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Messages - OzDogs

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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....

Hot Dog Vendors / Re: Mechanical Refrigeration
« on: August 01, 2015, 04:41:40 AM »
Yeah there is a point where I just loose all patience and do what I want.

What I like about this board is if any of us are skimping on product quality or cleanliness, it's the rest of our jobs to jump down your throat.

If me or Dugg inspected you, you would not be walking away smiling all the time.

We're better than the certs. So sometimes we just do what we want.

One time this so totally happened to us. Here we are booking back from an early catering gig and we get stuck in traffic and right in front of our eyes, a parade happens. So we set up and sell. We had product left. And I swear to Gods, this tout bus pulls up and all these women in negligee, like undypants pours out of it with an entire orchestra and all the sudden we are selling and I am watching scantily clad women danding and somebody says "are you going to electic light parade tonight" and I said yeah, we got a spot reserved, where are you guys gonna be? That's how I found out where it was. They told me so I knew.

Hey being sneaky? You absolutely have to have some sneaky.

So we went out and restocked and hit the third thing for the day. It was a trifecta day. And I'm pretty sure we violated about oh, maybe a dozen or so local ordinaces to do so but we just looked like we fit in. We even helped out this other guy that had no lights on his rig and loaned him our flashlights. We had our dual matle propane lamps going. We were a LIGHTHOUSE AMONG STARS.

Always do what you can for the other guy. Tell you another story about that in about 5 minutes.

And once again I fail to answer the question directly. Somebody told me.

OK. Let me try to break this down into like 3 or 4 points. It's sorta like ROI or COGS type methodology, it's pretty common.

1. Let's say you spend $10k to get into this business all-inclusive inclusng equipment, licenses, insurance, inventory, all that good stuff but you never actually take it out to do business. How much did that day cost you? $10k (before you liquidate).

2. If you take it out 1 day, that day cost you $10k-sales.

3. If you take it out 2 days, each day costs you $5k-sales. And every day forward divides your cost of operation. PLUS I'm really good at modeling expenses which is just a fancy way of saying I count EVERYTHING into the expense scenario. I mean I am factoring in the equipment, the insurances, the truck and it's maintenance, the business phones, the computers, the printer paper, the commissary, the this, the that, the other into this cost burden factor.

4. That's where I come up with these SHOCKING NUMBERS. And I know it's where people's eyes glaze over. I start showing you spreadsheets and explaining how we compute different mathematics I just lose people.

It's frustrating but it's where so many of us fail. We mistake CASH FLOW for savings. We feel like we have money because we always have some in our pockets until the major annual expenses start coming in. And then it's "oh dip we gotta renew the insurance" and suddenly there's a hole in the wallet. That money is supposed to be there.

How many times have I heard people say "eh, if I go out there and make $150 in a day I'm happy" I damn well hope they are ringing $450 is sales otherwise they got themselves convinced or anything but the truth: they are losing money with every sale.

There. Does that make more sense?

GET OUT THERE AND SELL but if you don't make your marks, better re-engineer a solution pronto. It really is a tougher business than it looks like. I already know most of the people reading this will fail. I don't have anything at stake if you do fail. Except that I kinda hate to see it happen.

This vexing question has been solved by your nearest Costco "business supply center" or by Winco for some of us because the stupid condiment dispensers to date were either just way expensive on Ebay or just SICKENINGLY EXPENSIVE from restaurant supplies. $85 for a little plastic tubs in a row with a lid?

Naw, how about $20? Yeah that sounds better.

The $20 versions generally have one shortfall: no ice reservoir in the bottom.  Get creative with a solution for that. First, don't leave it in direct sunlight. Nestle them in a bus tub with ice in it.  Don't let your condiments get hot partially because your chopped onions and japapenos and other dainties wilt fast and they lose texture. And the onions get slimey. I hate that.

The strange part is the health inspectors here have started telling us, point blank, in plain English that they "no longer care about the condiment temps". I asked them why but I already knew the answer, it's something I have been telling them (yelling at them) for years:


But I didn't mean to ignore them entirely! What I meant is that  we have a comfort zone with SOME condiments. They don't need to stay below 41F. A couple hours at say 50F or above is doable for a window of say max 4 hours. BUT THAT DOESN'T INCLUDE EVERY CONDIMENT YOU MORONS.

I'm still in shock about that. They actually said "we no longer consider condiments to be potentially hazardous foods". I mean is that the most stupid statement in the world? Why is it that government can never understand nuances? They either go full-stupid in one direction or full-stupid in the other. So I guess it's up to us.


Craigslist and thrift strores have been invaluable suppliers of our equipment. I'm having trouble thinking of things we have bought new. Hotel pans. Easy-up tents. Those stupid folding chairs that last a season or two. We buy thermometers new because they are (hopefully) calibrated. That doesn't make sense anymore either. A few months into this business and YOUR HANDS BECOME THERMOMETERS. You know exactly what 140F feels like, you know what below 40 feels like and the next thing that happens is YOUR EYES BECOME THERMOMETERS. You can look at your product and know it's at temp.

All your big purchases from here, get it on Craigs. We got our popcorn machine, our snow cone machine, this wicked cool massive cooler/heat box on wheels. We call it The Sheridan. You want 600 sodas on ice where? No problem.

Oh wait, correction, the snow cone machine came from our pal Laura at A Child's Joy. They do rentals and petting zoos. Sometimes I call her and see if she's getting rid of anything interesting. She's a study all in herself. He has every single piece of her equipment on an "amortaization schedule" so she looked at that spreadsheet and said "yeah I got one that only has $100 on it" so that's what she sold it to me for. Plus she delivered it. What a sweetheart!

I love the machine. It's wonderful how this thing eats ice, it's a monster.

Hot Dog Vendors / Re: Location Help
« on: July 26, 2015, 10:15:49 PM »
Sorry I thought I implied that I didn't have a direct answer.

$300 for a whole weekend would make me borderline suicidal because I'd have too much empty time to contemplate the existentialist dilemna of material reality. That's the first thing that came to mind so I decided to leave it out. My first instinct is often my worst. Maybe it has something to do with my first instinct being ATTACK!

Next, OP alludes to other locations but didn't give us much intel on them so I hit them with GENERAL ADVICE. Which theoretically others besides OP might benefit from. And that kinda leaves me without gas in my tank. Much the same as I was the last time I drove through Tulsa in a vintage motor home and I kinda left that whole situation without a proper conclusion too.

If I ever remember that whole situation's name I might call her up some time. If I do I'll tell you. Instead of telling you the whole story now. Because you guys hate my stories. I know, I know, I ramble.

Hot Dog Vendors / Re: Change!!
« on: July 26, 2015, 10:06:36 PM »
Yeah, as Sarah Palin once said, "how's that whole hopey-changey thing working for ya?"

Couldn't resist. Don't get all partisany on me unless you can tell me which party I poke fun at and if your answer doesn't include "both of them".....


The sausage composition is a REGIONAL THING PRIMARILY. SECONDARILY it's a culturo/religious thing.

"All beef" is some kinda magic buzzword here in AZ. For one thing there's tons of imported Chicagoans and Minnesotans and Iowans who seem to love it, then there's the "reformed Jew" population that will eat a non-kosher but still no pork dog, then there's residual beef-culture. Nobody ever really raised a lot of pigs in Arizona but we sure as heck used to produce a lot of beef. Like SO MANY PEOPLE ASK TWICE, THIS IS ALL BEEF RIGHT?

Know how many times I have been asked for anything like a mixed meat dog or a turkey dog?


Veggie dogs? Yeah we get asked for those. Non all-beef hot dogs? Never not once.

What I am is true to the style in a sense. One outfit asked if they could have our Slaw Dogs BUT could we use our all beef hot dogs instead of mixed pork? and I said no. Sorry but no. I am fully aware of the fact that SOUTHESTERNERS LOVE PORK HOT DOGS and they are absolutely ESSENTIAL TO THE STYLE.

But I told the guy I can bring out the beef franks and the slaw and the chili and the yellow mustard and he can apply the toppings as he wishes. He can have his "slaw style dog" in secret. Because the fact is, the Southeast ENDS someplace just before Houston. Anything East of Houston is practically Louisiana. Everything West of Houston? Welcome to the desert boys. Formerly known as "cattle country".

Yeah, it's a regional thing bros.

Guys, some perspective, I think that was based on 3 years ago data so I think we only did like 77 gigs that year. Now we're blowing that away.

It's really simple. Every job reduces the cost per job. At a certain point you "dial in the sweet spot".

So getting back to point, I didn't know where the sweet spot was until I factored in every single cost I could think of. And I didn't go easy on me, I went double down brutal hard worst cases scenario and I found out that I need to raise my prices.

I think this is an essential trap that many of us fall into. Basically, cash flow isn't cash savings. Some of us FEEL like we are making money because every time we look in our wallet, there's money. THE REALITY IS THAT'S SOMEBODY ELSE'S MONEY. You are just holding onto it.

And that's where this "slow bleed" thing happens. Ever so slowly, the bills pile up, you are running behind and you don't even know why.

This is the slow death of the slinger. And it always hurts keenly. When a slinger goes down it does one of two things:

1. your hope and dream just went down.

2. your last chance to make it out of the jaws of poverty just went down.

Sheesh. We started out as hot dog evangelists but now I'm more aware of what a last-chance desperate gamble some of us make.

The failure rate in this business is off the charts. If you really want to hate yourself, get a hot dog cart.

Somebody asked me a few weeks ago what I attribute my success to and I had to say it's mostly dumb luck. I got the right wife. I can't do this by myself, heck no, I got the wife and the kids. It really helps when you have a genetic labor pool built in. But besides that it's just the basics. I really try to keep the carts not just clean but IMMACULATE. Pull my steam pans, look under the hood. It's clean pristine city. And I try to serve the absolute best product I can find and after so many years, I know exactly what Arizonans like on hot dogs. Hoo doggie they like it hot. If you don't have pickled jallapeno slices just calmly and quietly move to the nearest door because these people will kill you.

If you don't have black pepper and Tapatiyo Sauce, they will kill you. If you don't have both dill relish and sweet relish, yeah, they will kill you. And never run out of fresh chopped onions or guess what?

They will kill you twice. They will run over you with the tractor and put it in reverse and drive it right back over you.

From there, and here is a secret. This is a diversionary tactic. You know you have to have the yellow stadium mustard and you have to have the brown deli mustard, just throw a few more at them. Dijon, pineapple, just throw a bunch of fancy stuff at them. They like that.

Here's one that might help you understand the psychology of the guest. I heard Sriracha sause was popular so I tried it out on the cart and everybody said HEY THAT'S THAT COOL SRIRACHA SAUCE but nobody acutally put it on a hot dog. It's something they liked identifying with but it's not something they ate.

Starting to get it? Learn the difference between what they THINK they want and what they REALLY want. People don't actually want experimental hot dogs, they come to us for something that is predictable, traditional and reliable. They don't actually want new and different, THEY WANT REASSURANCE. Comfort food.

Starting to get it?

ANYWAYS you guys and gals thinking I'm some kind of guru got it wrong. All I do is stick by the basics. The number one rule is just don't screw up. And totally take on the attitude of service which says I am not here for me, I am here for you at all times, every time.

Maybe that's a secret but it shouldn't be. We are uniquely gifted with the power to make every single person that approaches our cart feel like  a freaking movie star.

That is more power than many people have in their whole lives. We literally have the power to bring sunshine on a cloudy day, we are the people that have cheerful acceptance for people when the whole rest of the world just huffed a deuce on them, we are the ones that say "hey man, you can pay me tomorrow" and we are often there right when people need us.

Brothers and sisters, I suggest nothing less than we are superheroes. And how many times did you loan me some ice and how many flat tires did you help me fix? I'm not sure if this is a business anymore or a lifestyle or a religion. If we are a cult, I'm totally in! We have this positive-affirmative thing going. We're all here trying to help one another.

I mean come on, does it get any better than this?

80% of Arizona vendors make a tour of ever other vendor at an event and the word up is "anything you need".

Anything you need. Just ask. Zip ties, duct tape, a quarter inch wrench, a screw gun, a tow vehicle, a fork lift, hey what do you need?

If we are a cult then this is absolutely the most kickass cult ever. We totally rock!

Hot Dog Vendors / Re: Tax Questions, Tracking Software
« on: July 21, 2015, 11:08:38 AM »
There is this guy called Steve. Really nice guy, he's one of us and he put togeher like a really....I don't wanna say dumbed down but just a really tight efficient form of book keeping software for hot doggers.

Besides that, with your business experience with basic book keeping, you got a great head start.

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.


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


Hot Dog Vendors / Re: Location Help
« on: July 18, 2015, 08:47:04 PM »
I hate to use harsh words, i really do but this is a "hey idiot" scenario that has been evaluated on this and many forums (like those wimps on Roadfood that won't tolerate me anymore) but HEY IDIOT THERE IS NO MIRACLE CURE HERE.

I think at Roadfood they archived out process, when I was just starting out there were a bunch of us trying to help each other out and we had some superstars and we tried to scientifically nail LOCATNON SALES.

To boil it down, here's roughly what we came up with.

1. A high traffic area does you no good unless you have foot traffic or a way for people in cars to easily get in and out of your location.

2. Your location better have dedicated traffic on the order of at least 300 per day. By dedicated business I mean something like an office building of 300 people that have no other lunch option in a half mile. If it doesn't have that, it better have at least 10,000 people driving by that loction every day.

3. Everybody says consistency is key but you should canvass every single local business BEFORE YOU TAKE THE CHANCE TO SHOW UP WITH PRODUCT. When you see a potential good spot, ask everybody around that shop if they would like you to set up. Don't even just show up. You want to have neighborhood support, you need to give them discount tickets in advance, you want to see if you have local support of you might as well not even think about it.

4. When you go for it, be prepared to take a BEATING for the first 2 weeks at least. Seriously people, breaking in a new location? Don't take too much product out? RESIST THE URGE TO LOAD FOR BEAR. Take out as much as you can afford to lose that day and count on losing. Just for real.

Of course now that I said that, somebody is gonna show up on your first day and buy eveything you have and you wish you had more but folks,

WE RISK A LOT TO GET IN. And when we risk, we're all in. We're not Donald Trump that makes money either way on the stock market. When we go in, we tend to risk it all.

Plus you haven't felt it yet but you take all your hopes and dreams and research and licensure and plans and you finally get out there, YOU FINALLY GET OUT THERE AND......

nothing happens.

All I can tell you, and I think what Dugg might tell you is if you think you want to do this, we'll try to help. If you got your cart and your permits and inspections and all things proper and you gave it your best try and it's really just not working?

Bail. This business should not have cost you over $10k to get into otherwise you didn't listen to us so you aren't in that deep.

If you went in to the tune of $20k+ and it's not working in your first year? Here is the one thing I can promise you: I'll see your equipment on Craigslist for 0.25 what you paid for it. I know. I don't buy much new equipment. And I got more and more equipment every year.

I AM NOT TRYING TO DISCOURAGE YOU but what I am trying to say (very ineptly) in my posts is that the cart thing isn't a mainstream business, it's a sneaky business. Sneak into this business. DON'T DO AS I DO, DO AS I SAY. I'm established and I can bragg and shout but trust me people, come in soft, wait until they are asleep, hit them at dawn, ease into this and above all, be honest and true to everybody that you interact with as though God and your ancestors are watching your every move.

Honestly, people, I have seen better people than me fail. I already know 80% of the people that read this board for advice will fail in the first year.

Above all I have to SHOUT at you, do NOT go into debt to maintain a location. If you have a line of credit? CUT UP THE CARD AND BURN IT IN A CEREMONY.

Your licensed cart the first time out costs every penny you have invested so far and now you have to load it up with product, ice and propane. You better have the wallet to cover that. And you better have a plan for losing. And the answer is not spending on credit or asking the relatives to float you.

Just to cheer you up a bit, the fist couple times I went out, man did I think I blew it. The feeling of lonliness and desolation and the "gotta come through"  and "oh shibbit" factor was all over me like a ton of bricks. The people I'm trying to help get out there are finding out the same thing. It's not so easy all the time.

At least you got us. Keep asking questions because remember, the only stupid question is one that we haven't already asked ourselves.

OK guys and gals gonna be honest.

The experience in expanding the business by getting other people involved has primarily benefited other people. We just ran up against the classic wall: to pay good people what it's worth to uphold our standards? That pretty much takes our profit margin out. So either I gotta dump these people or figure out a new way.

Tell you this, I'm not giving up. Other people have done this, it's a way forward. But for now, trust that I spent 90 days trying to train people and set them up and so far all I have done is get them paid.

For me? I might just as well have slept in.

As usual I will update you guys on this fascinating story as it might help us all learn.

Yeah. Don't wait for me and Dugg to perfectly agree on everything.

He recently told me I was wrong again and sonnagun, if we let Dugg get the idea that he's always right it will be bad for his ego.

Therefore I tell him that I am incapable of being wrong although from time to time I might be factually incorrect.


Hot Dog Vendors / Re: Business Type, Sole Proprietor, LLC?
« on: July 18, 2015, 06:23:58 PM »
I was wondering what type of business everyone operates under.  I know getting started as a sole proprietor is cheap and easy.  My dad who has run other businesses suggested incorporating since that takes away from any sort of personal liabilities in case I get sued or anything like that.  Is that something I really need to be concerned about?

Great question!

Sole proprietorship is the way for most of us to get started. I say most of us because most of us don't have angel investors or trust funds to start with.

Incorporating costs money right off the bat and you have to engineer your organizational structure and write contracts and grant equity and do financial reporting before you even have any finances or revenue. Then, incorporating quadruples your reporting burden right out of the box.

And it's a box you made.

Don't make that box. Don't box yourself in up front. Give yourself some time.

We're transitioning into a corporate structure but hey, we got our feet wet.


The hard answer is the only reason we do corporations (besides tax writeoffs which is the last thing you should be thinking about) is, well, we do corporations and write contracts WHEN WE DON'T FULLY TRUST SOMEBODY.

I trust my wife, I know I say this business in mine but it's NOT, this business belongs to my wife. It's hers, no ifs, ands or buts. Or butts. Except her but. And if I can't trust her, not only is this business over but my life is over and done with except for the part where I project my consciousness past the planet Jupiter and find a lonely asteroid in it's orbit and upon which I shall inhabit.

As long as I can hold my breath.


And my server is running this along with chili, sauer kraut made to order, he's got a popcorn machine and now an ice chomping monster. And your line is 30 persons deep and you have exactly 30 seconds per customer.

Yeah, put a lemon in the cutter lols. How about you do a job with me and forget that you have a biological need to pee or eat or breathe?

What's large service to you? 100 people in 2 hours is a piece of cake. 300 people in 2 hours is the same work, piece of cake.

Now do 3000. Suddenly things are a bit more complicated.

Hot Dog Vendors / Re: Hope you folks had a good 4th of Ju-Luau
« on: July 12, 2015, 05:01:23 PM »
Honored brother,

You just explained everything BUT the reason you give away the best free advice. Sound business counsel says we keep our secrets of excellence to ourselves and watch the other guys fail.

Why don't we do that Dugg? Why aren't we displaying the vicious and competitive terms of capitalism on them by EATING THEIR LUNCH AND SERVING IT TOO?


What is a rhetorical question? It's a question that you already know the answer to.

Young slingers, do you know why Duggs and the rest of try to give you the best advice?

If you don't know the answer then we'll just say because.

The answer is just because and that is why. And you can just leave it with that. We will continue to support you. But if you start asking more questions?

That's good. Keep asking questions. Ask yourself why.

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