Talk about cooking and grill accessories to boost profits
Staff Staff -- Casual Living, September 1, 2009
The barbecue industry talks a good game when it comes to proclaiming today's outdoor chefs cook every type of food imaginable on their grills. No doubt, cooking repertoires have expanded significantly over the years and there are at least some very adventuresome barbecuers who are cooking appetizers to entrees to desserts on the grill.
However, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association's biennial consumer research shows the most popular foods cooked by 70% to 80% of backyard grillers has changed little from 1985 when the surveys were first conducted.
Burgers, steak, chicken and hot dogs have remained the staples of barbecuing with more than 70% of Americans saying these are the foods they cook most often. Vegetables on the grill have no doubt increased considerably. Corn is at the top, being cooked by 42%; it is followed by potatoes, at 38%, and other veggies at 37%. Still that leaves more than half of barbecuers never venturing as far as vegetables cooked over the coals, much less bacon and eggs on the griddle or peach cobbler for dessert.
Reviewing the HPBA consumer data reveals the accessories and utensils most owned by barbecuers also have remained pretty steady through the years. Those fundamentals include long handled tongs, forks, spatulas and brushes.
Yet today there are specialty products available to make it easier to cook everything from fish to pizza and beer can chicken. If you're looking for a way to boost sales year-round, it is pretty clear that you have two good opportunities here. You need to encourage your customers to become more adventuresome in cooking a greater variety of food. And then your sales staff needs to aggressively promote all the specialty accessories and utensils that will help ensure foolproof cooking no matter what dishes consumers tackle.
Keep in mind accessories are some of the most profitable barbecue products you can sell because the margins are often higher than on the grills themselves. Accessories are great impulse items when you have a shopper in the store. They are also effective for driving traffic into the store, since new accessories and utensils are being introduced constantly so there is no end to the additional visits they can generate.
Familiarity with plank cooking has been increased by restaurants offering planked items on their menus. Inquire whether your customers have ever tried it at home for cooking fish or vegetables and let them know it imbues the same flavor as using wood chips. Find out if they cook much seafood and introduce them to the various fish grids and baskets. Remind them that kabobs are healthful because they include generous servings of vegetables with lesser amounts of meat and show them several choices of kabob skewers. Woks specially made for the grill are also ideal for serving colorful meals with julienne vegetables and shrimp, chicken, or strips of pork or beef, continuing in the healthful eating mode and adding variety to meals.
Many people have tried, or at least heard about, cooking pizza on the grill. Make customers aware of the advantages and show them baking stones and even half stones, which are also appropriate for baking things like biscuits, miniature quiches or other appetizers. Single or multi-tiered racks can easily increase cooking space and rib racks make it possible to cook many more racks standing up than if they had to lay flat.
There are several different types of roasters for chicken or turkey, starting with a plain vertical roaster and working through various configurations that allow you to add beer or other liquid to ensure wonderfully moist poultry, to some that even have a "moat" around them to facilitate cooking vegetables at the same time. There are also endless selections of timers and thermometers, from instant-read to some you can take inside to remind you when the food on the grill is ready to serve.
Sauces, seasonings, glazes, rubs and even mops for basting will again add new flavor dimensions to most any food cooked on the grill. Basting brushes, mops, injectors and spray bottles make them easier to use. And carrying a substantial array of cookbooks also helps encourage outdoor chefs to broaden their horizons when it comes to what they can cook on the grill.
Since eight out of 10 U.S. households barbecue, suggesting some of the wonderful accessories available today for gifts will be helpful to your customers. Ask if they have any birthdays or special occasions coming up for which they could give a barbecue gift.
Combine several appropriate items such as a rib rack, some rubs or sauces and maybe even an all-about-barbecue-ribs recipe book. Or start with a wok, add tongs, a cookbook featuring Asian cooking or one focusing on vegetables on the grill, and some appropriate sauces and seasonings.
Selling grills and grilling equipment is not really about appliances, it is about cooking. The more your salespeople can comfortably talk about cooking on the grill and the more ideas they can share, the better they will relate to the customer and the more products they will be able to sell them.