How to Start a BBQ Business

The BBQ market in the US is expected to exceed $3 billion by 2025. The popularity of BBQ continues to grow in America. Do you want to learn how to start a BBQ business? Keep reading to discover critical steps like creating a website, designing a delicious menu, and getting insurance to boost your potential income.

How to Start a BBQ Business

There are several steps to follow when learning how to start a BBQ business. Here are things that you must do:

Come Up With a Catchy Name

A catchy name is essential to figure out when researching how to start a grill business. The name of your business must be both memorable and mouth-watering. You want customers to think of your name when they get hungry. They might satisfy that craving with a sweet or savory BBQ dish. A catchy name will also help you generate customers because customers will want to look you up online to find reviews.

Find Your Niche

You will likely face stiff competition when learning how to start a barbecue business. Research what your competitors are doing and find ways to differentiate yourself. For example, local restaurants may not offer the same regional BBQ you have experience with. Different areas are famous for their BBQ styles. Some popular BBQ styles include:

  • Kansas: Famous for smoked meats and sugary sauces. If you offer Kansas BBQ, you will likely include products with caramelized sugar seasoned with dry rub.

  • Carolina: A Carolina BBQ style is known for including spices and vinegar served with sauces made from catchup. Carolina meat is BBQ’d at low temperatures and given extra flavor through smoking.

  • Memphis: Your Memphis BBQ could offer dry or wet pork ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. Coleslaw is often added to pulled pork sandwiches to enhance the flavor.

  • Texas: A Texas BBQ consists of beef brisket, sausages, and ribs. Texas BBQ will smoke brisket in a pit or oven for a long time. You typically season the meat with salt and black pepper.

Find Meat Suppliers

You should take great care when deciding where you source your products. While finding inexpensive meat to offer customers low prices may be tempting, you should not be afraid to focus on quality. Quality products pay for themselves over time. If you offer a quality product, customers will be more likely to tell people about it and come back next time. Reach out to local farms to see what products they offer. The largest meat suppliers in the US are listed below based on Statista sales data.

CompanyHeadquarters2021 Sales
Tyson FoodsChicago, Illinois$43.2 billion
JBS USA HoldingsGreeley, Colorado$39.3 billion
Cargill Meat SolutionsWichita, Kansas$20 billion
SyscoHouston, Texas$17.9 billion
Smithfield FoodsSmithfield, Virginia$16 billion
Hormel FoodsAutumn, Minnesota$9.6 billion
National Beef Packing CompanyKansas City, Missouri$8.5 billion
Purdue FarmsSalisbury, Maryland$7.1 billion
OSI GroupAurora, Illinois$6.1 billion
ConAgra BrandsChicago, Illinois$6 billion

Decide What Your Menu Will Offer

BBQ businesses are popular for the unique products they offer. Whether you are passionate about selling your recipes or want to learn to create these products, customers will expect certain products on your menu. These include:

  • Pulled pork sandwiches: A pulled pork sandwich is made from shredded pork shoulder combined with toppings like coleslaw, bacon, pickles, and onions.

  • Brisket: A brisket is a primal beef cut cooked through a low-temperature process slowly.

  • Beef ribs: BBQ beef ribs are cooked for long periods until the meat starts to fall off the bone. The result is ribs that have a bold flavor while remaining juicy.

  • Potato salad: Despite not containing meat, potato salad is popular on BBQ menus. You make potato salad by combining mayonnaise, potatoes, eggs, seasoning, and pickled vegetables.

Register Your Business

You cannot just start offering food products to customers under your business name. Once you start doing business under a name other than your real name, you must register your business with the state you operate in. When registering your business, you have a few options for business structure, which offer different advantages.

  • Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship costs little to start, and you keep primary ownership. You avoid the extra taxes corporations must pay but are liable for business debts.

  • Corporation: A corporation is owned by a group of shareholders. Shareholders get paid from the business through dividends, which are taxed with business profits. Corporations can issue stocks to raise capital, and you are protected from business liability as a shareholder.

  • Limited liability company: An LLC protects you from your business liability but exempts you from being taxed on a corporate level. An LLC costs more to start than a sole proprietorship and has continuing fees to pay.

Get Your Ein From the IRS

An EIN or employer identification number is typically the only step to register your business with the federal government. This number identifies your business for tax purposes. You can apply for an EIN for free from the IRS. To apply for an EIN, you must fill out a form and submit it online, by fax, or by mail. The form asks you for your business registration information and asks you questions about your employees and business products.

Acquire a Food License

To serve food to customers as a business, you must get certain licenses and permits. Check your local government and health department to determine which ones are required. Typical you must have licenses that include:

  • Food handler’s license: You and your employees must have a food handler’s license, which shows you have passed a food safety course.

  • Health permit: The area where you prepare food must pass an inspection from your local health department that shows your food preparation conditions are safe for customers.

  • Vendor license: You need a vendor or sales tax license to charge customers for sales and pay a percentage of those sales to the government through taxes.

Hire Employees

Your BBQ business may start out with just you serving customers. However, as you start to get more customers, you may find yourself overwhelmed by client orders. To support your operations, you will want to hire BBQ chefs who can consistently produce items on your menu. You will want to hire servers who can deliver food to customer tables. Dishwashers help keep the utensils in your BBQ restaurant clean and ready to be used again.

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How to Start a Mobile BBQ Business

Do you want to serve BBQ but can’t afford to rent a building? If so, then it might benefit you to learn how to start a mobile BBQ business. Your mobile BBQ business can search for customers instead of waiting for them to visit you.

Get a Food Truck

The first step you need to know when learning how to start a BBQ food truck business is getting the truck itself.  A customized food truck serving BBQ menu items can cost over $100,000. Still, you can also purchase a food trailer that attaches to another vehicle. A food trailer will cost between $10,000 and $60,000, depending if it is used or new.

Take Advantage of Mobility

A skill to master when figuring out how to run a BBQ food truck is the mobility of your business. While parking your truck in a high-traffic area may be tempting, you aren’t taking advantage of your mobile business. By driving around a lot, your BBQ food truck is giving your business free advertising. Being mobile also grants you flexibility. You can drive your truck to different events to take advantage of increased foot traffic.

Test Your Menu

The ability to test your menu is a distinct advantage to discover when learning how to start a BBQ food truck. Don’t be afraid to travel to different areas and try new products and pricing strategies. Traveling to new areas gives you a fresh chance at a first impression with the local clients. You can get feedback from customers outside your primary service range that you can implement for your regular customers.

Engage on Social Media

Don’t let your BBQ business be left out of the conversation. According to the Pew Research Center, seven out of ten Americans actively use social media. This includes platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Tiktok, Snapchat, and Instagram. By creating an active social media account, you can make posts that reinforce customer loyalty and interact with your customers directly. Customers are more likely to look favorably at your business when they can interact with you directly and give feedback.

Business advertising is especially important for mobile BBQ businesses. Customers will not be reminded of your BBQ menu as often as a restaurant because there won’t be a physical building to remind them. You will want to drive your BBQ truck around to festivals and events to start getting the word of your business out there. Utilize your social media account to broadcast your location and what events you plan on attending.

 group of customers exiting a delicious BBQ restaurant.

How to Start a BBQ Business From Home

Do you want to learn how to start a BBQ business from home? A home BBQ business saves money on overhead costs like building rent, dishes for customers, and paying for servers. However, a home business may struggle to get the word out about its menu items to customers. Below are a few actionable steps to help you start a home BBQ business.

Create a Website

An important step to consider when discovering how to run a BBQ business from home is creating a website. With a website, you essentially have a billboard to advertise your business that customers can see 24/7. Customers will check to see if you have a website for your menu options. Having a nice-looking website will make you appear more legitimate and trustworthy in the eyes of your customers.

Use E-mail Campaigns

An email campaign can have a huge return on investment. An email campaign is an opportunity to reach out to your customers directly and create interest in promotions and products. Forbes estimates that e-mail campaigns have a return on investment of $45 per $1 you spend across different industries. You can use emails to set the tone of your brand, send special coupons to drive traffic and attract customers through delicious-looking photos.

Differentiate Your Business

While it is good to stick to market trends, you don’t want to fall into the trap of just offering products that everyone else does. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your menu as a home business. You can specialize and offer unique BBQ products like lamb BBQ, Japanese BBQ, or Hawaiian BBQ. 

Invest in SEO

SEO or search engine optimization is the process where you improve the ranking of your website on search engines like Bing or Google. By producing content on your website that addresses a searcher's intent, customers are more likely to find you. SEO generates organic interest for your business. People who find you through search engines are more likely to convert to being loyal customers.

Get the Right Equipment

A BBQ business will require specialized equipment to prepare your dishes correctly. Some common equipment and its prices are compared below.

EquipmentUsed forCost
SmokerCooks meat at low temperatures and imparts extra flavor through a smoking process.$100-$1,000
OvenInsulated environment for cooking meat and baking other dishes.$500-$4,000
PitA cooking device buried underground that allows for long periods of slow cooking.$300-$1,400
TongsHandle meat safely when it is cooking.$5-30
SpatulaFlip meat cuts to cook them properly.$5-$20
Meat thermometerHelps you figure out when a meat cut is properly cooked$20-$100
Leather apronProtects cooks from meat, oil, and juice splatter$30-$140
GrillCooks meat by applying heat from below using gas, coals, or electric power$100-$3,000

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Insurance Requirements for Boosting Income

An insurance policy with the right coverage can save your business income. You never know when you will face expensive costs from a lawsuit. You could quickly pay thousands or more between lawyer fees and court costs. Below are the recommended insurance policies for BBQ businesses.

Business Owner’s Policy

A business owner’s policy combines general liability and commercial property insurance into one policy. Because of this, it is considered one of the most comprehensive insurance policies. For your business owner’s policy, choose NEXT. They are an online-based insurance provider that prides itself on affordable and transparent pricing. This means you will never be subject to hidden fees behind the purchase price of your policy. Their business owner’s policy includes business interruption insurance. This policy can help you with moving expenses and paying debts when your business is closed due to a covered event. NEXT has an A- rating with AM Best.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance is the policy you need for customer injuries and damaged property. The policy protects you from third-party liability claims from bodily injury, advertising injury, and property damage. Thimble is our pick for general liability insurance. They allow you to purchase short-term liability insurance down to the hour. Their policies are backed by A-rated partners like Markel. Thimble has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance is necessary for defending your business from errors you or your employees make. This policy pays for legal fees and other costs related to negligence claims from your customers. Hiscox is an excellent choice for professional liability insurance. You can purchase a professional liability policy specialized to your business needs. They quickly respond to claims and will immediately assign a personal agent once they know of a claim.

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial property insurance protects your business equipment, tools, and materials from damage. If your property is damaged due to fire, theft, water, wind, or vandalism, this policy will help you repair or replace it. For commercial property insurance, choose CoverWallet. You can choose a policy on their platform from over ten well-known providers. If you are in a hurry, you can skip the insurance form and call a representative directly. CoverWallet operates in 48 states and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Your commercial auto insurance policy is necessary to protect your vehicles from damage. This policy will also provide liability coverage for accidents your vehicles are involved in. Tivly is our top choice for a commercial auto policy. They help connect you to the right policy from over 200 insurance partners. Their vast selection means you are much more likely to find a policy that addresses more of your business needs. Tivly has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

A workers' compensation policy protects your workers from the consequences of getting sick or injured while working. Once you start hiring employees, most states will require you to purchase this insurance. The Hartford is an excellent pick for your workers' compensation insurance policy. You will find benefits like the "nurse back to health" program. This ensures your workers always get proper care through their experienced nurse case managers. The Hartford boasts an A- rating from AM Best.

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