Rob Schwing

Do outdoor kitchens affect how customers buy grills?

June 17, 2014

Dear Grill Guy,

I’m seeing more customers walk in my door with questions about designing/decorating their outdoor living space. Sometimes this includes questions about grills, but not always. How can I use these conversations as an opportunity to steer people toward a grill?

To be effective in selling grills to consumers, you first have to take a step back and understand their passion. Not everyone’s passion will be grills and that’s OK. There are inroads you can traverse to arrive at your sale destination.

Let’s say you’re talking to “pool guy.” We all know him — this is the guy who’s head-over-heels in love with his pool and everything associated with it. How do you interest pool guy in a grill? Talk to him in his language.

Pool guy will be interested in grill features like premium grade materials that can handle the effects of salt and chlorine. A question as simple as “How’s your grill holding up around your pool?” can jumpstart the conversation. Even if his current grill seems OK, you can introduce him to features on other grills you carry that may hold up better over time in a pool environment.

Can you give other examples of “talking to someone in their language?”

Sure. Someone with a passion for entertaining in their lavish backyard garden will require a conversation that shows you understand their priorities — namely, gardening and aesthetic beauty. “What sort of furniture do you have? What type of food do you prefer? How many people do you typically cook for? Is there space for a grill or do you need something more space conserving or less obtrusive?”

Show that your interest lies not in just selling them a grill but in helping them best enjoy their lifestyle and you’ll create a customer for life.  

Have outdoor living spaces changed what features most customers are looking for in their grills?

Gone are the days when people stuck a grill in the corner of their garage or deck all covered up like a blemish. Today, consumers expect appliance-like performance. They want to know if the grill offers the same performance and quality as their (deluxe) stovetop and oven. They demand more in terms of cooking performance, durability and reliability. A top-of-the-line grill is an investment and people treat it as such.

What questions should I be prepared to answer?

The conversation 20 years ago was all about BTUs and “Look how many burgers this baby can hold!” Today’s consumer is honed in on cooking performance and food results.

And know your accessories. Any dealer committed to the category carries a solid 24 feet of shelf accessories ranging from a beer can chicken tool to baskets, griddles, salt blocks and more. A fun accessory sale can often pave the way for the same consumer to return at a later date for a grill.

Consumers seek out dealers because they want personalization and expertise. The grill category is constantly growing and changing so stay informed, stay updated and — above all — keep grilling.