Many entrepreneurs get into the concession business because they find it an easy way to be their own boss, set their own schedule and, perhaps, work only part of the year. These factors combined with a relatively low cost of entry make food concession sales a serious draw. In fact, with a little bit of ingenuity and existing resources, it is possible to start a concession business for less than five thousand dollars.
If you are new to the concession business, it is always best to start small and grow from there. Once you have a few seasons under your belt, you can decide whether to purchase additional equipment. Because there are so many nuances to the concession industry and your window of opportunity to make a profit is smaller than other businesses, it is best to slowly take on risks, rather than taking on many large ones all at once.
Few businesses can get by with just a pop-up tent and a few pieces of used equipment, so it is best to put a little bit of investment into your business. When you start your business, begin by focusing on one menu item, whether it is cotton candy or hot dogs. If you only have one item one the menu, you will be able to invest the proper amount of money in equipment and supplies to make your business run like clockwork.
Customers are more likely to visit a concession booth that has a professional appearance rather than a run-down trailer. Spend extra money on making your booth look like you mean business. Invest money in professional signage and a professional paint job for your booth, and always keep your stand clean and well maintained. Failing to spend extra time on the details of your booth can make you look like your are not taking your business seriously, even if you are.
Pay Attention To Operating Costs
These are the costs that will occur every year you are in business, and you should budget for them annually.
- Cost of Goods. These costs can range from purchasing new equipment to resupplying smallwares and food throughout the season. The cost of goods will likely begin to pile up near the beginning of the concession season and hold steady throughout its entirety.
- Event Expenses. Booking events costs money, from the space fees that each venue charges and permit fees to any additional help you need to hire. With the exception of space and permit fees, these charges typically occur during the concession season in the spring and summer months.
- Administrative Overhead. These are the costs that accrue year round and include trailer and vehicle maintenance, phone bills and loan payoffs. Be sure that you include these expenses in your budget year-round.
Have Adequate Capital Reserves
One of the critical mistakes a new concessionaire can make is not budgeting for year-round expenses such as a mortgage, car loan and electricity bills. Just because your concession stand is not currently in business does not mean the bills stop coming to your mailbox. This is where the capital reserves and impeccable budgeting come in to the equation. Below are some of the expenses that occur throughout the year or before and after the concession-selling season:
- Space Fees-These fees are typically charged when the application for the event has been submitted up to six months before the event itself. For each event you apply to, you will be paying upwards of one hundred dollars well before the event has even taken place.
- Permit Fees-For every county you intend to sell your food in, you will need to obtain the proper health permits before you begin doing business in that location. You will need to procure these permits well in advance so you are not scrambling at the last minute to get approval.
- Insurance Premiums-You will be paying insurance premiums on your cart, trailer and/or vehicle throughout the entire year, so you will need to remember to include that in your budget for the year.
- Maintenance-The concession business is rough on the stands and the vehicles that are used to transport them. Bi-annual maintenance should be done before and after the concession season begins to make certain that your stand is always in tip-top condition.
- Personal Expenses-Bills such as your rent, mortgage, medical insurance, phone and utility bills must be in the budget, since those are expenses you must pay every month.
With proper planning and organized budgeting, the successful concession vendor can work hard through the spring and summer months and earn some free time come fall and winter.