Foot in the Door!

Lonestar Dogs
Junior Burger
2012/11/28 16:13:58
Well I've done it! Though I've been studying the Hot Dog Cart business for a year, though I've been able to get out ONCE and sling dogs for a Farmer's Market event in association with a hot dog restaurant in the neighborhood, I've not yet been able to open my umbrella on a regular basis for my own business and self. Locations were really causing me problems. Finding them AND meeting the requirements in each municipality locally.
Today I was out pounding the pavement trying to find locations. Tomorrow morning I get to set up shop for a factory. It's a trial, but hey! It's a start! Then I've got another account Monday, a small truck yard. It's not the fabulous foot traffic I hear you guys getting but I am truly excited. Dropped off flyers and business cards at five other companies in the same industrial park today as the Decision Makers weren't in the office. I'm not slinging with the big dogs yet but I'm on my way!
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/11/28 17:02:25
everyone starts as a cocktail wienie.
you have to work your way up to the 1/4 lbers.
Lonestar Dogs
Junior Burger
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/11/29 15:10:08
Well, even as a cocktail weenie day 1 went by well enough! Got setup in time for a 10:45am lunch shift. Had the guys from the warehouse as well as several of the truckers delivering there stop by. Stayed real steady. About 11:30 I went to check in with the Manager as we'd discussed prior. He asked if I could stay a bit longer, had about 20 more guys going to lunch at Noon. At 12:30 I was breaking everything down.
All told pulled in $150 on the first day. The Manager wants me back tomorrow. See how it goes and how the guys like it.
While I was there a mobile taco truck pulled into the lot for about 15 minutes. Served a couple of things then was gone again.
The manager asked if I'd consider showing up for the night crew about 2am. Understanding its the middle of the night he mentioned his crew of 40 + didn't have a lot of options, plus its their busy receiving time and they have 50 to 60 trucks delivering at this time as well. Once we see how it goes tomorrow I may plan on hitting a few overnights as well.
Things learned?
Give myself an hour and a half to setup. Today I had a bit less than an hour and felt rushed.
Sold a few more chips and drinks than expected with 'combo' meals but still not much of either.
Sausage -on-a-stick sold real well, cooked those on a griddle.
Polish, Brats, Hotlinks didn't move at all.
Any thoughts from the 1/4lb-ers?
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/11/29 18:32:51
OK, my thoughts....
$150.00 is great for a first day.Especially for 2 hours Tomorrow will tell you if the novelty wore off.
As for 2 AM stuff....Can you do daytime and that? Like sleep from 3-11 PM?
Is this Xmas business? Could get you thru the winter and teach you things so you are ready to go gangbusters in the Spring
Can you get some kinda notification to the truckers that you will be there?
(Break-one-nine).I'm sure the company has a data-base of all the trucks that come in. One mass E-mail telling them dinner is hot and ready as they wait for the truck to be unloaded. Remember, Dogs aren't just a meal....their a quick snack to hold you over.
I say jump on it.  You're new, take what you can get. Takes about 3 days to fix your worst mistakes, though you learn something new every day.  Your 1 1/2 hour set-up time will soon be 1/2 hour. Make a check list and do everything in order, first being get the fire burning, of course after you've stabilized your cart.
And explain your "Sausage-on-a-stick"
Lonestar Dogs
Junior Burger
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/11/29 19:22:05
In reverse order
* Sausage On A Stick - I get em at Restaurant depot. It's just a smoked sausage skewered on a stick. I used to buy em all the time when I went to rennaissance fairs! I loved em. Seems I ain't the only one, they moved pretty well today.
 * The extra time is just to get things to temp comfortably. Today was a bit on the cold side for Tx and it took a while for me to be happy with the temperatures.
* Nope not Christmas business. This is a Cold Storage Warehouse out in the industrial part of town. But where they are located, no fast food joints nearby and hard to go find something and get back to work in 30 minutes.
* The manager's going to verify the lunch time for the third shift people. With a combination of Warehouse workers and 50 - 60 incoming trucks, I have no problem being up and out somewhere between midnight and 2 AM. If we start the night crew I'll make sure word's out but great thought and thank you for it.
* The Manager and I are discussing being there probably 3 days a week, a M-W-F type setup.
I think today would have gone better had they known I was going to be there. This afternoon they put the word out in the warehouse and the offices that I would be back tomorrow.
Oh and got a compliment! Fella said 'Best Chicago dog I've had and that includes the ones I've had in Chicago!'
Ice Cream Man
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/11/30 02:26:45
Their not going to eat dogs everyday.
If you can try some other things, soup, sandwiches, burgers, etc.
Lonestar Dogs
Junior Burger
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/11/30 15:48:18
Due to Health Department regs here I can only serve hot dog and hot dog type products. I truly understand them not wanting dogs every day. Only going to be there 3 days a week. I'm doing the overnight crew this Sunday night at Midnight. That includes 50+ truck drivers that are delivering at that time as well. I'm thinking the night shift will actually be more profitable than the day shift. Though today was another good day!
Junior Burger
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/12/18 18:03:55
I certainly don't want to upset any health inspectors. Do you have a griddle for the sausage on a stick? If you do, then at some late night locations, where you seldom see the inspectors, I sell 2 different hotdogs in a half pita instead of a bun. One has precooked chopped up turkey and cheese as a topping. The other has chopped up pepperoni and mushrooms, cheese and onion if they want it. I advertise them as a Turkey Dog(HTD) and a Pizza Dog(HTD)....Hold The Dog....You can do it even if you don't have a grill, just use 1/4 pans to keep the toppings warm.
Lonestar Dogs
Junior Burger
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/12/21 14:28:08
Midnight - Thanks for that! Always looking to add in new thoughts and ideas. Yep the griddle works the Sausage on a stick and the sauted onions very nicely. Been thinking of adding a 'nacho dog' and a 'frito pie' dog as well. Both relatively simple and self explanatory. - Still looking for locations though. This one started well enough but already its died down. Yesterday I pulled in a rocking $45 for 2 hours worth of work...
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/12/23 03:14:14
Lonestar, Congrats on a great start.  Seems like you have a good plan.  Do not go there everyday because they will surely "burn out" on hot dogs.  Can you do precooked brats & cheddarwurst?  Hillshire Farms is a good product as well as Johnsonville.  Just be creative with your menu AND your toppings.  Franks Hot Sauce and related toppings make a good "Buffalo Dog" etc.  Maybe feature a dog of the day (or week) so they have something guaranteed to be different.  Good Luck in the future!!  DD  
Lonestar Dogs
Junior Burger
Re:Foot in the Door! 2012/12/23 22:30:25
Dads! Thank you so much for the feedback! Always looking for ways to change it up. I tried the johnsonville pre-cooked brats. My biggest concern with those is they appear to be about half the size of my vienna beef 8/1 dog. Lot of Hispanic folks in the area seem to really like 'Valentina' sauce. A brand of hot sauce known best in the area as 'mexican sauce'. I can do pretty much anything pre-cooked, its just finding the right things for the audience. Perseverence though...I'll get there! Ooh! And on top of 30th post! Yay!