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How to Start A Hot Dog Cart Business? (Proven Tactics) 2023 Updated

How to Start A Hot Dog Cart Business? (Proven Tactics) 2023 Updated

Oh if only there was another choice…something traditional with a variety of toppings to make it unique and personal.

Well if you owned your own Hot Dog Cart, you could be that choice! Everyone loves a good hot dog, whether it’s topped with onions and jalapenos, sour cream and bacon, chili and cheese, or just a drop of mustard.

Who Doesn’t Want to Make $300 – $800 Per Day?

I’m not kidding. Starting a hot dog cart business is a fast and easy way to get rich. Honest. There’s a lot of money to be made in this business and it doesn’t take a bankroll to get it started.

SIDENOTE: Some have cleared as much as $250,000 a year with just a few well-placed carts. That’s almost DOUBLE what the average US doctor makes!

Just think about the possibilities…you can make your own hours, work as much or as little as you want. You’re the boss – and you can have fun doing it.

Not much stress in grilling or broiling a wiener and plopping it on a fresh soft bun, is there? And you can let the customer top it with their heart’s desires – just be sure to have every type of condiment and topping you can think of ready for them and they will come running.

SIDENOTE: If you add ice cold soft drinks and mini bags of chips and cookies to your menu – you can increase your profits dramatically! If you REALLY want to please, try keeping a stock of vegan, turkey or tofu dogs and gluten-free or whole wheat buns on hand for the health-minded crowd.

There are so many benefits to this kind of business and it’s something that’s needed, especially in the South. Hot dog carts have long been popular in New York, Chicago and a few other big cities, but not so much in the smaller ones. The question is, why?!

The overhead is low, the cost of production is low, and everyone loves hot dogs. It’s an easy food to grab and eat on-the-go and people usually eat more than one (unlike hamburgers).

With the economy in a dip, everyone is looking for a good bargain – something freshly made that’s also cheap, quick, and tasty. You can make hundreds of dollars in a day and the risks are low while the profits are high! What’s not to love?

How to Create That One-in-a-Million Dog…

If you want to succeed at this kind of business, you need to think outside the box when it comes to accessorizing your dogs. Come up with new and inventive ways to dress them up. You have to find a way to stand out among all the other competitors, those who sell hot dogs as well as those who sell other food items. You want to be the best there is – in taste, in service, and in price.

Do your research on how hot dogs are served in other countries. One of the best I have ever eaten was in Mexico. The street vendors there wrap them in bacon before grilling, and top them with chopped fresh tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, salsa verde and sour cream. The buns are buttered and lightly toasted, which just adds to the overall experience. Each bite is an explosion of flavor in your mouth.

Keep On Truckin’

Some people who have ventured into this kind of business have had immediate success, beyond their wildest dreams! However, for some it has been a slower, yet still steady increase, as word got out to draw in other customers. As with anything, you have to have the patience and fortitude to press on.

You can work shorter hours and work less than most Americans, and at the same time you know that you are providing a much-needed and appreciated niche in an ever-growing market.

As with a lot of other businesses, it is location, location, location. You can find a factory or other business and talk to them into letting you have a free space to make your daily masterpieces. You can also set up shop at meetings where you offer the owner or manager and his/her staff free samples of your hot dogs. Let them see – and taste – what you can do. If you get in there and hustle and sell a great hot dog for a great price, you can easily make $500 – $1000 just during lunch. Scout out for the right place to set up with the maximum amount of coverage and customers. Throw in some chips or fries and pickles…maybe have a ready-made dessert to go with it. There’s so many options that you really can’t lose!


It’s All in the Presentation

Another thing to consider is your packaging. I know – it’s just a hot dog – but put your imagination to good use. Make your place inviting and appealing. Bring them in with not only a good attractive location but with enticing smells. Le that awesome aroma do the hard work for you. Let it draw them in and lead them to you when they turn the corner, or walk out onto the street. How many times have you smelled something great wafting from a restaurant or a Chinese carry-out? Gets your mouth to watering, doesn’t it? Put those pretty dogs out there so the people can see them and smell them.

Remember that a hot dog can be more than just a hot dog. It can be an experience. Make them happy to be there. Smile!! Be friendly, talk to those who want to talk. Show your customers that you are happy to be there, too.

Let’s Get Down to the Nitty Gritty

How to Pick What Type of Stand You Want

When you’re ready to take the plunge, you’ll need to decide what kind of hot dog establishment you want to run. There are many varieties of hot dog carts, which are by far the easiest, and cheapest way to go. Some are basic push carts. Some are more like trucks and some are big concession trailers. I’ve listed some of the advantages and disadvantages to each below:

Hot Dog Carts

  • This is the simplest and cheapest way to get into the business. Start up costs are low, letting you start to earn profits pretty fast. It only takes a small investment; you can get used ones for pennies on the dollar.
  • You just need a little bit of space and it’s not such an eyesore compared to bigger vehicles
  • No high risks that brick & mortar places have. Take it where the business is – schools, fairs, ball games, races, parks, construction sites, anywhere there is foot traffic.
  • Downside is that if you are servicing a large area or crowd, you may run out of food before you run out of customers and you may not have enough space to offer all the toppings and upsells like drinks, fries and chips that could make up a huge amount of your profit.

Hot Dog Trucks

  • More room for your kitchen and supply storage. It costs more than a cart, but less than a trailer (and a better deal than a trailer in convenience, parking, etc.)
  • You get more attention – who can miss a massive truck with a crowd of hungry people around it?
  • Space is an issue and often additional permits, insurance and fees may be required

Concession Trailers

  • Advantage – with a concession trailer, you only need a good vehicle to pull it with. You can drive all over town, wherever the customers are.
  • You will not have as much space as you would in a truck. It will take longer to move around pulling a trailer and you might not find the properly needed space to park a vehicle and a trailer.

Keep Them Doggies Rollin…

The bottom line – there is serious money to be made in operating a hot dog cart. Once it takes off and becomes profitable, invest in another one and hire someone you trust to run it for you. Start making a name for yourself. Put your carts on every street corner.

Get the word out by advertising in the social media arena – Twitter, FaceBook, and Linkedin are fantastic ways to advertise and they are the most cost-effective (with the fastest ROI). You can send tweets or post a Facebook Status to let your network know where you’ll be that day and when, plus any specials or new items you may have in stock.

Don’t Give Up Too Soon

It may feel daunting at first, and of course you have to be up on all the latest laws about vending carts, permits and licenses, and you have to make sure that where you park is legal – but all of these things are small (though time-consuming in the beginning) in comparison to what you can gain – more freedom, being your own boss, making your own hours, getting rich.

And it sure beats working 8-5 in a dead-end job for someone else. If you have the desire to be in business for yourself, if you have the determination it takes to pursue your dream… then what are you waiting for?

Get out there and make your dreams come true!

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