How To Start A Hot Dog Vending Business – Have you been dreaming about starting your own mobile food business? Congratulations! You already have what it takes to be successful in mobile food vending. Mobile food and concession businesses are fueled by passionate people who believe in what they do and love to make people happy. The most successful mobile food businesses combine delicious food with fast and friendly service.
So what happens next? It is not difficult to start a mobile food vending business. Having a plan and knowing what to expect makes the process even easier. The following information is provided to guide you in setting up your mobile food business and obtaining the proper licensing.
How To Start A Hot Dog Vending Business
Are you planning to open a mobile food business in Florida? We have information just for you.
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Downtown/metro areas, near college campuses and business districts, near fast food establishments or gas stations, construction work sites, beaches
Before you can open a mobile food business, you need to choose a location (or locations). More importantly, you need a good location. Good locations are cost effective, have a high volume of traffic and offer good exposure. You can tow your Top Dog Cart almost anywhere, but you’ll probably find the best locations are near office buildings or schools, farmer’s markets, festivals, busy intersections, and parks (to name a few).
Start by choosing several possible locations for your mobile food business. Then find out if they are on public or private property (you can call the local Chamber of Commerce for this information). Locations on public property may require you to carry additional permits. Locations on private property may require a rental agreement with the landowner. In some cities, mobile food vendors are only allowed to operate in certain areas or during certain hours. This is information you will want to know before purchasing your mobile food cart.
Once you’ve found a location, consider what hours you’ll be open. If possible, you want to operate your business during your location’s peak traffic hours (lunch or dinner time, after concerts, etc.). Being open during peak traffic hours will make a big difference in your profit margin.
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The cost to operate in your chosen location and the hours you will be open should be determined, and then factored into your monthly operating expenses along with your food and service costs.
There are big differences between operating a mobile food vending cart and a concession cart business. Mobile food vending carts can be towed to different locations. Concession carts are usually stationary, requiring a large truck or trailer to transport. Concession carts are usually located in venues such as arenas and sports complexes, convention centers, shopping centers and airports. Mobile food carts are mostly seen outside venues on the street or in parking lots.
Concession businesses operate under the rules and management of their venue. Concession cart owners must work closely with their venue to ensure that their carts meet all the criteria necessary to operate at the venue. Concession corn must also meet Health Department regulations.
Top Dog Carts meet international health regulations. However, equipment requirements for mobile food businesses vary by state, county, and country. Before you buy a mobile food or concession cart, you will need to be familiar with the health department regulations in your area. They will provide you with information about equipment or features required on your cart, such as the number of sinks. It is important that you find out all equipment requirements and restrictions to pass health inspection before your cart is built.
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A health inspector may request a schematic or design of your mobile food cart. This is so they can verify that it will meet all requirements.
Top Dog Carts provides a free schematic of your cart that you can give to the health inspector.
A health inspector may also require forms to be completed before your cart can be inspected.
Mobile food and concession cart businesses are required to register with state and federal agencies before opening. Your mobile food business may require additional licensing or permits to operate in your area. To find out, you should contact the agencies:
Hot Dog Cart
Also known as a tax identification number, this number is assigned by the IRS to identify businesses operating in the United States. More information can be found at irs.gov/Businesses. You will need to get this number before you can open any business.
You are required to register your mobile food vending cart in the state you will operate your business. Some states also require you to carry liability insurance. Check with the DMV about the requirements in your area.
All top dog carts come with a manufacturer’s statement of ownership and VIN # that you will use to register your cart.
This allows you to sell taxable items. Contact the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (Hotel and Restaurant Division) in your state to obtain the required permits and licensing for your area. (Tip: Search for “Department of Business and Professional Regulation” in your Internet browser and your state agency should be in the results)
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A commissary is a licensed and inspected kitchen where you can store food and supplies and clean your equipment. There will be several in your area. Examples are: restaurants, churches, schools, community centers and banquet facilities. Check with your local health department for a complete list of commissaries in your area.
Top Dog Carts recommends that you purchase liability insurance for your mobile food business. Check with your car insurance company or a local insurance agent to discuss options available to you. You can also contact a food service liability company, such as FLIP, for more information.
Once you’ve passed health inspection, registered and licensed your mobile food cart, you’re ready to open for business!
We hope you found this guide useful. Please check out our additional resources for starting a mobile food cart business: A hot dog cart business is one of the most lucrative enterprises to undertake since it is based on retailing a basic human necessity: food. Fairly simple to start from the ground up, flexible and not too demanding of costs, this type of business also comes with the advantage of being mobile, allowing you to move between locations and target the best areas in terms of competition and demand.
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As easy as it may sound, you should also know that there are no shortcuts to success. Enthusiasm is vital when starting a new business, but so is planning. The first thing you should do to ensure your venture will be successful, even before making a financial commitment, is to research the basics.
As with any type of business, hot dog vending has its specific legal requirements and constraints. These often vary by city, county and state, and you can learn about the ones that apply in your area by contacting your local health department or the Department of Environmental Services.
* Most municipalities do not allow hot dog vendors to operate a food service business from a residential kitchen and they require the use of a commission – a licensed and inspected commercial kitchen. Vendors must report to the commissary each day of operation to prepare the food that will be served from the cart and to clean the cart’s equipment at the end of the day.
After learning about the health and safety requirements, you should contact the Business License Department, as you will most likely need a business license to operate your hot dog cart.
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You may also want to check the signage regulations in your area and see if there is a limit on the maximum amount of signage you can use.
The food industry collects, by default, a wide range of available customers. So your target market cannot be limited to just a group of people, as it potentially includes all those who are eating or looking for a quick bite.
Speaking of locations, just like with real estate, selling hot dogs is all about location. A mobile hot dog stand can make big profits as long as it is parked in a location that attracts a lot of exposure and foot traffic.
Most people are not patient enough to research all the aspects of their future business. But the size of the competition is the research step that separates those who are truly serious about their goals from the rest. As such, you should take the time to make a list of street food vendors and hot dog vendors in your area and then visit as many as possible. This will give you the opportunity to see how your competition is operating and to find out the things you want to implement or avoid in your future business.
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The next step is to write a business plan that covers the structure of your company, your product, your target market, your personnel (if any), the marketing plan, competitive analysis, cash flow analysis (initial investment and start-up costs), and financial projections. Of course, the more accurate the better, your success depends on it (no pressure!).
The exciting part of starting your own hot dog cart business is in defining your concept and designing your menu. Although you will want to stand out, you should keep your menu simple, especially in the beginning. This way, you will have more
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