Ben from HotDogStore.com and LearnHotDogs.com is with us today. Ben, has the privilege of being the first EVER guest on the FoodTruckEmpire podcast and allowed me to interview him way back when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing… To tell you the truth I still don’t really know what I’m doing even though I’ve been doing this 2+ years now but I am grateful for Ben taking the time to speak with me and share his knowledge about the hot dog entrepreanuership.
In addition to catching up with Ben and what he’s been up to over the past couple of years, I also wanted to catch up with him and try to get a really core interview together that provided an overview of what it takes to start a successful hot dog business.
Now if you want to learn more about Ben’s personal story using a hot dog stand to bring financial freedom to both
himself and his family, check out LearnHotDogs.com. He’s done a great job documenting his journey there and I have linked up to some of his resources below. It is well worth your time investment.
As mentioned earlier the goal of this discussion was to create a crash course on the hot dog business and find out if we could provide a high-level outlines or business plan for this type of business in a 20 or 30 minute conversation. Thanks mostly to the insights from Ben, I’m happy to say the mission was accomplish.
Below you’ll find a summarized list of the core questions I asked during the interview. The abridged answers and also located below each questions. However, I encourage you to tune into the audio for all the juicy details on this.
What You’ll Learn
Question: Why hot dog business? What makes this business an opportunity? Shouldn’t I be trying to build a really fancy food concept serving something more fancy or maybe my grandmother’s famous lasagna recipe that has been passed down?
Answer: There is a massive market of customers, across all parts of the country that enjoy eating hot dogs. It’s also a low expense and low effort food to produce. There’s also plenty of opportunity to jazz-up a hot dog and make it unique.
Question: What type of a net profit after food costs is good in this business? What’s a realistic revenue number you can expect to make in this business?
Answer: This depends on a number of factors. 1.) How frequently do you plan to go out an vend. 2.) Where are you located? 3.) What are you charging customers? 4.) How many catering events are you doing? It is realistic to make $100,000+ per year if you operate your business correctly.
Question: Okay, so we understand why hot dog business model works. What’s the initial startup investment range that you reccomend for getting started?
Answer: D0n’t spend a fortune to get started. Yes, there is the opportunity to spend a lot in the beginning to get the top of the line trailer, but another great option is to make the business pay for expansion and upgrades. You can get started with a roadworthy hot dog cart for around $3,500 and invest a few hundred dollars in supplies like buns, sausages, and condiments.
Question: Where do you reccomend looking to buy inventory… hot dog buns, sausages, ketchup, that sort of thing? Can you buy theses supplies from a place like Costco or Sam’s Club?
Answer: The best place to start is your local grocery store. If you explain to the manager at your grocery store that you own a hot dog vending business and that you plan to purchase a lot more product in the future, you’ll likely get some type of deal. Whether that’s 10% off your purchases or a special business gas card like in Ben’s example. You can also use a Costco or Sam’s Club, but it’s not needed.
Question: Where would you start looking for vending locations? Lunch Better? Evenings? How often should you vend?
Mentioned in the Interview
LearnHotDogs.com – The most comprehensive resource for hot dog business building on the internet. This is where Ben publishes blog posts, podcasts, and videos on the topic.
HotDogStore.com – Ben’s e-commerce store that sells everything from hot dog carts to trailers.
StreetVendorForum.com – This is a forum of street and hot dog vendors that Ben sometimes participates in to meet other like minded folks.