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A Successful Food Concession Business Starts with

A Successful Food Concession Business Starts with "Soul Searching"

by Barb Fitzgerald


Many people in the mobile food concession business consider November through March the off-season. During the cold and wet winter months a food concession operator, whose income is earned by operating at outdoor events such as fairs and festivals, might put his or her food booth in mothballs and take a much-needed break from the business. For several months these lucky concessionaires take time off and enjoy the pursuit of other activities. Not until early spring do they start looking forward with enthusiasm to prepare their equipment and schedule events for the upcoming food concession season.


This enviable work schedule doesn't occur by accident. When considering a food concession startup, new vendors need to look at the large picture. They need to plan for how they want their business to influence their lifestyle, as well as how much money they want to make.


Receiving all the benefits the concession business has to offer including, but not limited to, spare time, a cash income, and personal independence, comes by seriously considering all the decisions a start up must make. By understanding the pros and cons of each option, and recognizing how each decision is interconnected, a concessionaire can control the course of their enterprise. For example, a food vendor's business and personal goals should determine the best menu to serve. Their choice of menu has great bearing on the type of booth they should use. The type and size of food booth they have would in turn influence which venues they can work. All of which determines the amount of money they are likely to make.


Therefore, the first step in planning your concession start-up should be serious and in-depth "soul searching". Start by asking yourself these questions:


1.What is your purpose for starting a concession business?  Do you need extra money to make ends meet? Is your job at risk? Is your nest egg inadequate for your rapidly approaching retirement? Are you semi retired and want to stay active while supplementing your fixed income? Maybe your teenage kids need to raise money for college. Do you want a business in which the whole family can work together? Maybe you are hard to employ, or are a free spirit who wants to be responsible for your own employment.


2.What do you ultimately expect to achieve from you concession? In other words, how much money is enough? Will an extra ten thousand dollars provide you a more satisfying retirement, or is fifty or one hundred thousand dollars required to replace your current job?


3.What else do you hope to gain from your concession? Do you want several months off in the winter to pursue other activities? Do you want to travel with your business, or stay locally? Do you want a business the whole family can participate in? Do you want to work your concession alone or have the help of one or more other people?


4.What are your financial resources? Are they such that you can afford all the appropriate equipment and pay your bills while you get your new business off the ground? Or, will you need to siphon small portions of your existing income and start conservatively while you expand slowly as your business grows?


5.What are your personal resources and capabilities? Will you be juggling your time and energy with other responsibilities? Are you physically capable of standing for long hours? Do you have previous business experience?


The answers to these questions and others will define the type of concession you start with and strive for. Your answers to these questions should guide every decision you make. And, will determine how long it will ultimately take to reach your goal


The author, Barb Fitzgerald, has more than twenty-five years of experience in the food concession industry. She additionally held a position on the Oregon Food Services Advisory Board and founded Northwest Vendor's Network Association. Her dedicated passion for the concession business makes her a leading authority on this unique mode of self-employment. For details about her book: Food Booth, The Entrepreneur's Complete Guide to the Food Concession Business, go to:

Copyright 2008 by Barb Fitzgerald. Permission is granted to reprint this article provided no words are changed, the whole article is reprinted in its entirety, and the author's information and link box is included.



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