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Anchors Smokeshop
02-16-2011, 07:45 PM
I was recently laid off from my full-time job and I am now scrambling to find a new job that will compensate the money that I was making in my previous position. As you all know, this economy sucks and it is going to be very difficult to find a similar position making the same amount of money or more. I can't afford to take a pay cut, but I also don't really have any other options.
I am thinking about starting up a bbq business selling lunch to local businesses. The lunch menu will consists of pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches, ribs and a few other items that I came up with.
My plan is to cook the meat at night, pull it off the smokers in the morning, and make my deliveries by lunchtime.
This sounds like a good plan in my head, but I also have so many questions that I need answered, and I was hoping those that are in a similar position can assist me.
My main question is, is this legal? Can I sell food out of my house (NY)? Do I need any special licenses, permits, insurance, etc?
And let's say that I get all of the requirements that I need, will this be lucrative? My math tells me that I need to clear at least $1k a week.
I was thinking about creating a menu, making 1,000 copies of it and hand-delivering a menu to 1,000 businesses in my neighborhood. While delivering the menu's, I would get their business fax number and send out a daily fax to each business to remind them of my presence and include daily specials.
My next questions are, how do I fax 1,000 businesses a day? Am I asking for trouble sending out that many faxes a day? I plan on doing this all myself, so I want to make sure I can handle the volume.
In addition to faxing the daily menu's, I was going to try to build a stronger presence by advertising on facebook and twitter.
Like I said, the idea sounds good to me, but is it feasible?
OK, brethren... give it to me straight.

landarc
02-16-2011, 08:15 PM
I can't help you with all of that, but, as a former business owner, junk faxes hacked me off no end. Using up my toner and paper, as well as time, no good. I made it a point to my employees that responding to that marketing hurt the company.

On the other hand, I did keep menus of delivery and nearby sandwich shops and as long as they were aware that I was a business.

I like the idea, but, the Health Department is your first stop. Cooking at home is a problem for many places.

HandsomeSwede
02-16-2011, 08:56 PM
You can double check with your county health department but my guess is your concept isn't legal. Basically, in NY you cannot use your home kitchen commercially, period.

Not to say you couldn't work out of your home, you just need a completely seperate kitchen with all the normal HD requirements: 3 bay stainless steel sink, hand washing station, NSF approved cold holding, etc. You can get the specifics from your county HD. Some are worse than others but there is a set of minimums across the state.

All that food would then need to be cooled in the proper manner, again, there is an approved HD method; and then held at the appropriate temp overnight and again reheated in the HD approved manner.

If someone suggests the "hey, I'm just a personal chef" route; nope. At least in NY, it doesn't exist. Not in any of the counties I operate in anyway.

From a fax standpoint, I work for a doc management company and we sell specific applications to intercept those sort of things electronically and delete them so a customer never sees them.

The only way I found to make my situation profitable was to become mobile. If I'm short on my profits for a week I can set up outside the local bars in the college town on Friday and Saturday nights. However, that basically means an HD approved kitchen on wheels. Especially difficult and pricey with BBQ in the case of the counties I have dealth in that: 1. HD guys seem to be wary of a BBQ menu. I don't know if it has to do with the explosion of guys jumping into it or what. If you wanted to sell hots and hamburgers you could start tomorrow with the cash in your pocket. 2. Fire codes. After you talk to HD, talk to the local FD to find out about any hang ups over smokers. Don't know what you plan on using for gear.

Then there's the gear ...

They don't make it easy in NY.

PCDoctor_1979
02-16-2011, 08:56 PM
Assuming that you can get past all of the legal hurdles, fax is probably not the best marketing tool at your disposal. Social media is the current trend and where a lot of the younger consumers turn for information. Add to that, a website and good mailing list management software (Constant Contact, for example) will come in handy as well. Passing out menus to other locally owned business personally is a great touch since most local businesses want to support each other. Best of luck to you.

RICK Allen
02-16-2011, 08:57 PM
Major problem and the legal people, rightly so will rip you a new one, if you want to do this, check withyour HD and Local Gov cause these guys paid their dues, and rightly will be poed, you cannnot, for very long expect to collect with out joining society and their rules

Bbq Bubba
02-16-2011, 09:10 PM
You mentioned you didn't want to take a pay cut and hope to clear $1000?

You are looking to get into the wrong business. :)

DevineSwine
02-16-2011, 09:17 PM
From owning a few businesses,Lets say all this works and you do hand out a 1000 fliers all over the city (10mile radius) and you get 167 orders all for lunch (11:35-12:45) how are you one man going to deliver all of these? Just remember success has its demons and you must be prepared for them.

Anchors Smokeshop
02-16-2011, 09:21 PM
From owning a few businesses,Lets say all this works and you do hand out a 1000 fliers all over the city (10mile radius) and you get 167 orders all for lunch (11:35-12:45) how are you one man going to deliver all of these? Just remember success has its demons and you must be prepared for them.

Good question!

jbrink01
02-16-2011, 09:36 PM
We cater our @sses off. We ARE the best BBQ in our area. We DO earn repeat catering business. We roadside vend 26 days a year. After equipment and facility costs we DON'T clear $1,000 a week. We sell over double that number, but keep far less. Restaurant averages are 10% or less net margin. We do beat 10%, but IF you clear 30%, you'll need to sell $3300 a week. At an $8 average sale you'll need over 400 customers a week.

landarc
02-16-2011, 09:39 PM
From owning a few businesses,Lets say all this works and you do hand out a 1000 fliers all over the city (10mile radius) and you get 167 orders all for lunch (11:35-12:45) how are you one man going to deliver all of these? Just remember success has its demons and you must be prepared for them.
My view on this DS, is that I will always take the issues of success over failure in business. It is important to know how much you can deliver and to cut it off when it gets there. But, having run businesses for over 25 years, I will always take the issues of turning away work than having none. :becky:

DevineSwine
02-16-2011, 09:52 PM
My view on this DS, is that I will always take the issues of success over failure in business. It is important to know how much you can deliver and to cut it off when it gets there. But, having run businesses for over 25 years, I will always take the issues of turning away work than having none. :becky:
And i agree with you 100% and that's why i said you have to be prepared. I myself was in the service sector for car dealerships we did very well but with success comes a lot more responsibility people always think about how great it is to have a striving business and it is especially ifs it your start up. Its your child to watch to nurture and grow it to the monster you it want it to evolve into. My only point was if he plans to be a one man band he is the chef the short order ,delivery,accountant and 15 other hats that we all have to wear when your in business for yourself. All it takes is a couple botched up meals because your overloaded and look out.

RICK Allen
02-16-2011, 10:07 PM
So true but, but one has to wear all those hats as a small business person, because we need to know, where every penny is going,if one trusts some one else, and you should trust no one, to take care of your money then you shouldn't attempt it

jbrodgers
02-17-2011, 06:38 AM
IF you are hoping to clear 1K per week, that is great... BUT... be prepared to also take in nothing, or very little, the market can be a fickle lady. I have not personnally started my vending/catering as of YET, but I am prepared (or at least will be) for the short cash flows.
How will you pay your notes when you cant put anything in your pockets? If you have a minimum income requirement... can you adjust it? Change of lifesyle? Can you live below your means?
There will be times of feast and times of famine, are you ready?
PLEASE dont think I am trying to discourage you for your plans/goals, but that is one of the many aspects that need to be considered. I wish you the very best of luck and fortune.

As far as the fax thing goes... I would think that a personal visit to the business by you, would be a much better approach. It tell the other business owners/employees, that you take pride in what you do, and that you have a personal interest in advertising your services... cold/unsolicited faxes are just that...cold, and often end up in the trash. Unless... the bus/indiv "opts in" to get your fax, but you will only determine that by seeing somone face to face. Facebook and twitter, seem to be the media choices for mostly the "younger generations", but how will you market to the older generations that dont do alot of computer stuff (or at least the FB/Twit stuff)
Just thinkin...
JR

philw
02-17-2011, 07:31 AM
good luck with your venture,there is some great info on this thread.
i do belive in following a dream.
but read these post and consider is this what you want .
be carefull what we wish for / you might get your wish

J_Don
02-17-2011, 09:54 AM
I'm glad I opened this post as I too have been considering a catering business and most of my friends that have done this in the past have been trying to talk me out of it. Lots of work, headaches and unforseen problems that the unknowing are probably not aware of as some of you have pointed out. I am now doing more research and starting a full blown business plan so that hopefully when completed I will know if I have a viable business or not. Thanks to all of the Brethren for all of the excellent input. You have definitely shed a lot of great input into the thread. :thumb:

jbrodgers
02-17-2011, 10:14 AM
Take a look at the other thread I started titled "Roadside sales???" there were alot of similar pros and cons mentioned there as well

JR

jbrodgers
02-17-2011, 10:19 AM
After everything Iv'e learned from alot of these folks here (forum wide) I could compile or write a book on how, what, what not to do in starting a BBQ joint (mobile or brick and mortar)...
Maybe that will be my second million $$$... I gave up on my first...:rolleyes:

J_Don
02-17-2011, 10:37 AM
Take a look at the other thread I started titled "Roadside sales???" there were alot of similar pros and cons mentioned there as well

JR
Just finished reading that thread and you're right, there was a considerable amount of information. I'm already lucky enough to have friends that are successful business owners that have seen me in action and really like my Que that they are willing to help back my venture if I actually decide to pursue this venture.

Anchors Smokeshop
02-17-2011, 02:42 PM
Thank you to all who responded. A lot of my questions were answered and I now have more concerns.
I guess my best bet would be to write a business plan and calculate all of my costs and expenses and see if I can make this work.
Thanks again!

RICK Allen
02-17-2011, 05:08 PM
As hesitant as I was before in the previous threads, still means, only one thing, you can study it to death have many a sleepless night, or just grab ones cajones and go forward, and learn from experience!! Thats what we did, and in the end it is :decision:you alone that will make the decision, and if you fail then it is no ones fault but your own