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View Full Version : Vending v. Catering. What's different?


txschutte
04-12-2008, 09:50 PM
I have picked up a vending gig for July 4-5. I have been talking to the event organiser for about 5 mos. concerning his event. I t will be an "Americana" Show. Chainsaw wood carvers, quilters, black powder demos, and bluegrass music. I will be the only BBq vendor on site. The event is expected to draw 500-1000 people per day.

I have very little (none) vending experience, but am hoping my experience with catering can carry me through.
Out of expected turn out#'s. What % of those can I plan to provide food for? With catering I always know how many I'm feeding. This is a big risk. But, I'm hoping for great rewards.

Any help is appreciated.

Plowboy
04-12-2008, 10:01 PM
Think McDonalds. Get them a sandwich and get them on their way. Have enough help and have a process.

C Rocke
04-12-2008, 10:47 PM
Shane - Sending you a pm

we'll smoke u
04-12-2008, 10:48 PM
Think McDonalds. Get them a sandwich and get them on their way. Have enough help and have a process.

What Todd said Shane. As for how much there are a lot of variables like weather, other BBQ guy's, how many vendors and Location. These are something to look at.

midnight
04-13-2008, 12:51 AM
I started doing vendor jobs before I ever did catering. My formula for figuring how many I will feed works very well for me, in my area, but every place is different. I take the number of people estimated to attened and figure 25% of the total wont eat at all. Then take the number of people left and devide it by the number of vendors selling food ( don't include the ones that just do popcorn, icecream, smoothies, etc.) That will give me a realy close estimate on how many people I will feed. Only problem with this method is if nobody knows aprox. how many people are going to attend. (ie: 2000 people -25% = 1500 devided by 4 (assuming there are 4 other vendors) = 375 people that will probably eat at your booth.)
Of course there are alot of other factors that could make the numbers go up or down; weather, location, day of the week, alot of older or younger people, etc. I have found that if I am the only BBQ vendor I tend to do more business than the other food vendors so I would adjust up for that. If your the main food vendor and all the others are the snack food type, then I would plan on almost the full 1500 people.

I always priced my food in even dollar amounts so I didn't have to mess with loose change, and I always had a "combo meal" on the menu ( even if you don't save money by getting the combo meal - people just like the ease of ordering it)
And make sure you are charging the right amount $$$$. You can always get better prices at events like that.

Make sure you have 3 wash buckets and a hand wash area (you never know when the health dept. will show up.)

Bring some folding chairs so you have a place to sit and I hope you have some people helping you so everyone gets a break. Standing all day in a food booth will wear you out fast. Bring extra ice and $1 bills you will need them.

I almost like doing the vendor booths better than catering beacuse I know what to expect, and I am not dealing with just one person who is paying the bill. I got alot of catering jobs from doing my vendor booths too.

Good luck, and remember to have fun !

Dr_KY
04-13-2008, 05:11 AM
Midnight hit it all right on the button. In fact I'm going to bookmark this page.

scottyd
04-13-2008, 08:34 AM
That is very good information from midnight. He is spot on and does this kind of thing more than most. Alot of fairs and arts in the park events charge pretty good price for there booth sites. Make sure you set your price to help cover this too. now Shane you might not have a booth price on your deal but most places do. Just keep this in mind. I was looking at doing a vending deal at River Boat Days in Yankton SD booth price is $400.00 per 20 x 20 space I would need 2 of these to get my trailer in. Thats $800.00 to make up before you do anything else. this one has way to many venders for me to make this work. it might but not willing to take the risk.

txschutte
04-13-2008, 11:19 AM
I am very fortunate in falling into this. The event organizer wants strictly BBQ because it ties in with the theme of his show. There is only one other BBQ company within the region, and the organizer wasn't impressed with the way they do things. He heard of my food by sheer word of mouth and offered me the spot free of charge. He is providing water and electricity for me.

I am planning many PP sammies being sold, and maybe smoked turkey legs. Things that can be easily eaten while walking. I plan to do a couple of briskets and some spares just for the few that may want a meal. I will have to do sodas and botled water as I will be the only one allowed to vend for the whole 2 days. Do I contact the local Coke distributor or Pepsi distributor to get a low price bid on X number of drinks?

On Edit: This is a no alcohol event, so I will have to plan for many, many sodas, water and the like.

BBQ Grail
04-13-2008, 11:21 AM
The local distributer might sell to you. Here you wouldn't be big enough for them to bother with. Got a Sams or Costco?

txschutte
04-13-2008, 11:26 AM
The local distributer might sell to you. Here you wouldn't be big enough for them to bother with. Got a Sams or Costco?
We do have a Sam's, and that is where we may get most of our supplies. Problem is, the soda prices at Sam's here are about the same as local groceries. Drinks are going to be the hardest to figure. While I don't want to go home with 20 cases of sodas, I don't want to run short. That could cause a riot.

jgh1204
04-13-2008, 11:27 AM
Txschutte, the price from the distributor is usually not all that great. You can get drinks cheaper at Sam's. The advantage is that the distributor(IF they will even sell to you) will take back unbroken cases, Sam's may not. Plus the distributor will deliver.

Be sure you can even sell drinks. The festival I used to run, we(the festival) had the exclusive on all drink sales.

jgh1204
04-13-2008, 11:28 AM
Grocery stores sell cokes at or below cost as a loss leader to get people in the door.

Last year, our price for coke product from the distributor was $15/case for 20oz drinks.

txschutte
04-13-2008, 11:29 AM
The only other food vendor on site will be selling sweet goodies. (Funnel cakes, apples, popcorn, cotton candy, and the likes.)

Bigmista
04-13-2008, 12:13 PM
I am planning many PP sammies being sold, and maybe smoked turkey legs. Things that can be easily eaten while walking. I plan to do a couple of briskets and some spares just for the few that may want a meal.

Sausages are also good sellers. And nothing is wrong with a brisket sammie, sliced or chopped. Don't put it on your menu as brisket though. You'd be surprised how many people don't know what it is. List it as sliced or chopped BBQ beef. You'll sell more.

ThomEmery
04-13-2008, 01:22 PM
We did 1,000 at the wife's school last night
Freakin Hot Dogs were flying out of there with the kids
great profit margin for the school
I did it for free
But once Mom and Dad smelled the Pulled Pork
and the smoke from the Klose
"can I change my order?"
Did a 25 pound Beef Shoulder also
Just wanted to try it
That we will do more of
Better shrinkage factor than Briskey

midnight
04-13-2008, 02:49 PM
I always hate to do soda in cans or bottles, so I stick with bottled water and lemonade. I buy the lemonade powder from my restaurant supplier. I mix it up in a 5 gal plastic water jug (the kind you can refill ) and I pour it in a 10gal igloo water cooler (like they use at football games.) I have one cooler with ice to be used only in the drink cups, and I use a 16 oz plastic cup. I charge $1 for their choice of drink. My cost for both ( including cups and ice for lemonade) only runs about $. 30 so I make a good margin, and on hot days I sell a ton of water.

txschutte
04-13-2008, 03:55 PM
I always hate to do soda in cans or bottles, so I stick with bottled water and lemonade. I buy the lemonade powder from my restaurant supplier. I mix it up in a 5 gal plastic water jug (the kind you can refill ) and I pour it in a 10gal igloo water cooler (like they use at football games.) I have one cooler with ice to be used only in the drink cups, and I use a 16 oz plastic cup. I charge $1 for their choice of drink. My cost for both ( including cups and ice for lemonade) only runs about $. 30 so I make a good margin, and on hot days I sell a ton of water.
Lemonade is a great idea! I know pre-mixed soft drinks are always a great margin for profit, ut not everybody will want lemonade or water.

midnight
04-13-2008, 07:13 PM
Lemonade is a great idea! I know pre-mixed soft drinks are always a great margin for profit, ut not everybody will want lemonade or water.

Usually there is someone else doing soda pop, so if someone wants to they can get it at another booth. I would say 95% of the people who stop at my booth buy a water or lemonade. Only question I get is, "is the lemonade fresh squeezed?". I tell them no and most of the time they still get it or they will take a water.
The times I have done cans of pop I limited it to just a few choices. People would always ask why I don't have their favorite flavor (can't stock all of them) or I would run out of one and people would complain that I should have bought more of that flavor even though I still had a bunch of another flavor sitting there.

ThomEmery
04-13-2008, 09:16 PM
Iced Tea has a similar mark up
You could do Arnold Palmers then also

txschutte
04-13-2008, 09:19 PM
Iced Tea has a similar mark up
You could do Arnold Palmers then also
OK, I''l bite. Whats an "Arnold Palmer"?

chinesebob
04-13-2008, 10:10 PM
Sausages are also good sellers. And nothing is wrong with a brisket sammie, sliced or chopped. Don't put it on your menu as brisket though. You'd be surprised how many people don't know what it is. List it as sliced or chopped BBQ beef. You'll sell more.

Truer words could not be spoken.

Iced Tea has a similar mark up
You could do Arnold Palmers then also

This is the way to go. Choices are always best

OK, I''l bite. Whats an "Arnold Palmer"?

Not a golf fan are you. Half Lemonade and Half Iced Tea.

Midnight hit it on the head. Check with your local health board - get the skinny on what's acceptable for hand washing station. They let us use wipes. Three deep tupperware containers qualified for the washing station. If you want to keep it simple, the bottled water is a great simple - alternative to messing with the others.

You can also try something we came up - Meat in a cup. Serving is about the same as a sandwich. I charge a little less for that.

Depending on turnout and traffic we get those little cups and put out samples.

Sauces I kept it simple - Cattlemen's mustard and cattleman's traditional. Put them in yellow and red bottles.

Keep us posted. I think vending is easier than catering. It's just meat.

ThomEmery
04-13-2008, 11:06 PM
Palmers are hugly popular here in So Cal
I dont play Golf myself

txschutte
04-13-2008, 11:18 PM
I play golf. Never heard of the drink. Hell, the cart here doesn't even have Shiner!!