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View Full Version : Trying to get into the BBQ business/competitions


smokin-aces
12-16-2012, 02:09 PM
Hey, I've been smoking since about May or so and I have been able to smoke meat well enough that I think I am ready to start selling and competing with it.

Does anyone have any advice on how to start up a small BBQ business? I have about 1000 business cards with my "business" name on it, but are there any tips from ya'll?

Also how would I get into competing with my smoker(s)? Other than being invited. Thank ya'll! Happy smokin'!

P.S what are some good prices for meat? I have mine set at $10 + the cost of meat.

sweetheatbbq
12-16-2012, 02:21 PM
Probably want to look into licensing and getting insurance if you are wanting to sell it.

wjwheeler
12-16-2012, 02:43 PM
Don't quit your day job.
Go to your local health department and check with them on their requirements for catering or vending. Tennessee has some "different" views on this than other states. In addition you will need to get a business license. You also may want to talk with your CPA and an attorney. It ain't simple any more.
As far as competiton, go to kcbs.us and check out the events. There are a lot more in North GA than Tennessee. We have one here in Cleveland the last weekend in July
Good luck on your venture. Small business is the backbone of America. I hope you do well!

jbrink01
12-16-2012, 05:59 PM
What these guys ^^^^ said. We're in the business of BBQ and it's expensive to do it right and long hours. Be sure you want to commit yourself. Go cook a few contests first. Give some meat to HONEST critics (not your buddies). Get legal. After some local taste testing, I started with a $6250.00 pit, spent a few hundred on permits, $800 on insurance, $1000 on my first meat bill for a 2 day event and we we're off and running.

82's BBQ
12-16-2012, 06:36 PM
Look for a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) they were a ton of help for me. They're free and have a ton of advice/knowledge.

bruno994
12-17-2012, 11:38 AM
X2 to what jbrink01 stated, go cook some comps first and see how you finish, maybe even judge a few contests. Get some real feedback from the general public by possibly vending at some small local festivals, farmers markets, etc. I love cooking for friends and family, but I know they are probably not giving me the hard truth sometimes. Best of luck to you.

CivilWarBBQ
12-17-2012, 02:27 PM
Contests are a lousy way to spend your money if you are trying to launch a business.

Focus your time and resources on the fundamentals instead.

Sawdustguy
12-17-2012, 06:02 PM
If I were in your shoes I would formulate a business plan and take it to your local SBA office. They have local business owners who volunteer their time to help people successfully start a business. If you decide to take advantage of this free service, the first thing they will ask you for is a business plan. They will also be able to guide you in the areas of honing your business plan, financing, permits and licensing, government grants or incentives, marketing, accounting and bookeeping etc. Before you invest a dime, formulate a business plan and review it with a representative from the SBA.

que_dawg
12-18-2012, 06:59 AM
If I were in your shoes I would formulate a business plan and take it to your local SBA office. They have local business owners who volunteer their time to help people successfully start a business. If you decide to take advantage of this free service, the first thing they will ask you for is a business plan. They will also be able to guide you in the areas of honing your business plan, financing, permits and licensing, government grants or incentives, marketing, accounting and bookeeping etc. Before you invest a dime, formulate a business plan and review it with a representative from the SBA.

That ^^^^ is a solid plan right there.

chad
12-18-2012, 07:20 AM
And always remember Yoda's words "Do or do not! There is no Try!" If you keep thinking "I'll try..." you'll never start. Do a few competitions first...catering/vending is a whole different bag of worms...and don't put yourself in a bunch of credit card debt to start...that is a black hole.

Lake Dogs
12-18-2012, 07:20 AM
What they ALL said above. If I could elaborate on what CivilWarBBQ said above: Very few if any vendors make a name for themselves in competitions. Mind you, some competitors hone their cooking skills in competitions, but profitable businesses a competition DOES NOT make. Competitions, frankly, are a hobby. Most of us lose money on them. On a good year I've made a few dollars more than I spend, but that was a helluva good year. We compete because we LOVE the competition, and we
LOVE BBQ.

I highly recommend the SBA route. They should also be able to help with things like
licensing, health departments, zoning, etc.

CivilWarBBQ
12-18-2012, 03:41 PM
If you want to have some fun I'd second the motion on getting in to competition, but only if you have some extra money to spend. If you can't afford to blow a grand on a weekend for no return then stay home or stick to backyard events. Comp BBQ is gambling, and the first rule of gambling is don't play if you can't afford to lose.

Then again if you need a place to unload that inheritance from your late great aunt Sophie, you can purchase an existing operation. I know several people currently wedded to a BBQ business that would be more than happy to sell out and get their lives back. ;)

wjwheeler
12-18-2012, 06:26 PM
My final words.... get with your local Chamber of Commerce about a small business incubator program or other startup business help group. Forget the Small Business Administration. I have no kind words to say about the blood suckers. They are another branch of the government that is a total waste of the tax payers money. That's all I have to say about that.

smokin-aces
12-18-2012, 08:10 PM
As far as the business side goes, I think I just want to sell enough that on the weekends I can make some extra cash. I definitely don't plan on making a living out of it.

However, I would like to get into some competitions every now and then. I don't have the kind of cash that I could afford to lose a ton of money, but I would like to compete to see how my BBQ stacks up against the rest. Maybe just to perfect my skill and process.

Are there competitions that are free to cheap entry fees and do not require invitation to compete?

Coz
12-18-2012, 08:22 PM
As far as the business side goes, I think I just want to sell enough that on the weekends I can make some extra cash. I definitely don't plan on making a living out of it.

However, I would like to get into some competitions every now and then. I don't have the kind of cash that I could afford to lose a ton of money, but I would like to compete to see how my BBQ stacks up against the rest. Maybe just to perfect my skill and process.

Are there competitions that are free to cheap entry fees and do not require invitation to compete?

As far as free to cheap not a lot. Most KCBS contests are open to any .

wjwheeler
12-18-2012, 08:29 PM
Most of the events are open for anyone to enter in the KCBS listings unless it states that it is an invitational. I don't know of any that are free. If you've never cooked in an event, start cooking in backyard events. The entry fee is less (of course the prize money is usually less). The pro entry fee may be $250 - $300 and the backyard $25 - $75. Our Cleveland TN event has Pro and Backyard events as well as a KCBS Judge's class. The backyard entry fee is $25.
Forgive my earlier "rant".

Sawdustguy
12-18-2012, 08:35 PM
As far as the business side goes, I think I just want to sell enough that on the weekends I can make some extra cash. I definitely don't plan on making a living out of it.

However, I would like to get into some competitions every now and then. I don't have the kind of cash that I could afford to lose a ton of money, but I would like to compete to see how my BBQ stacks up against the rest. Maybe just to perfect my skill and process.

Are there competitions that are free to cheap entry fees and do not require invitation to compete?

I don't know if anyone else agrees with me or not but competition is not a place where you would want to compare what you would sell to the public to others. Competition BBQ is a little different IMHO because the favors are amped up to capture the judges attention in just one bite. I do not eat at home what I prepare during a contest. One example is that I would never use MSG at home but I do at a contest.

cynfulsmokersbbq
12-19-2012, 11:28 AM
As far as the business side goes, I think I just want to sell enough that on the weekends I can make some extra cash. I definitely don't plan on making a living out of it.

However, I would like to get into some competitions every now and then. I don't have the kind of cash that I could afford to lose a ton of money, but I would like to compete to see how my BBQ stacks up against the rest. Maybe just to perfect my skill and process.

Are there competitions that are free to cheap entry fees and do not require invitation to compete?

The entry to comps isn't always the expensive part. Buying a couple briskets, a few butt, chicken, and ribs will run you some $$$'s. Then the gas to get there, the gas to get home, food, beer, ice and whatever else. We've been at a comp, lost a tent due to wind, and had to have someone run to wal-mart and drop $100.00 on a tent. We've forgot things at home that we've had to run out and purchase. (fire extinguisher)

There are some local backyard contests that I love and that pay very well. We have five local ones during the year. For $85.00 you get the meat to cook. It isn't always traditional BBQ meat either. One of our locals gives you a ten pound sirloin, a pork loing, chicken breast, and you bring one of your own meats. Another gives you Brisket, baby backs, and bone in chicken breast, and an open category in which stuffed peppers won.
But Basically you cook it up, and then serve it out to people that have paid 5 bucks to come sample some food, drink some beer and listen to a band. The judging isn't always accurate or fair. But they can be a lot of fun. I remember one time the judges came out of the tent and roamed the grounds sampling from the cooks before they went and judged the boxes.

A few years back I entered one and got second in all categories to another team. They thought they were ready for the big time. We both entered a KCBS. They cooked just like they did in the backyard, They got D.A.L. we finished fourth. They couldn't understand it. Well on the Back Yard circuit, the judges were the same eight people each weekend, they'd gotten to know this team meat, and instead of judging for taste, texture, presentation, they began judging for that teams meats. At the KCBS competition of course there weakness showed.

Just some thoughts.

Mark