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Grilling demos, classes add to sales

Barbecue demonstrations can be key to successful grill sales. With a little creativity and a little advertising, grill demonstrations can be handled with ease.

Customers are drawn to the curling smoke and enticing aroma. We have found the easiest way to obtain results is with food that doesn't have to be served, such as turkey, brisket and drunk chicken. This gives you the ability to talk with interested customers about the grill without having to weed through those who are there for free food.

A favorite event among our customers and employees is our John Henry weekend. John Henry Abercrombie and his son, Ernie, come to ABSCO once a year and perform two Saturday cooking classes for our customers. John Henry is an award-winning chef and one of former President Bush Sr.'s personal barbecue chefs. We have customers who sign up for this limited space class as early as December for this June event. Each free class consists of about 30–40 customers who get to watch John Henry and Ernie prepare and cook an incredible assortment of food on grills we sell.

They cook on a large Peterson FireMagic gas grill as well as several Big Green Egg charcoal grills. The customers' favorite part is getting to eat the results. Our favorite part is hearing the cash register ring up all the sales for grills, grill accessories and John Henry's line of rubs and spices. These are repeat customers who will return to your store to replenish their supply throughout the grilling season. We even had an extra bonus of having John Henry do a bit on "Good Day Alabama," one of our local weekday television morning shows. You have to love free publicity. Cooking classes take a lot more planning and preparations, but are definitely worth the time and expense.

We try to stand out in an industry that is cluttered with stainless steel grills that sell for under $800. It is getting extremely difficult to sell a stainless steel grill for more than $2,000 when Lowe's is selling a great-looking Jenn-Aire for $749.

Grilling demos and cooking classes are just one way to make grill buying more appealing and less daunting to the consumer. We must earn the respect and trust of our customers in order for them to have confidence in purchasing the perfect grill for their needs.

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