Do you want to start a mobile BBQ catering business from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a BBQ catering business with NO money and no experience plus a sample BBQ catering business plan template. The growing interest in food, the need to choose a lifetime career and potentially build an empire and legacy to be remembered has, and will continue to create new edible businesses.
If you listen to the news, you will notice that individuals discover creative ideas every day and successfully shape their life’s income around such ideas. These novel ideas are the pedestals that launched thousands of new business owners towards success, and BBQ enthusiasts make up a large percentage of this sector.
Indeed if you enjoy offering delicacies to people, you can join this business sector just as easily. We have discovered that BBQ careers offer a wide range of different options and paths that one can explore. The only thing you need is a good smoker, some good refined recipes, and a set business plan and you can start considering a life of working for yourself, determining your own schedule, and doing it all while producing something you actually love.
But you should have it in mind that transforming a hobby into a business isn’t as easy as it seems on the surface. You will need to invest in the necessary equipment, complete the necessary paperwork, and get everything else right before launching your barbecue catering business. The whole experience can entail a lot of hard work, but once the business is up and running, it can be very lucrative.
18 Steps to Starting a BBQ Catering Business from Home
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
According to our research, this sector of the catering industry has enjoyed steady growth over that past five years. Initially, the lingering effects of the housing market collapse resulted in weak economic recovery early in the period. At that point, poor residential construction markets were reinforced by poor consumer sentiment, which further reduced private spending on home improvements.
After the recession, the sector benefited from a strong housing market under which many consumers spent money on outdoor kitchens and foods. Experts believe that over the next five years, this food sector will continue to gain from increasing per capita disposable income and the robustness of the residential construction market.
It is also important to state that the top four operators in the Barbeque and grilling business are estimated to capture over 45.0% of the total market, reflecting a moderate level of concentration. Also it is believed that the business’ domestic demand will be largely met by the growing import penetration. This simply means that the dominance of existing operators creates a significant barrier for new entrants to establish links with key equipment suppliers and potential customers. We believe that new entrants face relatively large start-up costs to establish a huge brand affinity in the business.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
Each region in the united states has developed its own special style of barbeque. We believe that these styles differ by the kind of meat, method of cooking and most importantly, the type of barbeque sauce. Also these various methods and recipes have been handed down for generations and evolving from regional ingredients. The following are general descriptions of a few of the most well-known barbeque styles in the United States;
The Carolina Barbeque
In this Barbeque style, pork is the preferred meat. Oak and hickory smoke is common. Sauce emphasizes a peppery vinegar flavour. Note that the Southern Carolina is famous for its Carolina Gold, a sauce with mustard as an ingredient.
In this wonderful Barbeque style, the meat is dry rubbed with spices and smoked before cooking. The preferred sauce is thick and sweet and served as a table sauce. This sauce is the top selling variety of bottled sauces.
The Memphis Barbeque
Indeed pulled pork and ribs are the favourite meats mostly cooked over charcoal and basted with a peppery tomato sauce sweetened with molasses.
We all know how big and complicated Texas can be, which is why their barbeque varies by region. But throughout the state beef, ribs, and sausage are popular. Mesquite is often used in grilling for a unique flavour. Note that the sauce is generally thick and sweet with a rich tomato base.
It is important to state that the popular luau is a barbeque party that serves pork, fish, and/or chicken. The meats are often cooked wrapped in taro or ti leaves. A sweet teriyaki sauce is used made with pineapple.
All the mentioned region recipes and many more are what makes this food sector a place where you can’t achieve anything if you do not research before venturing into the industry. We believe that as a caterer, you will need to consider what style of barbeque is popular in your region; we strongly advice that you begin with a few recipes and keep the choices simple. As the business progresses, you can add other selections.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
When starting a Barbeque Business, it is very much advisable that you pick a niche for your business because it is very essential. Note that finding your niche is to carve out special services and menus that you are known for and do well.
Whether you want to beef up your current services or completely revamp your marketing message, you have several options to in the barbeque business. Apart from choice of recipe to serve as your niche market, listed below are other things you could consider;
- Barbeque restaurant
- Barbeque equipment manufacturing
- Barbeque equipment retailer
- Food truck
- Catering or Portable Grill Smoker
- Barbeque contests
- Barbeque sauce
- Celebrity status and Catering TV show
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Barbeque Businesses stake their reputations on authentic barbeque offerings. Have it in mind that if your customers think you have a good barbeque recipe, they will be loyal for a long time. One of the secrets of barbeque is keeping it tasting like it came off the backyard grill. Also note that your success will depend on other factors in addition to the food, which is why we suggest you do your homework to make sure that your succeed in the barbeque business.
You should also know that demographics, consumer tastes and personal income move demand in this business. We believe that the profitability of individual companies can vary; while QSRs rely on efficient operations and high volume sales, FSRs rely on high-margin items and effective marketing. In this business, bigger companies have benefits of purchase, finance and marketing. Smaller ones can compete by offering superior food or service. The US industry is highly fragmented: the 50 largest companies account for about 15% of revenue.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
Becoming a well-known brand has to do with a lot of factors and even though the industry is fragmented there are barbeque businesses that are standing out due to their activities in the industry such as their marketing and publicity strategies, how long they have been in the business, and what services they offer to their customers.
Below are some of the most popular barbeque companies in the United States of America;
- City Butcher and Barbeque (Springfield, Missouri)
- Puckett’s Grocery (Franklin, Tennessee)
- Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano, Texas)
- Payne’s Bar-B-Que (Memphis, Tennessee)
- John Russell’s Kansas City Barbeque (Overland Park, Kansas)
- Dreamland Bar-B-Que Ribs (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
- Bogart’s Smokehouse (St. Louis)
- Black’s Barbeque (Lockhart, Texas)
- Double J Smokehouse & Saloon (Memphis, Tennessee)
- Central BBQ (Memphis, Tennessee)
- Skylight Inn BBQ (Ayden, North Carolina)
- Franklin Barbeque (Austin, Texas)
- Herman’s Ribhouse (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
- 4 Rivers Smokehouse (Orlando, Florida)
- The Granary ‘Cue & Brew (San Antonio, Texas)
- Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que (Kansas City, Kansas)
- Hometown Bar-B-Que (Brooklyn, New York)
- Kerlin BBQ (Austin, Texas)
We will like to state that the money you will be making of your barbeque catering business will depend on the products and services you offer, your staff and equipment and your ability to market the business. We will like to state that the products sold mainly by a barbeque catering business are burgers, hot dogs, ribs, pulled pork, chicken tenders and corn. Your business can operate from a mobile cart, you can sell your food from a restaurant or store, or you can offer your barbeque services onsite for private and business functions.
Indeed a lot has been written about the growing price of beef in the past year. We believe that the prices have stabilized and have even gone down recently, yet a lot of barbeque fans still cringe when paying $15-$20 per pound for their beloved smoked brisket.
You should have it in mind that it is very normal to enter a barbeque joint nowadays and be met with a sign announcing that due to the high cost of beef, prices have been raised commensurately. These we believe have pushed sector customers to be willing to pay extra for a quality product while supporting their local barbeque joint.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
A lot of entrepreneurs have a strong vibe to build companies from the ground up, but a business purchase is nearly always the smarter ownership option. Before you decide, note that existing barbeque restaurants are proven operations with dependable revenue streams. And that is not to mention the fact that a purchase lets you avoid the trial-and-error mistakes that are common in start-ups in the business.
We believe that unlike common restaurants, a Barbeque restaurant is much simpler although not less taxing to build. It will require you to showcase your basic business skills such as accounting, record keeping, HR management and marketing. And not just that, you need to have at least exceptional love for food, specifically grilled and barbequed ones.
But for the sake of our detailed research and this article, we believe that your chances of making a success of your new business are much better when you opt to franchise rather than going it alone. But just before you think of starting a barbeque restaurant, a smart move is to assess whether franchising might help you avoid common entrepreneurial mistakes that may cost you funds and time.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
A lot of arguments have been made about which type of barbeque is the best, but any foodservice business owner will sure tell you one thing: doing a barbeque restaurant won’t be a simple stroll in the park. There are a thousand decisions to make, and the few barriers you might face may include;
- Choosing a suitable niche
- Gaining experience
- Menu development
- Applying for permits
- Purchasing inventory
- writing a business plan
- Industry competition
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
We strongly believe that a lot of factors should be considered when choosing the best form of business structure for your Barbeque business. Note that the type of business structure you choose can have an impact on multiple aspects of your business, including taxes, liability, and your exit strategy.
When starting your Barbeque business, we believe that an LLC structure is the best because it is simpler and more flexible. Unlike both types of corporation, it doesn’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities. You can simply divide up the profits any way you choose, as opposed to shareholders in corporations who have to carve them up in proportion to their percentage ownership in the company.
Another unique benefit of this is that you can easily entice talented employees with a share of the profits, even if those employees didn’t pony up their own equity in the beginning. The LLC structure also gives tax-treatment flexibility.
An LLC’s profits can be taxed as a corporate entity (a C Corporation) or as a “pass through” entity (an S corporation), meaning that the company avoids paying tax on both corporate profits and the owners’ personal income. Most LLCs choose the pass-through option. However, in some cases, LLCs can choose a C Corporation tax structure and save money by funneling profits back into the business tax-free.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
- American BBQ
- Overdraft BBQ
- Beef and Cord
- Big Knuckle’s BBQ
- Mountain BBQ
- Healthy beef
- Blowing Smoke BBQ
- Tasty BBQ
- Star Cooking
- Uncle Ben BBQ
- Dixie Pigs
- Early beef
- Mr Beef
- Tiny World
- Beef sauce
- Hot Boss
- Heavenly Eateries
- Porch Smokers
- Ring of Fire
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Note that insurance is a must-have for any business, and especially when starting a barbeque restaurant. It is important to state that even with every safety measure possible in place, there is always the chance of sickness or theft, either of which could leave your business floundering if your insurance doesn’t cover the menace. We strongly believe that general business liability insurance protects you from the cost of any litigation that may come up against your business as a result of sickness or if an accident or injury occurs on your property.
We also think that business crime insurance is also important for your barbeque restaurant, as many commercial grills and smokers come on wheels and must be used outside, making those prime targets for thieves. Have it in mind that this type of insurance also covers employee theft. We strongly advice that you speak with an experienced insurance agent to make sure you get all the coverage you need to financially protect your restaurant from trouble.
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
In this modern age, it cannot be denied that the creation, exploitation and protection of intellectual property (IP) rights are fundamental to the success of most retailers. In the barbeque business, intellectual property protection and Trademark are needed to serve as
- Brand and image rights
- Protection and registration of designs
- Enforcement and dispute resolution
- Anti-counterfeiting and piracy
- Patents laws
- Trade mark filing and opposition
- Brand audits and watching services
- Securing trademarks and passing off
- Domain name strategies and disputes
- Data and database rights
- Competition law
- Protection of technology and innovation
- Advertising and marketing issues
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
When starting your barbeque business, having or acquiring certifications will go a long way to show how experienced you are in the business. You will also benefit from earning a few certifications which may include retailing certification. Other certifications include,
- Professional Stainless Steel Outdoor Gas Barbeque Grills CE Certification
- National fireplace Institute certification
- Professionally Certified Hearth Installers
- Certified BBQ Judge
- Customer Service and Sales Certification (CSCS)
- Advanced Customer Service and Sales Certification (ACSSC)
- Retail Management Certification (RMC)
- certified food protection manager (CFPM)
- Master Baking Certificate Program
- Retail Business Credential (RBC)
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
As you venture into this business, to keep your business on the right side of the law, you will need to apply for a number of licenses and permits. Do not forget that every state and city varies in their requirements, so a good place to start is to contact your local chamber of commerce or city hall. The documents you will need include;
Note that you will need a building permit if you plan to do any renovating. Also note that these permits generally require your contractor to submit the plans for approval. Immediately your building is ready for business, you will need to get a building inspection and certificate of occupancy, which usually comes from the fire commissioner.
We also believe that you will need to register your business with several levels of government, usually including local, state and federal. Note that a business license registers you locally and in some cases goes together with the state’s retail sales license, which allows you to charge sales tax.
Then the federal government will issue you an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Tax ID number to allow the IRS to start records on your business. We strongly advice that you consider registering your business name, as it both makes sure that the name is not already taken and prevents any other local businesses from using that name.
A lot of local governments have restrictions on where you can put signs and how tall they can be. This is why you may need to submit plans for your signs to be approved before you can begin construction or installation.
Food Handling Permits
We believe that for you to obtain a food handling permit, you will generally need to take a course in safe food handling practices. A lot of states also offer government-sponsored courses, and some require an on-site inspection in addition to taking a class.
Note that if you are planning or hoping to serve beer or mixed drinks at your restaurant, start researching how to get your liquor license as soon as possible, as that process can take a while.
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
If you think you have enough money to start this business, then you are good to go. But if you need additional funds before you start your Barbeque Business, then we believe you will need to approach an investor, the government, a bank, or some other loan-giving establishment. At this point your business plan will become even more instrumental. Ways of getting funds for your Barbeque Business may include…
- Getting initial capital from family and friends
- Getting Capital from angel investors
- funds from Venture capitalists
- Taking your company public through IPO
- Getting small business loans
- Getting funds through Crowdfunding
- Raise Funds through Mergers and Acquisitions
- Finance your Business Expansion with Equipment Leasing
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
You should have it in mind that the location for your restaurant will be a major determining factor in whether it will be successful. When you start searching for locations, have a basic idea of the size you need for both the dining room and the kitchen.
Note that too large space may have you paying more rent than you can afford, but not enough space may restrict your ability to grow your business. We advise that you ensure your kitchen holds enough equipment to cook for your customers in a timely manner and the dining room can comfortably accommodate the number of tables you need for your business.
Also consider the things that are happening outside the building, this is because it is as important as what is inside. Try to visit the location at different times of the day on weekends and weekdays to get a feel of traffic patterns for the days and times you plan to be open, which for some traditional barbeque joints will be weekends-only. Check and ascertain if the location is visible to a large number of people.
Ask yourself if it is near a large residential area or business park that might bring business. Is the traffic more vehicular than pedestrian, do you have adequate parking? If the location was not a restaurant previously, does the city’s zoning allow you to open one there? Are there any other barbeque places nearby that you will be competing with? We also advice that you try not to exceed your budget and be careful to not overreach, but don’t be afraid to look at places a little out of your price range, as most property owners are open to some negotiation.
We advise that you discuss the length and cost of the lease, as well as whether the owner will handle lawn care or building maintenance.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
In this business, the size of your business will determine the number of staff to hire. We advise that you hire the most suitable and experienced individuals for each position, and give them the necessary training they need to play their roles well. Nothing brings success faster than teamwork and dedication.
The special equipment for barbeque catering begins with the grill, and it comes in a wide variety of designs and models, from inexpensive charcoal and wood cookers to deluxe limo gas models that cost thousands of dollars. Have it in mind that the type of grill you invest in depends on your cooking style and outdoor cooking needs.
We strongly believe that Grills and outdoor cookers can be bought with a multitude of options, including side burners, smoker boxes, griddles, rotisseries, and prep areas. All these are extras, but not necessary to start a successful business. Other barbeque specialty equipment includes:
- Basting brushes
- Cook mitts—long to protect arms from heat
- Coolers or refrigeration units
- Long handled utensils including fork, spatula and tongs
- Aprons and hats—consider advertising your catering business on these!
- Meat thermometers
- Sauce Pans
- Barbeque baskets for vegetables, burgers and hotdogs
- Grill Cleaning products
- Grill light for parties that may last after dark
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
Have it in mind that when starting this business that you need to develop a menu to function with. One of the major considerations when developing your menu is how the barbeque is to be cooked. The most traditional method involves smoking the meat in a ‘pit,’ cooking it for long periods of time over low heat. A lot of local health departments do not allow a restaurant to cook outside, but in most cases you can build a separate building to smoke the meat in.
From our extensive research, we have noticed that there have been some debates among barbeque experts about how the type of wood used to smoke meat will affect its flavour; some claim the species of wood determines the flavour, while others say the region it was grown in has a much more profound effect.
But irrespective of what they think, the mesquite wood is considered to have the strongest flavour, while fruit-tree woods are the mildest, but nearly any non-resinous wood type can work. But if you decide to cook in a pit, you will need to estimate your sales volume ahead of time, and may need a method of re-thermalizing food before serving it or keeping it warm without drying it out.
A lot of barbeque restaurants have gotten rid of the traditional cooking methods, and are instead choosing to steam their meat before throwing it on a grill or griddle to sear the outside or smoke the meat in a commercial smoker. But some barbeque aficionados don’t appreciate these shortcuts, so if you live in an area where people have strong opinions about barbeque, you may find more success cooking in a more traditional manner.
There are some regions that prefer to serve their barbeque with a dry rub, and in most cases you will need to develop a barbeque sauce. You have to determine the sauce type you want to focus on, whether it is tomato, mustard, vinegar, or mayonnaise-based, and varying the sweetener, spices and additional ingredients used until you find the perfect flavour that suit majority of your customer’s needs.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Any entrepreneur will tell you that marketing plays a central role in any business venture. When it comes to a barbeque business, your ability to market your brand can be the deciding factor between barely making it and achieving stellar industry success. Ways to market your barbeque business may include;
We believe that the very first step in marketing your barbeque restaurant is to create a high-quality business website. Have it in mind that a functional and attractive company website is no longer an option for businesses with a long-term outlook. Also note that content, architecture, and features are important consideration when creating a website.
As you plan to start your business, note that the economy is a constant concern for people who own barbeque businesses. For direct mailing campaigns and other strategic initiatives, it is hard to argue with the ROI you receive from updated mailing lists provided by the industry’s leading list vendors. Good mailing lists are money in the bank; they deliver leads, revenue and most importantly, new customers.
It has been proven in the business world that when multiple interests join together in a strategic partnership, they gain economies of scale, not to mention a larger promotional footprint. Note that joint ad campaigns, mailings and other marketing initiatives can be conducted on either a short or long-term basis, as long as each partner is involved in the creation of messaging and has approval authority over the content that is released.
17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
With the intense competition in this business and with barbeque shops rising from all corners of the country, you have to make consumers aware of your shop. In this business, each region and community is different and some marketing tactics will work in some areas and others will not.
The key is to try different things and find what works for you. Have it in mind that what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. We believe that the only limit to your marketing is your own creativity. Some ideas can be expensive, but there are plenty that are not. They include,
- School fundraisers with your local elementary school
- Coupon mailers
- Daily deal websites
- Create a flavour contest
- Loyalty programs
- Group contest
- Street marketing
- Sponsor or advertise at local races
- Social marketing
- Cross market with local businesses
- Online marketing
18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you do not know, brand awareness and affinity serves several objectives for retail companies searching to boost sales in the marketplace and it can do same for your Barbeque business. No matter how tiresome you might think it is, your brand awareness campaign needs to be flexible enough to grow with the business and adjust if needed.
The various strategies to promote brand awareness and create a corporate identity for your Barbeque business may include holding an event, exhibiting yourself, sponsor something, create an experiential stunt, take to social media, organize a public relation campaign, invest in promotional merchandise, join forces with other businesses etc. Creating a solid and beneficial corporate identity through good brand awareness strategies will go a long way to sustain your business and maximize your business profits.