Lockedcustomers wanting samples of my bbq

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drsmoke02
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2006/02/21 09:24:59 (permalink)

customers wanting samples of my bbq

thank you all for your feedback on the filet. Now i'd like your opinions on wether or not i should give samples of the bbq i serve. since the restaurant is located in a state not thought of as a southern state,folks are suspicious of my ability to serve great que. i always comply,but when it's busy ,it's a pain for the waitstaff and kitchen. what say you?
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    LindaW
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 09:42:12 (permalink)
    Living in the Albany, NY area, which is definitely not a southern state...I would never ask for a sample of a restaurant's bbq...sounds like you have some interesting clientele...on the other hand..perhaps if you wanted to send out as an amuse...perhaps some riblets..(low cost item) or burnt ends from a brisket...just as a taste..then that would create interest...but that's up to you...if a customer likes the food, service, etc...they'll come back..if not...well...I think that subject as been covered...
    #2
    laststandchili
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 10:03:42 (permalink)
    Living in a BBQ wasteland (Annapolis, MD), I'd love to be able to sample before ordering. I've been burned by many "BBQ" restaurants. Just a small bite of pulled pork would be a great help in deciding whether to stay and order, or leave and never return. Good luck.

    Vayo con Queso
    #3
    glennpan
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 10:26:15 (permalink)
    Dr Smoke,

    I would definitely recommend allowing for some small sampling. It shows that you take pride in your Q. Especially as you say, you are not in a state known for its Q.

    Living in the Chicago area, I recently at at a small shop that had BBQ and smokehouse in its title. I was excited to order the BBQ brisket sandwich. The sandwich had no smoke ring, or flavor to indicate any preparation that could be construed as low and slow. When I asked why they called it BBQ, the owner looked at me funny, and said "because it has barbeque sauce on it". I didn't see any evidence of a smoker (there was none there), and asked how he chose the name of the place. He told me that he liked the sound of it.

    #4
    Greymo
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 10:27:49 (permalink)

    Personally, I would never ask for a sample of anything in a restaurant. It sounds like you have a varied enough menu so that one does not to order barbeque at your restaurant and has other choices if they are "leery" of ordering the barbeque.
    #5
    berndog
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 10:30:30 (permalink)
    I know it's a pain to deliver a sample to the table at a sit-down restaurant, but think of the increased business potential when they try something and love it. Maybe a small amount (just a mouthful) of pulled pork and beef brisket in those little 1 oz plastic cups used for condiments will convince them they want to order your Q'.

    I disagree with Linda, don't give them burnt ends or something you don't consider your best.

    I think of the many times I've asked waitstaff how good something was and instead of a description, they offered to bring me a small sample. I usually leave a very happy customer and give a larger tip for their caring enough to make sure I had a good experience. Both you and the waitstaff could benefit from this.
    #6
    mayor al
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 10:53:30 (permalink)

    I wouldn't expect a sample of Liver and Onions, or Hot Beef Sandwich to be offered at a 'sit-down' type of restaurant with a general menu. Why should I expect a sample to be offered of BBQ? Now if you have employees available to carry a tray around the restaurant offering a sample of various items that you are trying to gain feed-back (no pun) about from potential customers, then the sample thing is ok. Otherwise it is not worth the effort, and certainly not expected by the general public.
    Now if I were operating a Deli-type establishment, or a BBQ Stand where you order at a central location and pick up your food to carry it yourself to a table or outdoors, then having a sample plate of small tidbits on toothpicks might be ok (at the register or order-point) Especially if you are trying to introduce a new item!!
    #7
    Mosca
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 11:02:15 (permalink)
    I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't expect it. And as a customer I'd be embarrassed to ask.

    I think the way The Mayor phrased his answer is about right.

    And you do have a strange clientele. Without saying too much, where are you?



    Tom

    #8
    Jimeats
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 11:09:59 (permalink)
    You might want to consider doing it like they do in brew pubs, offer a sampler tray as a menu item. For a price they can have a small sample of each "Q" that you have avalible. If presented right it might evan become a mainstay on your menu. Chow Jim
    #9
    porkbeaks
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 11:31:59 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by drsmoke02

    thank you all for your feedback on the filet. Now i'd like your opinions on wether or not i should give samples of the bbq i serve. since the restaurant is located in a state not thought of as a southern state,folks are suspicious of my ability to serve great que. i always comply,but when it's busy ,it's a pain for the waitstaff and kitchen. what say you?


    As with your other question concerning the dropped filet, I think you need to provide a little more information before anyone can give good suggestions. I would like to know how often this request for tastings occurs? What types of bbq meats (other than brisket) do you offer? Are these offerings always on the menu? What percentage of your sales comes from bbq? Is it real or pseudo-Q? Cooked low and slow using wood? Can the customers see or smell any evidence of a pit or, perhaps, stacks of wood? Are you so confident of your product that, if it's ordered sight/taste unseen, the customer will be satisfied? pb

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    berndog
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 11:36:20 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Al-The Mayor-Bowen


    I wouldn't expect a sample of Liver and Onions, or Hot Beef Sandwich to be offered at a 'sit-down' type of restaurant with a general menu. Why should I expect a sample to be offered of BBQ?


    I rarely disagree with the Mayor, and I agree, that asking for a sample of a dish that has to be prepared and cooked is something I would never do or expect a restaurant to provide.

    But with smoked BBQ, there is usually a fully cooked slab of pork or brisket just waiting to be pulled or sliced when the next order comes in. Pulling off a small taste of pork or cutting a small slice of brisket is no big deal to the kitchen staff and could result in a future loyal customer. It may not be expected by the general public, but when given the opportunity, it's a great way to show customers that you care about them.
    #11
    saps
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 11:53:14 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Al-The Mayor-Bowen


    I wouldn't expect a sample of Liver and Onions, or Hot Beef Sandwich to be offered at a 'sit-down' type of restaurant with a general menu. Why should I expect a sample to be offered of BBQ?


    You inadverdently hit the nail on the head. Customer satisfaction is maximized when you exceed the customers expectations, not just meet them.
    #12
    Mosca
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 11:58:17 (permalink)
    You know, thinking about it I agree with chicagostyledog. The only barometer is profitability. Try it as a general offering for a week and see what happens. If the revenue generated outpaces the cost of the samples, then it's a good idea.

    But I still wouldn't pander to mooches.

    Tom

    #13
    jellybear
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 13:18:11 (permalink)
    People are always asking for a sample of my Spagehtti Sauce and I always give them a small cup.Then when you see the look on thier faces you know you got them hooked.Now if they start asking for a sample of your Filet breakout that one that hit the floor.
    #14
    LindaW
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 13:46:50 (permalink)
    Berndog...burnt ends is considered a delicasy by some...it's not the charred icky parts...check out www.jackstackbbq.com...they actually sell them mail order...

    #15
    Rootsman
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 14:02:03 (permalink)
    I've got a concession trailer and I'll sample if it's convenient (i.e., yes to pork sold by the weight and no to chicken sold by the quarter or piece)but I always ask the customer to promise to purchase the item if they love the sample.

    For customers that struggle to make a menu decisions, I'll often put a small sample of their second choice item in the take-out box to entice them to come back. They usually leave you a tip and come back for their second choice too.
    #16
    dreamzpainter
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 14:18:37 (permalink)
    I like Roots idea.. Alot of controversy on this question, it seemed like one was for sampling the next against all the way down the thread.
    #17
    Bushie
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 14:19:25 (permalink)
    At Louie Mueller's in Taylor, TX, they have always given "samples" of their brisket to those in line. When it's your time to order, Bobby takes a tray, covers it with butcher paper, then cuts off a chunk of brisket (usually a burnt end) and slaps it on the tray.

    Nice, and it is one of their "signatures".
    #18
    drsmoke02
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 14:31:37 (permalink)
    i indeed have a diverse customer base as i my
    place is on rt. 15 north just south of the mason dixon line in maryland. i get people from all over the USA and the world for that matter as we are quite close to gettysburg.my barbeque is as authentic as you can get anywhere.i use a southern pride smoker,hickory and white oak,nightly smoke pork butt,full cut briskit.daily pork chops,baby back ribs,half chickens,meatloaf.i have a ton of sides, and alot of other menu items,including filet mignon! did i mention that? PS. i have every kind of sauce you can think of,as i get requests for every kind.i probably get 3-4 requests a week for samples.
    #19
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 14:35:08 (permalink)
    I'm with the automatic free sample crowd. Perhaps a small pile (maybe a little more than a teaspoon) of pulled pork or a hunk of sliced brisket served on a round of chewy bread. If four people sit down at a table, four rounds of bread with 'Que are automatically brought out. If five people sit down then five rounds...you get the idea.

    By making this a regular part of your routine, you eliminate the "pain in the butt" factor. You have pre-sliced bread, and a small steam table tray full of pulled pork (or whatever) ready to go. A quick squirt of sauce on top and your server delivers it to the table before the party is ready to order. I think you'll be amazed at how quickly your orders for 'Que will shoot up.

    Just as an example of how this has worked for me as a diner, there used to be a neat Italian place here in Chicago called Lawrence of Oregano. It was one of Rich Melman's Lettuce Entertain You restaurants. They used to serve a palate cleanser of lemon sorbet, one very small scoop, about halfway through the meal. Since I was a teenager when this place first opened (holy crap, that makes me...never mind), I had never seen this before. I lapped up that sorbet quicker than anything. At the end of the meal, our waitress asked if we wanted any dessert. Now, I almost never order dessert (shocking, I know), but I loved that lemon sorbet so much, I ordered a full bowl of it. I did the same thing every time we went in there.

    Like chicagostyledog says, make a minimal investment at the beginning of the meal and it will reap rewards by the time the check comes.

    Just my two one-hundredths of a dollar.

    Buddy
    #20
    caratzas
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 14:38:39 (permalink)
    A BBQ place opened up near me recently. This is a pretty BBQ-ignorant area, so the clientele is curious, but not that well-informed. This restaurant's solution is to set up trays with sample-size/condiment-size plastic cups, with a couple of different types of pulled/chopped meat for the customers to try, by the counter where you place your order. I don't know how it's working out for them but that's one idea. It certainly does seem to reflect the owner's pride in his product.
    #21
    ScreenBear
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 15:46:05 (permalink)
    A million years ago my best-man-to-be and I went drinking in Staten Island. At the first bar we hit, a place we had never been before, the bartender greeted us, took our orders, and then proceeded to serve us our first drinks of the night. As he slid them to us, he said, "That's on the house."

    I had never been given a first drink "on the house" before. And after about 40 years, I've still not forgotten the moment.
    The Bear
    #22
    V960
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 15:52:06 (permalink)
    Having been raised in the GREATEST and possibly only wonderful BBQ state in the Union I not only have no difficulty in asking for sample but have no trouble in walking out the door if it doesn't meet my standards. That would be North Carolina to you ridge runners and swamp jockeys. Q holds a special place in the south and you are just on the edge...people want a taste of home but feel that if the guy who spilled his steak platter got brisket they might just want a burger to be safe. Just kidding...

    Someone wants a sample of the grilled cheese...get real... Q is something else. A management duty and it very much requires a management flair. You have the time, you should anyway, and the customer feels special and catered to. "Who else wants a taste of my great Q? Best Q in Maryland and I want all of you to know how good my staff cooks Q!!!"

    Freebie samples should be given w/ great flourish. One person asks for it the whole store should get one. I spent a painful amount of money pushing foie gras until it caught on...lost money on that item for six months and then bought a classic BMW on the profits the next year. Small children would ask for the app of the duck guts. Sounds funny but I actually heard eight year olds asking for fried duck guts before their dinner. PETA has made that a app you don't want to consider anymore. An animal rights chap burned down a place in California for serving foie gras...great stuff but not worth the risk.

    #23
    Mosca
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 16:23:27 (permalink)
    I'm not too far from you, and I'm planning a trip to Gettysburg this summer. I may also be planning a group trip. I'll stop in, dine, and introduce myself... and I won't drop any plates, and I wont ask for a free sample!


    Tom


    #24
    porkbeaks
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 16:39:11 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by drsmoke02

    i indeed have a diverse customer base as i my
    place is on rt. 15 north just south of the mason dixon line in maryland. i get people from all over the USA and the world for that matter as we are quite close to gettysburg.my barbeque is as authentic as you can get anywhere.i use a southern pride smoker,hickory and white oak,nightly smoke pork butt,full cut briskit.daily pork chops,baby back ribs,half chickens,meatloaf.i have a ton of sides, and alot of other menu items,including filet mignon! did i mention that? PS. i have every kind of sauce you can think of,as i get requests for every kind.i probably get 3-4 requests a week for samples.


    If you're located near and competing against Chubby's, I think you need to do all you can do to make the customers want to try your Q. However, if you are Chubby's, I think you already have a whole lot of folks clamoring for your Q and can do whatever you want. pb
    #25
    Greymo
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 17:07:48 (permalink)
    We have been by your place quite a few times and never wanted to stop because of all the cars outside. I don't think you have a thing to worry about and I would be darned if I would start handing out samples. If they are suspicious of your barbeque, send them to Famous Dave's in Frederick...............just what they deserve.
    #26
    BT
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 17:30:53 (permalink)
    If you are trying to sell more BBQ, I think giving out free samples is a good way to promote it. But if it's just another menu item to you and you don't really care whether people order that or a hamburger, I'm not sure it's worth the trouble, especially if you have a lot of one-time business from people passing through the area.

    If you are trying to promote it, I'd go full-bore and have your servers mention to folks as they hand out the menus what "great BBQ" you serve and offer a free sample. I'm pretty sure that would increase the amount you sell, though at the expense of other menu items. Doing it that way would also "regularize" the offer for the staff--they could prepare a supply of the samples during less-busy moments--and make it less of a burden.
    #27
    Sonny Funzio
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 20:37:34 (permalink)
    If you are going to offer the samples and use your servers to do it, you should use the opportunity to implement some increased 'suggestive selling' and train your wait staff as such ... defrays some of the costs of offering the samples, and patrons are amenable to suggestions while they're chewing. Make sure you develop a script for servers to use as a baseline for what they'll say.
    Focus on day's specials; also alcoholic beverages (if you have that); and don't forget to have servers hit'em up later for deserts. A really good opportunity with both customers and wait staff.

    Pushing specials and drinks worked great for us (got particularly good results with drinks).
    And we pushed only "true" specials ... only menu items which I'd obtained at a particularly good food cost due to seasonality or whatever, and sold at standard prices. Gave me some flexibility in my menu costing due to the improved margin ... and got my servers in the habit of stepping up to the plate.

    (I've tried to come up with a "sows ear into a silk purse analogy" for barbque... I'm sure there's one in there somewhere.)





    #28
    drsmoke02
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 22:20:47 (permalink)
    Greymo,never fail to stop because there are alot of cars outside, there's a reason for all the cars, you will never wait more than 6-7 min for an order to go,or at your table,i have created this eatery to fit every place i ever wanted to go for "crave food",i will put up every item on my menu against any restaurant special item ,in any restaurant in the country,less standard mozz. sticks etc.my ego is on the line ,not my banker on the phone, dunning me.it's my personal GOAL to everyday paint a picture food that people say ,THANK YOU,THAT WAS INCREDIBLE.it"s easy to say very hard to do!
    #29
    drsmoke02
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    RE: customers wanting samples of my bbq 2006/02/21 22:24:12 (permalink)
    MOSCA, I WOULD WELCOME YOU! TOM C.
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