View Full Version : Buying for Vending Events

11-02-2008, 02:24 AM
I need help figuring out how to calculate out how many people we will actually serve at any given event. I've read that there is a formula. I have ice carnival that is expecting around 20k people. Thanks for any help.

11-02-2008, 03:41 PM
What are you serving and what size?

11-02-2008, 05:16 PM
Are you the only vendor ? If not, how many others will be there ?

11-02-2008, 05:35 PM
From what I know there will be around a dozen food vendors for the event. I'll be serving pulled pork, brisket and chicken sammies and ribs. They have told me I will be the only BBQ vendor but a freind of mine did the event a couple of years agon and they told him the same thing and there was another BBQ vendor as well. So I'm expecting some compitition on site.

11-08-2008, 01:13 AM
Promoters always lie. Promoters also overestimate the size of the crowd. Many events collect a percentage of gross sales from food vendors. Ask the event promoters to see the figures from the previous year. Large sums of money can be made at vending events-----but large amounts can also be lost. Know your event.

Uncle B
11-14-2008, 10:12 PM
:icon_coolYou can be sure that there will be at least one or more BBQ venders besides you at any given festival, If you know anybody that has worked this festival I would be talking to them, asking about how many were there in the past years. Or ask some one at the local fire department, they should have a good idea of how many have attended in the past. Hope this helps.

11-15-2008, 06:13 PM
I think in the future I will stay away from the ribs, they are labor intensive and you can charge the same amount for brisket which requires less attention when cooking, holding etc...

Michael in PA
11-15-2008, 11:22 PM
I would plan for 400, expecting 300 providing the event is at night. I would also forget about the ribs unless you have a strong reputation; they're too hard to eat unless there is somewhere to sit down.

Questions that may impact planning:

Is that 20k in one day or over several?

Afternoon, evening or all day event?

How old is the event?

Do people have to pay to get in?

How come your friend isn't still doing the event?

What is your reputation???

A couple things to consider:

If your barbecue is good, your operation is good and you have a reputation, you will outsell most other food vendors.

You need to have a plan for properly handling extra product so that it does not become a loss or a danger.

11-16-2008, 01:36 AM
If your barbecue is good, your operation is good and you have a reputation, you will outsell most other food vendors.

I don't know that that is strictly true Michael. There are so many other factors involved, it's very difficult to say.

For example, if the crowd contains lots of kids the hotdog guy is going to do well because parents don't want to spend extra money on food that the kid may not like. On hot days the ice cream and snow cone people clean up. If the weather is cold and rainy everybody will do poorly, but anyone selling hot beverages will get at least some business. Then there is location of your site...

Even once you've worked an event a couple times, the weather, competition and makeup of the crowd can fool you. Best advice I can give is to never have more food hot than you need to keep up with demand. Nothing worse than packing up a smoker full of hot, unsold meat.

Michael in PA
11-16-2008, 10:08 PM
I don't know that that is strictly true Michael.

Well, I did qualify it with three ifs and a most, plus a whole lot of questions above.:-D At most of the events we do we are one of the top, if not the top vendor.

But your larger point that there are always a ton of variables is a very good one. Heck, our best event of the year was a total rain out this year thanks to Tropical Storm Hannah. Ruined our September.

I don't necessarily agree with the cook, chill, retherm mothod, especially for larger events. I prefer to cook what I think I will need and arrive onsite hot and be prepared to quick-chill extra product. It requires some planning, but it works very well for us. It also requires a series of opportunities to move product.

11-16-2008, 11:10 PM
Our preference may be affected by our weather. Ambient temperature for a typical on-site job here in Georgia is in the high 80s or above, so it's a lot more economical to hold cold meat than it is to cool down hot meat, unless you own an ice company anyway.

That does bring up another good point that most people starting out overlook - your profit is limited by the total of all your costs, not just the obvious ones like meat and labor. All those little items can add up fast!

PS - I hear you on rain; sure hate the weatherman. You can create and even execute the perfect plan but if come the day of an outdoor vending event the weather is lousy you're gonna lose money, period.