Vendor Bridge Team

How to become a vendor or food truck exhibitor?

April 17, 2022

It’s easy!

Okay maybe it’s not as easy as walking your dog or sending a strongly worded email to your favourite fast-food chain about the quality of their tomatoes but I promise you it’s not as hard as it looks. Okay?

So, don’t fret, stay positive, and follow these simple tips so you can definitely increase your chances of making a successful vending business.

Let’s dive in!

1. What should I sell as a Vendor at a live event?

To figure out what you should supply to shoppers, start looking at the demand. What are customers buying? What do they use? Why are they buying those products?

A good example would be selling hot cocoa at an outdoor Christmas Market. Hot cocoa helps warm up cold hands, it’s kid friendly for all the families visiting Santa, it’s low cost for even the non-buying attendees, it’s fast to make if you have high demand and ultimately, who doesn’t love chocolate?

Also consider ideas for companies by evaluating things that you are good at or things that you are passionate about. If you currently buy the things that you want to sell, then there is a good chance others will too.

Research vendors at markets in different countries like Australia, USA, UK, etc. Buyer behaviours can be similar even when they are on the other side of the world.

2. What do I need to start my Vendor business?

Many tangible things are required to start a business but we want to focus on the skills here.

Realistically we believe it comes down to two skills: determination and problem solving. Business is like a never-ending string of small fires you need to put out. It’s horrible. Just kidding! It’s not bad at all and in fact it’s pretty darn satisfying.

Building and running a business which sells products or services that put a smile on someone’s face and a bit of coin in your pocket, is the best feeling in the world. Business is exciting and rewarding! Approach it with determination to succeed, an openness to learn, and a positive attitude and you will surely overcome any obstacle.

3. What do I need to be a vendor?

Every live-sales business require an assortment of the same things: a table and chair, a tent, a payment processor, displays, and many more vendor related items.

Now, the secret truth is, all you need are products and a place to sell them and you’re golden.

How does $1200.00 in sales in 4 hours sound?

Here’s a story: A long time ago we were set up at a winter night market as a vendor and we were beside a lady selling butter tarts. She had no tent, no tablecloth, no branding, no business cards… nothing, except her butter tarts, a table, chair, and a tiny sign with “$4” written on it. Skeptical, I asked why she chose to sell her tarts at this night market event and she replied “well, after I sell all my stock, I will use the money to pay for my families Christmas presents”. I thought, no friggin way is she going to sell a few hundred tarts at $4 each at a small holiday market!

Well…she did. And it also took her about 3 minutes to pack up her empty boxes, table and chair and she left the event early.

Obviously, there are many factors that lead to her success such as no other food competitors, a well-known loyal clientele since she was a regular, great weather, etc. but either way, I was extremely impressed and I learned a valuable lesson which was:

If your product fits the market, it will sell.

4. How do I choose the “right” market?

Choosing the right market depends on a lot of different criteria, which we will discuss in a separate blog post, but the 4 most important things to consider are:

- Demographic of the attendees: Do the event goers align with my target market?
- Event Advertising: How the event is advertised will determine how people attend.
- Attendance vs. booth cost: How many customers have to buy your products in order for you to break even?
- Competition: How many other businesses will be selling products like yours?

Finding answers to these four questions should be the very first thing you do before anything else when choosing an event.

Then, after you’re satisfied with these answers, you move into a deeper dive about the event and properly evaluate the potential opportunity.

5. How do I sell my products?

Again, we will cover this topic as well in much greater detail, but there are a few main things to remember when you’re selling your products or services at a live event:

- Smile: universal sign for happiness and immediately makes customers feel more comfortable.

- Break the ice: welcome the customers with a friendly greeting and evaluate their response:

o   If they reply with enthusiasm: ask a leading question, talk to them about their time at the event so far, explain your products, inform them about a sale or special offering, etc.

o   If they reply without enthusiasm: explain you’re available if they have any questions but don’t pressure them any further. Respect the fact they want to shop and do not wish to talk. Make small comments about items or specials but avoid staring or being too chatty as it may discourage them to keep browsing.

- Find what the customer values quickly: the customer has entered your booth because they are curious about your products for some reason. Ask questions and try to figure out why they may be interested and what they value. Ex: you sell soap. The customer is interested in mint scented soaps but you don’t know that yet so you could ask: “What scent of soaps do you usually use at home?” or “what kind of soaps do enjoy the most?”

- Avoid Yes/No questions: creating repour and trust can be hard within a few seconds of meeting someone but if you avoid yes/no questions you create more conversation and thus more opportunity to build trust.

- Sell Yourself: If people like you, you increase the chance of them purchasing. Talk about the unique value that you bring to the industry by explain your experience and knowledge. Examples:

o   Mention why you started the company

o   What the company means to you

o   How you came up with the idea

o   Why you’re the best at what you do

o   How you’re different than your competition

o   What you value about the products you sell  

6. Clearly outline your goals and ask yourself the tough questions:

What is your short-term goal? What is your end goal? Why do you want to be a business owner? Why are you selling your products/services at live events? What are doing good and what do need help with? Where are you finding success? What is bringing you the most stress? How do you problem solve?

Like the butter tart lady in the story above, her end goal was to sell enough tarts to pay for her entire families Christmas gifts. Be like the butter tart lady!

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