Saddleback recently had a meeting with Meijer to discuss selling our BBQ Sauce in their stores. Retailers want your product to make strong business sense and to feel an emotional connection with your product before putting it on their shelves. A strong pitch can help deliver on both counts, and it is important to remember a few key strategies to incorporate into your presentation.
As Meijer did with Saddleback, It is likely that the retailer will send you a number of different requirements to meet, and probably some spreadsheets and/or documents for you to fill out and bring to the meeting. It is imperative that you complete any documentation the retailer asks for, and to forget any would put you at a strong disadvantage up front. After you assemble what the retailer asks for, it is time to start filling out the rest of your presentation.
The more data you compile the better, and the numbers are critically important. At the end of the day, even if the retailer loves the story of your business, connects with the presenter and appreciates your product, if the numbers don’t work then your product isn’t going into their stores. The data sets that will likely be of utmost importance in this presentation are the following:
- Those in connection with velocity and productivity (see What You Need to Know To Get Your Products Into Meijer).
- Data concerning the price comparison to other similar products in the retailer’s stores.
- Gross margins for the retailer.
- If your product has connections with popular consumer trends, this should be presented as well.
While there certainly might be other numbers the retailer will want to see, those mentioned above should always be included.
The retailer should walk away from the presentation knowing the identity of your business and how that identity is expressed through the product you’re selling. Have slides covering the following background information in connection with your business:
- Information about your product that demonstrates it is unique.
- Any notable marketing campaigns or public recognition.
- Successful promotions you have ran and any you plan to run with the retailer.
- Space to sales, or the amount of space your product will take up on their shelves and the reasoning behind your product’s packaging size.
- If you can do so honestly, a statement about limited debt of the company and ability to meet any increasing production demands.
How to order the information included in this blog is an interesting question, with arguments running both ways. For Saddleback, we believe the numbers should be the last thing the presenter sees as it will ultimately make or break the deal. The retailer should walk away from the meeting with a strong understanding of why your product makes sound business sense. However, everyone’s business is different, and exactly how you deliver the final presentation should be adjusted to fit your style. Whatever has you presenting in a smooth and confident manner while effectively covering accurate information is the strategic path you should pursue.
Here at Saddleback, we sell our BBQ sauce locally and have had discussions with Meijer to get our products into their stores. Many local businesses have similar desires, but getting into such a retailer comes with challenges. Meijer is concerned with two critical factors in determining whether to take on a new product: velocity and productivity.Velocity:
Velocity in a retail setting is generally defined as the rate of sales that a brand or SKU achieves through a store, group of stores or market area over a defined period of time:
V = Sales per Time Period / Unit-of-Distribution
Velocity is all about how fast your product sells, which is of major importance to a large retailer like Meijer. A strong velocity shows a retailer that your existing base of stores is experiencing growth, and instills confidence that your product will sell similarly in their store. Here’s an example of how it works:
Let’s say a particular retailer is interested in your weekly velocity, or number of units sold per week per store. Assume further that you have sold 12,500 units over 6 months across 25 stores.
- Start by calculating units per year: 2 * (12,500 units) = 25,000 units per year
- Next, get your weekly sales: 25,000 units / 52 weeks = 480.77 units per week
- Finally, divide this number by the total number of stores: 480.77 / 25 =19.23
- Velocity = 19.23 units per week per store
A high and increasing velocity is a sign of brand strength, and demonstrates to a retailer that you’re gaining new customers, obtaining repeat purchases, and that your product makes overall business sense.
Productivity in a retail setting is generally measured by multiplying the total sales of a particular product by that product’s price:
P = Total Sales * Retail Price
Productivity is all about the value of the product you're selling - customers want it and will pay a high price for it. From a retailer’s perspective, while they want your product to have a high velocity and sell quickly, they also want to maximize their margins and profits. Combine a high rate of productivity with a high velocity and you are a large retailer’s dream come true. Building off the example above, here is how productivity can make or break your product:
Let’s assume, as above, we have a product with a velocity of 19 units per week per store. At 25 stores, this is 475 total units per week on average. The weekly productivity of these total sales will depend on price:
- The product retail price is $1.99: P = 475 * $2.50 = $945.25
- The product retail price is $24.99: P = 475 * $24.99 = $11,870.25
- The product retail price is $99.99: P = 475 * $99.99 = $47,495.25
One sees quickly how pricing can significantly affect the productivity rate. That is why it is important to be thinking not only about selling quickly, but selling a high-quality product that is going to bring in meaningful dollars to the retailer.
The bottom line is that both factors are of equal importance. If you are a business trying to grow a product, your goal should be to get into as many retailers as you can, with an end goal of getting into a large-scale retailer. Any major retailer is going to care deeply about velocity and productivity, so understand these factors well and prepare substantial data on them in advance of any meeting with a retailer.
How a $0.61 increase in the cost of production leads to a nearly $2.50 increase for consumers.
The company that manufactures our BBQ Sauce is raising our costs by over 20%. Why? Inflationary pressures: prices are rapidly rising for shipping, ingredients, plastics, and glass. We do not fault our manufacturer. We are experiencing the same forces in our restaurants. BUT If something doesn’t change, it could mean our BBQ sauces are too expensive for retailers.
Each time a retail product changes hands, the price goes up. We’ll use actual costs from our experiences to demonstrate how this works.
Old Pricing - We purchase the sauce for $1.93/Bottle (including Shipping and Label) > We sell it to a Distributor for $3.38 > The Distributor sells it to the Retailer for $4.19 > The Retailer sells it on their shelves for $5.99
New Pricing (same margins) - We purchase the sauce for $2.54/Bottle > We sell to the Distributor for $4.45 > the Distributor sells to Retailer for $5.52 > the Retailer sells it on their shelves for $8.49!!
This $0.61 increase at production leads to a $2.50 increase for you, the consumer.
We hope this demonstrates how fragile pricing is, and how rapidly prices can change. A seemingly insignificant rise in the cost of production leads to a dramatic increase in the final price for the consumer.
We’re currently working to figure out solutions. Any tips, information, or ideas are encouraged.
Saddleback BBQ is excited to announce that it will be offering our customers a variety of Black Friday and Cyber Week Deals! Here are the details:
Black Friday - Codes Valid Through November 26th Only
- BOGO Sauce
- Buy a bottle of one our signature BBQ sauces and get a second bottle for free!
- Choose between our Sweet & Savory and Michigan Mustard.
- No limit on how many times you can use this code.
- BOGO 50% Apparel
- Buy one of our pieces of Saddleback apparel and get a second for piece 50% off.
- No limit on how many times a customer may use this code.
- Brisket Class
- Get 35% off a Brisket Class with Saddleback Matt.
Cyber Week - Codes Valid Nov. 29th - Dec. 5 Only
- Spend $25, get 15% off.
- Applicable to all BBQ Products.
- Spend $40, get 20% off.
- Applicable to all BBQ Products.
- Spend $60, get 25% off.
- Applicable to all BBQ Products.
- Spend $75, get 30% off.
- Applicable to all BBQ Products.
- There is no limit on how many times customers may use these codes.
Darrell’s Market in Mason recently expressed interest in a display shelf for our sauces. Our talented employee, Jacob Spare, was up to the task. He has this beauty finished in no time!
Make sure to check this out next time you visit Darrell’s.
Say hello to our sauces newest home, Gorman’s Food Market in Lansing!
Thank you to everyone over at Gorman’s for being so accommodating.
Which local store should we check out next?
Our sauces are now on the shelves of three Gordon Food Service stores! If you’ve been following our page for any time, you know getting our products into a national retailer has been one of our biggest goals. This is our first major breakthrough! There’s a chance if all goes well we could be on the shelves of GFS stores across the country.
We have a 60-90 day trial period to prove there’s demand for our BBQ Sauces. This means in the coming months if you purchase a bottle of sauce from GFS, not only will you be buying a delicious product, you will also be helping us attempt to achieve our goals.
Our mission is to display that Midwest BBQ is as good or better than any other barbeque. That is why we so prominently display the map of Michigan on each of our bottles. We want people everywhere to notice the prominence of Michigan’s BBQ scene.
Thank you, everyone, fingers crossed.
The addresses of the three GFS stores we’re in:
5912 W Saginaw Hwy, Lansing, MI 48917
454 E Edgewood Blvd, Lansing, MI 48911
1851 Newman Rd, Okemos, MI 48864
Buy any two bottles of Saddleback sauce and receive a $5.99 credit to use at either saddleback location!
To redeem the the credit, take a photo of our receipt and go to this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfovh-_Ntklp3LTALyZOyDNNU5zA7A_KMf08HqtazcdVzdPZg/viewform
(this rebate has now expired)
2021 Event Schedule DATE: Sunday, July 18th CLASS: Brisket School Saddleback Owner, Matt Gillett, shares his knowledge on smoking brisket MENU: Brisket, Baby Back Ribs, off-menu items LOCATION: Undecided, dependent on the number of participants. TIME: Undecided PRICE: $215 TICKETS: Order Now! To order, click the link, select May 22nd for the date, look under "BBQ Products"
DATE: Saturday, May 8th CLASS: Saddleback BBQ School Saddleback Owner, Matt Gillett, goes over his BBQ philosophy while serving plenty of BBQ food MENU: Baby Back Ribs, Brisket, a Platter of off-menu items LOCATION: Saddleback Okemos - Butchers Room TIME: 11:00am - 1:00pm PRICE: $215 TICKETS: Order Now! To order, click the link, select May 8th for the date, look under "BBQ Products"
DATE: Saturday, May 22nd CLASS: Brisket School Saddleback Owner, Matt Gillett, shares his knowledge on smoking brisket MENU: Brisket (Pellet Smoker & Reverse Flow), Baby Back Ribs, and a platter of off-menu items LOCATION: Saddleback Okemos - Butchers Room TIME: 11:00am - 1:00pm PRICE: $215 TICKETS: Order Now! To order, click the link, select May 22nd for the date, look under "BBQ Products"
More Classes Coming Soon - Sign up to our Text Alerts to receive updates!
Meater+ Bluetooth Thermometers
Saddleback recently started selling these thermometers! We choose to go with Meater for a few reasons. Bluetooth thermometers are quickly taking over in the world of thermometers. They’re easy to use, you can check the temp of whatever you’re cooking right from your phone, and they have specific settings for almost every meat you could think of.
- 165ft of Range
- Easy Bluetooth Connection
- Internal Temp.
- Ambient Temp.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are my MEATER probes dishwasher safe?
Yes. We have been testing and have found no issues with durability or safety when it comes to putting your MEATER probes in a dishwasher.
We still recommend hand washing your probes to get rid of any stubborn debris.
Can MEATER function as a deep fry or candy thermometer?
MEATER should not be used as a deep fry or candy thermometer. This will damage the probe and void its warranty.
Should I be worried that my MEATER probe keeps disconnecting?
The MEATER probe uses Bluetooth to communicate to either your smart device, MEATER+ charger or MEATER Block.
With all wireless technology, but especially with Bluetooth, there are limitations on the range, especially if you are cooking with heavily insulated cooking appliances.
You should be able to get a minimum of 10ft from your probe in the open air, but certain smokers / grills and ovens (the thicker the material and the fewer gaps for the signal to escape) will cause range to decrease.
If you find that your MEATER probe is disconnecting, don’t worry, the MEATER app has been built to handle all types of disconnections, which means, when you do reconnect your cook will update, and carry on as normal.
Towards the end of your cook, we recommend keeping the connection active so you don’t miss any important notifications.
Why is my MEATER probe no longer connecting?
If you have used your MEATER Probe before, making sure the square metal end is clean is very important, as this is where the probe makes contact for charging.
Residue and grime from previous cooks may even look barely visible, which means that your probe may not have been charging since your last cook.
We recommend mixing some baking soda and vinegar on a sponge to give the ambient square end a good clean after every cook.
On the charging base itself, you could also see a build up of dirt or soot on the silver spring, which can impact the charger from properly connecting to the probe. It is advisable to give that silver spring a clean as well.
If you are still having trouble, we recommend restarting your mobile phone or tablet and making sure no other household devices are connected to your MEATER Probe.
Double check permissions:
iOS: From the Settings menu on your device, navigate to Privacy > Bluetooth and ensure that the toggle next to MEATER is switched on.
Android: From the Settings menu on your device, navigate to Apps > MEATER > Permissions and make sure that location permissions are enabled specifically for the app.
If you’re using a Samsung Galaxy device specifically, navigate to Settings > Biometrics and Security and check that Location/Find My Phone is turned on.
Why is my MEATER+ charger just flashing red when I take out the probe?
When your MEATER+ charger starts to blink red, it means that it has lost its Bluetooth connection to its probe.
Due to recent changes in the app, you might notice that when you remove your probe from the MEATER+ charger, it starts blinking red straight away, but appears as connected within the app itself.
Don’t worry, your MEATER+ is not broken. This just means that your probe found a stronger connection with your smart device. Once your smart device is no longer in range of the probe, your MEATER+ charger will automatically take the connection.
To avoid this, remove the probe from the MEATER+ charger before you open the app. This way it will blink green from the start.
Blinking red and not showing as online either way?
Your probe might not have charged properly. We recommend scrubbing the contact points before leaving in the charger to charge properly. You can find more information here.
How to Bottle a BBQ Sauce for Retail Sale
From Production to Shelves – A Handy Cheat Sheet
Throughout this blog, we’re going to cover each step of taking a product to the retail space. Please revisit this blog whenever you are uncertain of the next step. We speak only about what we have real experience in, we hope this will make the information extremely practical.
Bottling our bbq sauce was something we always wanted to do. Truthfully the reason we hadn’t done it sooner was not for lack of effort. We had reached out to over 50 co-packing companies. The answer we were continuously given was that our order size was not going to be worth their time. We’ve now figured it out and hope to help anyone attempting to take a product from production to shelves.
There’s no reason to go through the long grueling process if you don’t have a product that people want to buy. It’s not enough to have friends and family tell you it’s a good idea. Get out there, let strangers try it. We had a bit of an advantage here. We’re a restaurant, we have new customers coming in every day giving their input on our BBQ sauce. We felt fairly comfortable that we had something worth selling and that there would be some demand for the product.
Since most people don’t have this advantage they often skip this step. Please don’t do this, this is possibly the most important factor separating success and failure. Craft a simple prototype, don’t spend much time on this, you’re just going for a Minimum Viable Product. This way outsiders can give their input. You can see what features people enjoy and which are frivolous.
There are other options that will serve a similar purpose, this is just the one that we’re familiar with. It’s a fairly simple platform to use. The setup for a project takes less than a day and the payoff can be huge.
Video – going over what motivated you to make this product, your background story, what you will use the money for.
Attractive Rewards – for people that back you. You can do several tiers for different levels of backing (ie a different rewards for $5 pledged than for $100).
Setting Your Goal – This is important, specifically for Kickstarter, if you set your goal to $10,000 and you reach $9,999 you don’t receive a single dollar. There’s really no reason to make your goal something you don’t think you can comfortably hit. There are no rules to how much you can go over. For example our goal was $4,500 and we raised over $16,000 (Humble Brag).
Promoting Your Campaign – This is crucial, you need to use whatever existing audiences you have and all social media tools to your advantage. Post about the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Use your business page (if you don’t already have one you can make one in less than 10 minutes) to talk about the campaign. Boost your posts to audiences interested in topics similar to your product.
This portion of the blog is specific to food products
Once you have a product you’re confident with you need to have it tested in a lab. There are companies that offer these services as well as most universities. We’re lucky enough to be down the street from the largest university in Michigan.They tested the PH level, shelf stability, and nutritional breakdown. This is all mandatory before taking your product to retail stores. This step can seem daunting, but the company or university will really guide you and take the difficulty out of it. The most difficult portion was getting MSU a recipe to the gram, it needs to be uber specific.
This step took the longest. There are seemingly infinite companies out there offering these services. Not to mention the fact that you could produce the product in house and potentially save money. If you’re going to produce in-house make sure you’re bargain shopping. Buy used, compare many prices, and don’t be scared to barter. We chose, for now, to have the production done out-of-house. This way we save labor and are able to save money since we currently don’t have the necessary equipment.
If you’re going to hire a production company, this is cold calling, you truly just need to pick up the phone and start dialing. You should weigh options, get a sample from each company, and pick whichever company best suits your situation. Remember if you find a company but are unhappy in the future for any reason you can always find a new production facility or do it yourself.
The retail world is a game of pennys. Everything you can do to shave from your cost helps. There are several techniques to finding ways to save on cost. You’ll likely be working with several different companies to produce your product. Every company you work with should be viewed as an opportunity to save money. You can shop quotes from other companies and use the quotes to leverage better deals.
Another technique is to try to find cheaper materials, shop around the market and see if there are better options. It should be noted if organic or biodegradable resources play into your brand you won’t have as much wiggle room here.
Buying in bulk, this is one of the most popular ways to cut your margins, it’s also one of the riskiest. If you don’t know you’ll have continuous demand for your product and you order in bulk you could be left with a warehouse full of product nobody wants. You could also buy in bulk and have legislation change requiring you to make changes to your current product. This can be very costly and time consuming. With that being said there are absolutely benefits, you’ll probably save money per unit, you won’t have to worry about reordering, and you’ll save on shipping.
Once you figure out how you will produce your product you need to find a labeling company. This not only means finding someone to produce the labels but most likely, designing your labels. It’s important that your labels stay on brand. One great idea is to give a shout out to your local community, these are the people you have to thank for your opportunity to go on this journey. Give the labeling company some ideas and see what they come up with. Don’t spend too long on this. You may be enticed to order way more labels than you need to “save money”, I would recommend against this. Do a smaller order of labels, that way if you think of a way to improve the label down the road you won’t be sitting on tens of thousands of labels customers don’t love. They’ll need your nutrition label, which you should already have from the “Testing” step above, and a UPC which we’ll go over next.
This step goes hand in hand with the labels. You’ll need barcodes on the labels to sell them at the retail level. This again seems more difficult than it is. Go to www.gs1us.org, all in all it might be a 30-minute project and cost around $250. Send the information you receive from them over to your labeling company and they’ll put your barcode on your label.
At this point, you’ll have all the necessary steps complete. That’s it. We hope you use this document as a guideline in the future.