The franchise business like anything in life has its ups and down and even the top franchisors will make mistakes along the road to success. It is all a learning experience.
Here are common mistakes of the top BBQ franchises.
Creating Unrealistic Expectations
While you certainly want to promote your BBQ franchise and the unique qualities you bring to the table, you should always be wary of boasting because you are just creating unrealistic expectations for yourself.
Larry Lavine of Ten 50 BBQ in Richardson learned this the hard way when he boasted on the first day of his business that they were of the same quality of Aaron Franklin’s in Austin which was considered the gold standard in barbecue in the area.
You don’t leave yourself any room for mistakes, which we all make on occasion, when you build up customer expectations too much.
The BBQ business is all about finding that balance of having enough fresh meat to serve all your customers, but not wasting any of it in the process. There is a learning curve to this. That is why barbecue franchise experts recommend that you have a graduated opening where you just stay open for lunch and close when you run out of meat in the beginning. Then as your customer demand increases, start to extend your hours.
Jack Perkins of Slow Bone in Dallas made his mistake when he opened his restaurant. He was determined to stay open for lunch and dinner right from the start and never run out of meat and never serve yesterday’s meat, ended up losing close to $20,000 in food.
A business’s success really comes down to the people in it and the partnerships formed. This is especially true in the franchise industry which is based on the relationship between the franchisor and the franchisee.
When you form partnerships with weak partners, it is inevitably going to hurt your business. That is what happened with Famous Dave’s, one of the largest barbecue franchises in the U.S. While the franchise grew in leaps and bounds after its opening in 1994 and won many awards for its ribs and sauce, it still found itself in financial trouble when some franchises began to leak money. Hit especially hard were restaurants that were born out of a partnership between the company and musician Isaac Hayes which in the end cost Famous Dave’s millions of dollars.
Expanding Too Fast
Another common mistake of top BBQ franchises is expanding too fast. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to grow your company, it is important to do it the smart way. You always need to be up on the trends in your market and the overall economy so you can make wise decisions on whether a new location will do well or not. Warning signs to look out for are dining trends where people are eating out less or over-saturation of the bbq franchise market in a particular area.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit ran into this problem in 2016 when the company was forced to close down over 100 of their restaurants because they weren’t making enough money to stay afloat.
Here are some tips on how to keep your BBQ franchise on the road to success:
- Don’t Act Like a Chain. Even though you are a franchise, you don’t have to act like one. While of course there needs to be some continuity and familiarity between franchise units, you don’t want it to feel too cookie cutter. It is a good idea for each location to bring in its own flavor from the community that it operates in.
- Become a Community Hot Spot. Besides bringing the community flavor into your BBQ franchise, you can also connect more to your customers by becoming a popular gathering spot for the community. Open up your restaurant to community events like town meetings and sports teams award dinners and you will find your customer return rate increase substantially. When people think of a fun place for dinner and hanging out with family and friends, they will think of your place.
- Hire Staff that Share Your Passion. In order to create that warm, friendly and personable environment in your franchise, of course, you need to hire the right staff. Your employees need to share your vision for the restaurant and be as passionate as you are about providing each customer the best experience possible.
- Make Delicious Food. This goes without saying, but with barbecue it can be especially challenging until you find yourself in the sweet spot of what goes into making each dish perfectly. Barbecuing just right is a slow process and can take anywhere from 12 to 16 hours. Sometimes it can feel a little hit and miss at first perfecting the process to get the right amount of tenderness. And finding the right sauce is a big ingredient too.
- Take Baby Steps. Because there is usually some trial and error when running a barbecue pit, don’t feel pressure to have a lot of dishes on your menu when you first open. Pick a few dishes that are your strongest like brisket, ribs and sausage which are barbecue staples, and start with them. Your customers will appreciate your emphasis on quality. Then when the kitchen is running consistently smooth then start adding more options to your menu.
- Find the Price Sweet Spot. The costs of running a barbecue joint is more expensive than other franchises which can be a challenge. You need to recoup your losses and make money, but you know too high prices will drive most customers away. Your loyal customers who are truly barbecue aficionados understand that quality meats will cost a little more and will be expecting it. Just try to find that sweet spot where you keep your restaurant thriving but keep costs manageable for the customer.
- Never Bite Off More Than You Can Chew. When it comes to investing in and running a business, there is always an element of risk involved. To protect yourself from going completely belly up, you need to make sure you have a fail-safe. Make sure you have money coming in from another avenue to keep you afloat if things don’t go as well as you hoped. That way you can rebound easier from a failed business.
Interesting in getting into the BBQ franchise, but don’t have a lot of experience? Don’t worry about. Having the right people in your corner can be a big help. Chaps Pit Beef is now offering franchise units for its nationally known barbecue restaurant. For more information about bbq franchise opportunities, contact Chaps Pit Beef today.