Jamaica Broilers Group (JBG) has begun selling and branding hot dog vending carts through contractual agreements aimed at pushing its Reggae Jammin brand while at the same time providing an opportunity for small businesspersons in the fast food trade.
“Since we launched the Reggae Jammin chicken frankfurter last year, it was a good opportunity to really commercialise and localise the hot dog vending business that has done exceptionally well internationally for quite sometime,” said Karis-Ann Rhoden, Reggae Jammin brand officer, JBG’s Best Dressed Foods Division.
“It was a good opportunity and we saw where we could improve entrepreneurship and have more people start small businesses,” she told the Business Observer on Monday at JBG’s manufacturing facilities in Spring Village, St Catherine.
The programme has not yet formally started — an official launch is scheduled for March — but JBG said it already has some vendors on stream.
“We have started with a small amount of persons but that number is increasing literally as we speak,” revealed Best Dressed Foods sales and marketing manager Oliver Mair, noting “At (the recently held) Jazz Festival, for instance, one of our major cart owners did whopping business.”
According to Mair, the programme involves JBG either selling the Reggae Jammin-branded carts to persons or branding carts already owned and being operated by vendors. Reggae Jammin products, including the chicken frankfurters and burgers, are sold at discounted rates to vendors who can in turn sell whatever finished product they desire.
Imported from the USA, the vending carts on sale are not just equipped to prepare hot dogs, but rather a host of different food types, including hamburgers, kebabs and fries. The standard feature of the various carts include a burner, steamers, a propane tank, a gas regulator, sinks, fresh water and waste water tanks, cooler and dry storages, hot and cold running water, and an umbrella. Mair said JBG will offer support to persons in financing the venture. For instance, the vending carts, which has a retail value ranging from $500,000 up, can be acquired through monthly payment plans.
“The company will offer some level of support from a financing perspective, product support and giving opportunities in different promotions, but persons will need to lay down some of the capital,” said Mair, emphasising that “The person coming in has to show some level of committment; you can’t just come in and not put some money down yourself.”
Regarding persons who already own vending carts, Rhoden said they can benefit tremendously if they enter into the partnership agreement with JBG.
“With the affiliation of a brand like Reggae Jammin, they would have more leverage to make that business a success through us offering them discounts and branding their cart to get the programme going — we support them in every way we can as a partner to help their business grow,” she said.
When the programme is officially launched, it will have the support of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), which will be a training and technical assistance partner.
“We have committed to come on board to assist with the training of the the hot dog vending businesses that are to be set up, and ensure that they set it up in the right way to ensure that all the necessary inputs to successful business are taken into account,” said JBDC executive director Harold Davis.
Davis said that the JBDC will also guide vendors accordingly to get the required certifications to operate, such as a Food Handlers’ Permit, which costs $500 a year.
The hot dog vending business is big overseas, with persons reportedly earning in excess of US$150,000 annually from a single cart in the US. According to industry experts in that country, the most important factor is the location of your hot dog carts, with operators targeting popular corners and gathering spots.
Mair noted that local hot dog cart vendors will have a big opportunity at the annual Best Dressed Foods ‘Fun in the Son’ concert to be held next month at the University of the West Indies Mona campus, with over 45,000 persons expected to attend.
“All our cart holders are going to be there,” said Mair, who expressed great optimism about the overall impact of the initiative. He stated: “The entrepreneurial spirit of the people needs to be ignited and this is a small part in the overall equation.”