogs. 

chefbuba
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Tue, 07/16/13 4:33 PM
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If you ever believed that, I have a piece of buildiable land in Florida for sale.

BpCBlake
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Tue, 07/16/13 8:01 PM
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geezuz
Who did you buy your cart from, some conman?
"Sell dogs, become rich..." 
 Dogs are just a way to be free, not really rich. unless you luck into a super location and do 1000 dogs a day.
<message edited by BpCBlake on Tue, 07/16/13 8:02 PM>

Tristan225
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Tue, 07/16/13 10:06 PM
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$650.00 gross a day

brickboo
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Tue, 07/16/13 10:26 PM
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CHEFBUBA - BcPBLAKE - TRISTAN225
 
Would guys mind telling me who you bought your carts from, and how much money did they tell you that you could possibly make. The two guys who talked me into this business told me that I could make $200 a day easily in a 3 or 4 hour day.
 
They never mentioned that 5000 people would have to pass my cart in the 3 or 4 hours (on foot) not driving by, that I would spend there. There's probably 10,000 people in the city that I live in.
 
Does anyone live in a city where 50% of the people pass by your cart every day? 
<message edited by brickboo on Wed, 07/17/13 1:11 AM>

Tristan225
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 12:06 AM
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Craigslist. He said you wanna pay this much, or not.

brickboo
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 1:17 AM
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Tristan, I got mine off of Craigslist too. It was used twice and with the shipping it was approx $4500. I got it like brand new for $2500. But it wasn't the person I bought it from who told me I could do so much in so little time. 
 
 

chefbuba
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 1:45 AM
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No one told me anything, I did my research, I knew a thing or two about the business, I have been in the food service business
since 1980.
Add another zero to your 4500, that's what I'm sitting on.
My check average is also North of $10, and I live in an area that only has around 10,000 full time residents........
I'm like JC, disabled, can only work 11-2 then I'm exhausted.
The home I live in is paid for, my truck is paid for, the trailer is paid for.
This thing keeps a roof over my head, I'm not getting rich, nor did I think that I would.

BobbyVang
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 12:32 PM
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@Buba

That's pretty good, just guestimating the average salary of all my friends is about 25-30K here in CA. So you make quite a bit more than what I would consider an average CA citizen and work less than them. Pretty good in my opinion. Not rich, but above average for a lot less work.

chefbuba
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 12:59 PM
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I didn't say anything about a salary.

BobbyVang
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 1:02 PM
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Oh, I thought you meany add another 0 to 4500 (45000$) and that was your average yearly. Misread. ;/
<message edited by BobbyVang on Wed, 07/17/13 1:04 PM>

chefbuba
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 1:48 PM
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That's my trailer.

BpCBlake
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 4:23 PM
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BobbyVang


@Buba

That's pretty good, just guestimating the average salary of all my friends is about 25-30K here in CA. So you make quite a bit more than what I would consider an average CA citizen and work less than them. Pretty good in my opinion. Not rich, but above average for a lot less work.

and we are free and our own boss. err unless you have a wife.
 

sillydogz
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 8:30 PM
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Boo,
   I've been open for a few months but haven't been able to work as much as I wanted due to rain almost every day in May & June. 
 
   I set up at night outside the bars. I compete on Satudays with a taco cart, 2 pizza joints, Five Guys burgers a few food trucks pop up in the area from time to time. I'm still selling around 80 dogs in 2-3 hours time and I'm just starting to gain a loyal following. Once that happens I know I'll easily sell over 100 in that time. I did my research though and realized that night time was going to be the best time for me to sell. I watched the crowds, road around scoping out spots and went for it. I had a completely different business plan when I started. I was going to sell higher end all beef dogs with a bunch of various toppings. They didn't sell. So I canned my plan, bought a regional brand of dogs and only bring the basic toppings. My food cost is super low now and I sell as many dogs. It's all about finding out what sells in your area.

BpCBlake
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Wed, 07/17/13 9:05 PM
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sillydogz


Boo,
 I've been open for a few months but haven't been able to work as much as I wanted due to rain almost every day in May & June. 

 I set up at night outside the bars. I compete on Satudays with a taco cart, 2 pizza joints, Five Guys burgers a few food trucks pop up in the area from time to time. I'm still selling around 80 dogs in 2-3 hours time and I'm just starting to gain a loyal following. Once that happens I know I'll easily sell over 100 in that time. I did my research though and realized that night time was going to be the best time for me to sell. I watched the crowds, road around scoping out spots and went for it. I had a completely different business plan when I started. I was going to sell higher end all beef dogs with a bunch of various toppings. They didn't sell. So I canned my plan, bought a regional brand of dogs and only bring the basic toppings. My food cost is super low now and I sell as many dogs. It's all about finding out what sells in your area.

yeah, it most towns the bars and clubs are open past the food places. so you have to go home, or find a mobile vender.
 

brickboo
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Thu, 07/18/13 12:06 AM
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I did a club filling in for my Home Depot buddy one weekend last fall. I just did Thursday $50 and Saturday $187. I couldn't do Friday. A couple of months back, the lady that runs the cart for my friend at Home Depot said that my buddy took his other cart back to the Denver area on the other side of the Rockies. 
 
I went to check on the club gig and it is shut down and for sale. We have may 3, 4 possibly 5 clubs that are real busy with the young folks dancing. There are other bars but local small establishments with maybe 15 or so people on any given night. I tried one a couple of weekends and the cops ran me off. I wasn't doing $20 a night anyway so it didn't bother me. The big club I did I think was one of the largest. They claimed 400 to 600 people. That may be true or a lie.
 
The clubs are spread all over the county. We don't have a Bourbon Street with 3 or 4 bars in a row let alone 40 bars in a row.
 
We don't have industrial factories. We have office complexes with 300 people working in them, but for three days in a row I did a total of maybe $70 a day, and then a restaurant on wheels was invited by the manager and that killed my hot dogs and brats. The monster van had everything. Plus within walking distance,  there's Carl's Jr. Sonic Burger, Wienerschnitzel, Taco bell, Wendy's McDonald's, Dairy Queen, Taco Johns etc.
 
Thanks Buba for your honesty. My son couldn't drive was in trouble wanted to sell his car and get a Cart. I researched and saw only the Guru's of hot dogs with the pitch. You don't see many complaining but me and now it looks like DJdawg might be a bit rumpled. I just hope my complaining helps someone else from a big mistake.

BpCBlake
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Thu, 07/18/13 1:37 AM
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brickboo


I did a club filling in for my Home Depot buddy one weekend last fall. I just did Thursday $50 and Saturday $187. I couldn't do Friday. A couple of months back, the lady that runs the cart for my friend at Home Depot said that my buddy took his other cart back to the Denver area on the other side of the Rockies. 

I went to check on the club gig and it is shut down and for sale. We have may 3, 4 possibly 5 clubs that are real busy with the young folks dancing. There are other bars but local small establishments with maybe 15 or so people on any given night. I tried one a couple of weekends and the cops ran me off. I wasn't doing $20 a night anyway so it didn't bother me. The big club I did I think was one of the largest. They claimed 400 to 600 people. That may be true or a lie.

The clubs are spread all over the county. We don't have a Bourbon Street with 3 or 4 bars in a row let alone 40 bars in a row.

We don't have industrial factories. We have office complexes with 300 people working in them, but for three days in a row I did a total of maybe $70 a day, and then a restaurant on wheels was invited by the manager and that killed my hot dogs and brats. The monster van had everything. Plus within walking distance,  there's Carl's Jr. Sonic Burger, Wienerschnitzel, Taco bell, Wendy's McDonald's, Dairy Queen, Taco Johns etc.

Thanks Buba for your honesty. My son couldn't drive was in trouble wanted to sell his car and get a Cart. I researched and saw only the Guru's of hot dogs with the pitch. You don't see many complaining but me and now it looks like DJdawg might be a bit rumpled. I just hope my complaining helps someone else from a big mistake.


hmm, go to the biggest office complex and hand out flyers saying you have cart to desk delivery. but then you need a gopher.
 

FLIProgram.com
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Thu, 07/18/13 11:52 AM
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I hope what I am about to say can help you out some. I am new to this forum, but as I have read through several threads, it is obvious that everyone is looking to save money on both startup costs and maintaing the business once they have it established. I work for an insurance company that sells liability insurance at a much lower cost than the alternatives out there. While it might not help you with some of your business woes, it will help you save quite a bit of money on insurance. The whole process takes place online at fliprogram.com. Hopefully this info will help some of you out!
 
Your Friends at FLIP
fliprogram.com
<message edited by FLIProgram.com on Thu, 07/18/13 11:53 AM>

tbone654
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Re:Been a tough road.... - Fri, 07/19/13 9:24 PM
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brickboo

 I just hope my complaining helps someone else from a big mistake.


Brickboo... you are doing the right thing...  Just because someone can build or buy a hotdog cart does not give them the ability or right to make a living...  
 
I suggest everyone read "The E-myth revisited" before they launch into a hotdog cart business...  The bottom-line is that Entrepreneurship is NOT generally what the hotdog business is about...  Hotdog slinging is about MAKING WORK for yourself...  And more likely than not, a successful hotdog vendor who can just break even is a success at the beginning.
 
At the end of the day, this is still all about SALES and you must be able to SELL...  That's the part everyone forgets when they tell you that you too can make tons of money selling hotdogs... Then they say, "Now please buy my cart"...
 
Everyone take Brickboo's advice and don't quit your $50K + job and think your going to make that or more selling hotdogs...  If you do get that lucky... that's great, but please don't count on it...   Not everyone is cut out to be a good salesman...
 
I'll have my cart forever, but I can make WAY more money doing a real job or two...  Please everyone keep that in mind...
 
Buying a cart, is buying yourself work...