The Barbecue Lifestyle

Ben Street
The Barbecue Lifestyle explores all facets of the grill and outdoor kitchen industries, offering retailers insight and strategies for building business through these categories.
  • 'Tis the Season

    Those of us in the North look at grilling as a seasonal endeavor—unless you want to dig your grill out of the snow while braving the cold in the dark at 6 p.m. Grillers in the South have the opportunity to grill comfortably all year round in lush oases, enjoying drinks with little umbrellas in them—or at least that’s what I’m imagining while I’m shoveling snow in the dark. Regardless of where you live, the grilling season has an ebb and flow greatly impacted by the weather. But weather doesn’t have to be ... Read More
  • A Fresh Start: Keeping Grills Clean

    A clean grill, like clean cookware or a clean oven, offers the best backyard cooking experience. A gas or charcoal grill is a frying pan, baking tray, stove top and oven all in one. Clean cooking grids don’t come with the unwanted flavor of drippings from Tuesday’s saucy cookout or charred bits from last week’s chicken. A clean grill helps prevent flare-ups, grease fires, mold and unwanted flavors. I’ve said to many grillers: “You keep your kitchen sanitary and clean; why not treat your grill the same way?” This is an important lesson to impart on ... Read More
  • Change is Good

    Out with the old, in with the new . . . it’s too early for New Year’s resolutions, but the same slogan applies to your store displays. Let’s set the scene: It’s August and grill sales have been great. You’ve seen incredible attachment sales on grill accessories. Nearly every customer leaves the store with a handful of essential grilling items. Your sales team knows that every new grill should go home with a cover, grill brush and several more adventurous items. Yet by this time in the season, like most retail stores, your display is starting to show ... Read More
  • Meet the Challenge

    Why would a retailer who is already carrying elements of the outdoor room, such as furniture and fireplaces, object to selling grills and outdoor kitchen equipment? For some, there’s limited space on their showroom floor. There may also be concerns about gross margins and the real profitability of selling grills and outdoor kitchen equipment. � In addition, there may be some apprehension that stems from not thoroughly understanding grills and outdoor kitchen equipment. In particular, how are they, as a retailer, going to facilitate designing and constructing an outdoor kitchen? All of these are valid questions. As a sales professional ... Read More
  • Get to Know Grills

    The weather is warm, the days are long, and consumers are ready to make the most of their backyards. As a retailer, it’s up to you to educate them on products and solutions so they can realize their best backyard experience. Due to the continuous exposure to the outdoor living trend, consumers understand and embrace the “outdoor room,” which can include any number of products. The most common categories are casual furniture, grills/outdoor kitchens and fire features. Chances are, if a consumer asks for your expertise selecting the right furniture for their backyard oasis, they’re also planning ... Read More
  • Listen and Learn

    Over the last 18 years, I’ve met with dealers around the country to share my grill product and outdoor kitchen knowledge. As a sales and marketing professional, sharing what I know has been a very important part of my job. Good product and category knowledge is a fundamental part of successful selling. I realize that my time in a dealer’s showroom is more than an opportunity to educate the owner and sales team—it’s an opportunity for me to learn. I ask questions and listen. I’ll often start a conversation with a dealer by asking a ... Read More
  • A Fond Farewell

    So much has changed in the retail landscape since my first column appeared in this magazine in 2013. In just four short years, there’s been an explosion in the number of new grill brands. We’ve seen well-known casual and barbecue retailers close their doors. There is the continual shift in how and where people buy products to enhance their outdoor spaces. The pace of change increases ever-more quickly each day. Looking back at the four years seems like decades, rather than years. The drum beat of our lives seems to continually increase in tempo. There is no slowing ... Read More
  • Seeing is Believing

    One of the truisms of business that I’ve held for decades is this: If you’re not visible . . . you’re invisible! Many retailers don’t have enough fingers and toes to keep track of the number of times a customer has remarked, “I never knew you were there.” Let’s face it: Consumers get in a traffic pattern rut. If you’re not situated along their normal route to and from work or near their home, you’re most likely invisible to them. Years ago in this column, I shared the anecdote about the time I was a guest ... Read More
  • A Sizzling New Year

    It’s an annual rite: Every new year brings a plethora of lists. Top health trends, decorating fads, the hot colors. While many of these lists are little more than entertainment, some can provide real insight for your business. If you’re selling outdoor cooking products, it’s important to know the emerging food trends so you can use them to boost sales, educate your customers, and customize your sales presentations and cooking classes. In that spirit, here are some of the top food trends for 2017: Meat Matters Contrary to some reports, meat consumption isn’t going away. While ... Read More
  • What a Year!

    The end of the year is typically a time of reflection and review. It gives us a chance to look back over the year and recall learning experiences from the last 365 days and bring those lessons forward into the new year. In 2016, I wrote thousands of words in this column with the intent to inspire, educate, and challenge you each month. With that in mind, here are some of the key takeaways from this past year’s columns: Forget Seasonality Barbecuing is no longer a fair-weather activity. Many grill owners use their outdoor cooking devices every month of ... Read More
  • Make a Friend, Make a Sale

    I learned decades ago that when it came to sales, people bought from people they liked. That’s been one of the cornerstones of my selling life ever since. And it’s the basis of what has become known as “relationship selling.” In 1990, “Relationship Selling” hit the shelves. The book by super salesman and speaker Jim Cathcart became an instant classic, selling tens of millions of copies. In 2016, the title is still in print, a testimony that the principles and training contained in its pages are still just as important and effective. The gist of Cathcart’s book ... Read More
  • Selling the Sizzle

    I am an unabashed cigar smoker. I get great enjoyment sitting out on my covered patio, firing up my pellet grill and a great cigar at the same time—it’s a relaxing way to enjoy a perfect day in Oregon. Every spring, I purchase around $200 worth of cigars from a catalog retailer based in North Carolina. I’ve been a longtime customer of this firm, and I like their wide selection of stogies. One of the company’s marketing tools is a daily sale email sent out to customers. Every morning, a new sales pitch arrives in my ... Read More