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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 02-14-2011, 12:56 PM   #46
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I think it would be hard to get any reliable information based on stats and financial figures from businesses that are in a different region. There might be someone giving figures that is in a market that bbq isn't as high in demand or "as popular", due to cultural influences. So to me the information and research needs to be relatively regional. It seems that would render more realistic anticipated results.
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Unread 02-14-2011, 01:00 PM   #47
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Nice point raco- let me explain
I can go to research firms, nat rest assn, SBA, and state specific industr guides and get general numbers of restaurants that include fast food, fast casual, white cloth etc., and some of that info is only for sale or for members only. In my attempting to keep my budget down (not neccesarily debt free), I choose to bypass some of these pay sources, and ask the folks here directly (or indirectly). You see, even though these numbers are available for a fee, they wont specifically break down BBQ into roadside stands/trialers, fairs/festivals, take-out Q, or full fleged sit down joints, or catering only. I am interested in the nubers (or average numbers) of covers (people eating @ a particular place) seen on average, by day of week, that Q vendors have experienced... this includes legal, legit, HD inspected trucks/trailers/huts, AND those not so legit/legal or inspected- its just the numbers Im lookin fer. Its not like I'm asking for trade secret, trademarked, patented, copyrighted recipes, or plannin on parking next next to them or across the street. just foot numbers/trafic.

Know all about the business...no. I'm sorry, Ididnt mean to sound arrogent... and Im STILL doin my research. I dont presume to know how many customers I will have, but I can get a fair average of PROJECTED possibilities, using various sources, and use those averages to customize my percentages to the traffic counts at my planned location, based off of city traffic counts for the intersection... THEN I will use those nubers to determine 1. Is this a good location 2. Are the projected numbers in MY favor for possible proffit?

Remeber... there is a difference in projected, assumed, actual. Projected uses collected data, assumed is just a guess, and actual comes after the projections and guessing. where your "actual" comes out could be effected by the first two. I prefer to get my pro-forma as close as I can. Even if I do not use any financial institution for funding, the data still helps me in my decission making (and that includes a business plan...I like to see/plan my goals in B/W).

Know all about THIS business??... no not all, but give it time... hee hee
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Unread 02-14-2011, 01:04 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott_nra View Post
I get it. Around here some of the Lowes home centers have a Dominics sub trailer out front. The smell off grilling peppers and onions is very attractive.

I know this, when it first started there were lines at those things all the time. After a while, the novelty kinda wore off and I don't think they do near as well as they used too. They seem to do better on weekends and now days I'm used to seeing one or two folks there at any given time and about 6-12 on weekends at any given time.

I only offer this because I am one of those nuts that seems to be in a home center at least once a week or so and notice such things. Just thought I'd toss it out to you for consideration.
I am from Richmond and I miss those little trailers. Thanks for the reminder of home!
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Unread 02-14-2011, 01:10 PM   #49
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Bama-
That makes perfectly good sence to me too... however, if I were in Sherevport rather than Lafayette, would I be your competition? Even now... If you bid a catering and I bid the same catering say, halfway between me and you... am Im still in your region, and would I still not be competition?
Therefore, I can take the numbers I greatfully receive...nation wide and come up with a fair national average, and then tweek that to area specific.

BUT... if you have a way to do that, then Im all ears.
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Unread 02-14-2011, 01:20 PM   #50
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We have been doing business in the same town in Canada, for the past 15 yrs. and in the food business for the past 27. One constantly has to reinvent them selves to try and keep business up, as for competition, I say the more the better, We were the first to bring BBq into our town now there is 4. We run a catering hot truck with our pit so we go to them. our daily sales are at 300 aday gross now when we had an economey they where a 1000, For the truck and pit it is a 130000.00 dollar investment, fuel is 100.00 aday, and then there is the fees, and maintenance on top, thank god special event time is nearing.I believe everyone here is only trying to give constructive advice, and are not worried about competition . At least once a day some one intimates what a lucrative business this must be, keeping up beat and friendly takes a lot of fortitude, with that said even if I was rich I would still do it, but then we break a few rules as, my wife is my partner and we don't have any employees, we are up at 4:30 every morning and finish at about 6;00, and are still together and civil to each other I would love to give you more figures than I already did, but with steady customers here you give credit or lose them to someone who will, the only way we have any handle on what we do is at tax time cause it flutuates so much. sorry for being long winded but like I said before if this is what you want to do.DO IT.
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Unread 02-14-2011, 01:57 PM   #51
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Thanks Rick for your candor. I hope you and your wife all the best, and pray that this economy gets better for all of us.
I dont take folks advice as destructive, rathe I DO take it constructively, and that is why I also forbare those who second guess me or my motives. Ill give anyone a chance and do my best to explain myself to them if asked appropriately, not saying that you are one of them. But if slammed I will come back hard but fair. Like said... constructive critisizm and questions are one thing, but anything else is a detraction to the thread.
Im sur efor some it IS lucritive and for others its a "by the skin of our teeth" endeavor. I have to realize that some do well, some dont... some are real and some are fakes... can I tell who's who? No. not really... so I have to take these folks here at face value, until they or someone else proves otherwise, but even the best backyarder will have some valuable advice... I guess its all how you look at it... call it the "zen of the Q"

JR
God Bless, good luck
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Unread 02-14-2011, 02:04 PM   #52
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Depending on how much "wiggle room" (financially) you have to be "off" in your numbers, will depend on whether taking "averages" from vastly different regions and then making a "fair" estimate of that average is a big risk or not. I don't know how much money these micro lenders are willing to put up. But if the financing is "tight" then your fair estimates of averages better be dang close or you could very well find yourself leveraged in debt pretty quick or having to deal with some ticked off investors.

I'm not trying to tell you what to do but if it was me. I'd first guage the demand of bbq in my area. This can be attained by looking around. Are there a lot of Q restaurants in Lafayette? If not then why not? What's the "word on the street" by the natives? Do you ever hear people saying "Man, I wish we had more bbq places to pick from 'round here." If there's no demand is your product good enough to create one? Is BBQ a part of the culture around there? There's a lot of non-financial information that in many ways may be more accurate and more reliable than taking averages of markets in totally different regions.

Living in Shreveport for 15 years I know that BBQ is big enough here that we've got numerous Q restaurants and all do very well. Now, you could look at that and say "It sounds like the market is flooded with BBQ restaurants" or you could look at it as "There's obviously a demand so how can I cut in to the demand with my business?"

I'd just be very leery of basing my numbers off of an average that consist of businesses' performance in different regions and markets, then a fair estimate of that average to get a local (which is more specific) estimate.



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Bama-
That makes perfectly good sence to me too... however, if I were in Sherevport rather than Lafayette, would I be your competition? Even now... If you bid a catering and I bid the same catering say, halfway between me and you... am Im still in your region, and would I still not be competition?
Therefore, I can take the numbers I greatfully receive...nation wide and come up with a fair national average, and then tweek that to area specific.

BUT... if you have a way to do that, then Im all ears.
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Unread 02-14-2011, 02:29 PM   #53
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Fair enough Bama, and good points all.
I do belive the market to be not overly saturated, I found many Q joints around here, but quite frankly, none have actually been to my taste (save for one).
Ill make my Q and sauce on a rig offshore several times and on several rigs, and sorta used that as some P&D research... about 90% of the folks who ate my Q said they loved it and would drive some distances to get it if I had a place to sell it... Even thought about pre-packaging it and putting it in stores... tooooo costly... nuf said on that ,,,
I once lived in a town in Missouri that had a population of 5K and had 4 places to buy pizza. Ilke you said, there was a demand for it... BBQ on the otherhand... had nowhere to get any unless you drove 35 miles away, and that was to a chain Q joint. Suddenly 2 Q joints popped up in this town of 5K, within 2-3 months... less than 6 months later... one was closed, and the other quit sellin Q and stayed a bar... go figure. I ate at both of them and neither one was very good, as well as other observations... They did try to do too much, too expensively, too fast... I learned just from those observations. The Q trailrs I did see makin $$ hand over fist were the ones who were coming IN for fairs, fete's, and festivals. A very valuable tool it was. Can give specifics on who, how and where if you PM me.
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Unread 02-14-2011, 02:43 PM   #54
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To be fair I am an accountant by trade. So I will fall on the very conservative side of any process of getting projections, estimates etc. I'll scrutinize anything.


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Fair enough Bama, and good points all.
I do belive the market to be not overly saturated, I found many Q joints around here, but quite frankly, none have actually been to my taste (save for one).
Ill make my Q and sauce on a rig offshore several times and on several rigs, and sorta used that as some P&D research... about 90% of the folks who ate my Q said they loved it and would drive some distances to get it if I had a place to sell it... Even thought about pre-packaging it and putting it in stores... tooooo costly... nuf said on that ,,,
I once lived in a town in Missouri that had a population of 5K and had 4 places to buy pizza. Ilke you said, there was a demand for it... BBQ on the otherhand... had nowhere to get any unless you drove 35 miles away, and that was to a chain Q joint. Suddenly 2 Q joints popped up in this town of 5K, within 2-3 months... less than 6 months later... one was closed, and the other quit sellin Q and stayed a bar... go figure. I ate at both of them and neither one was very good, as well as other observations... They did try to do too much, too expensively, too fast... I learned just from those observations. The Q trailrs I did see makin $$ hand over fist were the ones who were coming IN for fairs, fete's, and festivals. A very valuable tool it was. Can give specifics on who, how and where if you PM me.
JR
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Unread 02-14-2011, 03:01 PM   #55
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LOL Bama---
I guess you would then, huh? Then you could be a very valuable ally (sp?) when it comes to projections and proformas. What say I bat a few things around with you based on some of my findings and numbers... what would your fee be? Im sure you dont do this for free for just anybody.

JR
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Unread 02-14-2011, 03:04 PM   #56
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I get too much information from this site for free I wouldn't dare charge another brethren for a little help. Shoot me some figures (via PM) when you're ready and I'll look at them. No charge.

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LOL Bama---
I guess you would then, huh? Then you could be a very valuable ally (sp?) when it comes to projections and proformas. What say I bat a few things around with you based on some of my findings and numbers... what would your fee be? Im sure you dont do this for free for just anybody.

JR
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Unread 02-14-2011, 03:46 PM   #57
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I am really glad I found this thread...

I too am debating if and how I should get into the sales business, but haven't done the research yet that JR has. I am naive enough to think that good product+great people skills/customer service+high demand+location flexibility+variety of business (special event vending,catering, partnership with restaurant once a week) would ensure at least moderate success. I have a pretty good network/word of mouth base built up, and was hoping to capitalize on that.

I live in Las Vegas, and there is a definite demand for great barbecue. The food truck thing is going crazy here, but no barbecue. The local rag, The Las Vegas Weekly, when doing a big cover story/writeup on the food truck phenom, even listed barbecue as one of the types of food that is desperately needed and wanted. While I really want to have an open air/accessible setup (i.e. a big Lang, Gator, or Pitmaker rig), it seems that regardless of that, the market is here. I've just always had a vision of operating at the same level as the people, with a visually engaging setup, as opposed to being in an enclosed trailer (but that is another story).

I have no experience whatsoever in this business. I am just an avid backyard cooker, I have been a waiter for around 8 years in the same local cafe/wine bar, and I have a degree in Landscape Architecture (which I only mention because I have a certain perspective on "placemaking" and the methodology of responding to the needs and behavioral habits of people). Strangely enough, I was thinking of writing an article on using barbecue as a placemaking device, but that is another story as well.

Sorry to ramble, I don't mean to hijack, I guess I am just coming to realize that my vision of taking out a big loan to get a rig built, and all the other extras that inevitably will go along with it, might not be the best idea. There seems to be a consensus here to start small, and take it easy. It seems to be a catch 21 though, because the health department requires so many things, the menu that one might be planning will require others (i.e. two different cookers on rig for different temps and cook times, santa maria setup for doing tri tip and other stuff, burners/griddle), starting with a WSM is impossible. I have no idea what the earning potential of this business is, or what typical profit margins are.

As I am going along I realize that I am drifting away from JR's initial post. I do apologize. I will stop here and just thank everyone for what I've read so far. I might have to simplify my vision and just get a Lang 84 widebody deluxe and see where that takes me. Would still have to finance it :/

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Unread 02-14-2011, 04:22 PM   #58
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Don't mean to hijack the thread, either if I knew how to post pics I would but, If you go to Lonestar custom pits, and look at there walk on Veder pit that is me and my baby, the reason I'm saying this cause this at a Fair has me about maxed per day for cooking along side my catering truck, sad to say but think Tom is no longer in business
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Unread 02-14-2011, 05:54 PM   #59
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Thats it... Im movin to Vegas...........................................ju st kiddiing

NO problem for the hijacking(s). If its info you need, then there are MANY folks here that are more than willing to help in whatever ways they can or are able to.

Good Luck to ya
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Unread 02-14-2011, 06:42 PM   #60
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Thanks Bama... your a saint.
... even though you are an Auburn fan

geaux Tigers!!
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