National Grill Month: How to Use Grilling & Smoking as a Way to Add Value

July is National Grilling Month and what better way to celebrate than to break out your grill, fire up your smoker, and throw a backyard BBQ with your friends and family. One thing many business owners don’t think of, however, is turning that fun backyard get-together into a crowd-pleasing attraction for your upcoming summer sale. When well thought out and executed, smoking and grilling for your business is an effective method to drive revenue and awareness for your brand. Here are five tips to think about when you’re considering hosting the best cookout your customers have ever seen.

Special Promotions

The whole idea is to get people to your store to shop. BBQ’s are fun and delicious, and BBQ and smoked meats priced at cost are a great value, far cheaper than what a restaurant can charge. It’s also a significant draw during the summer months. Once you have customers at your store, however, you need to have a plan to turn that traffic into sales. 

Window signs are a perfect eye-grabbing promotional tool to advertise the sale your BBQ is supporting. Plan a buy-one-get-one half-off instead of a straight discount on items. That moves more units and lowers the hit you take on the overall pricing. Vinyl banners are great for building foot traffic and build driver awareness in advance both the BBQ and the sale. Plan to have some of the sale items on display on the sidewalk like an old school sidewalk sale. Put the most attractive deals near the door to get them looking inside as well. Along with the sales, think of free gifts – like T-shirts or other freebies that have your logo on them. Decide by seeing whichever you think will resonate best with your audience.

Teaming Up

See if any of your neighbor stores want to join with you. It can be helpful for offsetting costs and making a joint effort on advertising. It’s also helpful to get everyone’s names out in the community. When you create that banner advertising, add the names of all the stores involved in both the bbq and sale to reiterate your store branding. Making these types of business partnerships builds energy and creates a synergy that draws more customers. Shared responsibilities and costs as well as the enhanced community feeling is an unbeatable combination. 

Rain or Shine

Let’s face it, the weatherman knows as much about the weather a week from now as you do. So plan for the weather that day – any weather. Canopies are a great resource and again, not that expensive. They’re perfect for you and your guests to take shade under – or refuge if a summer shower rolls through. Use extra chairs you have or rent some folding chairs. You can even buy a few plastic chairs at less than $10 each and have some reusable chairs for future events.

Game Planning the Star Attraction

When figuring out what you want in your grill & smoker promotion start with the basics: you’re going to need a menu budget. If you don’t own a smoker and/or grill big enough, renting them is step one, and a surprisingly inexpensive step at that. Shop around for the best deal then lock in the price. Is it going to be smoked shoulder, steaks, & ribs or more toward hamburgers and hot dogs? Obviously, you can build buzz with the more varied fare, so look into creating a menu that is easy on the pocketbook but exciting enough to draw a crowd. Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club are great for this as they allow you to save money on higher-end choices. They also allow you to buy bulk on side items like potato salad and slaw, buns, must-haves like lettuce, tomatoes, and onions for burgers, cheese slices, condiments like ketchup, mustard – you get the picture. 

Check out some bbq books at the local bookstore and get some ideas on exciting options on a budget. One solution is selling more expensive items like plates. This means that rather than buying an entire ribeye steak, they buy a plate with some slices of steak along with baked beans, potato salad, and maybe a roll. Do the same with smoked ribs or pork shoulder. 

Make it Fun for the Kids

Offer discounts for kid’s plates and other side activities that can make it more inviting for parents. Face painting, little games like bean bag tosses, and having desserts available is an easy way to ensure this. It will also give parents a time to unwind and see items set out for the sidewalk sale and have more sales and interest. 

Audience Survey

After the event, put out surveys of what the reception of the event was like. Be sure to ask questions about feelings towards your store and what you could do better. Nothing can ever be perfect, but doing this can keep adjusting it as time goes by.  You can also set these surveys out at the front of your store for others to check out as they walk through in case they were not at the smoker and would like to give input. There’s always room to improve!

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