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The Biggest Factor
The Biggest Factor
by Rob Bowe


The biggest factor affecting your sales is a combination of location of your food stand, the popularity of your product, how your food stand looks and how much competition there is at the event.  This issue we are going to focus on securing a good location.

You will hear constantly, the phrase, "Location, Location, location!  When you are starting out in the food vending business, booking decent shows with good locations can be challenging.

To make sure you are getting the best location, you should discuss in depth with the promoter the traffic flow and other attractions in the area of the location being offered to you. Remember location is everything.  It’s a good idea to ask questions such as; Is there a map available of the show grounds?  What was last years attendance? If you are starting new in this business you will discover some locations are great, some are poor and most fall in between.

Some shows tend to "sell real estate" to anyone and everyone as way of making money for the promoter.  Some shows only allow a new vendor in if someone leaves.  Usually they will offer that vacated spot to someone who has been with them for a while and then after the shuffling you may be offered the least attractive spot at the show. That could be on the main traffic fare.  If your location is behind or to the side of a building off the main traffic flow, or stuck in no man's land, you will NOT make much money.  No one will find you.  Other questions to ask about your location include cost (AKA Privilege Fee)?, distance to amenties such as water and electric hook ups.  How many people are selling my primary menu items?

You need to be where the traffic is!  Even a few feet off the main traffic way can make a big difference.  Nearby obstacles can be a factor as well.  Usually the main traffic way is the best and some side streets might be great as well, many are not.  Think of it like this; If I built a McDonald's in the alley would it be as successful as if it were off a major freeway exit?  It may be better to pass on a location with poor traffic flow than to accept it, and then again if you are willing to work your way up in a mega event with a poor location, that location can still yielded good sales, but know this, they tend to be rare.  Sometimes you will only know by trying or talking to other vendors who go to that event.
The reality is if you are new to this business, most locations available to new vendors (at any decent event) tend to be below average, i.e.: They suck!  It's just the way it is. Many vendors have been there for years and their spot has been earned by seniority, luck and perseverance.  You must always try to improve your location until you get a place that works to the optimum.  That means lobbying and keeping your ears and eyes open to find out if someone is not coming back and jockeying for that spot if it is better.

Generally speaking it takes about 3 years at many events to get an acceptable spot.  So ask yourself this question: Can you afford to hold out and are willing to give that event that long to develop or should you consider something else? 

Make sure when you contact show promoters you ask the all questions that will give you the information to make a good sound decision and get the best available location.   Researching ahead of time will help you achieve success and avoid disappointment.

Rob Bowe is a 19 year veteran of the food concession industry and author of the top selling food concession book: Everything You Wanted to Know about the Food Concession Biz But Didn’t Know Who to Ask! 
Outdoor Publications © 2006-2008

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