Presenter Doug Constable on The Hot Dog Story

By August 21, 2017Doug Constable

So the hot dog story. I would have heard this 30-40 years ago. And It’s something I try to remember. It’s a humorous story but it’s got a very good message to it. And it relates back to after the war and of course there are a number of settlers that came to America of all different ethnic backgrounds and came and settled in America. And one of those couples that came to America and virtually had nothing. They settled near a major road.

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And there was this old store that had been closed down and all they could afford was to rent the couple of rooms that were above it. And so they rented these rooms and they were thinking what are we going to do for a living and the wife went out and did some did some housework and the husband did a bit of labouring and then they thought about it for a little while and the husband was renowned for making beautiful hot dogs, lovely hot dogs, you know with the mustard and those hot dogs that have got the hole in the middle and you heat the roll up and you put the hot dog down the middle of it with the sauce, fresh bread. They were absolutely magnificent hot dogs. So they started doing that and they thought well put a little stand at the front and sell these hot dogs to the cars going past. And they put a little stand at the front and then they started making Cordial to go with the hot dogs and then they started selling soft drinks and the business got bigger and bigger and bigger and ultimately they went to the landlord and said, “Could we rent the downstairs?” And they actually opened a hot dog shop, here on the high side of the road.

And about that time the wife got pregnant and they started having children, I think they had two children from memory. But they had a couple of kids, a boy and a girl that’s what it was, and they got busier and busier and busier and ultimately the highway became a freeway. And cars would stream in there all day long to get these hot dogs. Very big business and they employed staff and off they went and their son grew up. And they had enough money and one particular night the husband and wife went to bed and they had turned the lights off because by this time the hot dog stand had flashing lights outside all different colours and very busy business and they went to bed and they’re lying there and the husband said. “Darling, I want to send our son to Harvard, to business, because he can have all the opportunities in this in this land, that I never had and I want him to learn how to run a business.” And so they they agreed with that and off the son went to Harvard and here he was the business was flourishing selling heaps and heaps of hot dogs and they had more money than they knew what to do with really.

And the cars were just coming in and they had a drive through and just hotdogs, hotdogs, hotdogs and you could have them any way, you could have different flavored hot dogs. That all grew from just that original stand. Son was off at Harvard and he came home after the second semester. And said, “Oh, how is business going Dad? I’ve been to Harvard and I’ve been studying economics and we’re studying everything that’s happening.” And the father said, “Oh, no, no, business is going good.” And the son said, “Well one of the things we’ve learnt is that you need to worry about your overheads and cut your costs for wastage down in this type of business. And that’s one of the things we learnt because there’s going to be a bit of a recession and things are going get tight and the businesses that will survive will be the ones that have got the low overheads. And again he went up to bed with his wife who was already in bed reading a book and he said, “Darling I am so glad that we sent our son to Harvard because he’s got all these ideas and he knows what’s going to happen. We’re going to have to watch our costs a little bit.

So what what they did is they started ordering less buns. So that, like in the night they would run out of buns so they had no wastage. And they started turning the lights off before they closed, to save on electricity. And they turned off the hot dog stand light but they use to leave one on all night with “hot dogs, open from 6 am to 10 pm”, they turned that light off. And they were saving all those costs and then they worked out that if they let one staff member go and had the line quite a little bit longer, they would save money. And so all these things started to happen. And and then, the business started going down a little bit so come the end of the first year of the son being at Harvard he came home and he said, “Oh, how’s business going Dad? And they said, “You were right son. It is a little bit tighter but we’re still doing fine.” And he said, “Yes, well you’ve just gotta be so careful of your overheads you’ve got to be so careful of your costs.” Away, he went again.

Now, you know what happens in this story, don’t you? 6 months, 12 months later, the business hasn’t got any business coming in. The cars have stopped going. They had got rid of the staff. They had not used the electricity. The bun sales are down, everything’s down. Again, the husband walks up the stairs and said, “I am so glad we sent our son to Harvard  because he knew what I never knew. That the business wasn’t going to work because we’re spending too much on overheads and likewise the business with nothing.”

So when you’re in trouble, always remember that you need a balance. You need to be conscious of you, your overheads your expenses. You need to be conscious of making enough money, having enough turnover and you need to be conscious of the efficiency. So instead of spending all your time in “How can I save those costs, how can I do that?”, the major areas really to spend in How can I be more efficient?  And that’s not necessarily cutting staff because if you increase your overheads and you’re efficient, the costs will look after themselves. Don’t concentrate on the costs, which is what we tend to do when we are in financial crisis, concentrate on being efficient and increasing your turnover.

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