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Topics - OzDogs

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1
I roll into one of my pre-arranged locations to do this star-gazing event where real live Astronomers come out and teach everybody about the stars and there is this rig.....


hey wait a minute, that's an ice guy. A shaver. A RASPADORE CUTTING INTO MY ICE. WTF? THIS AIN'T GONNA ROLL.

So I head-butt the event coordinator and she's like "somebody else called them I didn't know".

Oh crap. Ok so this is one of those "it's nobody's fault" routines. And I look at the guy. And he's this kinda...hip looking young man with his hip looking wife and I could give everybody a hard time but.....

well here we go again. Hey listen young man, our best bet is you redeploy your cart right next to ours and we double down.

He was like "you mean it?"

Well no I was just joking no seriously, let's get on this with a quickness, let's combine to be a magnet. Let's maximize. We are stronger together plus you get free hot dogs.

We didn't make great money that day but we did better than we would have. Plus the old magic happened.

Here's the real payoff on this one. After things wound down, we talked and it turns out this kid, this young man is an architect by trade and by training. But I could tell he was not from Arizona. He really blew it when he said "I have never found an industry where competitors just work together thing".

I kinda want you guys to relect on that because if this isn't the way it is in the rest of this nation, well, take our example. This is kinda what we do out here. We all trade food, we all help out. This one time our jack didn't work right for a spare tire so a guy said "well I got a fork lift".

Hey ask yourselves why guys like Dugg and Bob and the rest of us just throw advice at you. Go ahead. Truth is I think we got slightly different ideas on the subject. Heck man, some days I can't beat a nail on the head with my glasses on.

There is a Part II to this story....

2
Yeah. It used to take me $247.65 to take a cart out for 5 minutes based on what we pay for licenses, insurance, maintenance, inspections, book keeping, commissary, FSM and FSW certs, vehicles, vehicle maintenance, associated insurance, cell phones, all this stuff, yeah, divided by the number of jobs we did that year, that's what it cost us to take a cart out of the commissary.

Obviously doing more jobs per year radically reduces the job-cost but hey, I'll tell you right now this is where most beginners fail. You don't take all the expenses into account. Not just the cost of the cart, the ice, the propane and the product but the annual expenses. That's kinda how I derived what it costs me to take a cart out. We divide all of the cost by how many days we sold on and that's what it costs.

Make any sense?

Would it make any more sense if I told you that you need to triple your food costs in sales? Cause it's amazing how close those numbers do for my math. You need to triple your food, ice and propane costs every day or make up for it on weekends.

I used math to realize what my break-even point really was in that year. And that was the year I realized I had to raise prices. Some vendors tried to undercut the industry by slinging inferious product and guess what? They are gone. They started throwing out junk sausages and they lost. The public perception of what a good hot dog is has taken a TREMENDOUS step up in the past 10 years.

Final note on this one is never skimp on product quality to make up margin. Always strive to be the best. Anybody can serve crap. We got this ethic thing. Only the best for us, for our customers and guests, works both ways, only the best all the time every time.

NOW GET OUT THERE AND SELL!

Oh wait you east coasters are already out there selling. OK well

KEEP GETTING OUT THERE AND SELLING!

3
Another local slinger called and said did I see the new Victor A3 cart series?

Uh like no dude and that's almost impossible. Victor releases a new series roughly once a decade. A3 just barely came out.

The guy was like "look on Craigslist". So I did. Check this out.

http://phoenix.craigslist.org/evl/for/5093802733.html

OK it's not like cart builders coast to coast (mostly West coast) haven't build off Victor's original designs but this is like a CARBON FREAKING COPY OF THE A3 but it's got like.....every enhancement to an A3 that seems totally smart and appropriate. It's like an A3 on steroids. I'm gonna have to see one of these things.


4
Hot Dog Vendors / Hope you folks had a good 4th of Ju-Luau
« on: July 05, 2015, 12:18:13 PM »
when we cellebrate our independence from normal life and our freedom from the Japanese or something.

Before I go into a history lesson and explain that this holiday commemorates John Wayne defeating the Japanese to establish Bill Gates and American made computers,

I hope you guys got out there and sold! Ironically as a caterer, in all these years, we might have done one 4th of July thing. It's the one day of the year when everybody flips their own burgers and grills their own hot dogs. It's like Christmas for hot dog caterers.

I got to see the fireworks last night like everybody else. And now I'm hung over. So you guys?

GET OUT THERE AND SELL!

5
Here and I just told you guys that this is our slow season and it's hot enough to fry the whiskers off'n a cat here and we're just gonna take it easy....

but the calls just keep rolling in. We're triple-booked for July 12. I don't even know if I have the staff to cover this.

I mean what is it with these people? We can barely handle getting paid to work in this heat but this is what they do for fun?

I'd rather go 3 rounds with Duggs because I know he'd just knock me out cold in the fist round and just get it over with. Good Good! This heat is like being slowly tortured to death. Bad bad!

Well when life gets too much to bear, I use the grateful trick. And I'm gonna try to use this through this summer. And it's religious so I address God but you can just substitute the word God for whatever.

Thank you for this morning.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve
Thank you that we have a healthy product to serve
Thank you for nice people
Thank you for the shade of trees
Thank you for this opportunity

If you tune your self to grattitude and be the best slinger you can be, all you need to do is fall forward.

***

I never thought the world was made of Sundays or the world was made of you, but maybe if you wait long enough, gravity will pull you through.

It's all it will ever do.

(Dorienne Collangelo)

6
Yeah so today we had another guy take out a cart to try his first location as a solo-slinger and I was gonna post and say how happy I was about it....

but then he texted to say he forgot his product in the freezer! DOOP! So he comes back and grabs his product and OK NOW I HAVE A GUY OUT THERE DOING SOLO LOCATION. First time was practice.

If it's worth doing....

But anyways this is kinda like one of those steps. It's a stage in the evolution of the hot dog trade. When you got it all nailed down and you are working pretty much full time at it, you hit this ceiling. The way to move forward is you start managing crews.

Well it took me months to find a couple good people and they both want into the biz with their own carts. I guess it's no surprise to find that the two applicants I like are the ones who take the job kinda seriously and they see this is helping them get to where they want to be. I guess these are the people I wanna have. These are people that run the cart like they want to run the cart. They are trained, they know how I want things done and they bring ideas and initiative to the table.

So this guy out there today, his name's Dean, real good solid type of guy, he's out there "co-branding" one of our carts. He has his banner wrapped around the front, he's calling himself "Big Meaty Dogs" (showing our usual level of creativity which is approximately that of a potato) but up top it has our brand which isn't even really a brand anymore, it's a website address. He's got his own cart, he just needs time and cash to get through all the red tape. But I see us working together going foward. I gots a VISION maaaaaaaan. It's like synnergy.

What's my plan to retain these bright and shining examples of free enterprise? Well, that part I'm not sure about. I can't hold them back so the only thing I can do is help them run. They will run father and faster with me. And at the very least I come away with solid allies.

You need an ally in this biz. That's something almost none of the "how-to" books tell you. You so totally need an ally in this business. Somebody to cover you when the truck breaks down or you are puking from both ends. Well my former ally, he's got some health issues to deal with so he's out of the game. That kinda forces my hand.

So I could talk about it more but you guys hate it when I ramble so we're just gonna put a period right at the end of this here sentence.

7
Just when us pros thought we knew it all about regional styles, this guy calls and asks if I know how to do Seattle style.

No bro I don't. What is Seattle style ya?

The guy is like "cream cheese".

For rils?

****I think I'm gonna have to rap****

I jump up onto the internet and wow, check it out
Seattle style is bent. Spray down cream chease up and down to everybody in this town and then
down in the bun with the grilled onions, this sounds like fun on the bun kids
but that's before you let them dip in the biz, jalanpenos, dill relish whatever it is that they be freakin on,
Yo, Seattle style has your drunk self backed son.

So I take my research to social media, friends and colleagues and wikipedia,
turns out that this style has firm roots in grunge rock up to their boots
and Kurt Cobain was chowing them down before he blew his brains being a clown
and that's why hot doggers are part of this scene and yeah that's why we didn't see ya.

Put a shot gun up in your nose.
Manipulate the trigger with your toes.
Wear pajamas instead of your clothes.
Cream cheese and grilled onions is Seattle Style yo.

Wanna drown it in the kraut without a doubt.
Pile on onions and salsa, what are we talking about
put the mustard and the ketchup on it
it's your life, your dog  and you own it.

And do this most helpfully.
Also do it thriftfully.
Also do it sneaky-clean,
take your hat off, wipe your feet.
sit your butt down, have some eats.

Do-wa-dippety.

8
Hey you guys!

As the temps get above 110F here in Southern Arizona, we are officially in our slow season. Here at AZHotdog we are kinda cherry-picking opportunities and kinda taking a break and trying to catch up on cart repair and paperwork and stuff but now is your time.

And I want you newbs to take everything you got now, all the prep work, all the advice we have given you and GET OUT THERE AND SELL!

GO OUT THERE AND KNOCK THEM DEAD.

WORK LIKE A SICK ANIMAL, PUT EVERYTHING YOU GOT INTO YOUR FIRST SEASON.

Because this really can be  a brutal business. Life is hard enough without getting our little dream smashed on the rocks. But you guys got us. You got that advantage. We always tell you the best we know.

GET OUT THERE AND SELL AND TELL US HOW IT'S GOING.

I just sent out this guy named Jean with one of our carts to try out a summer location. This location is his idea and we're backing him. If it doesn't work we got 5 more locations for him to try out. But he's got the right attitude: try a location for 2 weeks. Stick with it. Anything he does in summer here we can multiply by 3 in fall, winter and spring here.

NOW IS YOUR TIME GUYS. GET OUT THERE AND SELL! and that means DON'T BE AFRAID TO FAIL!

With the very best wishes and confidence in you,

Oz of AZHotdogs

9
Dugg is such a fascist. Everything has to be about helping newbs. Specifically helping newbs make money. And that's awesome and noble and laudable.

But I'm only half about the money. Heck I never even see the money. I have no idea how much money we make, I have no idea how much money we have (not a lot) because that's all up to the wife.

I'm in this for the LIFESTYLE. And I'm no great role model for success. All I am is a guy that's willing to work as hard as necessary to not have a job. Because the simple fact is that I just ABHOR WORK. Just the thought of filling out a job application gives me the jitters. I think I have developed an allergy to working.

What I do now is almost not like food service, it's more like getting paid to throw a party. You are at somebody's birthday party, retirement party, fight night with the boys or outdoor evening movies with kids, and for that moment you are part of the family. It's this "high". They used to talk about "runner's high" or that high you get from a really good workout where you just "go into the zone" and you become a metal-moving monster. There's "hot doggers high" where everybody around you is happy and it just fills up your bucket.

And that's where the whole "honor in service" thing comes from.  When the client says "thank you" and we can honestly say no, THANK YOU FOR A WONDERFUL EVENING...and they tip you $100, then you know you are hitting it.

See we do this every day but the guest only gets one 70th or 7th birthday party IN THEIR WHOLE LIVES. And we get to make that day perfect for them. How awesome is that? You want more awesome sauce to go with your awesomeness? Cause like...you know you are awesome right? This whole scene baby, everything you see. Totally awesome.

Well I like people perhaps slightly above normal so I can kinda do this naturally but I'm also kind of a recluse. I actually find getting to location and setting up to be a bit stressful but once we're serving it's like getting over that hump, breaking into "second wind" and that's when the music hits me and suddenly I realize that being around happy people is a very good and beneficial thing both to our bodies and our minds.

So there ya go newbs. I think I gave you something of benefit. I told you how slinging can help de-stress your life and make it joyful and you too can have this awesome lifestyle. It's not as easy as it looks but I haven't seen the folks on this board steer anybody wrong yet.

Very unique set of characters here. People that really have a heart for helping one another. We're gonna have to free up some parking spots, we got a few more truckloads of TOTALLY AWESOME coming.

10
General Discussion / Along the lines of getting beaten to death
« on: June 17, 2015, 03:22:35 PM »
Guys,

This is supposed to be slow season in the low desert. Nobody in their right mind wants to be outside in 110 degree heat but OMG, the phone calls just keep coming.

Yup that's right, when the rest of you are freezing to death all winter, here in Phoenix we are wearing board shorts and selling. But now the burning sun is upon us, all me and the wife wanna do is hide under a rock.

But the calls for catered service just keep coming on relentlessly. This is our best year yet. The clients have this obsessive desire to deny that being hot can kill you. I am a former EMT. Heat can actually kill you. I want out of this crap and into a swimming pool. And the wife tells me that if this is what we're doing in summer, then fall and winter look pretty golden.

See I'm complaining but this goes under the category of problems you want to have.

Ever hear anybody say you never solve any problems in life, all you can hope to do is upgrade them?

Hey I'm known as a master of the trade but at one point I lived in a tent. There was no problem with that except I was freezing half to death even with 2 dogs under the blankets. Whatever. Being warm was my problem then and being cool is my problem now. I really had in mind taking the summer off but what am I supposed to do? Chase the business of with a stick? Tell them to go pound sand? We? The people whom the people rely upon to feed them?

For we are the slingers. We go where others do not. We are there when the other guy can't be. And to feed people, God's childen one and all is a sacred duty, it's a gift.

Now before I lecture you on the biblical precedents for suffering like Jobe or poor Ezekiel, here's my response:

I'm just jacking up prices this summer. Punto finale, ipso-facto if you want us to suffer our bodies to this heat then we are gonna punish your wallet. We still got the best prices for best product in town but we're gonna put a heat tax on you that will make you think twice. The fact is that the lives of my crew is worth more than any money in this world and I will not compromise their health and well being. And that is the line. There shall be no crossing of this line.

You are worth more than money. No money in this world can buy a you. I want you to remember that.

NOW GET OUT THERE AND SELL!

11
In my coninuing quest to find some catering management software, these guys got in touch and did their whole demo thing for me:

http://www.thebettersoftwarecompany.com/

I recall having told you about Steve Scheibel at http://hotdogprofits.com/ that has this really lean, mean book keeping software that's specifically for us slingers but I also told you I'm looking for something that just saves me time in my booking process.

I also recall having told you about the really massively forget-about-it-expensive stuff from Infusionsoft.

Well, it looks like these "better software" guys have a product which is really meant for PARTY EQUIPMENT RENTAL COMPANIES than micro-caterers like ourselves, HOWEVER, their cost should net out to about $50/month in the 1 year window.

It's not a bad system, they have inbound marketing so cluents can fill out a form on our websites and they get "captured" or we can enter then in from calls or emails and then we can give estimates and track them through a sales pipeline and shoot them off invoices and email blast them and schedule our carts and our people so we know who is supposed to be where and when with lists of what they need and it's all "on the cloud" so anybody in the team can jump up online with their stupid "smart phones" and it tracks payments and all that jazz.

If all the process of typing up proposals and invoices and scheduling things is taking up too much of your time (as it is mine) this is pretty worth it.

So why don't I jump on this right now?

Eh. I'm still shopping. There's open-source software that handles rental bookings, hotel bookings, in essence it's no challenge from a software perspective. Plus we have a 15 step sales-to-completion pipeline which suits the way we do things.

This is what pisses poor Duggs off about me: he's very clinical but I'm in this for the lifestyle. This business is about our lifestyle as much as anything and the software has to reflect that in terms of FLEXIBILITY. In other words, I already know how software engineers make software: WE MAKE IT FOR OTHER SOFTWARE ENGINEERS. But like all engineers, I think I know what's better. All I really know is what would be better for me.

YOU probably aren't a retired geek so you would naturally want some support and training and hand holding and these guys say they offer that with your monthly subscription so again, this seems to be a pretty honest and good deal.

There is SO MUCH of this stuff out there that we could spend weeks but compare what these guys offer to whatever else you are looking at. I give them a B+.

12
Duggs is gonna puke. Duggs spent most of his life fighting for what we call capitalism.

And it is true, our business is one of the last bastions of the free market that anybody can get into for less than $5k. And we are out there viciously competing with one another and the best cart wins.

But at festivals when we are setting up it's like hey, you guys got duct tape?

Yeah sure! We got zip ties too.

One time we got a flat tire in the middle of an event and the jack didn't work and one guy says "no problem, I got a fork-lift".

Oh. Yeah maybe that would come in handy right now. It seems a bit over-scaled, like brining a Nimitz class aircraft carrier to a bingo game but it sure will get the job done. Thanks buddy!

And then the food thing. Everybody is trading food. The ice people are such an easy in, they serve ice and they are starving (we all go out without breakfast) so any food trade to an ice vendor is guaranteed. They guys that make tacos are so bored of tacos they will trade anything. I just stopped asking these guys, I just bring them a tray wtih all the toppings and I get free tacos all day and all night.

Somebody gotta take a leak? Last vendor I asked to watch my cart did 3 cash sales for me. I said sweetie, all I asked you to do was tell people I'd be right back and she said sweetie, I been doing this before you were born.

Well OK momma bear. Far be it from me to get in between you and your cubs. I'll just sit back and watch you run my cart.

Yeah so while we are in fact grassroots entrepreneurs and lassaize-fair capitalists, behind the scenes we are total cooperative communists. At least in Arizona. The cardinal rule is always, always, always look out for the other guy.

13
Yeah I was trying to do a daily hot dog chuckle but I got behind. If you guys got a "DAILY HOT DOG STORY" when you wake up, throw it in here. I was gonna post this one, it's a few days late but

THE $30 HOT DOG GUY!

I had friends from all over the nation asking me what the heck with this guy with the nerve to charge $30 for a hot dog and how dare he do that and....

OK let me stop you right there and say unequivocally and without reservation that I want to build a shrine to this guy. And in this shrine I will sell $30 hot dogs. Maybe I will do a Kickstarter or something to get funding. If the hot dog costs $30 just imagine how much his shrine is gonna cost.

I don't want to immitate him or follow him, it's more like I want to IMMORTALIZE HIM. There are so many nuances to this. New Yorkers are outraged but everybody in NYC already pays $30 to eat, they pay more than that to wake up in the morning with confectioneire level coffee drinks and organically hand forraged guava slices. This guy might be called a working class hero sticking it to The Man on Wall Street.

He might be hailed as an avatar of free market capitalism since, as one New Yorker put it, why pay $30 for something you can get for $5 around the corner? BECAUSE EVERY SLINGER KNOWS THAT NOT ALL CORNERS ARE CREATED EQUALLY. And some are worth a lot more.

TO MY MIND THE FACTS ON THIS POST SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. One New Yorker did in fact say you could get the same hot dog (let's assume it was a Sabbrett's with the works) right around the corner for $5 so in fact this guy WAS NOT forcing anybody to pay higher prices, he WAS NOT the sole and only food purveyor WITHIN STEPS of his location, nor did he FORCE ANYBODY AT THE TREAT OF VOLENCE OR BY COERCIVE MEANS IMPEL ANYBODY TO PAY HIS PRICES. Ergo anybody who paid his prices did so by CHOICE. Or they are so spineless that they should learn a lesson: NYC is a place to avoid if you are spineless. If you learn that lesson for $30 and you get a hot dog?

Honestly? Take that deal and run home with it. Run all the way home little bunny rabbit.

For my part, I tip this fresh red, white and blue sody pop to the man, the myth, the epic legend and testament to the man that sold $30 hot dogs. May he live eternal. Until inflationary effects on commodities force us to charge more.

Then we're gonna need a new shrine.

14
To those of you who are non-religious or who's religion I might offend, I ask your pardon to tell this story. It might only be the bestest story I ever have to tell you in my whole life.

It is written:

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
(Hebrews 13:2 KJV)

So we were on the way home from a not particularly successful gig when we got ensnarled in a parade. We were trying to drive home and somehow we got stuck in a parade. We had unsold product so all the sudden we were like what the heck? Set up and start selling. So we pull over, set up the cart on this corner and start selling.

About 5 blocks away, I see this tramp. Because it's kinda like habit. Dugger is an old soldier and can tell you about "situational awareness" so I'm keeping an eye on this guy along with everybody else but something about this guy, his body language just tells me he's been walking for miles and it's so hot out. This is a man with someplace to be and it's not here. But he's looking like he might not make it.

And he gets closer and we are selling and he gets closer and we are selling and he walks up to a garbage can and starts trying to find fluid. He was gonna start "draining" thrown away bottles and cans and that.....

that was one of those few moments in my life where I heard something go SNAP! and I approached this guy with the full voice of authority as I handed him an icy cold Coke and I was saying NO, NO, NO, BROTHER HERE and this guy swilled down that Coke like he needed another. So I handed him another and then I handed him a water. He swilled them down so fast and then I handed him a hot dog and man, that hot dog went places fast so I handed him another and he just snapped it down like a wolf and said "aw thanks man".

And he set off walking like he had someplace to be. The man was wasting no time.

I think about him sometimes. Did he ever make it to where he had to be? What if he was going to a birthday party and he was gonna walk in the door and say YOU DON'T KNOW ME BUT I'M YOUR DAD. What if he had just enough gold dust in his pocket to save a house from forclosure. Maybe, just maybe he was an angel.

It's something nice to think about.

15
What if for catering jobs we had a calculator on the website where a client could choose exactly how much of which products have to be in what location on what day?

I will tell you what if. If you know your costing structure, the potential client will either book or spook off and we don't even have to deal with them. Also our competitors would know EXACTLY how to beat us on price. Plus we lose that old "flex factor". Like if the Queen Of England calls up and says she absolutely MUST, darling, try our fabulous hot dogs the price just doubled. Heck why not?

I dunno. What do you guys think? If people could get up-front pricing right on your website without even having to call or email on you, do you think that would help or hurt your business?


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