Are you good at making hot dogs? Do you want to setup a hot dog cart or stand? Then below is an in-depth guide on how to start a hot dog cart business from home with little or no money.
A hot dog cart business is a specialized mobile food stand for preparing and selling food on the streets, particularly hot dogs, to passersby. Hot dog carts are quick and easy food services, supplying millions of people with food every day. The U.S. Hot Dog Council estimates that 15% of the approximately 10 billion hot dogs consumed by Americans last year were purchased from mobile hot dog vendors.
Many people view hot dog cart business as unprofitable. Unfortunately, they do not know that a hot dog cart business is one of the most profitable businesses to establish. If you aim to start one, all you need to do is learn how to start a hot dog cart business from the ground up, get the necessary equipment and you are in business. Without wasting your time, Here is a sample food cart business plan template to help you get started.
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4 Reasons Why You Should Start a Hot Dog Cart Business
- A hot dog cart business is a very lucrative one, in the sense that you are retailing a basic important need of man (food)
- A hot dog cart business is fun, profitable and fairly easy to startup and run. It is a flexible business that you can run part-time (either mornings or evenings) or even seasonally and still generate full income.
- The mobile hot dog retailing business is not too capital intensive. Once the cart is purchased, every other equipment can be bought at an affordable rate (either brand new or fairly used)
- As a mobile hot dog cart operator, you have an advantage over the fast food shop retailer because you take your products to your customers’ doorstep; thus saving your customers the stress and time
Starting a Hot Dog Cart Business – Sample Business Plan Template
Before you even think of licenses and permits, you must search the perfect location for your business. The key element in that perfect location is people. Remember; where there are people, there are hot dog sales. Here are some location ideas:
- Recreational Facilities
- Outside Office Buildings
- Sports Fields
- Swimming Pools
2. Obtain the Needed Licenses and Legal Documents
One of the most boring steps that you must undergo is to get your business licensed. As a food cart operator, you must meet stringent health regulations that are designed to protect the public. In this step, you must consult your local licensing office in your city hall or courthouse since business licensing varies in every state.
If you have a friend who has a business around your area, it will be best to ask him about the requirements you must secure for the permits and licenses your business needs. You will also need a license from the health department of your state, since you will be dealing on edible products. You can ask your lawyers about this too.
3. Get Insurance Covering
Getting your business insured is not that complicated. However, it is a good idea to draft a business plan before getting insurance because an insurance company might require it. It will be good if you do this while you are getting your business license.
4. Buy the Necessary Hot Dog Supplies and Equipment
Aside from the hot dogs that you will sell, you will need to equip your hot dog cart with cooking, and storage utensils. Also, you must make sure that all the devices and paraphernalia you will buy can pass your city’s sanitary standards.
5. Selling Other Stuff
It does not necessarily mean that you will only sell hot dogs. It is advisable if you add some other foodstuffs on your menu like beverages, chips, and other finger foods. Doing that will not only boost your sales, but it will also let you attract more customers aside from hot dog lovers.
That is how simple starting a hot dog business can be. However, you must remember that even though it is simple, you might need a rather huge amount of capital for your business. Nevertheless, once you become successful, you can rest assured that you will regain your investment.
Hot Dog Carts for Sale – Tips for Buying a Hot Dog Cart
A hot dog cart is generally a compact cart, fully self-contained and designed to serve a limited menu. An on-board cooler is used to keep the hot dogs safely chilled until ready for reheating. It also provides cold storage for beverages, such as sodas, and multiple sinks for washing and cleaning utensils.
Most hot dog carts use propane to heat the foods, making them independent of electrical power. Some carts may as well be fitted with a propane grill, griddle, deep fryer, or other such cooking appliance. A colorful umbrella is often installed to protect the food preparation area from contamination, provide some shade, and advertise the cart’s location. The purpose of the umbrella is to offer shade to the operator and customers and as well to keep airborne dirt from falling onto the cart.
Of course, you should not forget getting a hot dog cart. Hot dog carts come in different sizes and styles. Will you buy a used hot dog cart or a new one? Few of the factors you should consider when choosing the cart or stand you want to buy is your budget, the location you selected, the possible number of customers you might serve simultaneously, and the cart’s mobility.
6 Marketing ideas and Tips for a Hot Dog Cart Business
1. Be mindful of your product packaging. Just like the big chain fast food restaurants, you have to package your product offerings into ‘combos’ or ‘value meal deals. The normal and usual way to do this is to package a hot dog, packet of chips and a soda together and sell it for an attractive price that is less expensive than for customer to purchase each of items separately.
2. Always endeavor to upsell your customers on additional items. If they demand for a hot dog, you can also ask them if they would like a beverage also.
3. Maintain a strict standard in personal hygiene. Customers don’t joke with their health and cleanliness is one thing they will watch out for.
4. Immediately you have secured a location or geographical area you intend to cover, start spreading the word about your business and a good way to go about this is to hand out some free sample of your hot dogs to key people like managers or foremen and hope that they will inform their staff concerning you.
5. You can always use the aroma of your hot dog as a strategy to attract customers to your stand. So ensure that you always have hot dogs cooking and their aroma will grab people’s attention and encourage them to buy.
6. Build and maintain good relationship with your customers. Get to know their names and reward the loyal customers with freebies.
4 Challenges of Starting a Hot Dog Cart Business
- The first challenge you are likely to face is the time investment you may need to put in to learn how to make delicious hot dogs.
- The next challenge you will face is getting a cart or stand that suits your need and standard. You may also need to build your own custom cart or stand if you can’t find any readymade one that suits you; and this may turn out quite expensive.
- The mobile hot dog cart business is affected by weather, as you are likely not to operate when it’s raining or snowing; thus reducing your earned income and profitability.
- The last but not the least challenge you might face is fatigue. As a mobile food stand operator, you may develop fatigue and fall ill due to the stressful nature of the business; which entails standing, cooking constantly and moving around.