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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 12-12-2009, 03:09 AM   #1
Wesman61
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Default Concession Trailer Question.

I really can't get over the fever to start a business. I've thought of a few different ways of going about it. It seems like a concession trailer would be the most cost effective way to get my foot in the door. I see these parked all over town 24/7 so apparently I wouldn't need a commissary. My question is simple. If done right could I net at least $35,000.00 a year? I have no idea what kind of money these types of businesses make. I work in the maintenance shop at a small food processing plant with one other maintainer who is always taking second jobs and coming to work and sleeping. Luckily the Supervisor is really understanding so he gets away with it. I really don't want to go the two job route although I'd be willing to do it till the business takes off. My Wife is a Nurse and makes decent money with health benefits so quitting my job won't be too awfully risky. Here is one I saw on Craigslist/Boise.
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Unread 12-12-2009, 04:46 AM   #2
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After some thought I realized You all would have more questions than answers for me. My goal would be to park this permanently near a high traffic (foot or car) area. I'd need at least one employee on the job at any given time as well as myself. If I were to keep my job for now and if I could get a 10 year or longer loan I could afford the trailer payment. In that case I could start out by hitting all the fairs etc and at least try to make enough money to break even while I was getting the business up to speed and building a name. And I like this one better.

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Unread 12-12-2009, 07:39 AM   #3
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I think it is possible. I would not quit the day job though until you know you can make it.
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Unread 12-12-2009, 08:46 AM   #4
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Are you planning on vending BBQ? If so where does the smoker go on that trailer? Do you need a griddle that appears to be in this unit?

My advice is find a builder and work with them on what you need. If you do your research you can buy a lot of equipment used if you want. And can install yourself so long as the trailer is designed for what you want to put in it.

Talk to the HD first. Then talk to the local licensing people and see what permits you need to setup a permanent location. And talk with people about leasing space on their property and how do you get power, etc. How do you drain grey tank? The HD will be real interested in the answer to that.

Fairs are a different situation. You can make great money (maybe 20K profit in a 10 day gig) or you can lose big if the weather is bad. Problem with fairs is you need to sign up in January for July - Sept fairs. And it's 10 days of back breaking hard work with not a lot of sleep.

And employee??? - unless the person is willing to work as a 1099 contractor you will need to do a lot of federal/state paperwork. Employees cost a lot and the paper work for one or ten is about the same. Talk to an accountant about it before doing anything involving employees. Ignorance of the law is no excuse to the feds and state.
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Unread 12-12-2009, 09:07 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford View Post
Are you planning on vending BBQ? If so where does the smoker go on that trailer? Do you need a griddle that appears to be in this unit?

My advice is find a builder and work with them on what you need. If you do your research you can buy a lot of equipment used if you want. And can install yourself so long as the trailer is designed for what you want to put in it.

Talk to the HD first. Then talk to the local licensing people and see what permits you need to setup a permanent location. And talk with people about leasing space on their property and how do you get power, etc. How do you drain grey tank? The HD will be real interested in the answer to that.

Fairs are a different situation. You can make great money (maybe 20K profit in a 10 day gig) or you can lose big if the weather is bad. Problem with fairs is you need to sign up in January for July - Sept fairs. And it's 10 days of back breaking hard work with not a lot of sleep.

And employee??? - unless the person is willing to work as a 1099 contractor you will need to do a lot of federal/state paperwork. Employees cost a lot and the paper work for one or ten is about the same. Talk to an accountant about it before doing anything involving employees. Ignorance of the law is no excuse to the feds and state.
Ford speaks the truth here. But conning somebody into being a 1099 employee is bad news too. You would have to give them a percentage for everything.

Workman's comp is expensive, but a necessary evil. They usually charge you $x up front and then charge you another $x basedupon your gross sales. You are better off trying to do everything yourself at first.

$35k is optimistic your first year. Equipment needs and other incidentals will stop you short.
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Unread 12-12-2009, 10:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesman61 View Post
I really can't get over the fever to start a business. I've thought of a few different ways of going about it. It seems like a concession trailer would be the most cost effective way to get my foot in the door. I see these parked all over town 24/7 so apparently I wouldn't need a commissary. My question is simple. If done right could I net at least $35,000.00 a year? I have no idea what kind of money these types of businesses make. I work in the maintenance shop at a small food processing plant with one other maintainer who is always taking second jobs and coming to work and sleeping. Luckily the Supervisor is really understanding so he gets away with it. I really don't want to go the two job route although I'd be willing to do it till the business takes off. My Wife is a Nurse and makes decent money with health benefits so quitting my job won't be too awfully risky. Here is one I saw on Craigslist/Boise.
Wesman61,

What do you plan on selling from the trailer? The reason I ask is that me personally, I would outfit the rig based on what I'm going to sell only. I see a lot of used units out there that have a wide assortment of equipment/appliances, but what good are they if you have to have 2-4 people in the trailer to keep up with it all? Having the proper space to work is key in these units.
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Unread 12-12-2009, 11:26 AM   #7
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Try to find Bigmista on here. He made the transition a while back and seems to be doing great going to different Farmers Markets in California. He has the experience to tell you all you need to know.
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Unread 12-12-2009, 04:13 PM   #8
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As far as what I'd be selling I was thinking along the lines of the Tex-Mex thread I started in The Q section. I would want to sell smoked meat but would sell what is practical to make the business grow at first. So things like fajitas, nachos, burritos etc. There's a trailer parked a few blocks from here that sells smoked meats. It's owned by a couple I know. They have a fence around the back of the trailer with 3 or so offset smokers setting there (outside). She's parked across the street from a high school!
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Unread 12-12-2009, 04:24 PM   #9
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Anywhere there is a lunch crowd during the work week and perhaps a bar district when the drunks are getting out.
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Unread 12-13-2009, 02:37 PM   #10
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Wessman I am a little further than you in the process. After thinking about it for over a year I took the plunge recently. I did a lot of investingating as far as costs and put a business plan together. I am about two months away from being a legal set up.

For me it is going to be a weekend business for the most part. I don't drive new cars and my total investment is less than most people spend on a new vehicle. I'll try to give you a run down on where I am at and how I got to this point. I work in a family owned auto repair business and we built my large trailered BBQ pit about two years ago and about a year ago I bought a $7000 truck to pull it with. Along with several $3000-$5000 of othe competition equipment I already had I decided to look into it further. I gave the HD a plan and got approval and I ended up having my trailer built and it is 7' x 16' with 18' of base and 11' of upper aluminum cabinets. Vynil flooring and aluminum walls with lighting. A 3' x 6' side vending window and a 3' x 4' back vending window. I chose to save money and get and install the sinks myself. The trailer cost me $8900 with the fresh and grey water tanks and I paid them another $650 for all my logo's to be installed on all four sides of the trailer. I spent another $50 for a 3 bay sink and a hand sink. I am paying $1000 for a local attorney to set up an S Corporation ( probably could have saved on the net ). My business insurance will cover my liability and equipment including truck is another $1000 per year and will change depending on the amount of business done I am sure. I shopped around and bought a new 16 cubic ft refrigerator for $375. All of the HD fees cost me $175, and the SafeServ Class/Book was $175.

I am currently installing the sinks and such and still have to buy some catering epuipment i.e chaffers. serving spoons, table scape items and such. All of my local business licenses and fees will be another $75. Throw in business cards, website & domain, and some misc. and counting equipment I already owned I will have about the same a new Toyota SUV. The SUV however will never make me any money or satisfy my dreams. I figure worst case if the business is a total failure I have the equivelent of a car payment and a nice A$$ kitchen for competitions! Go for it if it is what you want!

My one down side is if I do concessions I will have to make two trips, one with the BBQ pit and another with the trailer. If I have success then perhaps I can go with an all in one set up. Plus change things that I want different after having some experience. Hope this helps.

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Unread 12-13-2009, 09:38 PM   #11
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Wesman - I got a 30' S&S with the idea it would be my comp kitchen and a vending rig (it was filling that roll previous to my buying it)... I used it that way a couple times, and then upgraded my RV/5th wheel -- and now it sits.

I bought something with the basics... A/C, vend window, 50amp power, Deck for cookers... thinking that while the inside was usable, I could turn it into whatever I wanted, once I figured that out. So investment was minimal up front, with the idea that if the trailer did well, it would pay for its own upgrades to commercial refridgeration, etc. that I could make as I went. vs. dropping $35K for it fully outfitted. Spend 1/3 of that, and grow as you grow. Or if you are handy... buy a shell and build it out yourself. Todd putall the cabinets etc. in his trailer, a make table from a subway, and a commerical fridge himself.

Something to think about... BTW, if you want a 30" S&S - I know where you can get one... since we upgraded the Toy Hauler... the family goes to every event with me, so we just dont use the other trailer at all. LOL

Ruben has the right idea from my take... sweat equity, and then grow with the biz!
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Unread 12-14-2009, 09:00 AM   #12
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These posts put it more into perspective. I do maintenance in a food processing plant but I'm really not happy. I regret that I didn't just get into food service as a youngster and am pondering whether getting into it at 48 is a good idea or not. I need to go back and read everything on this site about this type of business and start to map out a path and see where it takes me.
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Unread 12-14-2009, 11:54 AM   #13
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I'd be more apt to make a go at it with the equip. you already have. You don't "need" a big fancy truck or trailer. You can probably do some part-time catering and "meat by the pound" sorta stuff.

For lunches and stuff...an ice chest or chaffing pan would work. The key is to get the word out.

Instead of buying a new truck or trailer, I'd buy some new shoes and proceed to wear them out pounding the pavement.
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Unread 12-14-2009, 01:00 PM   #14
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Anybody know if those kettle corn vendors make money?
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Unread 12-14-2009, 01:11 PM   #15
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Yes they do. But it's hard work and it's really a family business as somebody cooks and somebody needs to be selling. Still 50 cents materials sell for $5 per bag. Of course there is LP cost as well as tent and screens and HD inspection.
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