Hot Dog Cart Daily Operations & Procedures Guide
Keep a binder on hand in your cart that includes the following information: your business license, location license or location rental agreement, your health department permit, a copy of the local health codes for quick reference, and this operations manual. If you are serving at a special event, have the permit with you that allow you to operate at that special event. It is best to keep all these papers in clear plastic sheet protectors so that they stay un-frayed, clean and readable. Always keep on hand the directions and maintenance manuals for any of the other equipment or appliances that you are using on the cart.
Also keep on hand and use a Daily Check List for the items you use and things you need to do in order to get operating each day. Do a daily check of your cart, the equipment and contents before you start up each day. This prevents any unpleasant surprises or snags after you get started working. It is best to always work from written checklists and not from memory.
Wash the cart every day before and after use. First wash the cart with hot soapy water to remove any dirt or spilled food. Then use a sanitizing solution to kill any remaining bacteria. A sanitizing solution may be made by adding 1 teaspoon (5mL) of chlorine bleach to 1 quart (1L) of water. Other pre-mixed bottled chemical sanitizing solutions can be purchased from commercial cleaning supply or restaurant supply companies. Wear rubber gloves as these sanitizers are very hard on the skin.
Use this same cleaning and sanitizing procedure on all surfaces and appliances used to store, prepare, cook or serve food, and all utensils and containers. Also clean sinks and faucets. Even the garbage cans should be cleaned to prevent any undesirable odor.
Fill the cart’s fresh water tanks each day with all new fresh potable water. Do not keep water from one day to the next.
Always empty the cart’s waste water tanks at the end of each day or work shift. These waste water tanks should also be washed to prevent odor.
Make sure that the propane tanks and propane gas equipment and appliances are in good safe working order. This is both an operational and a safety issue. Replace or repair any defective gas equipment when a problem is discovered. Do not delay! Check that hoses are free of wear and hose connections are secure and will not come loose. Always keep an extra fully filled propane tank on hand so that you never find yourself out of gas in the middle of a work day. Always turn off the tank valves at the end of each day.
Use wheel chocks to hold the cart securely in place at locations where the cart is position on a slope. You can make this yourself from short lengths of wooden 2×4’s.
Arrive at your location well before you are expected to begin serving food. This will give you plenty of time to clean and properly set up. Being early will avoid the temptation to cut any corners on proper start up and preparation. It will also avoid rushing and the associated stress.
Be sure to have an adequate supply of coins and small bills so as to be able to give correct change for the entire day. Being short on correct change is an unnecessary time consuming aggravation and is very unprofessional.
Be regular, consistent and reliable. Customers will come to depend upon you. This will help build a loyal regular customer base for your business.
Be friendly, cheerful and smile. Greet each and every customer. Learn the names of your regulars as this will further build customer loyalty. They will be your best advertisers by spreading news of you by word of mouth to their friends and co-workers.
Display a menu of items that you serve. This will save time during the busy lunch hour rush. It will enable customers to decide before they order. It can be made for a reasonable price at a professional vinyl graphics sign company.
Be a good neighbor to the other businesses in the area. Never let your business interfere with or detract from theirs. Instead it should compliment and enhance their businesses. This may involve you doing small simple things such as providing a trash can for your customers and cleaning up any litter in the area at the end of the day.
Links to Handy Forms you can use to run a hot dog cart more efficiently: