Selling Solutions: The BBQ Beginner

While most people assume any man over the age of 21 knows about cooking out on a grill, commonly referred to as “barbequing,” the reality is much different. Most folks in their late teens, early 20s and on up usually know ONE way to cook out on a grill.  Some might know more than one grill. How many are “BBQ masters” and can cook up a given dish on any type of grill provided? The answer gets complicated when you look at the wide variety of grills available, how they can be used, the types of fuel needed and so on. Recently, H.I.R. Interviewed an Ace Hardware manager about how they sold solutions for the new BBQer. “New,” in this case, meant new to a particular grill; not to grilling in general.


Of course, the first thing that needs to be determined is what kind of grill the customer is looking for. Do they have a charcoal grill and want to switch to a gas grill? Are they looking for a gas fueled griddle? Do they have gas and want to switch to charcoal? Do they want a smoker? Are they keeping the grill they have and looking to increase their cooking versatility? The old axiom of, “The customer is always right,” absolutely applies when it comes to what they want. That said, if they aren’t fully informed or properly educated about options available, what they want may not suit the needs they’re trying to fill.  The requisite conversation has to be held to understand what they came in for; what they’re intended to do with it and whether or not the two actually meet.

The type of grill they are looking for takes into consideration several characteristics: size, fuel type, cook type and placement. Fuel type, cook type and placement also all play a role in what accessories they will need to go with their new grill. It is an unfortunate reality that price also plays a role in what your customers seek and what they want compared to what they need compared to what they are willing to spend may not all line up. If that’s the case, then you need to have an experienced and knowledgeable sales person to navigate those conversations and direct them accordingly; hopefully upwelling them to the system that will match their wants and needs in spite of the higher price tag.

After you have determined what fuel type (gas, charcoal, electric) they want and what cooktop they want (grate, griddle, interchangeable), then you can focus on size available. It is amazing today that you can get an electric smoker that can be controlled via your smart phone through a blue tooth connection, but it’s reality. Just today (as this as written) doing research, this author saw a Traeger Smoker that is electric and is controlled via Bluetooth connection to the owner’s smart phone. From the app, the Traeger electric smoker’s temperature could be monitored and controlled, timer set, etc. The only thing it doesn’t seem to do is put the meat in the smoker for you!

A new Traeger electric smoker with bluetooth connected controls. Smart phone app controlled!

One the fuel type, cooktop and size have been determined, you usually have limited options for the customer to choose from and they can make that choice. It’s important to remember that even if their choice doesn’t match their stated needs or desires, the sales staff needs to be supportive of the choice and seamlessly switch gears to accessories for the selected grill.

Once the grill itself is selected, it’s time to work on accessories. Intended placement of the grill can help determine what accessories are necessary. For instance, if it’s a charcoal grill going on a deck, they should purchase a grill mat to go beneath it and protect the deck from potentially dropped hot coals or dripping grease. No matter what the fuel type is and no matter what the placement of the grill is intended to be, a fire extinguisher should always be suggested. Some customers will see the immediate logic and some customers will argue against the need saying they already have one. Proximity is then the concern and can be a selling point. A fire extinguisher in the garage or under the kitchen sink may not be accessible quickly enough to do any good and an additional fire extinguisher can be justified as necessary for safety and property protection.

Beyond a grill mat and fire extinguisher, they will need to buy the necessary fuel for charcoal or gas, flavor chips for smokers, and grills utensils / cooking tools as well. Do they need drip pans? Aluminum liners? Other accessories?  To help encourage accessory sales, a sliding discount can be put in place.  For instance, if they’re buying one or two accessories, they can get a 5% discount on the purchase. If they’re buying three to five accessories, a 10% discount could be offered.  More purchase equates to larger discount offered with a maximum at 15% (as the example).

Two last things that should always either be sold with or suggested for grilling: a cover for the grill to keep it protected from the elements when it’s not in use and/or after it’s cooled down from use, and a cover for the chef.  Grill covers are made to fit every size and shape of grill and should always be included as a recommended accessory or as part of a bundle.  Almost every grill cook has been caught in unexpected rain after they’ve started cooking, or burned by bright sun when they’ve been at it too long. A tall umbrella or sufficiently high easy-up type of protection should at least be suggested. The cover should be sufficiently sized to provide protection and sufficiently tall to NOT be ignited by the heat rising from the grill.

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