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Hot Dog Cart Price Cutter

Hi Steve,

I am having a dilemma and need your advice.

My husband and I have a hot dog cart for last 3 years. We tried few different locations & decided on one. We’ve been here for the last 2 and half years. We live in a small town (under 3,000 pop). This spring a lady vendor comes & sets up at the same location. She sells dogs & burgers (like us) but she puts her price $1 less. She has a trailer so she sells fries. We still get our customers but new people go there because of the fries and she is driving us crazy.

Please help- what to do? We loose about $100- $150 per day. Grrrr…..

– Val


That damn free market system! LOL, just kidding.

Competing on price is just a race to see who goes out of business first. Let her take that route. Just think how much it must suck to be her, working just as hard as you, and making a lot less money.

The bottom line for any business is that you can compete on price, or you can compete on quality. I highly suggest the quality approach. BUT – you have to justify it. Here’s how to do that…

People never buy something based on price alone. They buy based on the perceived VALUE. Value is just another word for “getting your money’s worth”. If you think that spending a little more is worth it, you’ll buy the higher priced product. That is the reason why Yugo went out of business.

You are going to have to do something to convince the majority of customers that you offer more VALUE. That you are worth more than your competitor. That doesn’t just mean your food. It includes the customer experience – big time.

How fun is it to come to your cart? What do you do to make eating at your cart an awesome, fun, exciting experience?

  • Do you wear a uniform or just jeans and a t shirt?
  • Do you have punch cards and incentive programs or do you just hope people come back?
  • Do you offer “signature” gourmet hot dogs with a photo menu or do you just sell hot dogs.
  • Do you have fun, energetic music playing or is it just quiet?
  • Do you have colorful, flashy, eye catching signage, swooper flags, and streamers or are you just standing behind a plain old hot dog cart?
  • Do you do any marketing in the community to set yourself apart from your competitor, or do you just show up at your spot and hope?

Implement all of the ideas above and people will be drawn to your hot dog cart. Once they experience the fun and excitement of your business and enjoy one of your signature hot dogs, they won’t ever want to downgrade to the cheapo food across the street. What’s a buck when it gets you so much more?

As for fries, I don’t really think you need them to compete. I hate doing fries on a cart because of the mess and danger of hot grease with out any barriers between the fryer and the customers.  Especially with kids around. Just offer a good quality chip and you’ll be good. (I’m sure some of my slingers will disagree with that statement, lol!)

You’ve got this Val. Go get ’em!


P.S. Any tips for Val my slinger friends? Leave them in the comments section below. (We just updated our site and the comments box is now at the bottom of the page after the comments.)

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