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Merchant services solutions help sell hot dogs and keep cash flowing

December 3, 2018
Kirk Talbot, Co-owner, Lucky Dogs Inc.
Kirk Talbot, Co-owner, Lucky Dogs Inc.
In running an iconic New Orleans business while serving as a Louisiana state representative, I appreciate that Hancock Whitney offers flexible point-of-sale (POS) payment technology and works directly with my frontline people on maintaining and troubleshooting it.
If you’ve spent any time in southern Louisiana, you probably know Lucky Dogs. Our company has been selling hot dogs from kiosks and wiener-shaped pushcarts in the New Orleans area and beyond since 1947. My father Doug bought the business in 1970 and today I run it with my brother Mark. We are the only street vendor allowed in the French Quarter. We also operate out of the New Orleans International Airport, Harrah’s New Orleans Casino, malls, sports stadiums, zoos, festivals and other heavily trafficked areas — and cater weddings and other special events.
A book published in the early 1980’s further enshrined Lucky Dogs as a part of the city’s history and heritage. The lead character in John Kennedy O’Toole’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel “A Confederacy of Dunces” sold hot dogs in the French Quarter for Paradise Vendors, a fictionalized version of our company.

Overcoming Payment Equipment Challenges
While little has changed in the last 50 years regarding the popularity of our hot dogs — we’ve sold over 21 million in that time — how our customers like to pay for them has changed. Credit cards have become increasingly popular.
From a technology perspective, accepting cards in the locations where we operate has presented some challenges. For instance, we had some ongoing problems with unreliable equipment we were using at the airport, where we have kiosks on all three concourses.
The problems came to a head with our previous merchant services provider last March. During a busy travel weekend at the airport, all three of our wireless card terminals lost connectivity and went down, resulting in several thousands of dollars in lost transactions.
After that, I called Robert Hopkins, my Hancock Whitney banker, and he immediately put me in touch with Kim Byrd in Hancock Whitney Merchant Services. She quickly diagnosed our problem and recommended a device that stores transactions so that when Internet connectivity is lost, transaction information can be retrieved later through the terminal — or, in a worst case scenario, by calling a customer service number.
 Merchant services solutions sell hot dogs and keep cash flowing

Frontline Customer Service
Working with Hancock Whitney, we received more reliable equipment at the airport and paid less for it. But maybe even more importantly, we found a merchant services provider we can rely on to provide exceptional customer service.
There are always glitches with technology, but when those happen with our new Hancock Whitney Merchant Services solution, I can call Kim and be confident she will resolve the problem for me.
The best part about working with Hancock Whitney Merchant Services is that Kim takes ownership of the payment technology issues, which means I don’t have to act as a middle man between her and my employees. She’s easy to reach and always willing to go on site to ensure we can continue to efficiently and effectively accept customer payments.

Looking Ahead
In May 2019, when the new airport in New Orleans opens, we’re planning to operate a Lucky Dogs kiosk there as well as maintain a storefront in the food court. For those locations, we’ll need different devices from the family of point-of-sale devices Hancock Whitney offers. For instance, Kim has advised we’ll want a stationary device hard-wired to the Internet — rather than a wireless terminal — for the storefront, and that should help us avoid connection problems.
We’re also looking into the capabilities of these devices that go beyond just accepting credit cards, such as using them to manage inventory and enable employees to clock in for work.
In addition, we are evaluating a different Hancock Whitney point-of-sale solution for our carts in the French Quarter, where employees would use an app and a device connected to their phones to accept card payments.
Thanks to Hancock Whitney, Lucky Dogs is better positioned today with POS payment technology. We’re using more reliable, less expensive equipment at the airport. We have a responsive merchant services advisor for everyday technical problems. And we have a bank partner who’s helping us plan for the future.