Archive for March 2010

The ubiquitous hotdog stand and the business are again raised to a higher level with the opening of Vienna Beef’s Hotdog University.  Founded by Mark Reitman, this university focuses on everything that a food concessionaire would face while on the streets. Many exercises include cold dressing, meaning getting a steamed bun in the cold and dressing the dog which is all packed in a two day crash course to master the hotdog cart.

The program has been very successful for the Vienna Beef Company both as a marketing ploy and an entrepreneurship program to assist those that have been laid off due to the current recession. With the enrollees increasing each year, the program has provided not only an opportunity for individuals to gain a craft in these trying times, it has also carried the hotdog company’s products to far flung areas without much of the costs of marketing associated for campaigns.

The program though is not for free. The company charges a fee for a two tiered program, $899 for a cart class while $1,499 for a hot dog stand class. This though is not only tuition, as one completed the class, the company provides food and merchandise rebates equal to the matriculation so that once the graduates ply their trade, they would be selling Vienna hotdogs.

The program also has other basics for operating a hotdog business. These include a classroom lecture on start-up fees, food safety laws in the area and proper water temperature for the hotdog tank. The second day, the students are trained on the proper techniques on shaking water off a dog, applying condiments, the kinds of condiments such as yellow mustard, pickle relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, pickled spears, sport peppers and celery salt, the true Chicago way.

In a nutshell, the headmaster Reitman says that the hotdog cart business is “a business of minute details.” This is very important when the weather comes to play, especially the wind.  He also identifies one key element to the business that is location with high visibility, a lot of foot traffic, no competition, space for parking, close to trashcans and public restrooms. In the end, the business is a numbers game, the more people that see your stand or cart, the higher the probability of having a sale and making your business a profitable one.

The most common way to partake of a hotdog is either by boiling, frying or broiling a hotdog and then placing it in a bun. Afterwards you place condiments and other spices to make the hotdog sandwich a much better tasting meal. Some would some more items like cheese or bacon to accentuate and articulate a more fulfilling meal. From the many possible hotdog recipes, the following are some of the most outlandish hotdog recipes to date.

Hotdog Cheese Quickfire. Here, the hotdogs are cut up to smaller slices, either dime sized or julienne cuts. Then heat oil in a pan and some onions. Once the onions are done, put in the hotdog slices. Cook the hotdogs by frying it and then add catsup to the mix together with a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and a dash of pepper. For the final ingredient, grate cheese over the cooking mixture and once the cheese has melted the dish is ready to eat.

Hotdog Sushi. With the obvious Japanese influence, you would need nori or seaweed, boiled rice, wasabi and mayonnaise. First you need to boil the rice and get the consistency needed for the overall effect. Then you would also need to boil the hotdogs and then cut the dogs lengthwise. Now, get your tatami mat and then layout the nori seaweed and cover it with the rice. Then layout the hotdog strips and some other vegetables you would want. Then spread the wasabi on the hotdog and the mayonnaise on the inside. Then roll the hotdog sushi. Once rolled, cut them into smaller slices and enjoy as is.

Hotdog Fritters. This is obviously influenced by the South. Fry the hotdogs and other vegetables such as potatoes and other greens. Then wrap the fried ingredients together and then dip them into the wet batter and the dry batter. The wet batter is done with buttermilk, eggs and flour while the dry batter is just salt, pepper and breadcrumbs. Be sure that the fritter is amply covered by the wet batter and has soaked up the dry batter. Also, make sure that the oil is very hot to make a crunchy hotdog fritter.

These are but some of the different and some may say outlandish ways to enjoy your hotdogs. Do not be afraid to experiment to find how best you can enjoy your hotdog meal. Just make sure it tastes good and easy to make. With that, you surely won’t lose your way.

The common malaise of many food concession businesses is often brought about by its success. On any given day, the number of people ordering a particular favorite food item would eventually lead to supplies running out in the middle of the day. This is a problem that is often mishandled by the food concessionaire owner and operator. Once mishandled, this can lead to losses not only in profit margins but good clientele.

Find Quick Replacements. It is important to identify nearby places where supplies can easily be acquired at a moment’s notice. You also need to be on top of your inventory to be aware of what is needed when the need arises. Proper projections can be thrown out the window once the deluge of clients arrives at your hotdog stand. Once you the supplies run out, have one of your personnel run out to purchase an ample amount of what is needed to cover the demand. It may cost a bit more but you can definitely avoid losing clients along the way.

Up sell Other Items. Up selling is the sales technique of recommending other menu items to replace or add on to what the customer has ordered. It has been observed that many customers are swayed with the food concessionaire’s up selling. This means more ordered items bought by the customer and often they would forget their original order, which is out of stock, and end up with a fulfilling meal.

Pull Out Items. If the nearby stores cannot provide the supplies you need, then you need to pull out items from your menu. The best way to do so is putting up signs on your menu board that the item is not available. Nothing pisses off a customer ordering an item after some thought and then learning that the item is unavailable. Once informed of the unavailable items, up selling may be the option for the food seller to entice the customer to continue patronizing the food concession stand.

As you can see, when supplies run out, all is not lost. You can find stopgap measures from stores nearby. It may cost a little more but this is cost well worth it as it may prevent loss of patrons and clients. You can also up sell other items as replacements for the items unavailable. This keeps the clients within your selling area. If ingredients are definitely unavailable, then prior information of the unavailable items is key so as not to antagonize and alienate your clients and patrons when supplies do run out.

The Internet was recently flooded with a news item that hotdogs were recently the cause of the choking deaths of children. This caused an up roar, as hotdogs have always been favorite food fare for children. It has also become the centerpiece of many lawsuits that has affected business. In response, advisories have been included in hotdog packaging and since your business is primarily about hotdogs, here are some ways for you to help avoid injury and liability in the operation of your food concession stand.

Small Portions. When you serve your food items, it is best to have them cut up into small pieces. If you have to serve large items such as large hotdogs by the whole, it is best to provide your clients with plastic utensils and paper plates in order to cut up their food. Having cut up portions prevents choking to occur and having utensils available protects you from further liability in the long run.

Available Water. Another way to prevent choking on your food concession stand is to have potable water readily available. This is most especially important for those who purchase your hotdog fare without drinks. It is also important to up sell your drinks for your customers, not only to help famish their thirst but to provide adequate lubrication for their throats as the food passes through their esophagus.

Heimlich Training. This is most probably one of the most important measures that your business can provide to prevent choking deaths. One can engage the services of their local fire department or police authorities to provide Heimlich maneuver training for your employees. This would only take a couple of hours and it is sure to provide your company the necessary training for your clients as well as company’s well being.

While it may seem to be quite far-fetched, many deaths have been reported because of hotdog choking. As a responsible business owner, you need to be adequately prepared for this kind of situation in your business. These include cutting up your food preparations into small portions, having available water or liquid for your clients and having your staff trained for the Heimlich maneuver. These are adequate safeguards for your company and safer and better eating for your clients and customers.

One of the secrets in the food concessionaire business is being able to keep costs down. In keeping costs down, one is able to make savings yet still be able to turn a profit on the sales. You need to be disciplined though when undertaking these suggestions, as one mistake can have grave effects on your clientele, just making you lose not only patrons but also profits from your end.

Get Supplier Discounts. As an entrepreneur, you have your suppliers as partners in your business. With the increasing demand for their business, you can then leverage for discounts be given for the volume orders you make. It may be as low as ten percent but this will be ten percent savings on your expenses and then earn more profit on lower expenses. If the supplier is unwilling to give straight discounts, then the next option is to extend payment terms for the purchases you make. In extending payment terms, you are given more opportunities to use funds for your own use instead of giving it to the supplier as payment. You can use this time and money to generate more profit and thus be able to order more and make payment for your supplier’s continued business.

Do Volume Sales. This involves a menu item and lowering the purchase cost for your patrons, regulars and clients. Since you are able to compute for the cost of the product and put a profit as your selling price, lowering the selling price to near the cost of production would necessarily entice your customers to buy more. In more sales, you earn profits still but this time by the volume. It not only clears up your inventory, it also provides as a good advertising ploy to gain new customers and make your regulars keep coming back for more.

Control Costs of Production. Many view this part of keeping costs down as cutting corners. This is also an integral part of your business and reducing losses due to spoilage or wrong ordering does this. Another way to control costs of production is to continually find substitute ingredients for your menu fare. You will always find an ingredient that costs cheaper than your current supplier. What is important though that quality should never be sacrificed for cost reasons. Once this is done, you are sure to see that your clientele would dwindle in numbers thus hurting your business in the long run.

As you can see, as the owner and manager of your hot dog cart business, you need to keep on finding ways to earn profits for your pockets. One way is to keep costs down and these three areas can be the primary ways in order for you to earn more. You can get supplier discounts, do volume sales and control costs of production. Once you are able to keep a ship shape enterprise, you are sure to be counting your money all the way to the bank.

For an entrepreneur in the food concessionaire business, the winter season is one of the most dreaded times of the year. As the business is done outdoors, the snow and the wind chill is a definite damper for those who want to order from your hot dog stand. How then would your business be able to earn with the cold season? Here are some of the ways that you can earn and keep your business afloat during these lean months.

Adjust Your Menu. You need to attune your menu to the changing season. As it is colder, people need to get warm and thus you need to have options of hot food and drinks in your menu. These may include many different kinds of coffee or hot juice drinks. You can also include other food that heat up the body when taken, such as spice and soups on your hot dog stand. It may seem to be a stretch for your hotdog cart but this is just for a few months in the year to keep your business afloat.

Try Deliveries. As they said, if the Mohammad cannot come to the mountain, then let the mountain come to Mohammad. In this case, if your clients cannot come to you, then having an extra hand to bring their orders to their desks or workplaces would be the way to go. This may entail extra expenses, such as a delivery person and a phone, but this investment can ensure your business’s survival through the lean months. This may even be the sort of expansion your business needs in order to make things better for you.

Cut Back. Some times in life, as in business, you need to take one step back to move two steps forward. In this case, weather permitting, you need to open and service your clientele. When the wind chill is below zero and there are sheets of snow on the streets, you need to close up shop for days at a time. These include lowering the hours you are open and the days that you serve your clients. These are the lean times, but you need to tighten your belt to get over the hump.

As you can see, the winter chill will definitely put your earning capacity in the freezer. There are some ways to be able to survive these lean months. These ways include adjusting your menu, trying deliveries for your clientele and cutting back on hours of operation. Do remind yourself that these are only temporary measures in order that your business would be able to survive the winter chill.

As an entrepreneur, you are always looking for ways to improve your business and increase your bottom line. The best way to leverage this is through your menu. Your menu includes the expenses you are to assume in order to earn profit. Here are some guideposts for you to look out for when you need to change your hot dog business’s menu.

Check the availability of ingredients. Always remember that the scarcer an ingredient or when it is off-season, the more expensive it is for you as an entrepreneur. Thus it is important that when you formulate your menu, the ingredients you would need are available all year round. If it is unavoidable that you need to use a seasonal ingredient, either find out the shelf life of the particular ingredient or change your costing because of this menu. When the time comes that an ingredient is unavailable, either find a suitable replacement or pull out the menu item altogether.

Check the sales of the particular menu item. It is best that you have a running count of how many orders are made of a particular item. Cumulate the statistics of these running counts weekly to form a picture on which food items are good sellers and which ones just gather bacteria in storage. After a few weeks, do review the sales figures and see how much your business is losing money with item still on your menu. There are two ways to go about it. The first way is to increase the advertising and the up selling of the item. The other way is to remove the item altogether and replace it with another food item.

Check costing of your food items. Always remember that the food you sell has a price that determines the profits you earn. You need to breakdown the individual parts and ingredients of your menu items. After individualizing them, you need to determine the cost per ingredient when added together forms the actual cost of the food item. When you set your selling price, you need to earn a profit for your business. If the actual cost of your menu item does not earn you a profit, then you need to either change the ingredients or pull out the item from your menu.

These are three signposts an entrepreneur needs to look for when you want to business to succeed. In checking the availability of ingredients, you need to make sure that it would not impede the progress of your business. Another signpost is checking the sales volume of a particular item to see if it earns a profit. Also, you need to find the costing of your menu items because profits need to be earned when the item is ordered by the customer.

In the food service business, your lifeline would be the customers you meet and the regulars you establish during your business. They provide the money that you earn for your business. Having a steady clientele that patronize your business would ensure that you earn during business hours and when customers come in, you earn profits. The key is making customers regulars and here are some ways to go about it.

Building rapport. Customers come and go, some by chance while others because of need. In order to make them regularly return to your establishment, you need to build rapport. This can be done by knowing the customer’s name and remembering their orders. This establishes a connection between customer and food owner. This rapport leads to familiarity and thus allows bridging the gap, making the customer feel important. This rapport would make the customer into a regular.

Extend goodwill. Once the gap has been bridged, as a measure of faith in your relationship, you need to extend some goodwill for your customers. These may be in the form of extra orders from time to time. It also may come in the form of larger servings or preferential services when requested. You have to be careful when doing this. The customer must become a regular; meaning comes in and orders a lot of times. Also, just make sure that your goodwill would not be eating into your profit margins, as this may be prone to abuse.

Do favorites. In order to elevate the customer into the esteemed circle of regulars, you would be able to learn their habits and food preferences. Once you learn them, you can make small adjustments in your menu that would be to the liking of the regular. This may be cutting up the food a certain way or serving condiments in some manner. This can help in keeping customers to become regulars. Having favorites for individuals will keep them coming back for more.

Simple gestures can turn a run of the mill customer into a valuable asset for your business establishment. You start with building rapport with your customers. Then you extend goodwill you find out that you are earning the customer’s respect. Once you do their favorites, you will see that they would be coming back for more and thus make them regulars to your hot dog stand.

Part of the entrepreneurial dream is being able to determine the cost of doing business. This is done by computing actual expenses and projecting probable expenses for the coming weeks or months. There are peculiarities when it comes to the hotdog cart business and here are some tips for an individual businessperson can determine the cost of doing business.

The monthly payables. Once you have embarked on your hotdog cart business, your enterprise would entail monthly expenses that need to be paid. These include the payment on the mortgage on the hotdog cart if you took out a loan to purchase your cart, the rent for the space where you do business, the utilities bills such as electricity and gas. Since these payables come in on different times, you need to set aside funds to pay for them lest you want to jeopardize your current business.

The cart supplies. These are important since this is the so-called bread and butter of your business. Hotdogs, sausages, bread, condiments, and add-ons are what are included in this list. Also included are paper products, utensils, cleaning implements and other backend supplies to keep your cart neat and running. You need to have an inventory plan so that you do not overstock, thus increase the cost of doing business. On the other end, you also need to be sure there is available supply on hand for if any of these things run out, you are sure to lose money and business.

The employees. Many say that the greatest resource is the human resource in a business. Thus, you need to provide the salaries for your employees on time and in the right amount so as not to demoralize your staff. It is also good to set targets for your employees and providing monetary incentives should they achieve it. You also need to provide adequate funds for uniforms to make your business look as professional as possible.

The three topics abovementioned are but some of the aspects of the costs of doing business. Once you have identified them and computed them into their equivalent dollars and cents, you can then project on what earnings you need to have each day to keep your head above water. Also, you can also identify possible expenditures that can be controlled thus giving you the opportunity to make profits and thus one step closer in achieving your entrepreneurial dream.