Most letters we received in response to our August issue targeted one of two articles. Readers (save one) raved about how fact trumped fiction in our story about a New Orleans-based hot-dog company. But opinion was divided on our coverage of a business-plan competition for M.B.A. candidates.

Dog-eat-dog world

In " The Taming of the Crew," Inc. senior editor Leigh Buchanan profiled hot-dog seller Lucky Dogs Inc., focusing on general manager Jerry Strahan's techniques for handling his frequently wayward workforce of street vendors. Readers gleaned both management wisdom and aesthetic pleasure from the story.

I am not a writer, but I do appreciate great writing when I see it. Your article about Lucky Dogs is absolutely fabulous. I've subscribed to Inc. for more than five years and have never written a letter to the editor before, but the article is so colorful and full of life that I just had to compliment you on it. It is so real world. It is wonderful work.

Mark Giordani
President
The Portfolio Group
Cape Cod, Mass.

I just read your article about Lucky Dogs and thought it was absolutely great. While the elevator-shaft situation and the employees' ability to eat into profits may be extreme, many of the core issues that you describe exist in private businesses. I'm a management consultant who works with growing companies to improve performance and operations, so you can imagine how I laughed out loud while reading A Confederacy of Dunces. But I had no idea that Paradise Vendors Inc. was based on a real company. It makes me wonder if there is a manufacturer of pants down in New Orleans that could provide material for your next article.

Stefanie Smith
President
Stefanie Smith Management Consultants
New York City

"The Taming of the Crew" is entertaining and insightful. Leigh Buchanan presents a fantastic look at the trials of managing one of the less glamorous businesses. Lucky Dog's general manager, Jerry Strahan, has hit on the key issue of management: a manager's job is to motivate and influence people to get the job done -- no matter how haphazard the staffing pool.

Todd Baker
Managing Partner
Buckeye Aquarium Supply Ltd.
Columbus, Ohio

Buchanan's well-written piece on Lucky Dogs shows that truth can be as funny as fiction. Ignored, however, is the answer from economic theory to why the abandonment of all sensible personnel policies works for Lucky Dogs: it's a monopoly. Grandfathered as the only legal vendor, why should Lucky Dogs care about employee attire, hygiene, and honesty? Put a competitor on the street, and management would have to get more serious about rules.

David E. Dawson
Executive Director
Indiana Alliance for Telephone Choice
Indianapolis

Not everyone relished our coverage of Lucky Dogs Inc. This reader would rather we concentrate on hard-core business stories and leave entertainment to the laugh experts.

Buchanan's piece was disappointing for your publication. I read Inc. to be challenged and inspired, and her piece did neither for me. It simply described a dysfunctional organization. For that, I can watch Seinfeld reruns and read the Sunday comics. Or I can watch some of my own coworkers, who bear a striking resemblance to the vendors in her story. It may be real -- not to mention humorous -- but it's hardly instructive.

Bill Rheinlander
Writer and Editor
Charleston, W. Va.

The best-laid plans

Inc. senior editor Michael Warshaw's " The Best Business Plan on the Planet," a diary account of the editor's experience as a judge at Moot Corp., the world-renowned business-plan competition for M.B.A. candidates hosted annually by the University of Texas at Austin, got this reader to recall his glory days.

I thoroughly enjoyed your article on the B-plan competition. It brought me back to my junior year at Purdue University, when I was part of a father/son (I'm the son) team in a business-plan contest. Our plan won first place, and the comments that we got from the judges were immeasurable in value.

Sometimes, it seems, we throw away our biggest asset: the ability to learn from others. Some of the Moot Corp. contestants didn't seem very eager to learn from the judges' suggestions. Before the Purdue contest, I talked to members of the other teams and found that the judges had had more questions and comments about my plan than about any of the others. Naïvely, I thought that this was a bad sign. My father knew better. The judges were merely pointing out small weaknesses. They wanted us to truly learn from the experience.