View Full Version : If you could do it all over would you?

12-06-2009, 06:35 AM
For those that do catering if you could start over would you keep the BBQing as a hobby or would you start a catering business again?

12-06-2009, 10:49 AM
Knowing what I know now, I would have done a lot more preplanning. I have a business where I have to go out and cook at the customer’s site. This is a pain when doing something like a church wedding in the rain. Sitting out in the parking lot with tents and a smoker for 15 hours is not fun. Doing business without proper equipment and storage space is a real mess. I did buy a 16 enclosed trailer to haul all the equipment around in, but the Health Department will not allow me to prep food inside of it. I have to set up all of my cooking stuff up in tents outside. If I was to do it again, I would defiantly get a Health Department approved trailer (I am working on that now) for cooking and prep work. They are a real time saver and a warm and dry place for you to cook.
I have a rented storage shed to keep the equipment in because I do not have a garage. It is extra stress on your family also. I love catering, but my wife hates it and my kids and other family only help out for the money. It is fun work, but that is how you have to look at it, work ....It's a JOB. Don't think that it will be an easy way to make a few bucks. In fact, for the first little while, you will pay out a lot more than you will bring in. There is an old saying "The best way to make a little money in BBQ, is to start with a lot of money!" I did not make a profit my first year at all. The cost of doing business the legal way is high. Business license $100, Health Department permit, $225, Insurance, $250, storage shed $60 month, basics just to set up in tents to cook will run at least $1000.
All this is just to "start" selling. I see a lot of guys just selling out of their backyards with no license or insurance. You have to ask yourself, is it worth losing your house and everything you own if you serve bad BBQ and get sued? It’s always best to go the legal way.

Don't get me wrong. Catering can be a very fun business, but you will have to treat it like a business and not a hobby. It's a lot of work, but it beats digging ditches!
There is a lot of good reading on this site about starting up a catering business.
Search it out and good luck if you want to try and do it.
There are a lot of helpful folks here that can help guide you through it.
Yes, I would do it again.

Hope this helps,

big brother smoke
12-06-2009, 04:08 PM
Start over differently, but I would do it again!

Bbq Bubba
12-06-2009, 05:14 PM
Absolutely! Wouldn't change a thing!

(Except move out by Steph where the rich caterers are). :)

JD McGee
12-06-2009, 08:05 PM
I'm still workin' on doin' it right the first time...:lol::lol::lol:...so far it's a very exciting pain in the arse...:twisted:

C Rocke
12-06-2009, 08:42 PM
Absolutely! Wouldn't change a thing!

(Except move out by Steph where the rich caterers are). :)

I think I need to move a little closer to Steph...

12-06-2009, 08:43 PM
would not change a thing, and would do it all over again in a second.

Jacked UP BBQ
12-06-2009, 10:09 PM
A lot of work but has been rewarding. Wouldn't change a thing

12-07-2009, 01:39 AM
Since I just got into it (September 09) I would have to say that my only regret was waiting to do it. Everyday is new and a learning experience, and I have met some totally awesome people (especially on this board!!!)...

12-07-2009, 10:53 AM
I have to agree 100% with tmcmaster!

12-07-2009, 03:19 PM
Great question! I have been cooking out of my backyard for people for about 8 months now and I have had smooth cooks and nightmares. This past weekend I did a party with the customer calling the day before the event asking for appetizers at the last minute. Of course I said "no problem". Big mistake on my part. It snowed 4 inches, my helper couldn't make it, had to run all over looking for stuff, my wife who works all week and had planned to decorate for Christmas Saturday ended up having to help me. It went right to the wire with the time. Then the customer calls as I am leaving asking me to pick something up for her. No help loading everything. As I left the house I told my wife I was going to sell every blanking smoker I owned and she would not even get me to grill a burger again. Delivered everything, came home and collapsed. I missed all the college football games I had planned to watch as well. I woke up Sunday morning, fired up the Spicewine and put a couple racks of ribs in with a couple of Cornish hens and relaxed. Today I went to pick up everything and collect a check and she had included a tip for $250.00! I love cooking but it can be a pain. I plan to get legal over the winter. A trailer would be nice but the budget doesn't allow it yet.

12-07-2009, 04:10 PM
armor your answer is part of the reason that I ask the question. It is sort of like speaking to someone after running a marathon (I could never do that but this is what I hear). During it it is a ton of work however once over they want ot do it again and again.

12-07-2009, 08:47 PM
I can relate to Armor's story. There are some days where I'm cussin' up a storm and wondering why I put myself through all that work. (Chef Irvine's got nothing on me when things are going badly) But then the smiles on people's faces and all the compliments plus the cash make it all worthwhile.

12-07-2009, 10:22 PM
Do It Over Again ... Would Change in Starting Earlier in Life as 50 the Farking wheels head for the ditch ;-)

12-12-2009, 06:39 PM
I wouldn't change a thing at all. Like someone else said I wished I did it sooner so I would be further along. Having my own business before this helped a lot. I think the business end is the hardest part and not what I would call "fun" time but is part of the deal.

12-13-2009, 10:12 PM
Here's what I've learned.

You must plan every job. When your gonna buy food - when you're gonna cook it.
I always cook a day ahead. Sometimes 2 days.
Get a signed agreement!!! And 50% up front - even of it's a friend or neighbor. It's just good business.
Don't be afraid to say no if they want to ad something at the last miniute.
Cooking on site can be fun and looks cool. It can sometimes lead to additional business. But, I don't do it. It's a hassle and not worth the time. As far as additional business? Make incredible Q and people will find you!
I set up a calendar for each job. I have help comitted. If you want an example of one of my calendars, email me and I'll send it.
Always get paid, before you unload anything. Or upon drop off!
Remember - marketing/sales is job #1!

Frank Eriksen

12-15-2009, 12:48 PM
I'm with the majority. I wish I could have done it sooner but that would mean that the Brethren would have had to start sooner because I learned to Que right here.

12-21-2009, 09:13 PM
Wish I had done nothing different.

12-26-2009, 10:59 PM
Did 6 years of catering and absolutly loved it. Then decided to open a Q Resturant and got burned out in about 6 months, ran it for a few more months then the wife said its me or the resturant so closed it up. Didn't want to see another pork butt ever again after that.
6 months later I was catering again on a very limited basis. Still enjoy the catering and thinking about doing more of it, and if done right you can make some realy good money. Although, I did my first comp this year and now I am thinking about doing more of them.