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BBQ- The New "Affordable" Catering Option.........

 
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BBQMAN
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05 09 8:38 pm    Post subject: BBQ- The New "Affordable" Catering Option......... Reply with quote

for today's times?

Jerk Pit mentioned "high end BBQ" as being his focus, so I thought we could start a new thread.

In today's economy, we have all been trying to find new ways to keep ourselves busy.

I have always offered "affordable" (not cheap, but affordable) options to my main menu.

Why? Competition and other factors dictate how much I can charge for a plate of BBQ.

No it's not as simple as busting out the calculator, and multiplying by 3 or 3.75. Pricing in my area is dictated by what the market will bear- disclaimer YMMV due to YOUR location.

That's not to say I have not provided upscale menu's, because I have. Lobster bakes on the beach, steak dinners with deluxe sides.

But we have concentrated on good quality BBQ at affordable prices and it has served us well.

With the economy being what it is, I'm guessing that affordable is more relevant today than it was in the past.........................
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Ridge View BBQ
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05 09 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of my friends in the BBQ business runs radio ads stating he offers BBQ Catering for $3. a person and up. When the perspective client calls and inquires he explains that,that is for "pick-up" by-the-lb.pulled pork. He does a good bit of catering and gets a lot of calls with those ads,,I have considered doing the same... Jim
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BBQMAN
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05 09 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jjsinglespeed wrote:
One of my friends in the BBQ business runs radio ads stating he offers BBQ Catering for $3. a person and up. When the perspective client calls and inquires he explains that,that is for "pick-up" by-the-lb.pulled pork. He does a good bit of catering and gets a lot of calls with those ads,,I have considered doing the same... Jim


That's a bit mis-leading Jim.

Well, more than a bit! Laughing
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Ranucci's Big Butt
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05 09 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So for all the guys who raised their prices last year due to the increase in food item cost, will you now lower your prices since pork is under $1lb and most every other bbq item has been lowered including gas prices?
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BBQMAN
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05 09 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good question Alex!

I have not raised my prices since spring of 2007.
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valleypigs
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05 09 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Price is apparently the main interest with clients this season. I had a potential wedding gig for 150 for this summer. Typical whole pig and beef menu...beans, potato salad, slaw and fresh mixed fruit salad. I got an email today stating my $13.50 was WAY more expensive than some local caterers....but they are NOT cooked on-site BBQ caterers....

So I reply with a request to know who was bidding and their prices so I can stay competitive. The only one that was remotely a BBQ caterer has a restaurant 40 miles away and will deliver panned pork and sides.....for $10/plate. They cook on a direct heat charcoal grill...allbeit a big one! The others were local but I know them and their "BBQ" will be oven cooked, or maybe grilled at best, off-site and delivered.

I tried to sell myself as being ON-SITE and fresh cooked right off the pit, but the client replied that the others are on-site too....without sounding like a whiner, how do you tell people that other caterers who say "on-site" really mean delivery and setup....which is not the same as cooked "on-site".

Anyway...I was considered WAY over priced and lost the gig...so apparently price, not quality, is the deciding factor this season.
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05 09 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

valleypigs wrote:
apparently price, not quality, is the deciding factor this season.


I don't think it is going to go that way, I think you just got a cheap (or thrifty) customer like I had dealt with a few days back.

Look at it this way, if the client is too ignorant to realize that the caterer they chose cooks at a remote location and only delivers their food to the location instead of preparing their meal fresh at the location of the event it seems there is no argument that can be used to get the gig.

They wanted a pig-roast, but settled for pulled pork in a pan? Did you explain the difference and offer to supply pulled pork instead?

I would have tried to compare apples to apples, Are they sure the person they chose is making a fresh fruit plate, not using some canned-fruit concoction. So it looks like they were just after the lowest bid with quality not being the deciding factor.

I could always lower prices and offer canned fruit to compete, but I just refuse to serve canned fruit so I would probably lose the gig to a less talented outfit too.

Your not going to get every client that calls, some are just shopping for the cheapest swill they can get, and there is someone always out there ready to provide that swill.

We have a Govt. Agency shopping us right now, they called about roasting pigs for 300 people with a noon serve time. I quoted a ballpark price and I felt she thought it was out of range. Picking up on that I quickly offered a more affordable meal of pulled pork and stated that roasting a pig is more for a show than a high yield affordable item and going with the pulled pork would lower costs significantly with a higher yield and basically ending up with a similar product. It dropped their cost by nearly 1/3rd and they are choosing the location for this gig now.

I like to give different options as opposed to slashing prices for the item they originally wanted.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Valley... you aren't going to get every gig that comes down the pike. You are probably fortunate to not be getting this gig as they have the sounds of nickle and diming you to death Bridezilla. Keep your quality and standards high. Better paying and more apprecitive clients will come.


I raised my fee slightly when gas hit 3.00 a gallon with a feul service charge. I did reduce it when it came below 2.00. I charge the cost of food and supplies plus a service fee so my bottom line wasn't affected by rizing prices on the wholesale level. It was straight passed along to the client.
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marvsbbq
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got off the phone with my butcher (we are friends) and he said that we can "probably" expect the beef and pork prices to stay pretty stable this year.

With feed prcies down, fuel prices down and demand down (due to restaurants down 40%-50%). He also mentioned that our meat exports are off quite a bit as well. Leaving more meat (beef & pork) on the market unsold.

During our conservation, he also mentioned that chicken prices are actually going UP and look to continue going up for the forseeable future.

Will I lower my prices to adjust to the current meat prices....not likely.

The reason being, I have been watching the "other" costs that are associated with operating my catering business and those prices have remained high....if not higher than last year.

Case in point, I use Stoffers Mac & Cheese (with other ingredients added), when I added it as a side option to my menu @ $2.00 per serving, the cost per serving was $.54 the cost (as of this week) on the same item is now $.79. Lettuce is up over last year, dressings are at a higher cost as well as many, many other items I use in my business....not just food.

That is just SOME of the food items, insurance cost more this year than last, minimum wage went up (in my state) to the highest in the nation among many, many other items that cost more now than when I last adusted my pricing structure.

Take diesel (the fuel used by my trucks). Although it is down from what it was a year ago at this time, it is still significantly higher than it was before my last price adjustment.

So, in closing....am I going to lower prices just because the beef and pork prices are stable (for the time being)?, I highly doubt it.

What I will probably do is offer some things that are lower in cost both to me and the client as an alternative (choice) to my current menu.

I may also offer more take out catering to help the "budget minded" clients meet their budget goals.
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Pit Boss
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If, in these times, a bbq caterer can survive solely on on-site cooking gigs, then just stay with that.

If you're seeing a decline in business as people ARE watching how much money they spend, then I might suggest trying to get competitive with your competition. If that means cooking off site, putting the product in a pan, delivering it, and setting up on site...then so be it.

It's a good thing that some caterers market themselves as "on-site" cookers. There's no problem with that at all. But if you're losing business because of it, then you might want to rethink things a bit.

Believe me...as long as you're getting paid...there's no shame in delivering food in pans, setting up, and serving happy customers.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think a person that would rather spend $10 instead of $13+ is "nickle and diming you to death". It's just a sign of the times.
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OddThomas
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

So as not to change the focus of Jerks thread I thought I'd respond here.

BBQMAN wrote:
Mike (OT) I'm with Marv on this one. It's not so much that we turned up our nose at "high end BBQ" back when you mentioned it, but I believe our response was similar to Marv's- it is "just" BBQ after all!

I wasn't implying (and didn't say) anyone turned their nose up at my comments; just that it didn't meet with very much positive feedback. I understand why and I knew when I posted it probably wouldn't, but I still think it was worth discussing.

BBQMAN wrote:
Now that's not to say that some high(er) end items won't sell- I've eaten Jerk Pits food and would gladly pay the price of admission. It is that dang good!

Quality obviously plays a huge part in sales, as does the level of service, presentation, flavor, etc. A lot depends on your clients, but the real point I tried to make early on was "how you present you company goes a long way toward what you can charge for your product". If I come across as the laid back, North Carolina country boy who only serves on paper plates and wax paper (the BBQ I love and was raised on), I'm going to attract a certain clientele. They are going to have certain expectations about cost. I understand that, becaue I'm one of them. Smile On the flip side of that, however, I can take the same basic food and dress it up, present it differently, and attract a different clientele who has different expectations about cost and tastes. One who might want something besides a plain old "pedestrian" bun for example. Laughing

Everyone has priorities. If your marketing efforts focus primarily on affordability, then yes you will attract folks who are mostly concerned about price. Obviously, because many businesses thrive on that model, there is nothing wrong with that at all, but there is money to be made outside of that focus and it is possible to do both if you want.

BBQMAN wrote:
OT, I sell a lot of those $5.00 Plain Jane sammies "that you can get anywhere" at our market. Wink Rolling Eyes The turkey leg guy also sells them, and evidently there is a difference- I out sell him 10-1 (that is an estimate, and probably on the low side). All plain pork sammies are NOT created equal.

I wasn't talking to or about you in specific Mike and I wasn't saying your sandwich wasn't a great freaking sandwich. You mentioned price point being a key factor, so it was a relevant issue to discuss. What I was trying to convey is the $5 sandwich is engineered to sell well in just about any venue. Good quality only helps the sales go up or stay steady. Sort of like the ShamWow, a good $5 sandwich in hand fast with a smile, sort of sells itself. That's all I was saying. That being said, if I make a crap sandwich I won't be in business long anyway.
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BBQMAN
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I knew that Mike, no hard feelings here!

My point is (and was) when it comes to BBQ, affordable IS what most people are thinking.

Particullary from what I'm seeing in the current economy.
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marvsbbq
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OddThomas wrote:
Hi,

So as not to change the focus of Jerks thread I thought I'd respond here.

Quality obviously plays a huge part in sales, as does the level of service, presentation, flavor, etc. A lot depends on your clients, but the real point I tried to make early on was "how you present you company goes a long way toward what you can charge for your product".


I couldn't agree more!!! That is why I wear a clean company shirt (and hat), drive CLEAN company vehicles and hand out business cards everywhere I go. I also clean (wash) my smokers prior to each event..."precieved value" has a LOT do to with image as well as quality product and service.
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OddThomas
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBQMAN wrote:
I knew that Mike, no hard feelings here!

My point is (and was) when it comes to BBQ, affordable IS what most people are thinking.

Particullary from what I'm seeing in the current economy.

I know that dude; just wanted to clarify. Smile

Also, I do agree that when folks think budget BBQ comes to mind because it's historically been an afordable food. The "fish camps" around these parts used to be affordable as well, but I just had dinner at one and the meal was $13.95 plus $1.99 for a drink, tax, and tip. The total per person was $19.61 for deep fried fish, hush puppies, slaw, and fries... That used to be like $8-9. And I don't know if any of you guys have ever eaten at Jim & Nicks BBQ, but they try to do a little upscale thing... it's not snooty or anything, but it ain't paper plates either. I don't have a menu in front of me, but I'd hazard a guess that an average meal there would run you about $15 plus tax and tip. Now I'm sure you can get out a little cheaper if you try, but I'm just saying it's not like a lot of the $7-8 plate BBQ joints NC is famous for and they attract a mostly different demographic. They don't push affordability though; they push quality, authenticity (their view anyway), and freshness (they don't have freezers at any location or at least didn't used to). Their motto is they would "rather sell out, than sell-out" The place is always packed. I dunno... I just figure you can do something similar in a catering situation (still using disposable plates of course) if you promote it properly.

Ok I'm gonna go back into my hole again. Smile
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Ridge View BBQ
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBQMAN wrote:
jjsinglespeed wrote:
One of my friends in the BBQ business runs radio ads stating he offers BBQ Catering for $3. a person and up. When the perspective client calls and inquires he explains that,that is for "pick-up" by-the-lb.pulled pork. He does a good bit of catering and gets a lot of calls with those ads,,I have considered doing the same... Jim


That's a bit mis-leading Jim.

Well, more than a bit! Laughing


How about quite a bit!!!! Like I said I have considered it,,,,,,but I have worked hard to build a reputation around town, To me that is to a BBQ Cater the same as a amulance chaser is to an lawyer..My buddy is good with it, but its not for me.....
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06 09 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know quite a few places that offer "pick-up catering".
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