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Vindii
09-09-2013, 02:12 PM
What percentage of teams do you think can cover their costs for a season? Top 10%? more? Less? Even just at break even. What do you think?

I know how well you finish is a big factor. Are there other things that help? Picking the right contests to compete in? Number of event you cook?

Scottie
09-09-2013, 02:15 PM
How much cost you have going in to it. A major point is the prize fund. I've cooked contests this year where 1st place was $1k. Also have cooked at a contest that first place was $150.... Quite a few teams can cover expenses and not just the top teams....

ckelly
09-09-2013, 02:50 PM
Events where sampling is permitted and the event shares the revenue generated from sales of sample tickets is a nice way to offset costs. Doesn't help for the whole season but does lighten up the cost of individual events by selling off your leftover meats after turn in.

rooftop bbq
09-09-2013, 03:04 PM
we've been fortunate enought to break even last year and might end up a little ahead this year. Lots of factors go into it, We keep costs down to a minimum, contests that are over 3 hours away we dont take our trailer, We've also got it down to cook 1 brisket, 2 pork butts 16 chicken thighs and 3-4 racks of ribs (this has worked for us,but probably not everyone). When we choose a contest it had to be at least 10,000 in prize money, less then that and GC might not even make their cost back. Entry fee to prize payout is a big decision maker on which comps we do. We've also gotten really selective at which contests we vend at (this is a big one) we used to sell at every competition, some we would make money some we would lose money, but all of them hurt our scores. We now vend at 1-2 events that we know we can make a good chunck of money.

Podge
09-09-2013, 03:28 PM
I've been in the black since 2006.. but barely. I don't do many contests either per year.

big brother smoke
09-09-2013, 03:51 PM
Due to my creature comforts, I spend a little more than most would doing this comp thing solo. However, I stay close to even and if I finish the season less than $5000 in hole, I am extremely happy.

Ron_L
09-09-2013, 03:57 PM
We've broken even or come out ahead in two of our 5 years competing. Overall we're in the hole. I think there are very few who break even or come out ahead consistently. Some will have a great year and make some money, but then the next year will be in the hole again.

Scottie
09-09-2013, 04:08 PM
I really think more teams finish in the black than you think... and I am not talking about the teams that do 35+ contests a year. I travel a ton, cook less than 15 per season and I would make money if I didn't kick it back to my foundation for cancer research. Even if I didn't count sponsors for fas et IL, I would still probably be on the black. It can be done, you have to be consistent and you need to hot a few/couple big payers over $2-3k...

Pappy Q
09-09-2013, 05:00 PM
I've been in the black since 2006.. but barely. I don't do many contests either per year.

I assume you're not counting the cost of the Podge MaHal :biggrin1:

Podge
09-09-2013, 05:51 PM
I assume you're not counting the cost of the Podge MaHal :biggrin1:

Nope, because the little lady picked out the Podge Mahal !!!

Big Poppa
09-09-2013, 06:01 PM
Actually Scottie I disagree...At King of the Smoker I asked at the cooks meeting (the only one Ive been to) How many of the twenty four were cash flow positive...4 raised their hands....one had one pitmasters the other had a couple of big sponsors...2 out of 22 I think its possible but I dont think many do

DUBBAGA
09-09-2013, 06:31 PM
Actually Scottie I disagree...At King of the Smoker I asked at the cooks meeting (the only one Ive been to) How many of the twenty four were cash flow positive...4 raised their hands....one had one pitmasters the other had a couple of big sponsors...2 out of 22 I think its possible but I dont think many do

But at your event you had the "cream of the crop" of competition bbq teams. I would guess that these are the teams that focus more on awards than PC results, use high end product, and might cook 3-4 wagyu briskets simply to get the best 6 slices for the box. This makes it likely that they are not profitable from a competition cost vs award payout comparison. However, these are likely the same teams that ARE profitable with their competition classes, endorsements, product lines, etc - and they might simply consider the actual competitions as marketing opportunities

Big Poppa
09-09-2013, 07:49 PM
not really....but I love to hear that all of you break even!

BBQ_Mayor
09-09-2013, 08:28 PM
If it wasnt for vending and catering bbq, we would not be in the black. Those things are what pays for our "fun" doing the comps. Most the teams I know pay for comps on there own and if they don't win anything their just out that money. Some do have a few sponsors to help for a few items...meats, rubs, sauces..gas for the trip..ect...
We have have been very fortune and worked hard to get good sponsors and save our money from catering and vending to pay for our season. And we do get some winnings to bring that account up to the black, but it's tough going up against those BPS elite teams in Iowa every contest..:sad:

Ackman
09-09-2013, 08:32 PM
Well--I think it hard for me to figure that even a small % are profitable. OK..only done about five contests and I am in the Northeast where meat is more expensive--without buying the high end meats it costs me close to $400 , toss in $250 entry--have not thrown in the other ie costs to get there and back..I don't get much change from $1000. If you enter 10 contests a season you are into it for 10k..what % of the teams out there can say they cash on average 1k per contest?

Hey--I am just trying to be honest with myself as I am get involved with this :shocked:

TheJackal
09-09-2013, 08:43 PM
But at your event you had the "cream of the crop" of competition bbq teams. I would guess that these are the teams that focus more on awards than PC results, use high end product, and might cook 3-4 wagyu briskets simply to get the best 6 slices for the box. This makes it likely that they are not profitable from a competition cost vs award payout comparison. However, these are likely the same teams that ARE profitable with their competition classes, endorsements, product lines, etc - and they might simply consider the actual competitions as marketing opportunities

Really? I don't buy it. They all have sponsors out the wazoo. At $500 to $700 (or more!) a comp in expenses (NOT including capital costs) no way there are many teams breaking even.

We have no sponsors. I AM LOOKING FOR SPONSORS. We've done ok the past few years. Last year, 8 comps, 1 GC and averaged 2 calls (checks) a comp. Best season ever and still $2K in the hole. $2K!

This year we are doing MUCH better overall but no GC or RGC yet (3rd ,4th, 4th, 5th, 8th, 10th). So we've got our share of walks and checks. I know we are in the hole. Add expenses for the Royal and I expect to be in the red for over $2K this year.

Covering expenses for most teams is a fantasy. This is a hobby for most and will cost $$ for most just like your friend or relative who plays golf every weekend.

TheJackal
09-09-2013, 08:49 PM
Well--I think it hard for me to figure that even a small % are profitable. OK..only done about five contests and I am in the Northeast where meat is more expensive--without buying the high end meats it costs me close to $400 , toss in $250 entry--have not thrown in the other ie costs to get there and back..I don't get much change from $1000. If you enter 10 contests a season you are into it for 10k..what % of the teams out there can say they cash on average 1k per contest?

Hey--I am just trying to be honest with myself as I am get involved with this :shocked:

Ackman- wrote my response before I saw yours. You are right on. We cashed $100 for our 4th place finish this weekend. That didn't cover paper towels, gas, charcoal, and beer.

MattG
09-09-2013, 08:53 PM
If it wasnt for vending and catering bbq, we would not be in the black. Those things are what pays for our "fun" doing the comps. Most the teams I know pay for comps on there own and if they don't win anything their just out that money. Some do have a few sponsors to help for a few items...meats, rubs, sauces..gas for the trip..ect...
We have have been very fortune and worked hard to get good sponsors and save our money from catering and vending to pay for our season. And we do get some winnings to bring that account up to the black, but it's tough going up against those BPS elite teams in Iowa every contest..:sad:

We're in the same boat. I vend most of the competitions that we compete in. It helps us out greatly and gets our name out there a little more. But vending comps can be a gamble too. If it rains its going to be a bad weekend. But vending has kept us ahead of the game so I'm thankful to be able to do all of it together. Its Not easy! :biggrin1: :tsk: :biggrin1:

Scottie
09-09-2013, 10:03 PM
Actually Scottie I disagree...At King of the Smoker I asked at the cooks meeting (the only one Ive been to) How many of the twenty four were cash flow positive...4 raised their hands....one had one pitmasters the other had a couple of big sponsors...2 out of 22 I think its possible but I dont think many do



Hell yeah they have a lost money. You know how much gas it cost those guys to drive to Indio?

I don't believe that they are losing though. If they are, its only because they cook so many contests.. and chasing TOY points at the end of the year kills teams cost side...

Big Poppa
09-09-2013, 10:53 PM
thats all part of the season....

Biged92
09-10-2013, 12:41 AM
This was our first year of competing, and we expected to be in the red at the end of the year. We limited ourselves to 4 contests so we could get a feeling of what it would cost us per event. After our 4th event we found that for local events (3 hours or less in distance), we could do a comp for about $900. This would include entrance fee, Comp meat(2 briskets, 4 butts, 6 racks of spares, and 18 thighs), fuel, and supplies. If we wanted to do PC, it cost us an extra $200 for the extra meat and serving supplies. But even with the PC, we were still in the red this year. For us this is a hobby, so it's really not a money making venture. Next year our goal is to up the number of events to 10, but even if we participated in PC we'll be lucky to to break even.

CivilWarBBQ
09-10-2013, 02:42 AM
Catering and vending doesn't count, that is no different than working at your day job to finance the team.

I think a lot of teams don't remember to include the cost of their fuel, lodging, cook rig, RV, wear and tear on the tow vehicle, etc. in their calculations. Especially when this is considered, I would guess only around 20% of teams have positive cash flow, and maybe half of those can keep it going multiple years in a row. Obviously sponsors make it easier, but at the end of the day it's a hobby for most of us, and hobbies are expensive.

New thought - if KCBS has somewhere over 2,000 active cook teams competing, that would mean 400 teams are making money by my above estimate. My gut tells me the real number is WAY less than that, so now I'm thinking the percentage of money making teams must be something in the single digits.

DawgPhan
09-10-2013, 07:29 AM
Catering and vending doesn't count, that is no different than working at your day job to finance the team.

I think a lot of teams don't remember to include the cost of their fuel, lodging, cook rig, RV, wear and tear on the tow vehicle, etc. in their calculations. Especially when this is considered, I would guess only around 20% of teams have positive cash flow, and maybe half of those can keep it going multiple years in a row. Obviously sponsors make it easier, but at the end of the day it's a hobby for most of us, and hobbies are expensive.

New thought - if KCBS has somewhere over 2,000 active cook teams competing, that would mean 400 teams are making money by my above estimate. My gut tells me the real number is WAY less than that, so now I'm thinking the percentage of money making teams must be something in the single digits.


Dont remember the exact percentage, but when talking positive cash flow you have to be talking about teams cooking 5 or more contests per year. Anything less and it is just going to be really tough to make it work.

So really there are only a couple 100 teams that can reasonable be managing their cash flow.

Of course we have set the bar much lower and are happy with the great sponsors that we have and having entry fees paid from winnings. The only way this works are big calls though. Top 3 in a category and top 2 overall. Unless the organizer is smart and good looking enough to pay top 5-10 overall as well.

DawgPhan
09-10-2013, 07:39 AM
Here is my advice though if you want to manage the money side.

Create a spreadsheet that tracks the cost of everything you need for a competition. It will serve as a checklist for packing/shopping and track your expenses.

Find 2-3 other guys that really want to cook bbq. That way it isnt all coming out of your pocket.

Get really good at cooking bbq.

Dont get involved in the BBQ arms race.

kenthanson
09-10-2013, 08:38 AM
We are real lucky where I live to have 3 contests within a two hour drive of my house, with one being about a ten minute drive. A lot of teams that compete in the same three contests drive 4-6 hours to come compete with us, so the limiting of travel helps us keeps costs down.

We get our meats at cost from our local butcher shop, free charcoal from the local Weber store, don't use power at comps all save us money. $150 entry fees, $150 in meat, $100 extras=$400 minimum each contest, in three contests we walked away with $0, $275, $250. $1200 total minimum for three with $525 back in our pockets= $675 in the red divided by three guys, so it costed me $275 out of my pocket to compete in three contests.:shocked::shocked::shocked:

EMTTLC
09-10-2013, 09:00 AM
I started playing in comps back in 04 and have never been in the black. 2012 was our best year with $6600 in prize money, and we were still in the red around $4000. I look at it as an expensive hobby. I have a number of friends who drop that much or more a year playing golf or boating.

TooSaucedToPork
09-10-2013, 09:46 AM
With 10,000 BBQ teams out there, 10% in the black is a little high IMHO.

I would say probably 4-5% of teams are black or green. We always are in the red. Is it the $13,000 we spend every year at Memphis in May...yeah it is. But this sport isn't supposed to be about money. It is about fame and glory. It is about bragging rights. It is about the brother and sisterhoods cemented over beers on Friday night. It is about the cheer you get on your first walk. It is about trophies with little plastic pigs on top, and those elusive GC trophies made out of all different kinds of cool chit.

This sport is a money pit. We brave time, weather, burns, bugs, and booze. We chase glory every weekend, hoping our name is called last...that is worth its weight in gold!

Neil

DUBBAGA
09-10-2013, 09:58 AM
Catering and vending doesn't count, that is no different than working at your day job to finance the team.

How does it not count? Their catering/vending/etc is typically a direct result of their performance at competitions, otherwise, they wouldn't be lugging around their trophies and awards to show how good they are. Maybe that argument would work if Rod Gray was using his competition success into building a name as a building contractor, but no, he is doing classes and selling product. Those wouldn't be taking place without his competition results.

.... having said that, I agree that a large majority of the teams are operating at a loss as it is a hobby. But I do not believe that is the case for most of the teams who competed at the King of the Smoker when you count all of their combined revenue sources (bbq related) on an annual basis

RLTXBBQ
09-10-2013, 10:44 AM
With 10,000 BBQ teams out there, 10% in the black is a little high IMHO.

I would say probably 4-5% of teams are black or green. We always are in the red. Is it the $13,000 we spend every year at Memphis in May...yeah it is. But this sport isn't supposed to be about money. It is about fame and glory. It is about bragging rights. It is about trophies with little plastic pigs on top, and those elusive GC trophies made out of all different kinds of cool chit.

This sport is a money pit. We brave time, weather, burns, bugs, and booze. We chase glory every weekend, hoping our name is called last...that is worth its weight in gold!

Neil

Someone finally pointed out it is what it is.

Hawg Father of Seoul
09-10-2013, 11:07 AM
How does it not count? Their catering/vending/etc is typically a direct result of their performance at competitions, otherwise, they wouldn't be lugging around their trophies and awards to show how good they are. Maybe that argument would work if Rod Gray was using his competition success into building a name as a building contractor, but no, he is doing classes and selling product. Those wouldn't be taking place without his competition results.

.... having said that, I agree that a large majority of the teams are operating at a loss as it is a hobby. But I do not believe that is the case for most of the teams who competed at the King of the Smoker when you count all of their combined revenue sources (bbq related) on an annual basis

Because that is work.

TheJackal
09-10-2013, 11:14 AM
It is about trophies with little plastic pigs on top,
Neil

Including our brisket trophy we got this weekend! That's the secret to winning, guys. Cook pig briskets.

gettinbasted
09-10-2013, 11:49 AM
Competition bbq is about making new friends on friday night and then beating them on Saturday. If you are doing it to make money, you will only be disappointed.

Someone mentioned this earlier, but I think it is a great point, I will spend the money somewhere. If I wasn't out cooking I would be golfing, going to a ball game, or out boating.

DUBBAGA
09-10-2013, 11:55 AM
Because that is work.

Agreed, there is a lot of work involved in those ventures. But my point is that work wouldn't be possible without the competitions. So although there might be a net loss doing competitions, it is likely more than covered by the profits with the other ventures. It is no different than Pepsi paying for Super Bowl commercials... the commercials cost money, but they do it to get a net return in sales.

Maybe it would be better to use Harry Soo from Slap Yo Daddy as an example. He has a day job as an IT Mgr for a major company. There is no connection between his 9-5 job and his "hobby", he will not get paid more because he won a GC the previous Saturday. He does offer BBQ classes and has products for sale, but that is a secondary venture. How many of the teams invited by Big Poppa Smokers really consider competition bbq as a hobby, or is it their OCCUPATION? If it is the later, then they are most likely operating in the black (or recently won the Powerball and are independently wealthy)

Scottie
09-10-2013, 12:57 PM
thats all part of the season....



So in reality, if they want to make more, they need to cook less. Or hit it big at the end of year TOY... Maybe BPS needs to pay more in sponsorship? :-P


I sure can't argue though. I don't talk finances with folks. None of my business. I can only worry about mine.

TooSaucedToPork
09-10-2013, 12:58 PM
Teams go into the black and green with sponsors, vending, classes, products, and of course winnings. They are all related.

The lucky few teams that have made a name for themselves winning, have then gotten sponsored, then could make more appearances at contests, and this leads to classes.

Then you have teams that vend, they make money vending, they supplement or even make profit going to contests...

Then you get the lucky guys that win the royal, or jack, or Memphis in may, and sponsors are way easier to get.

There are a bunch of ways to make money and pay for stuff in BBQ...counting on winnings ain't one of em.

Candy Sue
09-10-2013, 02:23 PM
I am 2 weekends away from my 10th anniversary doing this thing we do.

Contest winnings go back into the contest pot for me. I have no sponsors, unless you count broken pellet bags. At one time, my co-owners (of BBQr's Delight) offered to pay the contest bills. I refused the offer, mainly because I want this to be my efforts and I didn't want the distraction of accounting for company funds. And I didn't want my winnings to go back to the company. This is my deal, if there isn't money to cook, I don't. For me it's a hobby. Company benefits from my marketing presence at events and there's a small tax benefit from certain expenditures.

I've been barely in the black one year out of 10 (then I got on the board and that's a whole nuther tale). I am very proud of that $40 actually. Cooked 17 contests that year. From 10 to 20 is about normal for me to cook. I have been told by much better (results wise) cooks that I should cook more. I can't disagree with that statement. Practice improves performance. Every time.

AZScott
09-10-2013, 02:39 PM
I'd be in the black if I didn't dump all my winnings back into new equipment. I think the top teams aren't in the black because it's dumb to do so for tax purposes and barbecue toys are freaking cool. It only takes two top calls at most contests to leave with money, throw in a RGC or GC and your next comp or two are paid for. I know in the SW that when you decide to chase points and do 20+ contests out here your travel costs go through the roof. I'd actually expect teams that travel a lot to lose more than the guys that do 5-10 comps and do well.

CivilWarBBQ
09-10-2013, 03:46 PM
Agreed, there is a lot of work involved in those ventures... He does offer BBQ classes and has products for sale, but that is a secondary venture.

I'll grant that classes may be considered part of competition funding, at least to the extent that attendees are paying purely for knowledge transfer and not for food.

If you're selling any sort of physical product where there is substantial COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) then the fact that you are a comp cook is simply an endorsement. You're still putting in a separate investment in time and money to bring the product to market. Being a successful competitor may make it easier to sell the product, but it does not affect what it takes to create, produce, market and deliver that product in any significant way.

What I'm trying to express is that all the ways people expend their energy to fund a BBQ team outside of cooking competitions are essentially equal. It doesn't matter if you are working as dentist or as a caterer, selling tshirts on Ebay or BBQ sauce at festivals. In all these cases you are doing something above and beyond just cooking comps to raise funds for your team.

Sponsorships are different. There you are ostensibly doing nothing more that cooking comps and being paid to "wear the sponsor's hat" a la NASCAR. Of course the bigger the sponsorship, the more demands tend to come with it, but that is a whole different topic...