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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Old 05-30-2014, 07:48 PM   #1
HBMTN
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Anyone have any experience using a business consultant firm? If so what are the costs and was it worth it? I'm a self educated man, no college etc. I have worked in an industry that I'm sick of for 25 years. 5 years ago I made the decision to open a barbecue catering business thinking I would only do 5-10 event a year. It has grown considerably and to the point that I am out growing my trailer set up along with the need to hire a staff of 1 to 2 people that will probably grow to full time positions pretty fast if growth continues on it;s current path.

It's a scary thought to walk away from my job and have to support myself with a staff and possibly a commercial kitchen somewhere or maybe even small restaurant of take out. I'd like someone with a good education that knows business to take a look at my business, debt, and growth and give me an educated no BS assessment of what I should do. I love the BBQ business and that is where I want to go but if it is not practical from a an educated point of view then I think ultimately I may be looking to replace both my full time job and catering business with a better paying different career/job though I don't know what.

Basically I want out of my 25 year career and the BBQ business is growing rapidly 4 years now . The BBQ has outgrown my current set up and I need employees and and a larger scale set up and with out the larger set up the BBQ business will not support my family on it's own but neither will my other job anymore due to industry changes and economy (and I hate it) and I can not continue both of them for more than another year two at best, they are just wearing me out. I should also add that I make more in the BBQ than I do the other career.
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Old 05-30-2014, 07:56 PM   #2
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I can probably help with your calculations and such (just PM me), however make sure that you really want to do dedicate yourself. I see you don't like what you do now, but you may end up hating the commitment the food business requires.
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Old 05-30-2014, 08:32 PM   #3
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Congrats on your sucess!
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Old 05-30-2014, 08:34 PM   #4
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HBMTN, I hear ya. I have been in the IT industry for almost 25 years now and I have about had enough. My partners and I are seriously considering making our "hobby" BBQ business a full time venture as well.

My suggestion would be to find a good business/tax accountant (if you don't already have one). A good accountant can look over your business plan and your current setup with a fine tooth comb and give guidance on how to proceed. We have found a local accountant that has a lot of restaurant owners as clients and he has been able to assist us with our plan going forward.

I agree with FatCoyote. Be very sure that a BBQ biz is what you want. It can be very expensive to "get in" and then find out a few years later it isn't what you thought it would be.

One thing any consultant/accountant will (or at least should) tell you is that you need at least 2 years worth of living expenses on hand when you start out. You can't assume that the business will turn much, if any, profit for the the first couple of years. Along with this amount you will also need Capital equal or greater to the amount necessary for additional equipment, physical plant (B&M, trailer,etc), labor costs for the first 2-3 months, supply account down payments, etc.

If you do choose to go the professional business consultant be aware that what you usually get there is over paying for what an accountant could do for you.

You may want to check out this site.
https://www.elance.com/
I used a couple of the freelance consultants, for due diligence and advice, when researching a Self Storage business venture I was considering a few years ago.
Use "restaurant consultant" as your search term.
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Old 05-30-2014, 09:55 PM   #5
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All good advice thanks. FatCoyote When I slow down on Sunday I'll PM you. Bizznessman I do have a great accountant but here is where I'm at, I know that I don't fit the proper guidelines that would be perfect in what would be wanted if someone were thinking about taking on a new venture. Without getting too tied up on exact dollar figures I'll try to give an example of where I'm at. The 25 year career pays me a straight commission only income with no guarantees at all. I work it 40 hours per week unless I am catering and then I take those days off from the "main job" to cater. I spent every night of the week doing something for my BBQ business and another 30 plus hours Friday night through Monday morning. The take home pay from my day job is currently (for two years) about 15% less than the income I have made in barbecue. I could quit the day job now and vend two days per week in addition the what I am doing already and easily equal what I am making at the 40 hour per week job. I work for family so that is the only reason I am still in the day job.

If I quit the day job replacing my current income is no problem but it doesn't fix the fact that I've outgrown my set up. I don't have the 2 years income or even a bank load of reserves. If I don't do something I will have to start turning down big money work and many events. I can't see that being good for any business to start turning things away. Without being able to grow I would be stuck in a position that at best I would make enough to pay my families cost of living only. It makes me sick that I am in this position. I feel like I am going to fail from being too successful and that just doesn't make sense.
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Old 05-30-2014, 10:56 PM   #6
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I disagree with the accountant being your primary source for business counseling and review. They understand numbers, but, not the risks, legal ramifications and nature of business in the same way as someone that has done it.

My suggestion would be to first go to the Small Business Administration or similar agency, and find a mentor. Most have people who have been in business and who will offer sector appropriate advice. This is where you can start to understand in more detail what you might not be looking at.

Then develop a detailed business plan, and the SBA can guide you to books and websites that will help you really develop a detailed business plan that considers all of the issues surrounding a small business. There is a lot more than just what you make, what it costs and if you can sell it. If you are going to have staff, then you will also want to consider all of the legal issues that come with hiring, managing and terminating employees. You will want an empoyee manual and to develop an understanding of what the financial obligations will be. Also, really look at suppliers, equipment, locations, cost for kitchen space, soft costs etc...when I started my business, which was my career for 15 years before I started, I had a business plan, it was close to 30 pages long, including marketing, sales projections, employee resources, personal resources and financing and business strategy. I had it reviewed by an accountant, a lawyer and two independent professional mentors before I decided to buy in and become an owner.

Running a small business is about a lot more than numbers.
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Old 06-01-2014, 02:20 PM   #7
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I agree with Landarc, Accountants do not always have the skill set a start up or emerging growth business needs. My wife worked for many years as a consultant and turnaround specialist. Some consultants can be worse than an ex-wife and bleed you dry.
I think I recall a National BBQ group that provides assistance in mentoring, starting and growing a BBQ business just don't recall where exactly.
Regardless use someone with a successful food service background and good luck.
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Old 06-01-2014, 07:12 PM   #8
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I agree with landarc and pahutchens regarding not using an accountant as your primary/only source of business advice. I should have elaborated a bit and explained my thought process a bit better.

My suggestion to consult an accountant first was based on initial capital expense control. If you already have one you will not have to pay out extra monies for an opinion. An accountant should be able to lay out the costs of starting your business. This will give you an idea of what you need in start up capital. We went this route initially so that we won't have to pay a consultant on top of our accountant.

As both landarc and pahutchens suggest a Mentor is your best source for assistance. The mentor can supply information on the operations, marketing, etc aspects of starting/growing your business. A mentor is usually motivated by a desire to see you succeed rather than fatten their own pocketbook. Some do not even charge a fee for their service. Those that do tend to be much less expensive than a consultant.

My suggestion to stay away from consultants is only based on my own personal experience and may not be valid for everyone. It has been my experience that consultants tend to be more concerned with billable hours than providing real advice. YMMV It has been my experience that a consultant is best used when an established business needs specialize assistance in an area that they are either unfamiliar with or feel that they do not have the time to research themselves.

I didn't mean to mislead.
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Old 06-01-2014, 07:16 PM   #9
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This is a site you may want to check.

http://www.score.org
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