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Old 01-23-2005, 05:27 PM   #1
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Fatz, the way I'm workin it up is a "one price" deal to include

a) Meat- one or two kinds (1 lb uncooked or four bones)
b) Two sides (beans, baked taters, slaw, salad, smoked cheese grits, etc)
c) Dessert
d) Sauce, tableware, naps, wet-naps, buns.

I have come up with a general "cost" per person of about $6.50. This includes foil,wood, propane, and consumables.

(Hey, the food channel is in Lockhart at Kreuz's as I write this, how freaky is that!!For those of you unaware, Fatz and I were there with a bunch of Q-heads last October. Now they're at Smitty's, cool, we ate there!)

I am planning on charging a mark-up on that amount based on the number of people involved. If it is 75 or more, I'll cook on site. I won't drag Texas Hottie II to the site for 50 folks! If they choose pulled pork, I make better money. If it's brisket or ribs, I'm covered. I really am debating whether to even offer chicken. The salmonella issue makes me wary. Salmon is better in my opinion, and reasonably priced at the price clubs.(How ironic is it that I'm trying to avoid "salmon"ella by cooking "salmon?) Also, it cooks faster. Get your meat into the coolers to rest and throw the salmon filets and bakers into the pit for two hours and your golden. Teryaki and Texas BBQ Rub on a slab of salmon creates a beautiful, slightly sweet piece of heaven.
For golf outings, I'll offer sausage sandwhiches at the turn. Obviously, my mark-up will be less as the number of folks increases. "Make it up on volume as they say". The price clubs offer a myriad of desserts you can bring as a prepared item.
I'm not looking to cater more than 8-10 events a year. The idea is to have fun, make a few bucks, and have everybody love me! (Isn't that why any of us do this anyway?) Good Luck Q-brother

ps. If it really takes off and I need a helper, maybe I'll hire Greg to help out! Woodman
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Old 01-23-2005, 05:46 PM   #2
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Woodie, I don't come cheap, but, I will come!!
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Old 01-23-2005, 06:29 PM   #3
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Smoked Beef Brisket
$8.75 pp
$9.99 lb

Pulled Pork Shoulder
Sandwich buns included
$8.00 pp
$8.99 lb

Sausage - added to any main for $1.50 pp
$6.00 lb


Hey Fatz, I'm not an expert or even a player but some of the pricing doesn't add up. Take for instance brisket, $8.75 per person or $9.99 per pound. If you figure that each person will eat 1/2 pound of food, which is a high estimate, than if they order by the pound, it actually will only cost them $4.50 per person. Maybe I'm missing something but it seems like somethings wrong. Sausage on the other hand works better with my thinking. Oh and by the way, with prices like that in NY, I'd hire you once a week to cater for me!
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Old 01-23-2005, 06:54 PM   #4
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Fatz, I know I have posted it before, but my cousin's site is per person also. You could shoot him a PM...I'm sure he'd be happy to give you some tips!
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Old 01-23-2005, 08:03 PM   #5
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Hey Fatz, are you looking to make this a full time job?
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Old 01-24-2005, 03:30 PM   #6
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Thinking about all you can eat night at Pizza Hut and a local Fish N Chips joint, the BIG eaters really come out for those buffets.

On the PP pricing, I suppose you will eventually run into a Klump family that over eats and you end up losing your profits or the gig may even end up costing you. I think you should try to decide now if you can just accept it as something that will occassionally happen and a cost of doing business.

The all you can eat buffets always have ample cheap tasty fillers like spuds, rice to fill you up. Pizza Hut has bread sticks. Fish N Chips place is a served all you can eat. They bring two pieces of fish on first plate, second and subsequent plate are brought to you with one piece of fish and every plate has fries and salad. Maybe you could add potatoe salad and slaw as sides on your menu.

If you want to try and protect yourself and increase sales of side dishes maybe you could have two prices: one per person meat only, another per person with potatoes and x choices of sides. On both have some small print that limits the meat for example, to a combined max of 3/4 pound per person. Any individual can eat more but the total you would provide for 10 people would be 7.5 lb finished product. With the more expensive inclusive meal have no limit on the salads & spuds. Price it in a way that nudges the client towards the meal but isn't unreasonable for the value seekers who want to provide their own salads & such.

As a consumer (cuz I'm not a caterer) to be honest I prefer the less restrictive, no small print approach, but maybe when you are just starting out you need to limit liability and protect your business's (assumed) shallow pockets.
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Old 01-24-2005, 04:46 PM   #7
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Fatz, the good thing about starting slow is being able to experiment with your pricing without the fear of caving!

Start higher, see what business is brought in and go from there. You might make as much money doing 4-5 fewer jobs a year at a higher price than you would at a lower price and having to do more events to make up the difference, right?

If you are going to do it for $$$, a business and profit mind needs to be first...the love and joy of smoking should be a distant second!

I have seen mostly per person pricing vs. per pound. The problem you might run in to is that the chain Q joints will be able to beat you in pricing but serve an average Q...you might be more $$$ but the Q will be soooo much better...the problem then is how well can you SELL your product to the decison maker over the lower priced chain joint. If you are dealing with a bean counter...YOU'LL LOSE!

However, this again goes back to my original point. You have a full time job that supports you...so test the waters with your pricing and adjust accordingly! PRFOFIT IS NOT A DIRTY WORD!!!!
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Old 01-24-2005, 05:00 PM   #8
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Wife and I went to a BBQ joint here in the Charleston area the other nught. Sandwiches were around $4, for a not too large sandwich. Onion rings were a little over $4, for four.
That's right, four. The onion rings were damn good, but four?

I've gotten too used to Lexington Style Trimmings (Lexington, NC) price of $1.50 for a sandwich.
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Old 01-24-2005, 05:29 PM   #9
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If you are going to do it for $$$, a business and profit mind needs to be first...the love and joy of smoking should be a distant second!
Yup, this sounds right to me. You have to decide what services & products you are selling. If it doesn't work out change it but a clear distinction between business and personal finances is required.

I don't know if any of this is good advice, I'm a new small business owner that provides technical & consulting services (specialty Siebel). Just offering some thoughts. I've considered doing BBQ catering and I may pursue it in the future.

In my business I've turned down numerous sub-contract offers even one with Microsoft cuz they just aren't paying enough. If it doesn't work out I will get a job but I will not contract for a salary wage.

Sounds to me like you want to provide premium Q catering. Clearly, your brisket or pulled pork is much better and of more value than a roadside $1.50 sandwich. If you provide that product with 'prepared fresh on site service' it is worth even more. That goes back to sales and marketing.

Focus on the quality of products and the service provided. Don't even mention prices. On the website have pictures and a menu but no pricing and 'Call for more info' (I didn't say Call for Pricing). When they call sell you're product and service and don't mention price until they ask. I think that's how I would approach it.

If you want to provide premiuim Q catering you want to market and sell to enlightened folks who ARE willing to pay. Tightwads are welcome to bags of carry-out $1.50 roadside sandwiches at the family BBQ picninc.
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Old 01-24-2005, 05:35 PM   #10
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Chris.....what can I say...Fast food has it's place ... just a different market.

I'm not calling ya a tightwad. K?
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Old 01-24-2005, 05:55 PM   #11
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Fatz, I would PM Glenn R...get his insight! He has first hand knowledge of this exact venture!
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Old 01-24-2005, 06:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Shawn White
Chris.....what can I say...Fast food has it's place ... just a different market.

I'm not calling ya a tightwad. K?
Not talking fast food when I mentioned the $1.50 BBQ sandwich. This is good BBQ. These guys cook the old fashioned way and sell to mostly 'old' country folk that probably wouldn't (or couldn't) pay much more. And the BBQ sandwich is the bargain on the menu. Their hushpuppies are some of the best I have ever had, anywhere. I would make a meal of just hushpuppies if the sandwiches weren't so inexpensive. Also, pie is just $1.50 for a decent size slice.

I was more talking about the slightly over $1per onion ring anyway. You can call me a tight assed SOB if you want... but over $1 per onion ring is too much.

Lastly, the $4 BBQ sandwich wasn't 1/3 as good as the $1.50 BBQ sandwich.
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Old 01-24-2005, 06:36 PM   #13
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...You can call me a tight assed SOB if you want... but over $1 per onion ring is too much.
...
I wasn't (the point of my previous post), and I agree $1/O-ring is too much. $1.50 sandwich - if it's that good they probably aren't charging enough so I think you are fortunate with an eye for a value, not cheap. :P
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Old 01-24-2005, 07:31 PM   #14
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...Don't be afraid to be expensive. The prices on my site are too cheap for what we are doing. We make money, but we should be making more. We discovered that being cheap didn't really win us that much business. Being good did...
This makes good sense. Also, I'm thinking if you start out cheap that might become your reputation then you could have a difficult time overcoming that and end up constatnly dealing with guys like my wife's Dad. Great guy but he always wants a deal .... seems to expect everything at cost, unless he is selling it. Took him three years to sell his '70s truck and camper rig but eventually he got the money he wanted (way too much IMHO).
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...I believe in publishing prices. I hate it when I go to a companies website and can't get the info I need. But make sure you know what your competition is charging as well....
That's a good point I can relate to that too. But still, this isn't computer components, maybe one can emphasize the product above prices.

Good luck with it Fatz, I hope it all comes together for ya. It takes intestinal fortitude to do it but nobody ever ended up with more than a pension working for somebody else.
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Old 01-24-2005, 08:15 PM   #15
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You know you have our support Fat Boy...and if you have your family's support, the that's all ya need !!
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Old 01-25-2005, 01:07 PM   #16
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I'm going to echo some of what Shawn and Glenn have said. You must decide what products and services you are selling. You definitely want to focus on the quality of your service as it relates to your prices. I agree with Glenn that food/plate prices should be posted (though not necessarily any adjunct fees you may charge). Glenn's comment that 'being cheap did not win us much business. Being good did.' is extremely apt. Burn it in to your brain. Give a lot of thought to pricing strategies. It can be harder than it would seem to raise prices later--especially if the increase needs to be substantial.

Glenn would have better insight on the chicken offering question though I can tell you that profits are substantial on chicken items (especially leg quarters--just charge more if you offer breasts as well); it is the most ordered meat in mixed menu establishments (though not in those that specialize, like steak houses, seafood restaurants, and Q joints, but depending to whom you're marketing your service, a chicken offering might be nearly required); the salmonella (or E. Coli or any other bacterial) issue is an issue no matter what you offer. Improper (or lack of) washing of vegetables is the biggest concern in the business bacteria-wise; ground meat(s) comes next, then chicken/eggs. Attention to products in purchasing, cleaning and prep, cooking, and serving (especially if held for any period of time) is paramount.

I've consulted in the food service field for years. The number one reason food businesses suffer or fail is a lack of attention to quality/service issues. The number two reason for restaurants is theft. The number two reason for caterers: the lack of--or ineffective--marketing. On the other site I responded to a query about profit potential in a Q catering business. I'm quoting it here:

"I cannot speak to a Q catering business per se, but I can speak to catering businesses in general.
'There is a lot more involved in catering than just cooking meat.'
--is the number one thing to remember. Marketing your business effectively takes thought and time; it needs to be continous and easily dwarfs the actual cooking time-wise. Then there is, of course, shopping, storage, transportation, licensing and permits, personnel, equipment maintenance, insurance, etc. The profit potential can be substantial, but is dependent on your fee structure, how much business you're doing, and how well you've thought out your nut (break-even point).

Developing a complete business plan now can help you determine whether or not you have the resources and interest to pursue it further. Plan development can be daunting: This is a good thing. The number one problem of the food service businesses (full-service restaurants, caterers, cafes, bar and grills) I've dealt with over the years has been an inattentiveness to the business side of the business. The ones I was able to help required a complete re-do of their business plan or, in many cases, the development of a plan anew. It can be harder to do after the fact. Btw, the thing that trips up caterers often? Marketing. Another: Having enough business to support the fixed costs--which brings one back to marketing.

I am not trying to dissuade you, just encouraging you to look at the big picture at the outset when the time (and energy) is still available..."

Do you have to have a formal business plan? No. The first cafe I helped open (1978 in San Francisco) didn't and it's still there. It helped that no one was dependent on its income at the outset. But a formal plan can really make all the difference in the world. It facillitates focus like nothing else.

Btw, I am not pitching a consulting gig for myself. I'd be happy to help you or anyone else on this board. I know this is a long post but I hope it was helpful.
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:25 PM   #17
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Hey Kevin, everything you mentioned isn't just for the food service businesses. It hold true for any busines venture anybody is willing to trying. I enjoyed your response also...Thanks!
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:45 PM   #18
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Hey Fatzo...if ya need help "SELLIN'" it...give me a shout...I do it for a living!
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Old 01-25-2005, 03:25 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by FATZ
I'd love to be able to shoot a question or two your way in the future, if you don't mind.
Anytime you--or anyone else--wish. Ask whatever and as much as you want. I'll try to help.

Thanks, Nick. Btw, Every time I see your avatar I laugh my ass off. Don't know why exactly but that baby gets me going.

And btw, FATZ, I enjoy going to the Louisiana Downs near you. Food's not bad there.
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Old 01-25-2005, 04:30 PM   #20
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I can be emailed if that's more convenient.
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