The Biz of Pacelinebiz

Turning things on end to achieve results!

Business Lessons From… A Street Vendor

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Come and get it!

I had the opportunity over the holidays to watch my Alma Mater play a basketball game on ESPN. Despite the foul mood I was in due to the defeat handed to them by a team that had not beaten a ranked opponent since the 1970’s, I began to reflect on my old school and on things I liked about it.  The first thing that came to mind was Essie’s Original Hot Dog Shop located at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Bouquet Street.

This blog, however; is not about The University of Pittsburgh or The Original Hot Dog Shop.  It is about business lessons we can learn from the old-fashioned street vendor. 

Street vendors typically have a loyal following and a long history.  In a commercial airing recently, Pink’s, a famous hot dog place in Hollywood explained how they started as a street vendor over 70 years ago and built their business into a famous restaurant serving their dogs to everyone from the Hollywood stars to the common folk.  What can we learn from these street vendors?  How do they survive in such a competitive market with typically no advertising?   Here are a few reasons:

1)      Location, location, location.  Even if you are not a retail establishment you can learn something about this.  I have mentioned this before.  How convenient is it to do business with you?  Do you have a website for online orders and purchasing?  Do you accept credit cards?   Are your hours adequate and are you open when your customers need you?  Take time at the beginning of the year to look at you from your customer’s viewpoint and adjust where needed.

2)      Word of mouth advertising.   This is often described the best form of advertising and can also be called referral business.  Is your business getting enough word of mouth referrals?  If not, why not?  Is it because you aren’t that good?  Take an honest look at your business and step up your game if you aren’t meeting expectations.

3)      A quirky intangible.  Many street vendors have something about them that makes going to them special.  Maybe it is the owner’s personality, the ordering procedure or something else.  Find a way to get that “thing” that sets you apart from everyone else.  If you are a small company the best way to differentiate yourself from the competition is to make the difference YOU!  No one can sell yourself better than you and no one can be you.  I can thank my friend Mark Zangari for this one as he tells me this all the time and he is right.  I highly recommend him.  How’s that for word of mouth advertising.  Check out his website here.

Have a great week applying lessons from our friends the street vendors.  I am going to get a Hot Dog, I am hungry…


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