Selling hotdogs at events: tidy profits at fairs, festivals, and shows
New hot dog vendors often don’t realize how the dynamic of running a booth changes when you go from a low- to medium-volume casual venue to a high-volume event. Events can offer you the opportunity to make a very good profit in a short period of time, so it is crucial that you maximize this opportunity by doing everything right.
After you’ve done a few events, you’ll be proficient and able to prepare based on past experience. However, if you’re just starting out with your first concession stand, here are some tips on how to sell hot dogs at large-scale events.
Some of the tips below are real gems, so if you find some of the content seems obvious, keep reading and you’ll get to the good stuff.
Get the details clear
Make sure you have accurate details from the event organizers. You should have up-to-date information on event dates and times and know when you will be allowed access to set up.
To get an accurate idea of the kind of sales volume you’ll have, you need to have a good idea of the attendance at the event and how you’ll position yourself to gain access to attendees. You also need to know how many other vendors will be selling food at the event.
In most cases, it will be obvious what kind of people will be attending an event. A rock concert will draw a different crown than a garden festival, so keep this in mind when putting together a menu.
Visit the site beforehand
Whenever possible, you should visit the site beforehand to check it out. This will give you an idea of what kind of space you will have to work in and what facilities are available.
Scale down your menu
Since you will be selling hot dogs and drinks in large quantities in a busy environment, you need to keep your menu fairly simple. This will limit the time it takes for customers to choose. It will also keep your inventory requirements in check and help limit ordering errors.
Estimate staffing requirements
You need to make sure you have enough people available to handle a high volume of sales at any given time. However, to make a good profit, you want to limit your staff to only the number that is essential.
You will likely need at least two people and possibly more depending on the size of the crowd. It’s great if you can have one person take care of the money and orders while the other prepares the hotdogs. A team of two also allows you to have one person in charge of the booth while one is free as a ‘runner’ to go and get additional supplies when needed.
Hot dog prices at events
You’re likely to pay a hefty sum to be at the event, so you want to make sure your time there is worthwhile.
The great thing about selling hot dogs at events is that your potential customers are usually in a pretty captive environment. Depending on the number of other food vendors at an event, customers may not have many options for a snack other than their hot dog stand. This can give you some power to price a bit more aggressively.
Whenever possible, you should look for optimal price points that allow for faster service. By keeping your prices equal in dollar amounts ($3 instead of $3.20, for example), you’ll avoid the need for a lot of coins, since you’ll be handing out mostly dollar bills as change. If your staff is struggling to calculate and collect the correct change, then you are wasting time. Still, at an event you should consider selling each item for at least a dollar.
Be sure to start with a large amount of change, as it is typical for customers to hand over a large bill for a small purchase. There is nothing worse than running out of change and not being able to sell a hot dog to someone who only has a twenty dollar bill. In some cases, you can reach out to other vendors at an event for help, but it’s always best to be self-sufficient.
Systems and Productivity
It is important that you and your team focus on developing a system to maximize productivity. Every part of the process, from taking an order and making a hot dog to delivering a customer’s order, needs to be analyzed, refined, and made to work as well as possible. Watch the process of delivering a hot dog to a customer at Costco as they run one of the most efficient operations you’ll find.
In a busy environment, you will find that you have customers lining up to buy your hot dogs and other items. Under normal circumstances, a small line can be good for business, but remember that if it gets too big, it can put people off. Make sure you don’t let your line get out of control. A great way to manage a line is to create a separate line for those who want to order drinks only, as you’ll be able to fulfill these orders much faster than cooked food orders.
Also think about the weather. If you attend an outdoor concert in the summer, for example, you should consider stocking up on extra bottled water.
Working at a hot dog stand at a big event like a sports game or music festival is a whole new level compared to driving a cart on the highway. To take full advantage of the excellent opportunities that events represent, you must know how to sell hot dogs quickly and efficiently.