Whether a retailer already has an extensive grilling category, is looking to improve upon an existing grilling category or is brand new to the category completely, sometimes all it takes is the smell of mouth-watering food to lure customers through the doors.
In the August issue of Hardware Retailing magazine, three retailers who go above and beyond in the grilling and outdoor cooking category share what they do to stay on top. In this article, retailers can learn even more to apply to their own grilling endeavors, whether hosting an event for the community or live-streaming cooking demos on Facebook.
To read the full article on the grilling category, click here. Then read the ten tips below for even more advice on how to sell the products that make this category sizzle.
- Add Local Flare
When Bill Murff and his wife Susan decided to open up an expansive grill center when they expanded the footprint of Cypress Ace Hardware & Feed a few years ago, they knew having a wide selection of grills and accessories would be important for their success. According to Murff, the store specializes in local Houston-area seasonings. “We probably have over 100 types of seasonings,” he says.
Carrying local seasonings, salts, rubs and sauces offer a great way to collaborate with other independent businesses and encourages customers to shop local.
- Offer a Variety
In order to entice customers to purchase a new grill, having a selection of types and brands to choose from can help seal the deal. Brasseux True Value in Abbeville, Louisiana, offers a different types of grills so their consumers can choose exactly what they want. The store does very well in outdoor cooking products, and they carry Kamado Joe, Weber Grills and Traeger products, which have all done really well among his customers, says storeowner Gerrod Brasseux.
- Don’t Forget Accessories
At Wannemaker’s Home and Garden, the store carries an extensive offering of grilling accessories, says storeowner Joe Wannemaker. Customers can find a wide array of wood pellets, grill covers, grill cleaners, stainless steel tool set, food thermometers and much more. This selection is important, because a customer is likely only going to buy one grill for the immediate future, but accessories can be justified any time they make a trip to the store.
- Connect With the Local BBQ Community
To stay on top of the latest trends in the grilling category, it’s a good idea to connect with the local community of grill enthusiasts. For example, Wannemaker’s Home and Garden has a strong customer base of professional and backyard grilling customers. According to Wannemaker, this group of individuals has been able to offer him advice and suggestions on the products he should be stocking to boost sales in the category.
- Educate and Entertain
To establish one’s operation as the go-to for grilling tips and top products, educating and entertaining customers is key. At Cypress Ace Hardware & Feed, customers can come to the store and ask an associate questions, or they can attend one of the many cooking classes held in the grill department throughout the year. Not only is this something educational, but it also make for a fun outing and encourages customers to return in the future.
- Designate a Grill Expert
Brasseux does many Facebook Live videos in his store to demonstrate how to cook different recipes with the different outdoor cooking products his store sells. However, his assistant manager is from Australia and enjoys teaching customers unique recipes they may have never tried. By having one, two or a handful of employees passionate in the topic, customers will know who they can go to for advice or to simply swap recipes, creating a personal relationship and potentially leading to a long-term customer.
- Create an Eye-Catching Display
As with any department in one’s business, the grilling category allows customers to get an idea of the size and feel of the product they’re considering purchasing. While space may be an issue, its important to have floor models or even set them up outside the front of the store to grab customers’ attention. Depending on the region one’s business is in, it can either be a seasonal offering or a year round department. Each retailer Hardware Retailing spoke with has their own designated space in the store to showcase the variety of brands and products available.
- Provide Food Samples
One of the easiest ways to get customers talking about the grilling category is by grilling food on site and offering free samples as they come up to see what’s cooking. Both Brasseux True Value and Cypress Ace Hardware & Feed frequently provide samples to their customers, and it is a great way to allow them to get an idea of how different food cooks on different grill types.
- Offer a Test-Drive
The team at Cypress Ace Hardware & Feed recognizes that making a grill purchase is a big investment. That’s why Murff says he wants anyone considering buying a grill to come to the store and give it a test run. This allows them to learn first hand how the product works, what the food they cook on a specific grill tastes like and more.
- Learn From Manufacturers
Working closely with grill manufacturers is another way to ensure a well-versed sales department. Rather than simply stocking products and selling them, all of the retailers Hardware Retailing spoke with encouraged taking advantage of the many resources grilling manufacturers provide. Whether it’s helpful advice, signage or unique recipes shared on their websites, both managers and employees can gain a wealth of knowledge from the companies they work with in order to boost both staff and customer knowledge, as well as improve sales.