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View Full Version : $$$$ Question from New vendor


Sparkman
07-11-2013, 07:06 PM
I'm brand new to vending and have no idea what to charge. I did do a July 4th event(my 1st) and had pulled pork, chicken, and rib plates. Plates included the meat, chips, beans, and a drink. Prices were as follows:
Pork Sandwich=$3
Pork=$6
Chicken=$6
Ribs=$10

I didn't cook many ribs and chicken and sold out of them. I had about 30# of pork left that I vacuum sealed and froze. Not bad since the fireworks got rained out and I was the only vendor that showed up. Anyway, I cooked it all "semi" competition style which as you all know is more work and cost. I think I sold it all too cheap but it may have been worth it to get my name out there.
I would love to hear from some of you seasoned veterans. I'll take any tips or criticism you can give me on any subject on vending at events and festivals. Thanks in advanced for the help!

cpw
07-11-2013, 07:18 PM
The usual rule of thumb is food cost x 3. That being said, $3 bucks for a sandwich seems way too cheap, especially for a vending environment.

HBMTN
07-11-2013, 10:19 PM
Yes cost x 3 gets you in the ball park, sandwich should be at least in the $4-$5 range. I'd be loosing money selling ribs at $10 I get $23 for a full rack.

landarc
07-11-2013, 10:33 PM
Definitely prices are too low, cost times 3 is the best way to go.

I always question whether getting your name out there, by offering foods well below cost is a good strategy, as when you raise your prices, then people will judge more harshly.

Fooskey
07-11-2013, 10:56 PM
How do you guys handle event fees when pricing food? I am finding it difficult to justify adding in the entire fee into the food prices in some cases. For instance, I have two events on the schedule that collect 30% of the gross, one that charges $250 for a three hour sales window, and another that charges $1,000 for the weekend.

landarc
07-11-2013, 11:09 PM
You have to add it into the food. Of course, that means you have to have enough experience to know about how much you will sell. I take the amount, add it into food cost.

Thus if I have $1500 of food cost, I add in the $250 and then add on 30% and now you know why food costs so much at most festivals and shows. Makes a $6 sandwich into a $10 sandwich

BigBellyBBQ
07-12-2013, 02:58 AM
7 for a pulled pork...8 for brisket...combo w/ side 10
ribs 13 / 23

Bbq Bubba
07-12-2013, 05:09 PM
How do you guys handle event fees when pricing food? I am finding it difficult to justify adding in the entire fee into the food prices in some cases. For instance, I have two events on the schedule that collect 30% of the gross, one that charges $250 for a three hour sales window, and another that charges $1,000 for the weekend.

Say what???

If your lucky to keep your food cost at say 30%. That means out of every dollar you sell you keep $.70. Now your going to give them $.30 out of your .70 and have a profit of $.40. THEN you have to pay for materials.....

See where im going with this?

TailGateJoecom
07-12-2013, 05:29 PM
I'm brand new to vending and have no idea what to charge. I did do a July 4th event(my 1st) and had pulled pork, chicken, and rib plates. Plates included the meat, chips, beans, and a drink. Prices were as follows:
Pork Sandwich=$3
Pork=$6
Chicken=$6
Ribs=$10

I didn't cook many ribs and chicken and sold out of them. I had about 30# of pork left that I vacuum sealed and froze. Not bad since the fireworks got rained out and I was the only vendor that showed up. Anyway, I cooked it all "semi" competition style which as you all know is more work and cost. I think I sold it all too cheap but it may have been worth it to get my name out there.
I would love to hear from some of you seasoned veterans. I'll take any tips or criticism you can give me on any subject on vending at events and festivals. Thanks in advanced for the help!

If you get your name out for serving cheap que, that is what you will be known as and those are the customers you will attract. Google around for all the retailers who thought offering a groupon deal would get them more exposure and the type of customers these deals actually brought.

I want to be known for awesome food, great service, and a fun atmosphere. I use the best stuff, and take great pride in what I do, and my attitude shines through to my members who agree.

Just my opinion, and I am sure there are some guys out there who do well being the cheap guy working on huge volume.

TailGateJoecom
07-12-2013, 05:31 PM
Say what???

If your lucky to keep your food cost at say 30%. That means out of every dollar you sell you keep $.70. Now your going to give them $.30 out of your .70 and have a profit of $.40. THEN you have to pay for materials.....

See where im going with this?

Yup, the numbers don't lie, you have to break it down on paper in black and white.

Fooskey
07-12-2013, 06:18 PM
Say what???

If your lucky to keep your food cost at say 30%. That means out of every dollar you sell you keep $.70. Now your going to give them $.30 out of your .70 and have a profit of $.40. THEN you have to pay for materials.....

See where im going with this?

I do, and that is the dilemma. Simply stacking the event fee on top can drive prices up too high. I think the fact that some of those provide tremendous volume needs to be a consideration.

Then again, I am just a newbie trying to figure it all out. :razz:

C Rocke
07-12-2013, 07:00 PM
I do, and that is the dilemma. Simply stacking the event fee on top can drive prices up too high. I think the fact that some of those provide tremendous volume needs to be a consideration.

Then again, I am just a newbie trying to figure it all out. :razz:


LOl... Most all of the Gourmet trucks here rarely do an event that charges more than 10% of Gross Sales (Less Sales Tax). Too many events, too much hype, and the promoter needs to share the risk. We stay away from set fee events, or one where folks have to buy tickets to purchase food (Charity type events). We focus on certain types of events where the crowd will eat BBQ - Music, beer, etc, etc. We try not to "price up" more than 10% for these events to avoid sticker shock.

Fooskey
07-12-2013, 09:03 PM
LOl... Most all of the Gourmet trucks here rarely do an event that charges more than 10% of Gross Sales (Less Sales Tax). Too many events, too much hype, and the promoter needs to share the risk. We stay away from set fee events, or one where folks have to buy tickets to purchase food (Charity type events). We focus on certain types of events where the crowd will eat BBQ - Music, beer, etc, etc. We try not to "price up" more than 10% for these events to avoid sticker shock.

I would love to be in position to pass up some, but I am just starting out. Right now, if something can net me at least $500 for the day after I pay for materials and the help, I do it. I need the experience and the exposure, and didn't have anything better to do, so I did a 30% event back in May.

I am just a zero trying to becoming a one. :p

HBMTN
07-12-2013, 09:04 PM
I'd walk away from any event charging those kind of fees. I personally won't do any events where the event wants to take a percentage of my sales. Others here may do it and say it is worth it but to me if someone wants a percentage of my sales they can take that equally in the cost/risk and night duties on our cook site.

I am small time compared to many but $100-$200 per day would be the max I would pay and it would have to be great to exceed that.

BigBellyBBQ
07-13-2013, 02:56 AM
I'd walk away from any event charging those kind of fees. I personally won't do any events where the event wants to take a percentage of my sales. Others here may do it and say it is worth it but to me if someone wants a percentage of my sales they can take that equally in the cost/risk and night duties on our cook site.

I am small time compared to many but $100-$200 per day would be the max I would pay and it would have to be great to exceed that.
If you had a one day event, which netted 8,000 (that includes sales tax) you would only give 200 to the event? They would not be able to have another event....

HBMTN
07-13-2013, 07:57 AM
Like I said I am small time, my trailer is only 7x16ft I have vended at what I believe is our full output capacity meaning we were putting food out the door as fast as we could and we only grossed $2400 for an event from 11am to 4pm. The most I have ever grossed for a 3 day event is $5000.

But to answer your question if I did an event and grossed $8000 and the next years they wanted $500-$600 yes I would pay it but if they wanted 30% no I would not. The only way I could pay the 30% is to jack the price and I am not one to charge $8 for a sammie or $4 for a bottle of water like many have to do at these events.

But there again I do not vend festivals much, only 3 to 4 per year and all are local.

BigBellyBBQ
07-14-2013, 12:17 AM
Never do an event wanting above 20% in my opinion, but it is a 2 way street..but I look more to do private parties as I rather make the 500 and have them take the left overs vrs me speculating on a big payday then having to refrigerate the left overs..also I change my pricing to reflect the area, what the event will support

Sparkman
07-14-2013, 07:15 PM
OK, I did my little "block party" Saturday. I cooked 16 racks of baby backs, 50 1/4 chickens, and two 14# briskets. I happy to report that I sold completely out of everything. I did brisket and rib plates for $10, and chicken plates for $8. Plates included chips, beans, and a drink. I also sold brisket sandwiches for $4. I made a little money but definitely not worth all the work. There were only about 600-700 people at the whole festival. Good experience though. I'm going to do a couple more small ones until I get my routine somewhat down pat. Thanks for all the comments. Keep em coming. I'll soak up as much as I can. At least until I get rich or go broke:)

Fooskey
07-14-2013, 08:45 PM
How many other vendors were there and how close to closing did you sell out?

marubozo
07-14-2013, 11:32 PM
I made a little money but definitely not worth all the work.

That's the key right there. And this is what so many people miss, especially early on. Everyone wants to cover food costs, and other direct and indirect costs, but paying for your time is often an oversight.

Think about it. Say you made 150 bucks, net of all direct costs, at the end of the day. What's that really worth if all the advance prep time, shopping time, travel time, cooking time, cleaning time, packing up time, took 15 hours in total? Is busting your ass for 10 bucks an hour worth it? If you made even less, or spent even more time on the gig, is doing all of that for practically minimum wage worth it?

The answer is obviously different for everyone, but you need to factor in the idea of paying yourself as well rather than just relying on any cash in the till at the end of the event is good enough.

Even small gigs. Is it worth it to bust your butt for an entire Saturday just to make 50 bucks instead of spending the afternoon fishing, golfing, or taking your kids to the zoo?

Part of your pricing structure should include what you want to pay yourself for your time. Your time isn't worthless, and even though it's a ton of fun to cook BBQ and feed people who end up with smiles on their faces after eating your food, it isn't a charity event. You need to make sure you're making enough money to pay for your sacrifice of time so that you can continue to enjoy it and not just get stuck in a rut of doing it for the sake of doing it.

Just my very honest two cents.

PanamaExpat
07-15-2013, 09:21 AM
I have been self employed all of my life and the part about PAYING YOURSELF is very important. If you are not doing it for the money then why waste your time.

Sparkman
07-16-2013, 07:05 PM
There were several vendors there. Most selling roasted corn, cotton candy, and other snack food. There was one other vendor selling hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, and pork sandwiches. The event started at 11. I sold my first sandwich at 11:30. I sold out at 6:10 and the event was scheduled to be over at 9 pm.

Sparkman
07-16-2013, 07:11 PM
That's the key right there. And this is what so many people miss, especially early on. Everyone wants to cover food costs, and other direct and indirect costs, but paying for your time is often an oversight.

Think about it. Say you made 150 bucks, net of all direct costs, at the end of the day. What's that really worth if all the advance prep time, shopping time, travel time, cooking time, cleaning time, packing up time, took 15 hours in total? Is busting your ass for 10 bucks an hour worth it? If you made even less, or spent even more time on the gig, is doing all of that for practically minimum wage worth it?

The answer is obviously different for everyone, but you need to factor in the idea of paying yourself as well rather than just relying on any cash in the till at the end of the event is good enough.

Even small gigs. Is it worth it to bust your butt for an entire Saturday just to make 50 bucks instead of spending the afternoon fishing, golfing, or taking your kids to the zoo?

Part of your pricing structure should include what you want to pay yourself for your time. Your time isn't worthless, and even though it's a ton of fun to cook BBQ and feed people who end up with smiles on their faces after eating your food, it isn't a charity event. You need to make sure you're making enough money to pay for your sacrifice of time so that you can continue to enjoy it and not just get stuck in a rut of doing it for the sake of doing it.

Just my very honest two cents.


You're exactly right. I am trying to do it for the money and my time away from my family is worth more than small bucks for cooking bbq. I do enjoy it, but for me, if I cant make at least a grand for a one day event, I'm out. Two day events would have to be significantly more. I think it can be done. I just have to learn how to pick the right events. I'm going to assume that formula is big crowds with minimal vendors. Thanks for your .02 cents.

Sparkman
07-16-2013, 07:18 PM
If you get your name out for serving cheap que, that is what you will be known as and those are the customers you will attract. Google around for all the retailers who thought offering a groupon deal would get them more exposure and the type of customers these deals actually brought.

I want to be known for awesome food, great service, and a fun atmosphere. I use the best stuff, and take great pride in what I do, and my attitude shines through to my members who agree.

Just my opinion, and I am sure there are some guys out there who do well being the cheap guy working on huge volume.

Thanks for the info. I took your advice and raised prices. I've had 3 people call wanting me to cater events since I did my first 2 vending deals. I told them all that if they are looking for run of the mill BBQ at a low price, I'm not the guy you need. If you want the best BBQ you've ever eaten and you don't care to pay for the best, then we can talk. Not exactly in those words but they got my drift. Thanks again for the insight.

TailGateJoecom
07-16-2013, 09:52 PM
Thanks for the info. I took your advice and raised prices. I've had 3 people call wanting me to cater events since I did my first 2 vending deals. I told them all that if they are looking for run of the mill BBQ at a low price, I'm not the guy you need. If you want the best BBQ you've ever eaten and you don't care to pay for the best, then we can talk. Not exactly in those words but they got my drift. Thanks again for the insight.

Cool. Next thing you need to do is work on your online presentation. I do web design/consultation, check out my site. I try and put up some enticing photos of my stuff. Heck, look at the writeup I did for the burger we serve, you can see what I mean by giving your food the appearance of being special. I have video clips where we actually pulled random people at my party and asked them to say a few words about TGJ and they gave great testimonials. You want to give the perception of quality, something special. Nobody wants to serve cheap or average food to their friends or family.

Hope it all works out for you!!

Sparkman
07-22-2013, 03:11 PM
Cool. Next thing you need to do is work on your online presentation. I do web design/consultation, check out my site. I try and put up some enticing photos of my stuff. Heck, look at the writeup I did for the burger we serve, you can see what I mean by giving your food the appearance of being special. I have video clips where we actually pulled random people at my party and asked them to say a few words about TGJ and they gave great testimonials. You want to give the perception of quality, something special. Nobody wants to serve cheap or average food to their friends or family.

Hope it all works out for you!!


I will definitely check out your site. I just don't know if I'm ready for the web thing yet. I gotta figure out what I'm doing first. I've only done 2 small festivals and I'm already getting more requests than I ever expected. Not many people around here have had competition style BBQ. It's just all commodity bbq at the local restaraunts. Evidently word is getting around that I'm serving great food. Which is good, but I need to do some more studying on what is the best way for me to make money doing this. Maybe I need a catering and vending consultant. Is there such a thing. I've agreed to do 2 catering jobs already (meat only). But people are already asking about catering more parties and reunions. Just cooking the meat ain't gonna fly for everybody. The people who are telling me to jump in with both feet have no idea what it takes to put great bbq on the table. And I'm not gonna do it for a $3-400 profit. Anyway, thanks again for the advice. Gonna go finish my cost analysis and see where I am.

bmontg2
08-10-2013, 01:10 PM
You guys have great insight and I am taking it all in as I am doing a very small but first event this evening

"Bone to Bark" BBQ
08-10-2013, 08:40 PM
You guys have great insight and I am taking it all in as I am doing a very small but first event this evening
Let us know how that goes!

Countryboyswagger
08-13-2013, 02:19 PM
If you don't mind, what kind of smoker do you use? I imagine you have to do all the cooking/prepping on site so I'm kinda just looking for what kind of cooker capacity and setup you might have. I'm also from GA (middle) and have been wanting to get into a couple of the small festivals around the house here.

poorolddan
08-16-2013, 10:14 PM
Maybe $8,000 single day events are readily available in NY. In the midwest they are rare for most venders. We shoot more for a couple grand gross and hope we clear $500 to $750. Based on these numbers $200 is plenty for a promoter. We are there to supplement their event not to headline it.