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Tackling tailgating season

A playbook for fall grill sales

Stephanie RichardsonStephanie Richardson
ACROSS THE COUNTRY, TAILGATING PARTIES are in full swing, the weather has finally cooled down (even here in South Texas!), and holiday get-togethers are being planned - all activities that provide reasons for you to promote grills, smokers, fryers and accessories. In short, barbecue should have no season in retail. Labor Day just means a switch in tactics.

Entertaining the entertainers
     Tailgating is the perfect, months-long reason to sell, sell, sell. It's a "sport" that certainly has become big business. With a little time and creativity, there's no reason why you can't get a piece of the profit pie.
     Long gone are the days when sports fans were firing up a tiny, cheapo hibachi. Today's avid blacktop bar-becuers are willing to spend money on a grill that helps them turn out fabulous fare that can include everything from whole pig to filet mignon. Even in this economy, die-hard tailgaters will continue to entertain family and friends at the ballpark or on the patio. That makes now the perfect time to join in the fun and remind folks in your area that your products and customer-service capabilities can help make them a master at the moveable feast.
     One place to start is by building a display that includes high-quality, meantto-last, stainless-steel models with ample cooking space, infrared burners, griddles and more. Add colorful, more affordable grills that are versatile, yet fold and fit compactly in an SUV or car trunk. Be sure to include an array of portable grills that will meet every customer's needs in both performance and price. Remember to include grills that mount on the back of a vehicle with companion coolers or tables that provide work space.
     If you have the space and capability, go ahead and park a truck or SUV in your showroom, attach a grill, and prop the area with all the goodies that one would need for an afternoon of outdoor cooking. It helps your customer feel like you offer one-stop shopping and it becomes easy for them to just pick up everything they need while they're in your store. Cha-ching!

Home-field advantage
     Of course, some families are cutting back on expenses and are opting to tailgate at home. That means they may consider spending a bit more for a grill that they'll be able to use all year. Consider building an "At-Home Tailgating"

This Weber grillThis Weber grill weighs only 22 pounds and offers almost 200 square inches of total cooking area. When you add the cart, it’s perfect for stadium or backyard grilling.
display, and in addition to some of the more portable products, include larger smokers as well as kamado cookers. (It's easier to justify the cost when it's a grill that can be used year-round to entertain family and friends.)
     Accessories can be just as important and they can be a lucrative add-on sale. Display bags of lump charcoal, instant or light-the-bag briquettes and a good selection of flavored smoking woods in chunks, chips and pellets. Show off rib racks to help them cook for a crowd, pizza stones, pigtail flippers, basting brushes, elbow-length mitts, wood planks, woks, skewers and Dutch ovens for making chili or baking beans. An intriguing selection of marinades, rubs, sauces and perhaps a few tailgating or smoke cooking books will help generate sales.
     You can even encourage at-home barbecuers to purchase grill pads to protect their deck or patio surfaces from grease stains or food spills. Take a look at every product in your showroom and see if you can tie it to tailgating.
It also would be fun to hire a barbecue expert to plan a "Tongs and Tailgate" class about tailgate cooking. If you work with a local grocer or butcher who can provide meats or other specialty foods for the class, it will help defray costs, and they could promote the class to their customers as well.
     Because the weather is getting a little chilly, remember that there is more to the tailgate experience than grilling, especially when the tailgating is being done at home. Remember to display an array of portable fireplaces, firepits, propane or electric patio heaters that will ensure everyone is comfortable on cooler days and evenings.
     Barbecue season doesn't necessarily end because of a day on the calendar. There are plenty of opportunities to bring customers into your store and ways to entice them to stock up barbecue products. Barbecue sales could help make a really strong Q4!

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