Food

FoodTruckEmpire Podcast - How to Start a Profitable Food Truck Business

Brett Lindenberg

Episodes

How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck
42:24
2017-09-22 23:43:22 UTC 42:24
How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck

Today’s featured guest is Dave Krolak of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa food truck. Dave and his wife Lynn started their Polish restaurant on wheels in early 2017 and their business has been growing quickly ever since.

Dave got the idea to start a food truck while attending an event that featured a half-dozen different Italian vendors selling different varieties of sausage and meatball sandwiches. What stuck out to him was that there didn’t seem to be anything that represented his Polish heritage. It was a “crazy idea” that could have been easily forgotten. But Dave decided not to let the idea pass. After getting buy in from his wife and partner Lynn, the husband and wife team quickly started to put their business into motion.

Selecting the menu for the truck was easy. Dave drew the menu directly from the tastes of his childhood. Dave’s father, Casimir J. Krolak or “Cas”, was a Polish-American WWII veteran that maintained a love of Polish food and polka music his entire life. The truck has become a tribute to his memory as well.

In addition to serving authentic Polish food, it was important to Dave that the food is prepared and served in the traditional way. Listen to the full podcast interview to learn the full story. If you happen to live in New Jersey, check their website to see where the truck will be serving next!




(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

A heaping plate of Pierogi and Kielbasa.

Quotes From The Show

In life we think about things from time to time, you get an idea and think “Oh, we should run with that!” and then a week later or two weeks later it fades away. Well this kept hitting me. – Dave Krolak on the idea to start a Polish food truck.

To find somebody in the industry that’s friendly and successful and ask them to give you their advice. I would say that’s a good way to start. – Dave Krolak on the importance of finding a business mentor. 

Almost every week we had pierogi and kielbasa as a staple meal just like Italian folks have spaghetti or lasagna. – Dave Krolak on using family recipes to create his food truck’s menu.

You really need to have a menu that’s going to separate you from the other folks. – Dave Krolak on the importance of menu development. 

Coming up with a good menu that people are going to be excited about and want to try. Then making sure that you are seeing that people know about you and I talk about it every place I can. – Dave Krolak on running a successful food truck. 

The official headquarters of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck.

Mentioned in the Show

Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck – This week’s featured interview is with Dave Krolak, owner of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck out of Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Dave started the truck in 2017 with his partner and wife Lynn.

Small Business Development Center – Non-profit organization that offers advice and training for people interested in starting a new business free of charge. Dave got valuable feedback about his mobile food business here and recommends the organization to others.

Johnny’s Pork Roll – This is a popular food truck in New Jersey area serving pork rolls, basically a type of breakfast sandwich that you can enjoy all day long. John, the owner of Johnny’s Pork Roll, has been one of Dave’s business mentors.

Monmouth Beach Food Truck Takeover – If you happen to live in the New Jersey, you can taste Johnny’s Pork Roll and Cas’ Pierogi and Kielbasi at this awesome event.

Food Truck Academy Interest Form – Dave was in the last Food Truck Academy program launched in early 2017. Interested in starting your own food truck? Sign up to be informed when Food Truck Academy will open up next in October, 2017.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

The post How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck appeared first on .

How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck
42:24
2017-09-22 23:54:58 UTC 42:24
How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck

Today’s featured guest is Dave Krolak of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa food truck. Dave and his wife Lynn started their Polish restaurant on wheels in early 2017 and their business has been growing quickly ever since.

Dave got the idea to start a food truck while attending an event that featured a half-dozen different Italian vendors selling different varieties of sausage and meatball sandwiches. What stuck out to him was that there didn’t seem to be anything that represented his Polish heritage. It was a “crazy idea” that could have been easily forgotten. But Dave decided not to let the idea pass. After getting buy in from his wife and partner Lynn, the husband and wife team quickly started to put their business into motion.

Selecting the menu for the truck was easy. Dave drew the menu directly from the tastes of his childhood. Dave’s father, Casimir J. Krolak or “Cas”, was a Polish-American WWII veteran that maintained a love of Polish food and polka music his entire life. The truck has become a tribute to his memory as well.

In addition to serving authentic Polish food, it was important to Dave that the food is prepared and served in the traditional way. Listen to the full podcast interview to learn the full story. If you happen to live in New Jersey, check their website to see where the truck will be serving next!




(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

A heaping plate of Pierogi and Kielbasa.

Quotes From The Show

In life we think about things from time to time, you get an idea and think “Oh, we should run with that!” and then a week later or two weeks later it fades away. Well this kept hitting me. – Dave Krolak on the idea to start a Polish food truck.

To find somebody in the industry that’s friendly and successful and ask them to give you their advice. I would say that’s a good way to start. – Dave Krolak on the importance of finding a business mentor. 

Almost every week we had pierogi and kielbasa as a staple meal just like Italian folks have spaghetti or lasagna. – Dave Krolak on using family recipes to create his food truck’s menu.

You really need to have a menu that’s going to separate you from the other folks. – Dave Krolak on the importance of menu development. 

Coming up with a good menu that people are going to be excited about and want to try. Then making sure that you are seeing that people know about you and I talk about it every place I can. – Dave Krolak on running a successful food truck. 

The official headquarters of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck.

Mentioned in the Show

Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck – This week’s featured interview is with Dave Krolak, owner of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck out of Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Dave started the truck in 2017 with his partner and wife Lynn.

Small Business Development Center – Non-profit organization that offers advice and training for people interested in starting a new business free of charge. Dave got valuable feedback about his mobile food business here and recommends the organization to others.

Johnny’s Pork Roll – This is a popular food truck in New Jersey area serving pork rolls, basically a type of breakfast sandwich that you can enjoy all day long. John, the owner of Johnny’s Pork Roll, has been one of Dave’s business mentors.

Monmouth Beach Food Truck Takeover – If you happen to live in the New Jersey, you can taste Johnny’s Pork Roll and Cas’ Pierogi and Kielbasi at this awesome event.

Food Truck Academy Interest Form – Dave was in the last Food Truck Academy program launched in early 2017. Interested in starting your own food truck? Sign up to be informed when Food Truck Academy will open up next in October, 2017.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

The post How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck appeared first on .

How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck
42:24
2017-10-07 15:11:51 UTC 42:24
How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck

Today’s featured guest is Dave Krolak of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa food truck. Dave and his wife Lynn started their Polish restaurant on wheels in early 2017 and their business has been growing quickly ever since.

Dave got the idea to start a food truck while attending an event that featured a half-dozen different Italian vendors selling different varieties of sausage and meatball sandwiches. What stuck out to him was that there didn’t seem to be anything that represented his Polish heritage. It was a “crazy idea” that could have been easily forgotten. But Dave decided not to let the idea pass. After getting buy in from his wife and partner Lynn, the husband and wife team quickly started to put their business into motion.

Selecting the menu for the truck was easy. Dave drew the menu directly from the tastes of his childhood. Dave’s father, Casimir J. Krolak or “Cas”, was a Polish-American WWII veteran that maintained a love of Polish food and polka music his entire life. The truck has become a tribute to his memory as well.

In addition to serving authentic Polish food, it was important to Dave that the food is prepared and served in the traditional way. Listen to the full podcast interview to learn the full story. If you happen to live in New Jersey, check their website to see where the truck will be serving next!




(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

A heaping plate of Pierogi and Kielbasa.

Quotes From The Show

In life we think about things from time to time, you get an idea and think “Oh, we should run with that!” and then a week later or two weeks later it fades away. Well this kept hitting me. – Dave Krolak on the idea to start a Polish food truck.

To find somebody in the industry that’s friendly and successful and ask them to give you their advice. I would say that’s a good way to start. – Dave Krolak on the importance of finding a business mentor. 

Almost every week we had pierogi and kielbasa as a staple meal just like Italian folks have spaghetti or lasagna. – Dave Krolak on using family recipes to create his food truck’s menu.

You really need to have a menu that’s going to separate you from the other folks. – Dave Krolak on the importance of menu development. 

Coming up with a good menu that people are going to be excited about and want to try. Then making sure that you are seeing that people know about you and I talk about it every place I can. – Dave Krolak on running a successful food truck. 

The official headquarters of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck.

Mentioned in the Show

Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck – This week’s featured interview is with Dave Krolak, owner of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck out of Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Dave started the truck in 2017 with his partner and wife Lynn.

Small Business Development Center – Non-profit organization that offers advice and training for people interested in starting a new business free of charge. Dave got valuable feedback about his mobile food business here and recommends the organization to others.

Johnny’s Pork Roll – This is a popular food truck in New Jersey area serving pork rolls, basically a type of breakfast sandwich that you can enjoy all day long. John, the owner of Johnny’s Pork Roll, has been one of Dave’s business mentors.

Monmouth Beach Food Truck Takeover – If you happen to live in the New Jersey, you can taste Johnny’s Pork Roll and Cas’ Pierogi and Kielbasi at this awesome event.

Food Truck Academy Interest Form – Dave was in the last Food Truck Academy program launched in early 2017. Interested in starting your own food truck? Sign up to be informed when Food Truck Academy will open up next in October, 2017.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

The post How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck appeared first on .

How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck
42:24
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 42:24
How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck

Today’s featured guest is Dave Krolak of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa food truck. Dave and his wife Lynn started their Polish restaurant on wheels in early 2017 and their business has been growing quickly ever since.

Dave got the idea to start a food truck while attending an event that featured a half-dozen different Italian vendors selling different varieties of sausage and meatball sandwiches. What stuck out to him was that there didn’t seem to be anything that represented his Polish heritage. It was a “crazy idea” that could have been easily forgotten. But Dave decided not to let the idea pass. After getting buy in from his wife and partner Lynn, the husband and wife team quickly started to put their business into motion.

Selecting the menu for the truck was easy. Dave drew the menu directly from the tastes of his childhood. Dave’s father, Casimir J. Krolak or “Cas”, was a Polish-American WWII veteran that maintained a love of Polish food and polka music his entire life. The truck has become a tribute to his memory as well.

In addition to serving authentic Polish food, it was important to Dave that the food is prepared and served in the traditional way. Listen to the full podcast interview to learn the full story. If you happen to live in New Jersey, check their website to see where the truck will be serving next!




(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

A heaping plate of Pierogi and Kielbasa.

Quotes From The Show

In life we think about things from time to time, you get an idea and think “Oh, we should run with that!” and then a week later or two weeks later it fades away. Well this kept hitting me. – Dave Krolak on the idea to start a Polish food truck.

To find somebody in the industry that’s friendly and successful and ask them to give you their advice. I would say that’s a good way to start. – Dave Krolak on the importance of finding a business mentor. 

Almost every week we had pierogi and kielbasa as a staple meal just like Italian folks have spaghetti or lasagna. – Dave Krolak on using family recipes to create his food truck’s menu.

You really need to have a menu that’s going to separate you from the other folks. – Dave Krolak on the importance of menu development. 

Coming up with a good menu that people are going to be excited about and want to try. Then making sure that you are seeing that people know about you and I talk about it every place I can. – Dave Krolak on running a successful food truck. 

The official headquarters of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck.

Mentioned in the Show

Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck – This week’s featured interview is with Dave Krolak, owner of Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck out of Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Dave started the truck in 2017 with his partner and wife Lynn.

Small Business Development Center – Non-profit organization that offers advice and training for people interested in starting a new business free of charge. Dave got valuable feedback about his mobile food business here and recommends the organization to others.

Johnny’s Pork Roll – This is a popular food truck in New Jersey area serving pork rolls, basically a type of breakfast sandwich that you can enjoy all day long. John, the owner of Johnny’s Pork Roll, has been one of Dave’s business mentors.

Monmouth Beach Food Truck Takeover – If you happen to live in the New Jersey, you can taste Johnny’s Pork Roll and Cas’ Pierogi and Kielbasi at this awesome event.

Food Truck Academy Interest Form – Dave was in the last Food Truck Academy program launched in early 2017. Interested in starting your own food truck? Sign up to be informed when Food Truck Academy will open up next in October, 2017.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

The post How Dave Krolak Started the Cas’ Pierogi & Kielbasa Food Truck appeared first on .

Food Booth Vendor with 20+ Years Experience Shares Concession Sales Secrets
58:45
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 58:45
Food Booth Vendor with 20+ Years Experience Shares Concession Sales Secrets

Believe it or not old school food booth vendors understand what they’re doing when it comes to making money. This interview should be required listening for anyone that owns a food business. If you own a restaurant, concession trailer, food truck or cart following the advice passed on by this concession veteran will make you more money.

This program is also a lesson in not judging a book by it’s cover. You might think that the typical concession worker is just trying to make ends meet with their business, but that’s not always the case. As you’ll learn in this conversation, some of these entrepreneurs are quietly building large concession empires that routinely hit $20,000 – $40,000 in gross monthly revenue depending on the month.

Why Hire a Local Vendor Share Their Secrets?

A little background to this interview. I’m currently in the research phase to start my own mobile food business. One of the finalists ideas is a popcorn or kettle corn business. You can learn more about advantages of  why I like this particular business in this podcast. Since this business is on my short list, I thought it would be beneficial to go out and talk to one of the most popular kettle corn business man or woman in my area. I wanted to find someone that already understood the area, the demand for this product, what the best places to vend are and general information about getting licensed in my area.

To find someone that sold kettle corn locally was not hard. I conducted two Google searches for kettle corn vendor + my town name and found a couple different businesses on Facebook that looked legit and popular. I sent these individuals a message that were two sentences in length. I let them know I wanted to learn more about the business. I wanted to pay them for consulting. One of the business owners responded by stating he charged $100 for a one hour conversation. I agreed. We planned to meet at a local Starbucks to discuss the business. This podcast is the recording of our discussion. I have not mentioned the name of this specific vendor and the business by their request, but was given permission to record the conversation.

Dave Krolak, owner and chef of the super successful Pierogi Food Truck in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, took a similar approach when he got started that I thought was brilliant. Dave reached out to one of the most successful food truck operators in his area and offered to compensate him a few thousand dollars to spend time with him, learn his business, and form a relationship. This straight-forward approach helped fast-tracked the relationship and get Pierogi Food Truck off to a fast start. It may have even helped them win a 2nd place trophy at their first ever food truck event with a total of 28 trucks!

You can view a photo of customers lining up in front of Dave’s truck below. If you happen to live with 400 miles of Basking Ridge definitely hit them up. You could even hire out the truck for your next Eastern-European themed party or wedding. Dave was also in the most recent class of Food Truck Academy and he is a really great guy so I recommend saying hello as well!

pierogi-truck

People love pierogis.

Our Conversation

As mentioned earlier, I met this experienced vendor at a nearby Starbucks during the middle of the week. You’ll notice the background music / noise in this recording that I wasn’t able to get removed from the audio so apologize for that. This was recorded straight from my iPhone. The music does get a bit annoying, but the audio overall is good.

Although I didn’t realize it when I booked the meeting this was not your average food booth vendor with a single location and kettle corn tent hanging up his shingle. This is someone that over the past 20 years has built up a food stand business that served between 20 – 30 farmers markets weekly. Obviously this volume of events makes it impossible to handle as a solo operator. This entrepreneur hired out numerous part-time employees, including family members and his teenage kids to vend at different farmer’s markets and events in 100 mile radius of his home base.

Based on the revenue generated from this business, this outwardly simple concession stand owner had used his business profits to go and invest in different real estate like homes and apartment buildings outside of the state. A semi-passive real estate portfolio is something most folks wouldn’t expect to be the result of a concession business.

Lessons Learned

Below is a summary of the key takeaways from our conversation. Listen to the full audio for all the details. As mentioned earlier, the insights were well worth the $100 invested and could have potentially taken me years to learn on my own.

Diversifying Your Product Line: One major takeaway from our conversation was to think about ways to diversify your product offerings. You can never be really sure what product is going to be popular at a certain event. This vendor has a variety of different concession stand options that sell everything from kettle corn to hotdogs, burgers, lemonade, funnel cake and more. He has definitely implemented his own advice with his business.

I had reached out to this individual for advice operating a kettle corn business. One of the suggestions he had for my particular situation was to think about a drink or line of drinks to sell as well. We live in Southern California so there are a lot of hot days, especially during the summer months when many of the events are held. He recommended looking at a specialty flavor of ice tea. Tea has a very high-profit margin and is enjoyed by more than one half of the population each day according to TeaUSA.com. At a macro level, the ready to drink tea category increased by 4% in 2016 per the same source. This is also a simple product to make and I will be taking his advise to heart. I think this is the perfect complimentary product to popcorn as well.

One other example this entrepreneur cited was the business of Starbucks. This business started out by offering coffee as it’s main product. But has since branched out into other offerings like tea, breakfast sandwiches, lunch and even experimented with selling beer and wine in test locations. Although Starbucks is operating at much larger scale, the principal remains the same. If you offer more products, you have the opportunity to serve a wider range of customers with different tastes and sell high-average tickets to each customer.

Pricing Your Product: Don’t be afraid to change the price of your product depending on where you’re vending. Sometimes you may be able to charge as much as $10 for a single bag of kettle corn. Other times, if you’re vending at a flea market that attracts lower income people, you might have a difficult time charging $4.00 for that same bag. When you go out you want to charge the maximum you can for the product. Don’t feel bad about charging prices on the higher end of the scale and look for events where you can do this. Charging more will ensure you’re highly profitable, can hire staff, grow and reinvest into your business if that is the goal.

trophy

2017 East Hanover PBA Food Truck Festival Trophy Won by The Pierogi Food Truck.

Scaling a Food Business: Not all concession vendors stay small. The entrepreneur featured in this interview grew his business by selling more products in a wider range of locations. This is one way to grow revenue even when you’re not present at an event yourself! But there are some other local guys that started with a small concession business and went on to build a nationally recognized popcorn brand that you can buy at Costco and other stores. Scaling into retail sales will require a manufacturing facility, equipment, and a lot of investment capital. But you can establish your foothold in the local market with a booth or a food truck in the beginning with the long-term goal of establishing a larger business.

Understanding Your Local Market: Every market is different. What people enjoy doing and like to eat will vary depending on location. From a rules and regulation standpoint this is even more true for food trucks or carts. Each city you vend in may have different rules and requirements to serve food legally. A deeper understanding of some of the locations that are profitable and how to navigate local laws was hugely valuable and a massive time saver. Some great common sense advise for equipment you need to buy or not bring to events. The subtle legal distinction between temporary food facilities (TFF) versus food trucks is also explained. Some of the conversation focuses on the permits needed to vend in different counties / cities within Southern California and may not be applicable to your specific situation.

Equipment You Should Buy: Being off-the-grid can have it’s advantages. If you invest in the right equipment, you can avoid paying higher event registration fees or even get a more desirable location at an event. Many vendors will need to plugin to an electrical source of power at an event. If you own your own generator and can operate without assistance both in terms of power, water, or anything else you increase your vending options. For example, you might find that a certain spot at an event is shaded and has a high-volume of traffic. As long as the event planner allows it you’ll be able to position your trailer or booth appropriately in a spot that will maximize sales.

Bottom line: If you want to be successful in a particular business a great way to fast-track your journey toward success is to get around people that are already doing the things that you aspire to accomplish. One simple way to get around and learn from these people is to reach out to them and offer to pay them for their time and expertise. Not only is this approach a huge time saver for you, but it’s a terrific way to start a new relationship.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

The post Food Booth Vendor with 20+ Years Experience Shares Concession Sales Secrets appeared first on .

How to Go from Novice to Become a True BBQ Pitmaster | FTE Episode 106
27:25
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 27:25
How to Go from Novice to Become a True BBQ Pitmaster | FTE Episode 106

Chiles Cridlin

Today’s Featured Guest Chiles Cridlin.

Want to become a master of grilled meats? A sultan of the smoked arts? A renowned pit master? Well then today’s interview with Chiles Cridlin of Wolf’s BBQ Revenge is for you.

Over the past decade, Chiles has gone from newbie with nothing no more than a casual knowledge of barbecue to becoming an up-and-coming team in the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) rankings, which is the largest organization of grilling enthusiasts in the world with over 20,000 members.

So what is Chile’s secret to becoming a regarded by his peers as a pitmaster in such a short time period? Well, like most skill sets, there really is no secret. Chiles has dedicated himself to becoming a true student of the barbeque arts. In 2016, Chiles attended six classes on the topic in addition to participating in over 20 different competitive events. Join me in welcoming Chiles to the program!

What You’ll Learn

  • The importance of studying and being an on-going student if you want to reach the top of your craft.
  • Some of the regional nuances of BBQ. What they do in Florida might be a little bit different than what they do in Georgia or Tennessee.
  • The importance of understanding what judges are looking for and like when participating in a cooking competition.
  • The importance of mastering the cooking of a chicken breast in competition. It can be difficult to grill juicy and tender white-meat chicken breasts.
  • The importance of not just being an exceptional cook, but having a good personality when attending a BBQ competition.
  • Learn how to find your own signature flavors and style of BBQ. Also, get an understanding of the different BBQ cooking scenarios: competition BBQ, catering, or for friends and family.
  • Tips for finding spices, rubs and other BBQ products even if you’re just a beginner.
  • When it comes to finding the right wood, you should go with something that is local, fresh and easy to get. Chiles likes hickory when available for an additional punch.
  • Why a thermal pin is one of the best tools you can keep nearby when cooking meats.
  • Why Chiles recommends getting signed up as a just through the Kansas City Barbeque Society as a judge to get a fast and cheap education on cooking great BBQ.

 

smoked ribs

Finger lickin’ ribs from Wolf’s Revenge BBQ.

Quotes From The Show

It’s a lot of work, but man it’s a lot of fun. – Chiles Cridlin on being a competitive BBQ contender.  

When I first got started, I had no idea what competition barbeque was like. Most people think barbeque is what they grew up on. If you grew up in North Carolina you’re used to this, if you grew up in Memphis you’re used to that. – Chiles Cridlin on how barbeque styles differ depending on region. 

At a class you get to say “hi” to everybody, you get to be social. Somebody else is in charge, you’re not nervous. A class is less expensive than a competition. A competition is going to run you about $1,000 by the time you take the day off work, buy all your meats and travel.  – Chiles on the benefits and ease of taking a class to grow your skills. 

Judges know the chew they’re looking for. They’re looking for that pork taste. They’re looking for moisture so if it takes more than 2 or 3 bites to dissolve in their mouth then maybe it’s not done enough. – Chiles on just a few of the specific elements a judge will evaluate on your meats. 

Mentioned in the Podcast

Wolf’s Revenge BBQ – Competitive BBQ team of today’s featured guest Chiles Cridlin. Listen to Chile’s previous interview on our podcast here.

Custom Concessions USAcustom concessions – This is where Chiles went to have his BBQ trailer manufactured. This company comes highly recommended by Chiles.

Myron Mixon BBQ Cooking School – This is the first class BBQ Chiles ever took. This class covered topics like how to cook a whole hog, different types of contests, and different sauces and rubs you can use. After taking this class, Chiles went from middle of the pack in competition BBQ contest to getting second place in his next competition by applying what he learned.

Johnny Trigg – Often referred to as the “Godfather of BBQ.” This is another pitmaster that Chiles has learned from through a class.

Victory Lane BBQ – Heath Riles of Victory Lane BBQ is another team that is highly respected on the competitive circuit.

Checkered Flag 500 BBQ Team – Chiles also took this class from Mark Gibbs and recommended it to anyone that wants to improve their BBQ skills.

Wicked Good Barbecue – You can pick this book up for under $20 on Amazon.com. Chiles used one of the recipes out of this book at a big competition in North Carolina and placed in the top five with it.

The post How to Go from Novice to Become a True BBQ Pitmaster | FTE Episode 106 appeared first on .

Review and Interview with KarmaBox Vending Founder A.J. MacQuarrie | FTE Episode 105
44:01
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 44:01
Review and Interview with KarmaBox Vending Founder A.J. MacQuarrie | FTE Episode 105

Founder of KarmaBox Vending, A.J. MacQuarrie

Founder of KarmaBox Vending, A.J. MacQuarrie

In episode 105 of the podcast, we sit down with the founder of KarmaBox Vending A.J. MacQuarrie to discuss the business opportunity of healthy vending. KarmaBox Vending is one of the first companies that began to offer healthy snacks, beverages, and care products via vending machines.

The concept for A.J.’s business started back in his dorm room where junk food seemed to be everywhere, but healthy options were hard to come by. Later A.J. went on to create a healthy vending machine business called KarmaBox Vending to solve the problem of being able to find healthy snack options anywhere.

Today, we speak with A.J. not only about how he started his company, but also the opportunity healthy vending presents to entrepreneurs. Click the play button on the audio player above to listen to the full episode.

Revenue Expectations

When evaluating any type of business opportunity one of the big questions that naturally stands out is: What’s the revenue potential of this business model? Of course, how much income you generate depends on a variety of factors like what products you decide to sell in your machines, where your vending machines are located, how much optimization you do to ensure you have the right products in the right locations, and a variety of other factors. Now that we have all the disclaimers out of the way here’s what A.J. looks for in a respectable range for a vending location:

  • 10 – 25 vends per day, per vending machine.
  • Net profit of about $1.00 per transaction. You price products with enough margin to make about $1.00 in net profit per transaction.
  • $10 – $25 in net profit per day per location

Conservative Monthly Net Revenue Estimate (Monthly) with a single healthy vending machine: $300

Conservative Monthly Net Revenue Estimate (Monthly) with five KarmaBoxes: $1,500

Conservative Monthly Net Revenue Estimate (Monthly) with ten vending locations: $3,000

KarmaBox Vending recommends that you start out with a minimum of 5 vending machines when you’re starting a business. This gives you the opportunity to give this business a legitimate try and really gives you the sense of what operating this type of business will be like.

There are a couple reasons KarmaBox recommends starting with 5 locations minimum. First, if you only start out with a single vending machine the revenue numbers just aren’t going to be that exciting. If you’re netting $10.00 per day in profit from one machine you would be netting around $3,500 in a single year. This might not be exciting enough for some entrepreneurs and they may not put their full effort into growing the business on such a small scale. As A.J. explains during the interview, vending machines are a numbers game. The more you have out there generating sales the more income you will make.

The second reason is that you should expect to test out different locations to see where you can generate the highest number of transactions in your region. Although vending can become a largely passive business, you should view this business more of a process than a setup and forget it business model. Some of the vending machines that you setup will generate an consistent and attractive number of transactions straight away. Others you may determine need to be moved to a better location.

Karma Boxes

Examples of KarmaBoxes.

Cost to Get Started

Be sure to contact the folks at MyKarmaBox.com for up-to-date prices to invest in this opportunity. With that being said, at the time of this interview you could acquire ten KarmaBoxes (healthy vending machines) for around $74,000. In addition to the Made-in-America vending machines, A.J. MacQuarrie will also fly out to your location to provide hands-on training and ensure you’re ready to be a successful vending machine operator. KarmaBox Vending will also help you source and secure a location for each of your vending machines. As a first-time operator this could be an extremely valuable benefit.

If you want to start out smaller with only five KarmaBoxes the price to get started would be roughly $37,000.




(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Typical Day in the Life of a Healthy Vending Operator

So what will you’re day look like as a vending machine operator? As A.J. points out in the interview, if you start out with ten machines you should expect to work about 10 – 14 hours per week on the business. Your activities each week will include the following basic tasks:

Monitor Inventory – One thing that makes this business opportunity attractive is that you can track your sales and inventory from the comfort of your home. Each vending machine will send inventory and sales number directly to you the business owner each day. This allows you to track your sales without the need to go to each location. If you see that a certain location didn’t get any sales on a particular day, you can conduct an on-site visit to evaluate further. This is not your grandfather’s vending machine operation!

Restock Machines – You will want to make sure there’s plenty of healthy drinks and snacks for customers to buy from your vending machines. If you don’t keep your machine well stocked, you’ll be missing out on easy sales and not realizing the full value of your business.

Source Products – Another nice aspect of this business model is that you have flexibility to be able to stock your vending machine with any healthy product you like since this is a business opportunity and not a franchise model. Pop Chips, Terra Chips, KIND Bars, Cliff Bars, Fruit Snacks, apples, or juices could all be added based on the owners preference and the regional market’s demand. You can put at least 230 snacks or 150 drinks into each KarmaBox. The total number of snacks / beverages depends based on the specific vending machine you purchase. Some of the best places to start your search for vending products are places like Costco or Amazon.com.

Commute – You will need to drive to all your different locations to stock the snacks and beverages into your machines. If the machines are located close to your home this commute can be short and sweet. If you’re placing these machines far from the home base you will need to build that drive into your weekly hour expectations.  If you live in or near just about any suburban area, you should have plenty of locations you could place a healthy vending machine.

Quotes from the Show

You’re not stuck and tied to one location. If it’s like oh this area is not working well, let’s drive down the block. – A.J. MacQuarrie on some of the advantages of a vending machine business. 

I think the beauty of this business is that it is kind of a part-time business or it can be initially. You can get your feet wet with say ten KarmaBoxes, ten vending machines. And if you have ten vending machines it’s not going to take up too much of your time, maybe 10 – 14 hours per week tops. – A.J. MacQuarrie on the time commitment of this business model.  

Mentioned in Today’s Episode

KarmaBox Vending – The official website of this boutique healthy vending business opportunity based out of San Diego, California.

Launchpad Nation – This is A.J. MacQuarrie’s latest venture where he teaches aspiring entrepreneurs how to start a business. Check out the website to sign up for one of his future workshops.

Franchising – Franchise versus business opportunity was discussed a lot during the show. Check out the Wikipedia article for more information about the distinctions between these two entities.

Vending Machines – Learn more about where to source vending machines in this post.

The post Review and Interview with KarmaBox Vending Founder A.J. MacQuarrie | FTE Episode 105 appeared first on .

How Much Does It Cost to Open & Operate a Shaved Ice Stand? | FTE Episode 104
37:09
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 37:09
How Much Does It Cost to Open & Operate a Shaved Ice Stand? | FTE Episode 104

snow cone syrups

Snow Cone Syrups Photo Credit: Pinterest

In part 2 of our interview with Rosanne Buzai of Snowy Joey we dig deep into what it costs to start and operate a shaved ice business. We also discuss how to differentiate your business and the serious question you need to ask yourself before starting this type of business. Answering this question honestly could be the different between the success and failure of your future stand.

If you haven’t heard part 1 of this interview yet, click here.

Average Cost to Open a Shaved Ice Business: 

Primary Equipment Needs:

  • Shaved Ice Machine – $1,000 – $3,000
  • Flavor Syrups (Initial Inventory) – $500.00
  • Straws – $200
  • Cups – $400
    • Cost will vary depending on cup size, quality and different sizes you select.
  • Banner & Tent – $2,000
  • Prep Tables – $1,000
  • Uniforms – $300
  • Permits / Licenses – $500

Total Estimated Cost: $6,900

Variable Costs: There are of course a number of variable expenses associated with starting a shaved ice business. The primary expense will be determined by the unit you use to run your business. If you plan to use a pop-up tent, you can get started for under $5,000. If you want to purchase a trailer the cost could be between $15,000 – $100,000 depending on how many bells and whistles you want on your vehicle. The Tiki hut or stand cost can also vary greatly, but a typical stand should run you under $10,000. 

What is an Average Day in the Life in Your Shaved Ice Business From an Operations Standpoint?

As Snowy Joey business has continued to grow the daily responsibilities and work has also changed for its owners.




(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); In the early days with only a single shaved ice machine, the Co-Owner of Snowy Joey, Chris would be working small events around by himself or with a friend. It was basically a one many show to setup the shaved ice equipment, work the events, make the ice, and book future gigs. Things were simple and lucrative in the early days since a solo business owner could handle the majority of  the work even in their spare time.

Fast forward about ten years into the business, Snowy Joey now owns about 12 shaved ice machines, five popcorn machines, 12 cotton candy (or fairy frost) machines and their staff of employees is able to work multiple sporting or catering events at the exact same time. In total, Snowy Joey can now serve approximately 20 events over a single weekend. This changes the role and the responsibilities of the business owner, but it also increases the revenue significantly if you’re able to keep cost down.

Today, much of Rosanne’s work is in handling the operational side of the business. Rosanne helps to book new business, works to ensure that there are enough employees to operate at each event. Since there are busy periods and slower periods in the business, Rosanne needs to juggle employees schedules a bit between those that want to work almost every weekend and those that only want to work occasionally to earn a few extra dollars.

The other important role change that has occurred from the early days is that Rosanne spends much more of her time training employees. When you’re just a one man or woman show you need to wear every hat in the business. You literally do everything from sales to marketing to operations. But if you want to own a larger operation, you need to learn how to delegate and train different employees to pick up some of these tasks.

snowy joey

Today’s Featured Guest is Rosanne Buzai, Co-Owner of Snowy Joey.

One of the important jobs Rosanne has trained an employee to handle is identifying new vending locations. This is an important role because being on the look out for all the different fairs, sporting events, or craft fairs in the area is important to keep revenue coming in for the business. Finding new vending opportunities is completed in a variety of ways. It includes searching the internet for local events, keeping tabs of University / school websites, and local papers to see what’s happening around town.Rosanne has also delegated another important tasks like invoicing customers.

You won’t need to hire out anyone to complete these tasks when you start out. But the more people you hire, the more events you do, the more administrative work that will need to get done. Being aware of this fact early on and being prepared to offload some of the routine, but necessary work is a requirement if you want to remain sane while operating a growing business.

Testing Out The Franchise Model. 

After seeing success and growing their own shaved ice business, Snowy Joey considered expanding into a franchise operation. Starting a franchise can be a great way to grow an organization without having to hire a manager for each operation. Based on the success of the business, it seemed like an opportunity that could be replicated.

The business did do an initial test run with a franchisee, but ultimately Snow Joey decided to remain a private operation. With most franchise opportunities there is a certain annual revenue expectation that franchisee’s expect to hit. While nothing in business is ever a guarantee, franchise’s can often give you a ball-park figure of how much you could expect to make based on the amount of foot traffic, population of a city, and location of your store. But… If you have a mobile business that works events, it complicates revenue estimates.

This business model is highly weather dependent. If you have cool weather with rain, you aren’t going to have a great day in sales. If you have a summer that is unseasonably cold or wet, it can really hurt your year. The same goes for selecting events to vend at. Pick the wrong events and you won’t generate as much compared to someone had selected an event that was well attended and had nice weather. Due to all of these variables, Snowy Joey decided to remain a private company.

What Makes You Differentiate Your Shaved Ice Business

Rosanne focuses on the experience of her customers as a way to differentiate themselves from all the other shaved ice vendors out there. Now that Snowy Joey has been in business for a decade, there are kids that have grown up with the Snowy Joey brand of shaved ice. They remember how it felt to get shaved ice when they were kids and be able to pick out their favorite flavors themselves. If you focus on customer service and the experience of your customers, you will set yourself apart from ordinary vendors.

Biggest Piece of Advise When Starting a Shaved Ice Business?

Before you ever start a shaved ice business, Rosanne recommends looking inward to determine if this is the right type of business for you. It’s easy to look at long shaved ice lines and the money you could make operating this business and think you will enjoy it, but remember there will be challenges too. This is something you will need to be brutally honest with yourself about.

Sometimes a promoter will be completely off base with the expected number of people that will attend an event. There will be rain and wind that makes other events unprofitable.

If you enjoy talking to people, being sociable and working at fun events like this it’s a great business to get into. At the end of the the day, you’ve got to really enjoy and be passionate about what you do. If you don’t enjoy it, you’ll probably quit before you start to see the big pay days because it will be too much work and too much of a grind.

Quotes from the Program

Everyone see’s these long lines at these events in the summertime when the weather is great and go “Oh wow! I can make so much money!” from this business. But they don’t realize that marketing is a really big part of any business. – Rosanne Buzai on what it takes to operate a successful snow cone business. 

What I tend to find with single operators is that they undervalue their time. – Rosanne Buzai shaved ice vendors and the importance of valuing the time you put into the business. 

The post How Much Does It Cost to Open & Operate a Shaved Ice Stand? | FTE Episode 104 appeared first on .

The Future of Food Truck Laws with Robert Frommer | FTE Episode 103
16:25
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 16:25
The Future of Food Truck Laws with Robert Frommer | FTE Episode 103

Robert Frommer

Robert Frommer Photo Credit: ij.org

Sitting down with us today on the podcast is Robert Frommer (shown right) who is an Attorney for the Institute for Justice. Robert is the lead attorney in the Institute for Justice’s challenge to the food truck laws in Chicago.

Frommer has also co-authored a report with Bert Gall titled Food Truck Freedom – How to Build Better Food-Truck Laws in Your City and will be speaking at the upcoming Capital City Food Truck Convention.

Our conversation with Robert covers a broad range of topics, including how he got involved in street vending law, what some of the biggest barriers to growth are within the food truck industry, and the individual steps individual trucks and food truck associations can take to effect legislative and regulatory change. We also discuss what the future of food truck laws could look like. Listen to today’s episode to learn more!

capital city food truck convention

Predictions: Why Food Truck Laws Will Become More Friendly and Less Prohibitive 

1.) Lines are being blurred between food truck operators and restaurant owners. Business owners are no longer one or the other. Food truck owners are starting their first restaurants. Experienced restaurant owners and beginning to get into the food truck game after recognizing what a great promotional tool the vehicle can be in addition to a new revenue channel.

2.) Food Truck Associations have helped educate and been vocal agents of positive change within their communities. The growth of these organizations will continue and deliver even more positive change.

3.) The Institute for Justice’s efforts to peel away some of the most unconstitutional provisions in these vending laws like the proximity and prohibition restrictions. Frommer hopes that these efforts will encourage all municipalities to rethink vending laws.

Quotes From The Show

The city of Chicago is the only city of the top 10 largest cities in the United States to have a proximity restriction. A restriction that says, “Vendors you can’t operate within a certain distance of your brick-and-mortar competitor.” – Frommer on how restrictive laws can stifle food truck industry growth in a city. 

If you want to have a vibrant industry in an area, you have to ensure that the laws are about protecting actual health and safety, operate in a narrow manner–in other words they don’t use a sledgehammer to kill a fly–and that the government doesn’t play favorites.  – Frommer on what it takes to create a pro food truck environment. 

Mentioned During the Show

Institute For Justice A non-profit public interest law firm founded in 1991. This law firm protects citizens constitutional rights, including the right to earn an honest living. This organization’s work has helped not only food truck owners, but all types of street vendors. Today’s featured guest Robert Frommer is an attorney at the Institute for Justice.

Food Truck Freedom – Report by Robert Frommer and Bert Gall for the Institute For Justice’s Street Vending Initiative. This paper outlines How to Build Better Food-Truck Laws in Your City.

Capital City Food Truck Convention – The food truck conference of 2017 that will run from March 19th – 20th in Washington D.C. Today’s featured guest Robert Frommer will be presenting at this event and sharing additional insights about food truck laws.

East Coast Mobile Business Launch Pad – Sponsor of this podcast episode in addition to the upcoming Capital City Food Truck Convention.

The post The Future of Food Truck Laws with Robert Frommer | FTE Episode 103 appeared first on .

How to Start a $1 Million Dollar Shaved Ice Business Like Snowy Joey | FTE Episode 102
21:44
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 21:44
How to Start a $1 Million Dollar Shaved Ice Business Like Snowy Joey | FTE Episode 102

snowy joey

Today’s Featured Guest is Rosanne Buzai, Co-Owner of Snowy Joey.

Today’s interview with Rosanne Buzai’s story demonstrates that just because you go into something with the intent of starting a small, part-time family business, doesn’t mean you can’t grow and scale the concept further down the line. When Snowy Joey got started and operated primarily on weekend’s as a way for Rosanne Buzai’s son to earn some spending money and learn the basics of owning a business. Fast forward almost 10 years and Snowy Joey has generated well over $1 million dollars in sales, has numerous part-time employees, and most impressive has been able to raise over $100,000 toward worthwhile charities and clubs.

In the podcast, Rosanne’s shares the details of how the Snowy Joey shaved ice business got started and how you can grow the same type of business for yourself or your family. We also discuss the types of events that can be most lucrative for this business, the equipment you’ll need to purchase like a shaved ice machine. Rosanne is also candid about the different challenges that exist with this business model and the hurdles you’ll need to jump in order to grow beyond a sole operator. If you’ve been considering a shaved ice business of your own, you won’t want to miss out on this episode.

This is part 1 of an interview with Rosanne and next week we will be bringing you the rest of their story.

The Beginning of Snowy Joey

Rosanne’s son Chris was about to graduate from high school  and looking for something to do in between starting at university. Unlike a lot of other kids his age that would be satisfied to goof around with friends for a summer, Chris was looking for a project or something that he could work on over the summer.

Unlike most parents that might recommend going out and getting a minimum wage job to earn a few extra dollars for summer, Rosanne recommended something different. Instead of entering the workforce, Rosanne reccomended looking around their local area for gaps in the marketplace and writing a business plan to see what opportunities might exist in the area. If there was an opportunity that looked right, they could decide how to pursue it.

“I’ve personally been in business since the late 80s,” explains Rosanne, co-owner of Snowy Joey. “I thought this will be helpful in helping him get a grip on what’s actually involved in running a business.”




(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});  

After about a month or two of research Chris came back to Rosanne with an idea and plan to make it happen. There was just little one problem that gets in the way of many would-be entrepreneurs starting a business… Money. “I said yes very good. That’s the first thing you need when you start a business. You need some cash, or you need some investors, or you need to borrow the money,” says Rosanne. Instead of going with the original cash intensive startup idea, Rosanne suggested starting smaller that would require less up front capital risk like a snow cone business.

About two weeks had passed by after that conversation and Rosanne was looking through the classified ads at what was for sale and saw that someone wanted to sell a used snow cone machine. Viewing this as a good opportunity to teach her son about negotiating, they went to speak to the owner and ended up paying just over $1,100 for their first machine. After jumping through a few additional hoops in regards to getting the appropriate health regulations and permits for their area, Snow Joey was officially in business!

After investing in the equipment and getting the required vending permits, it was time to finally setup shop and test the business plan. The plan was to keep the operation small at first so that the business could be run by just a single person. The first event Snowy Joey booked was at a local car dealership. This opportunity didn’t yield much in terms of revenue so they decided to try sporting events instead.

The first attempt at a local sporting event turned out to be much more profitable and delivered a respectable number of sales for day. From then on weekend sporting events would be the focus on the business. Chris attended university during the week and ran the business part-time on the weekends making solid money.

One important point to draw from this story is that Rosanne and Chris didn’t give up or assume their snow cone business wouldn’t work just because their first effort at the car dealership didn’t work out the way they had hoped. Instead the mother and son team just looked for a different type of event that might be more profitable. You will need to approach the shaved ice business with this exact same attitude if you want to improve your odds of success.

snow cone setup

Snowy Joey in action at an event.

Growing the Business & Hiring Staff

The first few years of the business, Snowy Joey was a simple but profitable business that operated on the weekends. But eventually while attending a networking meeting, the opportunity to purchase another used snow cone machine for about $1,800 was presented. Rosanne decided this was a good opportunity to expand the business and purchased the piece of equipment.

Snowy Joey now could attend two events on a single day and increase their revenue further. Just like the first machine, Snowy Joey continued to operate on weekends using their second machine and hired out close friends or family members to operate the event. This allowed Snowy Joey to grow without taking on much additional risk by hiring a full-time staff and could pay help on an as needed basis.

After operating with two snow cone machines for a period of time, Snowy Joey decided to get more ambitious and ordered five more machines from the United States. That meant a total of seven machines for the business. Prior to this point, Rosanne had never managed the number of employees that would be required to manage a snow cone business that would be simultaneously vending at seven different locations at a single time.

How to Book Events

In the early days, Snowy Joey had a simple process they used to identify events they would participate in a secure new business. If you watch the video below, Chris from Snowy Joey provides the simple process he uses to identify high value events that have a better chance of  generating $500 per day in revenue.

Step 1: Find an event that might work to sell snow cones. This could be a school event, fundraiser, charity event, 5K run, craft show, music festival or just about any other place where people gather. Usually you won’t need to work too hard to find out about some of the events in your area. Just keep your eyes and ears open to things that are happening related to school, church, or community events. You can also find a list of upcoming events published on most city websites.

Step 2: After you find an event you would like to attend, you need to reach out to the event to see if you can vend there. Usually, Snowy Joey will contact people that run a specific event by email and let them know they would like to attend and what they have to offer. This is followed up by a telephone call to discuss details. It is a simple process that you can follow to generate business as well.

Step 3: Attend the event. After finding and booking an event all there’s left to do is attend the actual event. Make sure to provide excellent customer service and be friendly to everyone at the event so that you are invited back. Also, make sure to show up on time and dress in a professional manner that way you can start to build trusting relationship to the organizer of that specific event.

Pro Tip: You can learn more about finding profitable shaved ice vending locations in this post.

How Challenges Created New Revenue Opportunities for Snowy Joey

In the first few years of operating Snowy Joey, the company had benefited from the weather. There was a long period of drought with hot weather and little rain, the perfect situation for snow cone sales! However, after acquiring five more snow cone machines the drought in Queensland ended and rainy weather appeared. The rain situation became so extreme that it really began to eat into not just the profitability, but the savings of the business. After all, not as many people want to purchase a snow cone or attend an outdoor event when it’s rainy, cold, and windy.

Just like when the business was starting out and had to figure out the types of events that would generate a profit, Snowy Joey started to look at other ways their business could generate income.

“That’s when we started looking at selling syrups and that’s when we looked at what we can do with hiring out and that’s a really big part of our business now,” explains Rosanne during the interview. About 50% of Snowy Joey’s overall revenue now comes from doing charity events or fundraisers with different organizations that need to raise money for some type of cause. At these events, Snowy Joey will contribute a certain percentage of their sales to each organization so they can accomplish some type of goal.

The other 50% of revenue comes from what we would call catering events in the United States. A company or a university will pay for Snowy Joey to attend their event and hand out free samples to attendees. This is helpful to a snow cone or any other type of mobile food business because you know exactly how much you will make at an event before you attend. Rain or shine, you’ll be compensated for these events making them extremely desirable from an operator standpoint.

Snowy Joey has successfully diversified their business even further in recent years to ensure the business is even more resilient. You can now purchase Snowy Joey branded syrups, popcorn, and fairy floss (also referred to as cotton candy in the United States). Each of these products benefits the businesses bottom line and enables them to be more profitable at each event.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series about starting your own shaved ice business. In the next podcast, we will dive deeper into the topic of day-t0-day operations and the nitty gritty of running this type of business successfully. 

The post How to Start a $1 Million Dollar Shaved Ice Business Like Snowy Joey | FTE Episode 102 appeared first on .

How To Attract Sponsors For Your Competition BBQ Team like Wolf’s Revenge BBQ | FTE Episode 100
20:54
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 20:54
How To Attract Sponsors For Your Competition BBQ Team like Wolf’s Revenge BBQ | FTE Episode 100

bbq competition

Chiles Cridlin and Wolf’s Revenge BBQ being honored as 2016 Region 5 Grand Champion.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to travel and cook on the competitive BBQ circuit? Well then this interview with Chiles Cridlin of Wolf’s Revenge BBQ is for you.

In today’s episode, Chiles shares his experience on what it takes to win a BBQ competition, the equipment he uses to cook, and his advice for attracting sponsors for your BBQ team that can help pay for products like wood or  rub that you may already use or entry fee’s to different competitive events that can get costly over time. Hit play on the button above to listen to the full interview or read on for a full summary of the show.

What You’ll Learn

How Chiles Got More Serious About BBQ

Chiles got more serious about cooking BBQ in part to prove someone wrong. An IT professional by day, Chiles wanted to rent some professional grade cooking equipment from a local caterer for a casual gathering. The caterer instead suggested he should come and cook at the event since it would be too difficult of a task for Chiles to pull-off himself.

After that Chiles decided that he was going to take a more serious approach to cooking BBQ. Chiles started researching the topic of cooking barbecue, testing his own recipes, and eventually purchased his own BBQ trailer and equipment in order to participate in Kansas City BBQ contests.

smoked meat

Delicious smoked meat from Wolf’s Revenge BBQ.

Winning BBQ Competitions

Back in 2008 Wolf’s Revenge BBQ started their journey small, the way most great pitmasters start out. In the early days, barbecue would be made in pop-up tents and served from tables at different events. Smokers would be hauled around in the back of SUVs or the occasional camper to transport the equipment from event to event. Still, Chiles had always envisioned a more presence for Wolf’s Revenge BBQ.

In 2013, Chiles upgraded and made the leap to a BBQ trailer from Custom Concessions. Since acquiring the trailer they’ve logged well over 20,000 miles traveling to various competitions and even starting picking up lucrative catering events along the way.

custom concessionsAttracting Sponsors

As you’ll learn in the interview, if you are a competitive BBQ team that’s wants to attract sponsors, you’ll need to focus on more than just the quality of your brisket. That means replacing that chef’s hat with a marketing cap if you want to attract sponsors.

Although having great tasting BBQ and a track record of awards is certainly helpful when attracting sponsors it’s not the most important factor. Sponsors that could include anyone from a certain brand of spices, sauce, rubs, BBQ smoker builders care largely about how much exposure you can provide their brand. That means you’ll need to focus on building up an audience or followers that will pay attention and trust the recommendations you make.

One of the key indicators that sponsors will look at before investing in your business or team is how large and engaged your social media following is. Chiles recommends focusing on building a presence and following across the big three social media websites: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

As Chiles points out in the interview, there are a lot of fresh-faced teams on the professional BBQ circuit that have come in and been able to come in and attract sponsors quickly due to their social media following that grows quickly. In the past, you might need to compete on the circuit for years and rack up a considerable amount of trophies and achievements in order to get on the radar of a sponsor. Fast forward to today and you could start getting some low-level sponsorships in under a year if you understand how to promote yourself using new media.

Tips for Attracting Sponsors

Hoping to attract sponsors for your team? Here are some tips that Chiles recommends for acquiring sponsors.

  • Reach out to companies whose products you actually use. If you always use a specific blend of rub or a brand of coal to cook, reach out to those companies first. Let them know that you use their product regularly and demonstrate yourself using it on social media. Make sure to reference the name of the brand’s social media handle within these posts so that the brand is alerted that you’re referencing them. This simple action can be a great way to get on the radar of a big brand and give you the opportunity to start a conversation.
  • Start small with sponsorships. If you’re just starting out the odds of you being sponsored by McCormick’s is pretty low. Instead try to reach out to an up-and-coming company within the BBQ space to sponsor something. Then as you grow your BBQ business, you can also help your initial sponsors grow. Also, don’t ask for something big from a sponsor initially like having all of your competition fees paid for. Instead, start out by asking for some low cost free product samples. This is an easier “yes” for businesses and opens the door to develop a stronger relationship in the future.
  • Be specific with what you’re offering. At the end of the day, sponsors want to get their products in front of BBQ enthusiasts that might eventually buy their product. When you pitch a potential sponsor, be specific in how you will raise awareness for their product to their ideal customer. Here are a few simple ways you could add value: 1.) Display the sponsors banner at all BBQ events. 2.) Wear a t-shirt of the sponsor at all events. 3.) Publish 30 posts over the course of a year on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that are about the brand with links to their website. 4.) Put the sponsors logo permanently on your concession trailer.

The more specific and creative you can get can get to prove your value to advertisers, the better the chances are you’ll attract more of these overtime. Focus on growing your audience on social media in addition to building your name on the competition circuit to position yourself as an attractive person to sponsor.

Mentioned in the Podcast

Wolf’s Revenge BBQ – Check out the official Facebook page of Wolf’s Revenge BBQ here. This is a great place to keep up to date with all of the competitions that the team is cooking at across the country.

Custom Concessions – This is the company that Chiles chose to build his food trailer. As mentioned during the interview, Chiles is now in the process of purchasing his second BBQ trailer from the manufacturer.

Kansas City Barbeque Society – This is the organization that judges many of the BBQ events that Wolf’s Revenge BBQ participates in. Visit the website to learn more about upcoming KCBS events and classes.

 

The post How To Attract Sponsors For Your Competition BBQ Team like Wolf’s Revenge BBQ | FTE Episode 100 appeared first on .

How to Start a Profitable Part-Time Kettle Corn Business | FTE Episode 099
50:23
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 50:23
How to Start a Profitable Part-Time Kettle Corn Business | FTE Episode 099

kettle corn

Some delicious kettle corn from Velma’s Wicked Delicious.

Velma’s Wicked Delicious Kettle Corn has been popping at farmers’s markets and craft shows across throughout New England since 2006. Today, we speak with Eric Bickernicks, the owner of this kettle corn business to discuss how to start this type of business, what it’s like to be an operator, how much it will cost to start this type of business, and the equipment you’ll need to get up and running.

Eric first got the idea to start a kettle corn business while visiting a fair near his home. He couldn’t believe the length of the line that was being formed next to a little kettle corn stand. After doing some mental math in his head about how much revenue this tiny business was generating at $5.00 in revenue per bag, Eric was hooked and decided to start a old fashioned kettle corn business of his own with a buddy. The rest as they say is history and Eric has continued to operate this business for the past decade!

Pro Tip: If this is a business model you’re interested in diving deeper into, check out Eric’s website WickedDelicious.com. Eric has been documenting his journey operating a kettle corn business here for the past 10-years and provides summaries of many of the events that he’s vended at. It’s a great resource if you want to learn more about this topic!

 

Watch the video above to see Eric Bickernicks in action at the Framingham Farmer’s Market to get a sense of what the typical day is like for a kettle corn vendor. This is a time lapsed video from a 5-hour vending time frame and condensed into a video that lasts under 2 minutes.

The Early Days

After deciding to start the business, Eric and his partner decided they would take a chance and start vending at a local farmer’s market near their homes. The event charged a fee of roughly $50 to vend at so the risk was very low that they would lose money. At the end of the farmer’s market Velma’s Wicked Delicious Kettle Corn had generated about $200 in sales. Not an incredible amount of cash and not much more than “beer money” as Eric described it. But the concept had worked to generate revenue!




(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});  

From that initial day, sales continued to grow organically for the business. By the second season of operating, it was routine for the business to generate around $400.00 regularly per day in sales. At $5.00 per bag, you only need to sell 80 bags of kettle corn in a day to reach that number.

Slowly, the business continued to grow overtime though word-of-mouth and repeat customers at farmer’s markets. For some customers, it became a routine to pick up a bag of Velma’s Wicked Delicious each week just like they would eggs or milk. This repeat business led to higher overall sales numbers over time. Eventually, the business would more frequently make $800 all the way up to $1,000 in a single day.

Getting People to Give Your Kettle Corn a Try

When Eric opened Velma’s Wicked Delicious for the first time, no one knew about him or the quality of his kettle corn. So how did Eric convince folks to give his unique style of corn a try? The same way that thousands of new food businesses have used to raise awareness of their product. Free samples!

In the early days, Eric used free samples to give craft show goers a taste of their product. Enough people that tried the product, liked it and became a customer. This can be a great way to encourage people to try your product for the first time. The next time they see you, they might just skip the free sample and buy a bag to bring home.

Margins of Kettle Corn 

How’s how much margin is built into a bag of kettle corn:

$5.00 per bag gross profit.

$1.50 – $1.60 cost of goods (cooked kettle corn + branded bag)

This equals about $3.50 in net profit per bag sold after expenses.

There are some other variable costs that you will also need to consider, however. Some craft shows or fairs charge a small fee to be able to vend. It can cost anywhere between $25 – $300 depending on the type of event you plan to vend at. Make sure to build this into your expenses prior to attending an event. You should also factor in gas money for the travel required to attend each event.

Equipment Needed

Here is the basic equipment you’ll need to start a kettle corn business:

  • Kettle Corn Popper – The kettle corn machine is what you need to operate your business. Make sure you invest in something that is durable and allows you to produce a consistently high-quality product every time you vend.
  • Sifting Bin – The bin is where your kettle corn will be stored temporarily before it is packaged.
  • Stirrer – This is used to stir the kernels and make sure the product gets popped.  It’s also good for entertainment purposes because customers can see watch you making their kettle corn.
  • Counter – A counter is helpful for serving customers. It also provides a nice way to hide product.
  • 3-Compartment Sink – This is needed in most areas to adhere to health regulations. Additionally it will allow you to wash your hands.
  • Propane Tanks – This is to provide power the popper.
  • Tent and Signage – The tent serves two purposes. One is to protect you as the vendor and product from the elements of wind, rain, and sunshine. The tent and banners that make up your pop-up also help to sell and draw attention to your stand. 

As an aside, one of the suppliers that Eric mentioned during our interview is North Bend Kettle Corn Equipment. This is the brand of equipment of Eric uses for his business. Another business recommended by Eric is Mann Made Poppin’ Machines.

Estimated Cost to Get Started

According to Eric, your biggest expense is going to be purchasing a kettle corn popper machine and a tent / pop-up. The costs of this equipment is variable, but a professional grade kettle will run you between $3,000 – $5,000 on average. Eric advises not going too cheap on this investment since you’ll want a machine that will operate efficiently for many years into the future and cook a consistent product for your customers. Bottom line, if you find a popper on Amazon.com for $199 that’s probably not what you want to build your business around.

Finding Vending Locations

Craft fairs / Antique Festivals / Car Shows / Farmer’s Markets / Fire Works Shows – If you’re just starting out these are great opportunities to begin. Typically the event fees are low here and you’ll be able to vend for $50 or less.

Eric recommends starting small at events like these for a few reasons. For one, small events are low risk to you as a business owner. With a low entry fee it won’t take long for you to cover the cost of vending. Your overhead can be even lower since you’ll likely be able to operate the stand on your own so no need to compensate an employee.

Larger Fairs / Festivals – County fairs and large music festivals are the types of events that can generate a big pay day. Unfortunately, vending at big events like these come at a price. Many of the biggest event charge hefty fees for the opportunity to vend. The price tag varies but could easily be $200 – $1000 for a multi-day event. This literally eats into your profits.

The other thing is that you’ll need extra help if you plan to vend here. You may need to employ 1 – 2 employees to take advantage of the demand at these events. If you need to pay two employees at even $10 per hour each that’s more out of your net profits. Depending on the event, hiring some part-time employees could totally be worth it. But it’s a factor to consider before moving forward.

Charity events – The different between serving at charitable events versus a car show is that you will usually need to share a certain percentage of your sales with the charity. These events can be personally fulfilling as well as economically for a kettle corn business. 

There is one type of charitable event that Eric warns against, however. Churches will often do small fundraisers that attract 100 people or less. While it can be wonderful to help support every charity, you may not be able to afford to attend every event like this that you’ve been asked to participate in if you want to generate a decent income.

Corporate events – These are the holy grail of the kettle corn business. Unlike other vending opportunities, you’re usually paid in advance with corporate events. This doesn’t just include vending at parties for businesses either. One of Eric’s favorite places to vend is at colleges and universities.

Typically universities will buy a certain number of bags from you in advance. All you need to do from there is to show up and distribute your bags of kettle corn to the hungry crowd of kids. If the event isn’t well attended or there’s rain, it’s none of your concern. You have fulfilled your end of the bargain by attending the event and providing your product / service.

Quotes from the Show

The cops used to call us “kettle crack.” – Eric Bickernicks on the addictiveness of their product.

It gets so hot because you literally have to stand over it [the kettle] and in August I’ve gotten very close to getting heat stroke. – Eric Bickernicks on working conditions you should expect on some of those hot summer days. 

I would have quit kettle corn years ago if I didn’t get one with the kettle motor and the stirrer on it. – Eric Bickernicks on recommended equipment for a kettle corn business. 

Typically you would do a craft festival. That is sort of the bread and butter of the kettle corn biz. – Eric Bickernicks on where you should start to look for vending opportunities. 

I get approached a lot of times when I’m sitting at the farmer’s market. People come to me and they’re like, “Will you do my event?” – Eric Bickernicks on the importance of being selective on where you choose to vend after your business is off the ground. 

It’s almost impossible to gauge how much you’ll be making unless you try it. – Eric Bickernicks on how the average income of a kettle corn business is highly variable depending on where you vend, how often you vend, and your overall work ethic.

The post How to Start a Profitable Part-Time Kettle Corn Business | FTE Episode 099 appeared first on .

Interview with Doug Povich of Red Hook Lobster Pound & Capital City Food Truck Convention Speaker
23:41
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 23:41
Interview with Doug Povich of Red Hook Lobster Pound & Capital City Food Truck Convention Speaker

red hook lobster pound

Doug Povich has been around since the start of the Washington DC mobile food movement. Today, Povich shares what has changed over the past half decade from a regulation and popularity standpoint within DC’s growing food truck scene.

Povich also shares valuable advice on what it takes to influence food truck friendly laws in your area, why enrolling in a food truck association is critical to success, and why you should be reaching out to other businesses (food truck vendors, restaurants, and bars) to create win-win relationships. Povich will also be sharing his knowledge at the upcoming Capital City Food Truck Convention being held March 19th – March 20th in Washington, D.C. Listen to today’s podcast episode to learn more!

capital city food truck convention

What You’ll Learn

  • Learn how Doug was a lawyer for over 2 decades prior to starting his food truck in Washington, D.C.
  • How they got started in with Red Hook Lobster Pound in August of 2010. The first day the truck had a line of over 350 people around a city block.
  • Why Doug brought in an expert that had experience with catering and cooking.
  • What the Washington food truck scene looked like in 2010 versus 2016.
  • How you can influence a positive perception of food trucks within your city.
  • The advantages of banding together as a group to influence local law and regulations by forming a food truck association.
  • How more food truck friendly laws have been put in place over the past 5 years in Washington DC. Such as special vending zones where 15 – 20 food truck owners can operate at a single time.
  • The importance of creating win-win situations with other businesses, including restaurants and other food trucks.
  • How “hook-ups” between bars and other businesses have been instrumental in building relationships with other business owners.
  • The importance of factoring seasonality into your business.
doug povich

Doug Povich outside the Red Hook Lobster Pound DC Truck.

Quotes from the Show

In 2010 / 2011 there were maybe 10 or 15 food trucks. Flash forward now there’s over 500 that are licensed in the DC area. – Doug Povich on the growth of food trucks within the DC area. 

Vending when there’s one truck and no one else nearby is okay. But actually it’s been shown that if you have two or three trucks in a little pod together you actually attract more business. – Povich on the importance of forming relationships with other food truck vendors. 

If you’re a food truck and you’re parking near a restaurant doesn’t mean that you’re taking business from that restaurant. What it actually means is you’re increasing food traffic on the sidewalks so that your business succeeds and their business gets more money. – Povich on some of the misconceptions about food trucks being categorically bad for restaurants. 

Mentioned in the Show

Red Hook Lobster Pound DC – The official website of today’s featured guest Doug Povich. Check out the menu and see where the truck will be located next.

DMV Food Truck Association – This is a non-profit organization serving the DC area, helping create local jobs and raise awareness of the local food truck industry.

Capital City Food Truck Convention – Convention runs from March 19th – 20th at DOC5 in Washington, D.C. Today’s guest Doug Povich will be speaking at this event. Click the link to view the full list of speakers and topics.

East Coast Mobile Business Launch Pad – One of the main sponsors of the Capital City Food Truck Convention. East Coast Mobile Business Launch Pad will also be at the event.

The post Interview with Doug Povich of Red Hook Lobster Pound & Capital City Food Truck Convention Speaker appeared first on .

Food Business Startup Loan Tips from Scott Horvath of JSL Financial | FTE Episode 097
31:54
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 31:54
Food Business Startup Loan Tips from Scott Horvath of JSL Financial | FTE Episode 097

scott horvath

Scott Horvath of JSL Financial

Today we sit down with Scott Horvath of JSL Financial. Scott was referred to me as someone that has helped a lot of folks secure financing needed to start their own food businesses even if they had been rejected for a loan elsewhere. Obtaining that initial loan of funding is daunting for any kind of startup business without a long history of revenue or existing assets, not just food trucks or other general food businesses.

Since acquiring that initial chunk of capital is such a common challenge for would-be food vendors, I wanted to get Scott on the phone to share his insights on how you can improve your odds of getting approved for a loan even if you’re just starting out. We will also be outlining the things that banks look at when evaluating your loan to help educate you about the process. By the end of this episode, you will have a much clearer understanding of the loan approval process and the specific things you can do to get funding for your business.

finance

Frequently Asked Questions Answered in the Podcast

Why is it difficult for food startups to get a loan?

For any new business is hard to get a loan approved, not just food businesses. It’s a challenge for banks to approve loans on a new business that might not succeed. If you’re just starting out the banks are going to look at your personal credit history and assets to determine if you are a worthy party to lend to.

What can entrepreneurs do to make themselves appear more credit worthy to lenders?

Lenders want to see assets and a great financial background. A lot of people think that having a solid credit score above 700 will be enough, but that’s not the only thing banks will look at. They are also looking for any assets that you can borrow against such as a home or automobile that you own. Banks want you to have something of value in your name. In general, the more items you have in the asset column the better.

This is not to say that a good credit history won’t help. This is something banks look at. But demonstrating an ability to manage credit well is not the only factor being considered.

Finally, the majority of banks will also ask to review a business plan that demonstrates the revenue expectations and a budget for repaying the loan with profits over time. The business plan will help articulate your plans for operating a successful business and also proves that you’re serious about starting this a food business. Most folks won’t take the time to write an actual business plan so this is an easy way to weed out people that aren’t serious.

ice cream van

Photo Credit: Pinterest

If you already operate a business that’s generating a profit (like a restaurant or food truck) is it easier to get a loan?

If you already own a revenue generating business, it will be much easier to get a loan. Typically these kinds of loans are approved very quickly. You will be asked to provide tax returns and bank statements from the business as proof to show you will be successful.

In addition to tax returns and income statements, the length of time you’ve operated the business is also critical. If you have operated the business for less than 2 years, this is technically still categorized as a “startup” to lenders and getting a loan will be harder for that reason even if you demonstrate great profits.

What are some tips for securing a business loan if you’ve been denied in the past?

The key really is that you must have something on the line. You need to have some type of collateral or something of value that a bank can take from you if you happen to default on the loan. Collateral translates to an acceptable degree of safety for the bank or lender.

Some ways to increase the level of safety for a bank include the following: 

  • Make a larger down payment. A larger down payment from you up-front means less risk for the bank in the future. A 30% down payment is a typical for a new business with an owner that has a solid credit history. If you are in the higher risk category you may need to put up 50% of the overall loan amount up front. If you need to make a larger down payment, getting an SBA loan through your existing bank has been a viable option for some startups.
  • Get a Co-Signer. A co-signer is someone that signs a loan with you and assumes responsibility for the loan if you aren’t able to repay the bank. If you are not able to repay the loan personally, the bank will go after the co-signers assets for the loan amount. Be careful before having someone co-sign a loan for you as the relationship with this person could be impacted if you aren’t able to repay the loan.

What is the application process like for getting a business loan?

You can start the application process for a food truck or other food business startup here. This form will take approximately 10 – 15 minutes to complete and asks some basic information about the business you operate and the amount of funding you require. You will typically get a response on the same day or next business day after submitting the application.

Any parting tips or pieces of advise about getting a business loan approved?

Don’t get discouraged if you’ve been denied a loan in the past. This happens! It’s not easy for a bank to lend out $100,000 for a brand new business. If you are determined to start a business, you will find a way. If you are denied the initial loan request, we can help you explore options for securing the financing you need.

Click here if you want to learn more about getting a loan for your food truck, trailer, or food business. 

The post Food Business Startup Loan Tips from Scott Horvath of JSL Financial | FTE Episode 097 appeared first on .

Two Years Operating an Italian Food Truck with La Strada Modern Italian Food
33:35
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 33:35
Two Years Operating an Italian Food Truck with La Strada Modern Italian Food

la strada food truck

The La Strada Food Truck

Today we’ve got another new episode for you with Deborah Ciardo owner of La Strada Food Truck based out of Potomac, Maryland. Deborah is someone that has followed her life-long passion for food and Italian culture and transformed that into her business for the past 2+ years.

In today’s interview, Deborah shares how she became interested in Italian culture and cooking at a very early age growing up in Illinois. Although she grew up in the Midwest, Deborah’s grandparents both grew up in Italy. In addition to her heritage, there were a series of life events that led Deborah down a path to discovering more about Italian culture, the language, and ultimately living in the country for years.

Some might say Deborah’s journey to owning an Italian food truck was fate, but we’ll let you decide after listening to the interview!

 What You’ll Learn

  • Learn how Deborah’s family history played a significant role in the food truck she would later start.
  • How operating a food truck has allowed Deborah the flexibility to operate her business during the summer months in the United States and travel to Italy during the winter months or off season.
  • How to create a one-of-a-kind menu that doesn’t scare people away.
  • The importance of joining and connecting with members of your local food truck association.
  • A detailed description of the different menu items including the various type of panini’s on
  • How you can turn your passion for cooking and Italian culture into a business.
  • The reasons Deborah includes all the ingredients from each item on her menu.
  • Why Deborah is happy she opted for a upfitted 23 foot, 1998 FedEx truck for her Italian kitchen.
  • How watching Julia Child, to operating a catering business, to teaching cooking classes all helped Deborah succeed on a food truck.

pasta

Quotes from The Show

At a certain point, I decided to get a food truck. It was like the only way I could be my own boss. I did not want to have a restaurant and I frankly I couldn’t afford to open a whole restaurant without getting a whole bunch of financing. – Deborah Ciardo on making the decision to start a business. 

The first year I learned so many things about what you have to do to have a food truck. It’s really hard psychical labor and since I don’t have a partner it’s like a million things you have to remember every day. – Deborah Ciardo on the first 12 months in business. 

I love not having to answer to anybody else and I like being able to make my own schedule. – Ciardo on the advantages of operating mobile Italian eatery.

I think the biggest problem with having a food truck is getting good employees. – Ciardo on the challenges of operating a mobile food business. 

I drive a Volkswagen Beatle and I’ve had to learn how to drive a 23 foot long truck. – Ciardo on things you learn when operating a food truck. 

It just seemed like none of them had the right grill. They didn’t have the right refrigerator in the right place. It just seemed like it was hard to find something for sale that really suited my needs. – Ciardo on finding a truck that fit her specific needs as an Italian mobile kitchen. 

Mentioned in the Show

La Strada Food Truck – This is the official website of the La Strada Food Truck. La Strada is Italian for “The Street.” Learn more about Deborah’s menu items and where she’ll be located next here.

East Coast Mobile Business Launch Pad – This is where today’s featured guest purchased her food truck. As mentioned in today’s episode, Deborah has been extremely happy with the results of her vehicle so far after over 2 years of being in business.

Montgomery County Food Truck Association – This organization has been extremely important to Deborah in getting her business off the ground. Deborah recommends joining and getting involved in your local food truck association no matter where you live. According to Deborah, over half her business comes through this association.

Montgomery County DMV Food Truck Association – Here you’ll find a list of resources and outline of all the forms and permits you’ll need to operate a food truck from a legal perspective.

The post Two Years Operating an Italian Food Truck with La Strada Modern Italian Food appeared first on .

Interview with National Grilled Cheese Competition Winner Michael Davidson – FTE Episode 095
23:51
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 23:51
Interview with National Grilled Cheese Competition Winner Michael Davidson – FTE Episode 095

grilled cheese tower

Yummy tower of grilled cheese from The GrilledCheezGuy.

On today’s podcast we sit down with Michael Davidson, better known as The GrilledCheezGuy around San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. Before Davidson created his cheesy alter-ego, he was a research scientist at a large company. That was until one day he saw an advertisement for a grilled cheese making competition being held at a local bar and thought it would be fun to enter the little cooking contest. He may not have realized it at the time, but this single event  would change the direction of Davidson’s life forever.

Davidson did not end up winning the first grilled cheese competition. But as fate would seemingly have it, a regional grilled cheese making competition came back to the same bar the following year. With additional cooking experience under his belt, Davidson won the competition on his second attempt. Part of the prize was the ability to be able to compete in the national grilled cheese cooking competition, which he also won later that year.

After winning this competition he started hustling on the streets of Oakland, California, to bring his food to the world. Initially Davidson used minimum viable cooking equipment–a small burner–to get his venture off the ground. Doing these little street events helped get the GrilledCheezGuy name out there locally and soon he was being asked to do events, including a wedding in San Francisco park for between 200 – 300 people. Davidson even added a splash of creativity by serving a grilled cheese wedding cake (yes it is a thing!) to attendees.

Tune in to today’s episode to learn how Davidson has continued to grow his business from literally nothing into a budding grilled cheese empire of his own with multiple catering vans, a commissary, and even the possibility of a storefront in the works.

grilled cheese guy

What You’ll Learn

  • How to win in the world of competitive grilled cheese.
  • How Davidson raised capital for his first grilled cheese van with help from Kiva.
  • The secret to making a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Reasons cheese, bread, and butter can combine to make an amazing meal.
  • The strategic and long-term goals of The GrilledCheezGuy.
  • How a brick can help you make a better grilled cheese sandwich.
  • How to grow a mobile food brand.

Quotes from the Show

It chose me. I did not choose it. – Michael Davidson on the start of his business journey. 

It’s those little things you have to do to make a difference. Otherwise you have to realize your just some grilled cheese guy and anyone can make a grilled cheese at home. You kind of have to do that and more. – Davidson on operating a successful food business. 

I really did start from the absolute bottom with not much and it didn’t require that much money to start at the beginning. And so at each level I’ve been a fortunate enough and I guess savvy enough to be able to afford each next level. – Davidson on growing a business. 

Mentioned in the Show

The GrilledCheezGuy – The is the official website of Michael Davidson’s business. As luck may have it, just last week The GrilledCheezGuy actually served his sandwiches at his old company to many of his former colleagues and fellow research scientists bringing his story full circle in a way. Visit the website to learn more about booking The GrilledCheezGuy for your event or to view mouth-watering grilled cheese photos.

Kiva – Michael Davidson got access to the capital he needed to grow his business with help from a no-interest loan from Kiva. In Michael’s case, he was able to acquire a Ford Transit for his business. You can learn more about the process on how to get a loan through Kiva for your business here.

Square – This is the payment processor used by Michael Davidson for his business.

The Grilled Cheese Invitational – One of the competitions that Michael has won in the past. Yes… There really are very serious grilled cheese cooking competitions!

Acme Bread – San Francisco based bread company that was founded in 1983. This is the bread used by The GrilledCheezGuy.

The post Interview with National Grilled Cheese Competition Winner Michael Davidson – FTE Episode 095 appeared first on .

Advantages and Disadvantages of Operating a Hot Dog Cart from a Real Vendor
7:41
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 7:41
Advantages and Disadvantages of Operating a Hot Dog Cart from a Real Vendor

bow ties and hot dogsIn today’s podcast episode Matt Gladfelter of Bow Ties and HotDogs shares his list of the pros and cons of operating a hot dog business. As with any business models there are good things and bad things you should be aware of before getting started.

Today’s podcast is a bit shorter in length than most episodes, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important topic. You may already be aware of many advantages of this business, so we will start out with some of the downsides of operating a hot dog cart first.

Disadvantages

Hard Work – Anytime you want to generate an income, you’ve got to physically go outside, prepare your cart for service and vend to make money. (This of course assumes you haven’t hired an employee to do the work for you.) After your long day of vending is complete, you will need to do some basic bookkeeping to records sales and check inventory levels. If inventory if low, you’ll need to go shopping to make sure you’ve got enough sausages, buns, and condiments for the next shift.

Not a Get Rich Quick Business – If you think you’re going to take your cart out and immediately begin making $100,000 in net revenue per year you will more than likely be disappointed in the results. Sure, there are plenty of hot dog business owners that attain that level of success, but it almost always happens after working the business for a few years. It takes time to find the most profitable vending locations in your city and you may need to scale beyond a single cart to accomplish this. Click here to learn more about the real profit potential of this type of business.

Withstanding the Elements – Unless you operate a hot dog truck (which can still be hot in the summer!), you will need to be prepared to withstand anything that mother-nature throws your way. A perfectly blue sky can quickly transform into rain clouds depending on where you live.

// <![CDATA[ (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); // ]]&gt;As mentioned in the interview, this most recent summer in Tennessee where temperatures regularly went up to 95 degrees and that doesn’t factor in the humidity. On the flip-side hot dog vendors in places like Chicago and New York operate year round and experience hot summers and brutally cold winters. There’s a certain level of toughness you must have to be successful.

Dealing with Public – Anytime you operate a customer service based business, including a hot dog stand you will encounter challenging people. Eventually, someone is going to complain about the quality, taste or temperature of their hot dog… Even if nothing is wrong with the product.

If you end up serving at a beer garden or bar, you’ll inevitably need to deal with folks that have had too much to drink. These situations can be challenging and it’s your job to maintain a level of professionalism and coolness factor even when someone else is not being nice. You can influence the types of people you meet depending on when and where you vend, but dealing directly with all sorts of different people can be tough.

hot dog

Advantages

Control Your Time – This is a big one for Gladfelter as he explains in today’s podcast episode. Gladfelter got to spend the whole summer with his kids since he had such a flexible schedule. If you need to take off due to a kids baseball game, go ahead and shut down the cart for the afternoon and attend.

This type of business unlike just about any other in the food industry is unique that you can operate around your schedule. With a restaurant, you’ve got a set amount of hours you need to be open for each day. That’s not that case with a cart.

Low Cost to Get Started – We’ve discussed this before, but Gladfelter was able to start his hot dog cart business for less than a $5,000 initial investment. He has purchased an upgraded cart with all the bells and whistles since that time, but he was able to prove the model to himself and the business plan by doing this.

There are not many real business you can get into for under $10,000. From there success or failure is largely determined by how much hustle you put into the operation.

Ability to Scale – If you have aspirations of making really large sums of money beyond the $100,000 per year revenue mark, your business needs to be able to scale. With a hot dog business this is a real possibility because adding new carts isn’t going to break the bank once you start generating an income. If you want earn more, just add another cart and hire someone to operate it. There are some business owners that over the period of a few years have added over 100 carts. Just imagine how much income you could generate with even a small amount of net profit being generated from these vehicles on a daily basis.

Your job will become significantly different if growing your business is the goal. Instead of focusing your time on operating a single cart, your focus will be on managing people and making sure you’ve got systems in place to train new vendors you bring into the system. Still, it’s reassuring to have a business that you know can grow if you want it to.

Quotes from the Show

Your scale of growth is limited to your imagination, to think outside the box a little, and to create a great brand and experience for your guests. – Matt Gladfelter the growth potential for this business model. 

It is an exciting way to live, but it’s not for everyone. – Matt Gladfelter on operating a hot dog business. 

There’s a reason there’s a lot of used hot dog carts on Craigslist. I think that’s because a lot of people do ignore the fact that this is hard work. – Matt Gladfelter getting real about how much work it is to operate a vending business. 

Related Resources

Total Cost Breakdown for Hot Dog Business Startups – Learn how much it costs to start a hot dog business.

Hot Dog Business Plan – Ready to start your own hot dog cart? Learn how to create a business plan and conduct market research in your area.

How much income can you make on a hot dog cart? – Find out if you can actually make a decent living in this type of business.

The post Advantages and Disadvantages of Operating a Hot Dog Cart from a Real Vendor appeared first on .

How to Get a Zero-Interest Food Truck Loan with Kiva (Interview) | FTE Episode 092
28:42
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 28:42
How to Get a Zero-Interest Food Truck Loan with Kiva (Interview) | FTE Episode 092

kiva fund

Reasons entrepreneurs are rejected from loans include poor credit, no past business revenue, the loan amount isn’t big enough or a myriad of other reasons. Often, smaller dollar value loans in particular aren’t worth the time to put together for large banks that generate revenue by charging interest. So what’s an aspiring mobile food entrepreneur to do?

The non-profit Kiva is a lending option if you are in need of a micro-loan to get your food startup off the ground. In today’s interview, we discuss with Adam Kirk from Kiva how the program works and if it’s right path for funding for you.

How to Apply for a Loan Using Kiva –

Step 1: Apply Online – The first step is creating an account and profile online. Within this online profile you’ll need to enter basic information about yourself, tell your story, goals, and why you’re seeking capital through Kiva. This step will take an hour or two on average.

This process is in ways similar to setting up a profile on crowdfunding websites like IndieGoGo.com. Lenders on the Kiva website will be able to learn more about you and your project through your profile. Be sure to invest time and effort into making sure your profile tells the right story as this will signal to lenders that you’re serious about making the business work.

Step 2: In addition to creating an account through Kiva, you will also need to answer a few basic loan application questions to be eligible. A few loan related questions include the following: How much money did you make last year? What is your credit score? How many employees do you currently have?

Step 3: At this point a “risk profile” will be created for you. This profile estimates the level of risk you are to lend to based on the information available to Kiva. Depending on the level of risk your profile contains, you will need to reach out to your personal network of friends and family to donate to your loan before your campaign goes “public” and can be viewed by Kiva’s base of 1.5 million lenders. As a simple example, you might need to find 15 people that are willing to lend to you / vouch for you before you can move to the public round. This process is called “social underwriting” by Kiva.

Step 4: At this point, your loan campaign is moved public and Kiva’s 1.5 million lenders can view and contribute to your loan. Once you reach this point in the process your odds of securing the capital you need are extremely good with about 97% of food businesses reaching this round securing the loan they need.

Note: There are three reasons you will automatically be rejected for a loan through Kiva. You must be over 18 years of age. You must be located within the United States. You must not be currently going through bankruptcy.

kiva benefits

What You’ll Learn

  • Every year 3-million loan applications are rejected in the United States
  • How micro-loans can help aspiring entrepreneurs lift themselves out of poverty and benefit the overall United States economy.
  • How Kiva organized and connected approximately 1.5 million lenders into one place.
  • Ways the non-profit Kiva is able to make no interest loans work for lenders and entrepreneurs.
  • Some examples of mobile food entrepreneurs that have successfully used Kiva to fund raise.

kiva stats

Quotes from the Show

The reason we’re doing this is because there’s a lot of financial exclusion in the U.S. There are tons of entrepreneurs here, there are tons of micro-businesses with less than 5 employees, but people just can’t access funding. – Adam Kirk on why Kiva can help entrepreneurs in the United States.  

It helps you grow without the stress of paying ridiculously high interest rates. – Adam Kirk on the benefits of using this program for business owners just starting out. 

Our food businesses, once they get to the public phase, 97% of those entrepreneurs fundraise successfully. – Adam Kirk on funding success rates. 

Mentioned in the Show

Kiva – If you would like to sign up as a borrower on Kiva, click here.

The GrilledCheezGuy – Michael Davidson, owner and founder of The GrilledCheezGuy based out of the Bay Area borrowed $10,000 through Kiva to help accelerate growth for his pop-up / food truck business.

Drums & Crumbs – Kiva helped Drums & Crumbs get the working capital on they needed while their truck was being built. Drums & Crumbs serves up authentic Southern cuisine to residents of the Bay Area.

The post How to Get a Zero-Interest Food Truck Loan with Kiva (Interview) | FTE Episode 092 appeared first on .

How to Reduce Food Costs in Hot Dog Businesses | FTE Episode 089
17:00
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 17:00
How to Reduce Food Costs in Hot Dog Businesses | FTE Episode 089

bow ties and hot dogsIn this lesson we talk to Matt Gladfelter of Bow Ties and Hot Dogs about some of the little details of operating a hot dog cart that simply haven’t fit into our conversations to up to this point. But that doesn’t mean this lesson isn’t critically important.

In this discussion we cover some operational details of working a hot dog vending unit like how long you can store product and where. We will also be diving into the details of how to cut waste, but to get tax credits for the food you aren’t able to sell.

Operational Tips

One of the advantages of operating a hot dog business is that as long as the sausages are frozen, they maintain their taste and texture for long periods of time. According to FoodSafety.gov, you can safely keep an unopened packaged of hot dogs frozen for two months. Depending on what expiration date or best if used by date is listed on the package, you could arguably freeze them even longer than that without sacrificing much in terms of quality of taste.

Once you transfer your hot dogs from the commissary to the cart or food truck, you can keep the majority of the product frozen in a cooler or small onboard freezer. You can thaw out a handful of hot dogs so that you’ve got product ready to sell.

If you end up getting a lunch rush, you can quickly thaw the hot dogs by bringing a pot with water to a boil. After the water reaches its boiling point at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, reduce the heat slightly and place the hot dogs in water. Frozen hot dogs will typically take between 5 – 8 minutes to cook.

There’s another reason keeping hot dogs frozen can benefit you. If you happen to have a health inspection and your product is completely frozen at 19 degrees Fahrenheit it will make passing much simpler.

Keeping Tabs on Buns 

Equally important to the sausage you select is the bun. The quality, taste, and texture of the bun will go a long way in determining the overall quality and uniqueness of your final product. One of the simplest ways you can differentiate your bun from places like Costco and others is to work with a local bakery to create your bun. You can also help support local businesses and get an ally for your own vending business by supporting a ma-and-pa establishment.

Working with a bakery can allow you to explore a lot more taste options. For example you could do something more creative like a pretzel bun. Alternatively, you could go sweet and use a Hawaiian roll. The options to explore are limitless, but it is a very easy way to differentiate yourself.

As great as working with a bakery sounds, the reality is you will also incur a higher cost per bun. It’s not unusual to go from an average cost of 15 cents per bun all the way up to 25 – 55 cents per bun by working with a local bakery. You may also need to purchase a certain volume of buns on a consistent basis to work with the bakery. You’ll need to take into consideration the brand you’re building and cost in the business planning stage of your venture.

Note: In the early days of your business you may opt to just using a store bought brand initially. This will help save you money and simply the process of just getting started.

hot dog

Estimating How Much Product to Buy At First

Before you’ve actually gone out and started to vend in your business, you’ll be guessing as to the amount of product you’re going to need. Overtime, however, as long as you maintain good sales records, you’ll quickly learn the locations and times that bring in the most customers. Bottom line, until you actually get out there and start vending you won’t have a 100% clear picture of your inventory needs.

In the early days it can benefit you greatly to have the support of a spouse or friend that can serve as a runner just in case you run out of buns or hot dogs. In a pinch, your partner can make a quick run to the grocery store to replenish your supplies if needed.

Some of this will also depend on the amount of cash you have on hand. If you’ve only got a little bit of cash you start the business and don’t mind going shopping every day to stock up on inventory. As a good rule of thumb, Matt recommends keeping two full days of product on hand at anytime just to be prepared.

Another item to keep in mind is that although you will save money by ordering in bulk, you need to consider what it costs to store the product. If you’re paying extra money to store hot dogs in a commissary then that will eat into your profits. It’s a bit of a juggling act and you will need to find the process that works best for you over time.

frankfurters vegetarian hot dog

Operating the Cart

One of the recommendations from Matt is to keep about 10 cooked hot dogs on hand and ready to go while you’re vending. But keep a pot nearby that is close to boil. It should take under 10 minutes to take hot dogs from frozen to cooked in boiling water and this will help you be ready for any unexpected lunch rush without going through an excess amount of food waste.

Tax Credits on Charitable Donations

After you’ve been operating your hot dog business for a couple months, you’ll get to the point where you’ve gotten pretty good at cutting food waste. With that being said, there’s always going to be a certain amount of food you won’t sell. That’s just the simple reality of working in the food industry!

Instead of throwing your extra cooked hot dogs into the trash, go ahead and put them to good use by donating them to the local food shelter. Often times, food shelters will take in the excess food you haven’t been able to sell for the day that is still good quality, but isn’t able to be served in the future to customers. By doing this you can also get tax credits at the end of the year for the donated food. This not only helps those in need in your area, but it sure beats throwing your valuable product into the trash for a total loss.

Quotes From This Lesson

When it comes to bread, I like to get the freshest bread I can get. There’s so many local bakeries you can support  that would really appreciate that business. It may not be feasible when you’re first starting out depending on your income level because it is more expensive. – Matt Gladfelter on the importance of bun freshness. 

When it comes to food cost purchasing in bulk is cheaper. With hot dogs you’ll see that too. If you purchase a case of 200 hot dogs, your price per dog is going to be a lot lower than if you’re buying a pack of 10 or 20 or 30 dogs at a time. – Matt Gladfelter on buying in bulk. 

Resources 

Hot Dog Business Planning – Learn how to start planning for the launch of your own hot dog business.

How Much Can a Hot Dog Cart Make? Find out how much revenue you can really generate on a hot dog cart. 

The post How to Reduce Food Costs in Hot Dog Businesses | FTE Episode 089 appeared first on .

How DC’s BBQ Bus Got Its Start [Interview] | FTE Episode 094
23:48
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 23:48
How DC’s BBQ Bus Got Its Start [Interview] | FTE Episode 094

bbq bus

BBQ Bus on the Streets of D.C.

More than 5-years ago, Che Ruddell-Tabisola and his partner Tadd launched the BBQ Bus in Washington, D.C., with a mission to share their passion for great food and good times with friends. But this teams half-decade journey to business success wasn’t without its share of challenges along the way.

Che and Tad operated the BBQ Bus while simultaneously holding down full-time jobs for the first three months of the business. The pair took advantage of evenings and weekends to take advantage of weekend catering events and began forming partnerships with local businesses during this time period. After a few months, working a full-time job became unsustainable and was prohibiting the business from taking on more catering work and growing. With their business concept validated, Che and Tadd went all-in on their business idea.

In today’s featured interview, we get the opportunity to speak with Co-Founder of DC’s BBQ Bus, Che Ruddell-Tabisola to learn more about their story and advice for launching a successful food startup.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Che’s professional experience in politics have been helpful in operating a food truck.
  • How Che and his partner started their BBQ business “on the side” while both working corporate jobs.
  • Why finding a purpose and meaningful labor was so important to these founders.
  • Ways Che was able to overcome initial funding rejections from banks and credit card companies.
  • History on the back-drop of the modern food truck movement and how the recession served as a catalyst to this.
  • How the BBQ Bus conducted their recipe development process with an in-house commercial kitchen.
  • Why the BBQ Bus founders list their previous failures on their kitchen wall as motivation and on-going reminder to push forward.
  • The importance of diversifying revenue sources from day one.
  • How BBQ Bus worked out mutually beneficial relationships with bars that didn’t serve food.
  • How Yelp has been so essential to generating catering business for the BBQ Bus.
  • Ways to come up with your own unique style of BBQ.

 

bbq plate

Awesome BBQ Plate.

Quotes from the Show

In the history of our country street vending has always been a way for folks without a lot of means to carve a path for upward economic and social mobility. – Che Ruddell-Tabisola on the roots of mobile vending. 

This new modern food truck movement has presented opportunities for folks pursuing their second or third careers and that’s a lot of the vendors we see out in D.C. This is certainly the case for me. – Che Ruddell-Tabisola on the modern food truck movement. 

When you talk about why it is that we have this food truck movement. There are a couple reasons, but one of the most significant ones I think is the recession. Because it created a market place of aspiring restauranteurs who could no longer access capital. – Che Rudell-Tabisola

The reason that I think we went with BBQ is that we love hosting. We the people on your block where if you came to our house on an average Saturday before we opened the business… and we were grilling or smoking in our driveway. – Che-Rudell-Tabisola on why they selected BBQ for their food concept. 

Mentioned During the Podcast

BBQ Bus in DC – Learn more about the BBQ Bus in D.C. by visiting their official website. You can view mouth-watering food photos and book the bus for catering events here.

Little Miss Whiskey’s – Local tavern that was one of the first places that had the BBQ Bus. This was a great partnership for the BBQ Bus since the establishment did not offer a food service.

Rocket Bar – Another popular establishment in DC that the BBQ Bus partnered with early. The BBQ Bus was able to serve their brand of smoked meats to fans of the Washington Capitals that play near the bar.

East Coast Mobile Business Launch Pad – Want to start your own mobile food business in the D.C. area or beyond? Check out the East Coast Mobile Business Launch Pad to learn more.

The post How DC’s BBQ Bus Got Its Start [Interview] | FTE Episode 094 appeared first on .

How Matt Aaron Uses Podcasting to Build Relationships For His Food Startup | FTE Episode 091
38:52
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 38:52
How Matt Aaron Uses Podcasting to Build Relationships For His Food Startup | FTE Episode 091

matt aaronMake no mistake. This episode is not an effort on our part to convince you to start a podcast. Far from it. In fact, after you listen to this episode with Matt Aaron of FoodStartupsPodcast.com and myself, we may convince you to do otherwise. And this is coming from two individuals that have published over 200 total podcast episodes between us.

Here’s the thing. The intent of this episode is not to discourage you from podcasting as a way to promote your food startup or develop key relationships within the food industry. But I think I speak for both myself and Matt when I say that you should have a realistic expectation of what you’re getting into before starting a podcast for business purposes so that you don’t end up wasting a few weeks or months of your life. Time is money and we want you to save as much of this precious resource as possible.

One thing to note is that this episode is not a technical “how-to” on everything you need to get started with podcasting for a food business. This is more of a conversation about the benefits, challenges, and offers a high-level guide on how to get the most out of this medium. I have linked up to a few good quality resources if you do want to learn the technical aspects though.

What You’ll Learn

Disadvantages of Podcasting

  • Time consuming – Between scheduling guest interviews, coming up with questions, recording an interview, and writing blog posts that summarize what you discussed on the blog can take hours. Matt Aaron estimates the average episode takes around 4 – 5 hours total before it is ready to published to the world.
  • Slow Results – This could be lumped into the “it takes a lot of time” category, but I thought it warranted a separate sub-heading for emphasis. It takes a long time before you start to realize the benefits of all your podcasting. Often, not a whole lot of exciting things are going to happen in your first year publishing podcasts on a weekly basis. This was the case with myself anyway.
  • Learning Curve – Podcasting is a skill just like any other. The ability to interview total strangers and make it interesting is not a talent that 99.9% exit the womb with. There are also some technical things you’ll need to learn. Nothing about podcasting is difficult per say, but if you’ve never done it before there’s certainly some things that take some time to figure out at first. You’ll consider banging your head against the wall on more than one occasion before you release your first bit of audio.

// <![CDATA[ (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); // ]]&gt;Advantages of Podcasting – Yes… There is good stuff too!

 

  • Relationships – One huge boon of podcasting is that you have an excuse to meet and have a conversation with just about anyone you want in your industry. From my experience, you’ll be amazed at the level of people that will accept an invitation to be on your program even if you’re just getting started and don’t have a big audience.
  • Ask Anything – Ever wish you could ask someone that you look up to just about any question about business and have them answer it? If you have a tough question that you’re struggling with in business having on an expert can be a terrific way to get free consulting for your own venture.
  • Acquire New Skills – There’s not shortage of things you’ll learn on the way to publishing the next great business podcast. As you’ll hear in the audio lesson, you’ll get better at asking questions, listening, outreach and also the technical side of publishing an iTunes podcast.
  • Press – Overtime, you will start to get more press because you’ve interviewed so many people. It could take a solid 1 – 2 years though to get the kind of press you’re wanting. It can happen though if you stick with it. This website has been featured in publications like Entrepreneur Magazine, Make! Magazine, and others. But none of this press happened until about 3 years into operating the blog.

Mentioned in the Show

Andes Fruits Colombia – Matt Aaron, our featured guest on this episode, is the co-founder of this company that is helping to introduce North American to the super-food that is Goldenberries. Check out Matt’s website to learn more about Goldenberries, recipes you can make with the product, and the background of his business.

Food Startups Podcast – Over 100 podcast episodes published and we get the feeling that Matt Aaron is just getting started. This is one of the best resources online for getting advice on starting a food business of just about any kind. Topics covered across the podcast include raising money, mindset, importing product, tech and much more.

Seth Goldman, Co-Founder of Honest Tea Interview – This is one of the interviews referenced by Matt Aaron during our conversation with Seth Goldman, Co-Founder of Honest Tea an organic beverage company that sources product all over the world. Seth launched the company in 1998 from his home and his beverages are now carried in more than 100,000 locations and the nation’s number 1 organic bottled tea. 

L.A Son – Book about the life and times of Roy Choi of the groundbreaking Kogi Truck(s) that operate in LA. Matt Aaron recommended this book to learn from Choi’s incredible story. The book also includes a variety of recipes so you can recreate Choi’s BBQ from the comfort of your kitchen.

How to Start a Podcast – Nice article on LifeHacker.com that outlines the steps needed to actually start your own podcast.

The post How Matt Aaron Uses Podcasting to Build Relationships For His Food Startup | FTE Episode 091 appeared first on .

How Much Income Can a Hot Dog Cart Make? The Real Answer.
35:18
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 35:18
How Much Income Can a Hot Dog Cart Make? The Real Answer.

bow ties and hot dogsHow much money can you make on a hot dog cart? This is the most important first question on operating a hot dog cart because if it’s not going to generate enough income to meet your needs there’s no reason to pursue the business at all.

In today’s podcast episode we get to the bottom of the “how much can a hot dog cart make” question with Matt Gladfelter of Bow Ties and Hot Dogs in Knoxville, Tenn. Matt has been operating his business for over a year now and understands the different between hype and reality with income numbers and how much work actually goes into hitting certain sales thresholds.

We begin our conversation with low-ball sales estimates. According to Gladfelter if you aren’t able to go out and generate at least $100 in sales within 2 – 3 hours you’ve got the worst location in the world or something is wrong with your presentation or image and you’re turning people away. You need to either move on to a better location or reevaluate your presentation if that happens.

On the high-end, you can generate a few thousand dollars in sales in a few hours by working at large events or offering catering. Just a couple big events per month like this can really help explode your overall profitability. Some events that Gladfelter has found to be extremely profitable include charity events and park events that are sponsored by the city.

Regional Income Factors 

There are two very simple ways you can increase the profitability of a hot dog cart over the course of a year. Some of these are dependent on where you plan to operate.

Live in a warm climate like California or Arizona? In the southern United States you may be able to operate as frequently as you want year round. The more times you’re able to go out and operate over the course of a year, the more money you can make. If you happen to live in Minnesota where the winters are too cold to get outside and vend you will have fewer opportunities to go out and make money.

Live in a higher cost city? You can increases your overall profits simply by raising prices. Gladfelter operates his hot dog carts in Tennessee and typically charges $4 for a Nathan’s Quarter Pound All-Beef Hot Dog. If you happened to live in a coastal or tourist type community, you may be able to charge $5 – $7 for the same product. By understanding these regional factors, you can more accurately estimate the profitability of your cart.

hot dog

Creating Higher Value Offerings 

You’ll need to sell 100 hot dogs at $4 a piece to reach $400 per day in sales. But, if you’re able to move the average sale price to $6 – $8 you’ll need a lot less customers over the course of a shift to be profitable. One way to increase your average customer value is to offer value meals or boxes where you bundle menu items and drinks together. For example, if you sell at hot dog at $4 a piece you could offer a drink and a side of coleslaw for a total of $6. Fast food restaurant chains are famous for doing the same thing in their industry and has help these businesses attain longterm profitability. There’s a reason McDonald’s asks if you would like fries and a drink with that for only $2 more. They are increasing the average income per customer by doing so.

There are a variety of menu items that Gladfelter has used to offer additional products beyond that hot dog. These items include giant pickles, baked beans, corn on the cob, and an assortment of different drinks like fresh squeezed lemonade.

fancy hot dogGross Income Versus Net Income 

Gross versus net income is a key concept to remember when operating a hot dog business when hearing about income potential. When someone sales, I made $500 operating a hot dog cart today, they are usually referring to their gross sales numbers. This is the amount of income the business generated BEFORE product costs and taxes. You can think of this like a when you get a regular paycheck from your employer. You might get paid $20 an hour (this is your gross income), but after state and federal taxes you may only see about $15 an hour in your wallet (this is net income).

When operating a hot dog business, here are the costs you can expect:

  • Product / Operation Costs –  This should be at around 1/3 of your gross income. This includes hot dog buns, propane to fill your tank, napkins, and other products you sell. For this lesson, we are assuming that you do not have any employee expenses and you are operating the cart yourself.
  • Taxes –  Just like any other business you are responsible for paying taxes.
  • Net Income – This is what you get to keep after the all your expenses, including taxes, are paid.

The Tip Jar

Attaching a tip jar to your cart is another great way to boost the overall income of your cart without incurring any additional expenses or creating extra work on your end. As any waiter or bar tender will tell you as well, you can make pretty decent extra money just from a few tips per day. As Gladfelter also explains in the interview, tips are an income source that’s worth mentioning. From his experience you can generate an extra $20 – $30 per shift pretty easily by placing a tip jar on the cart.

Quotes From The Show

You’re going to get a lot of varied answers from different vendors. And I hate to say this but motivation has a lot to do with those answers. – Matt Gladfelter on estimating a food carts income. 

Your goal is 50 – 100 people (customers) per day. So your location is obviously going to dictate that completely. – Matt Gladfelter on the importance of identifying profitable vending locations. 

Not a lot of cars are going to stop for a hot dog cart, unless they know who you are. – Matt Gladfelter on the importance of building a brand. 

To me I’ve found that events are where it’s at because literally in 5 hours you can make thousands of dollars. And that’s not smoke and mirrors. – Matt Gladfelter on the types of locations that drive the most revenue. 

It’s a process. Gradually you want to move out and replace your slowest locations. – Gladfelter on the process of identifying better and more profitable vending locations over time. 

Mentioned in the Show

O’Doggy’s – This is a hot dog cart that has grown into a restaurant located in Rolla, Missouri. Gladfelter cites O’Doggy’s as an inspiration as to how many creative types of hot dogs can be developed.

Hot Dog Business Market Research – Like this interview? You’re going to love our previous conversation with Gladfelter about how to conduct market research and write a business plan for a hot dog cart.

 

The post How Much Income Can a Hot Dog Cart Make? The Real Answer. appeared first on .

Total Cost Breakdown For Hot Dog Cart Business Startups (Spreadsheet)
1:23:15
2017-12-19 14:31:33 UTC 1:23:15
Total Cost Breakdown For Hot Dog Cart Business Startups (Spreadsheet)

ultralite hot dog cartIt’s a fact: The hot dog stand business model is one of the lowest barrier to entry business opportunities available to new entrepreneurs. If you’ve been researching the topic online, you’ve already read claims that you could get started for less than $1,000 and be in the black within your first day of business.

Well, in this post I’m going to try to set you straight on what it really costs to start a hot dog cart and what the operation costs will be each month. The last thing I want is for you to get into the dog-slinging business due to misinformation and not have enough money to give your dream of being a business owner a fair shot.

In addition to outlining the typical startup costs in the spreadsheet below, I also recorded an interview with Matt Gladfelter from Bow Ties and Hot Dogs about his experience starting out. As you’ll soon find out in the podcast, Gladfelter had a unique situation where he was able to find a used hot dog cart from an existing restaurant owner for less than $2,000. The cart could also be operated legally from a health perspective in his city.

One point that Gladfelter makes during the discussion is extremely insightful. When starting out there are three costs:

  • Paper Cost – This is what you expect to pay to start and operate a hot dog business. The paper cost is outlined in the spreadsheet below.
  • Ideal Cost – This is the amount you would expect to invest in a perfect world. The ideal cost is something that you will need to tweak and work toward within your business. For example, one way to cut costs would be to reduce food waste. As a business owner, you should be able to reduce cost overtime as you begin to understand how much food you’ll need to purchase for each event.
  • Realistic Cost – Life happens. Things break. Hot dogs are accidentally dropped to the curb. Expenses come up that you didn’t realize would be important. It’s important to build in a bit of a buffer with your expected monthly costs of operation.

bow ties and hot dogsFactors that Determine Startup Cost

When evaluating the hot dog business, there are two important variable costs you need to keep in mind that are dependent on the rules and health codes where you live.

Investing in the Right Cart – Before you invest in a hot dog cart, you need to understand the local health requirements to vend legally in your city. The last thing you want to do is spend a couple thousand dollars on a cart that you won’t ever be able to use because it doesn’t meet health requirements, like no available hot / cold water source. Typically, you will be able to find this information by contacting the city hall and asking about their requirements for food vendors.  As you can see, the cheap cart you’re able to find for sale on Craigslist might not be the great deal it is advertised as if you can’t use it.

As a hot dog vendor, your health requirements will often be lower than someone that wanted to start a burger stand, where they would need to actually cook meat. Still, you want to make sure that you’re passing any health inspection with flying colors. Not just for government regulations, but it will make your cart more appealing to prospective customers too.

// <![CDATA[ (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); // ]]&gt;Local Permits – While you’re at city hall, be sure to ask about any permits you’ll need to acquire to vend within city limits. As a general rule of thumb if you live in a big city like New York, you’ll pay a lot to get started. If you live in a smaller city, there are generally lower permits. Often these permits need to be renewed on a yearly basis so you’ll need to build these into your expenses. According to a real-life example from John Caruthers over at SeriousEats.com, at the time of writing in the city of Chicago it will cost $700 for a two-year license. In addition, you’ll also need to budget $100 for a fire safety permit.

Fortunately, once you’ve done the research within your particular city the costs to operate this type of business is pretty straight forward and consistent no matter where you’re located. A hot dog bun, Vienna sausage, and a mustard packet are about the same no matter where you’re located.

Note: If you would like to copy and paste this into a spreadsheet to enter your own information, you can find the template here: Cost Spreadsheet.

Hot Dog Cart Start-up Cost Break Down

Equipment Estimated Cost Notes Hot Dog Cart + Cooking Equipment $3,000 – $20,000 A hot dog cart will typically cost a few thousand dollars. A larger hot dog trailer that a couple employees can cook in will cost more. Initial Product Inventory $300 – $1,000 This will include Hot Dogs, Buns, and any Condiments. Permits and Licenses $100 – $500 Varies a lot depending on where you operate. Website Free – $2,000 You may not even need one of these. A Facebook page can serve as a simple alternative. Facebook / Twitter Free Cash Register / POS $200 – $1,000 Can also use an iPad and an app for credit transactions. Uniforms / T-Shirts $0 – $1,000 Paper Products (Plates / Napkins, etc.) $200 – $300 Misc. Expenses  $500 – $2000 Plan for some unexpected expenses here and put it into the budget. Smallwares: Tongs, Spatulas, Spoons, etc. $100 – $500 Fire Extinguisher $100 – $300 For safety! Total Low End $4,500 Total High End $28,600

Hot Dog Cart On-Going Costs

Item Monthly Estimated Cost Notes Commissary $0 This is a highly variable cost. Phone / Internet $50 – $200 Fuel $0 – 300 This will vary greatly depending on gas prices and how far you plan to travel to vend. Labor ??? $10 – $15 per hour is average rate. Or if you plan to operate the cart yourself there is no cost here. Repairs / Upgrades $100 Bad things happen sometimes. Best to be prepared for the unexpected. Food / Beverage Restock $500 – $2,000 Depends on food cost and frequency of operation. Higher restocking isn’t a bad thing. Might just mean you’re selling lots of hot dogs each month. Paper Product Restock $200 – $500 Depends on food cost and frequency of operation. Higher restocking isn’t a bad thing. Might just mean you’re selling lots of hot dogs each month. Insurance $25 – $100 Can remove insurance in winter if you don’t plan to operate. Propane $20 – $40 At the time of writing, propane is cheap and you can refill a standard size tank for around $20. Total Low End $885 Total High-End End $3,210

Some additional thoughts about recurring monthly expenses… I wouldn’t consider a higher monthly expense to be a bad thing with this business model. If you have to buy more hot dog buns, sausages, and other supplies, it means you’re probably selling more hot dogs too! Ditto for the gas and propane costs. If this is higher, it probably means you’re traveling to a lot of events and making a profit.

hot dog

Another variable item not factored into the spreadsheet above is the cost of vending at certain locations. Although Matt Gladfelter who is featured in the interview rarely needs to pay to vend at locations. However, paying for a location is an option, especially if you would like to be in a consistent location. If you’re interested in paying for a more consistent location Street Eats by Best Vendors is a great place to start the search no matter where you live in the United States.

One other big advantage to this specific type of business versus other mobile food models is that you don’t have much in terms of food waste. According to the USDA.gov website, you can preserve hot dogs in the freezer safely for 1 – 2 years. Of course, once you thaw those out  you’ll need to use them in the next week or two to ensure the best taste and quality possible for customers. Condiments like ketchup and mustard you don’t need to worry about spoilage either. The main items you’ll need to be concerned about is your hot dog buns. This is a huge advantage over other models. Every food business will have a certain level of waste. But, due to the long life of the product, you will be able to maximize your profits.

Quotes from the Show

What I used the part-time for was proving the business plan and really taking that as the opportunity to make sure my costs were correct and my cooking procedures were what I wanted. – Matt Gladfelter on why he started his business on the side, before transitioning for full-time business owner. 

We started out with like $2,500. That was the first egg to put this business together. – Matt Gladfelter on his initial investment. 

When I started out, I had a lot of things on my menu that I don’t now. That’s one thing that I would recommend… Going with the basics at first. – Matt Gladfelter on the evolution of a menu over time. 

One event on a weekend and you’ll have that investment back to be honest. – Matt Gladfelter on how long it took to recoup his initial investment in a used cart. 

Easily for under $7,000 you should be able to get started. – Matt Gladfelter on the average cost of getting started in this business. 

Don’t impulse buy because you see a cart for $1,000 on Craigslist. If it doesn’t pass health codes it’s useless. – Matt Gladfelter on buying your first cart. 

Want to start your own hot dog business venture?

Download the FREE Hot Dog Business Startup Kit. 

The post Total Cost Breakdown For Hot Dog Cart Business Startups (Spreadsheet) appeared first on .