How to get your sauce to Market

How to get your sauce to marketSo you want to know How to get your sauce to Market. I don’t know yet if it’s the right way to do it or the wrong way to do it but I’ll be happy to show you how 2 Vets BBQ is doing it.

 

So, you wanna know How to get your sauce to Market Huh?

Ok, I’ll tell you. But first…

Some History

I won’t get into a lot of history other than I created our products in the restaurant I used to own. It was called Rugged Cross BBQ.

Rugged Cross BBQ

Rugged Cross BBQ

Rugged Cross BBQ inside

Our dining room

Great food, terrible location (trust me I need to do a series like “10 steps to bankruptcy using the restaurant business, a How-Not-To Saga!!)

It turned out to be a blessing as, I’m sure, most failure stories do.

Anyway, we always had people who would RAVE about the Apple-Chipotle Glaze. My good friend and now business partner Carl Johnson pushed me to do the research and find out how to get our sauce to market.

My wife and I cashed in our 401k’s to open the restaurant so we had next-to-nothing to work with as far as money goes.

The contract packagers (Copackers) I found would do our products but would produce it in the hundreds of gallons…and thousands of dollars so I did it myself.

Home Made

I bought bottles online with caps and security seals. I designed and printed labels at home on 8.5 X 11 label sheets and then would laminate the whole sheet then cut and apply the labels to each bottle. It was very labor intensive but the bottles looked good! I couldn’t afford to have the product lab tested for nutrition labeling so we did worry about it!!

history bottles

Home made label on center bottle was one of the last before we closed

Brisket glaze

Bottle at back right was one of the 1st from the restaurant

 

I would make batches in the kitchen at 4-5 gallons at a time and bottle it all up and put it on shelves in the dining room. We sold EVERYTHING we made!! I usually even had standing orders!

Carl called me a few months later and asked about cost. I told him that it would cost more than we had to do it right. He said he had the money and told me to get numbers, so I did.

 

When I called months before (I only knew of 3 or 4 co-packers) none did batches in quantities that we could afford. I called them back to see if anything had changed and the packer in Tennessee had opened a small production kitchen for people like me!!!

So it began!

Contract Packagers

Our first packager was about 6 hours away in Tennessee.

They emailed me a non-disclosure agreement to secure secrecy. I sent them the recipe and a sample that I made along with a check for $250. The money would cover the formulation (3 attempts) and lab testing. They transposed the recipe up for big quantities and made a small batch and sent it to me. I was blown away! It was REALLY good! Not quite where I wanted it to be but VERY close! The second sample was spot-on. Since I paid for 3 attempts, their formulator called me to ask about doing a “Hot” and “Mild” version. I said try it. He sent my 3rd sample and lets just say that it still might be smoldering somewhere!! It was AWESOME!!!

We stayed with the second formulation.

Labels

Now I had been designing the labels at home on the cheap with a program called Print Shop. That was fine for what we were doing but the labels had to be put on at the time of the production run. I had been asking my designer/artist friends if they could show me how to do it. My friend Derek did a label for me but the printer couldn’t use the format. They had a graphic design department who would be tickled to death to do it for $85/hour.

So I self-enrolled in You Tube University and learned how to use Photo Shop! That took me about 3 months but I did it!! I was able to duplicate his label from scratch and put it in the right format and get things rolling!

We would also need bar codes. I found a discount website and bought 3 for about $80 each. More on this move later.

We had 1000 labels printed and shipped to the co-packer. A few days later the co-packer called to say they had run just over 46 cases…I was outta my mind with excitement!!! So Tammy and I set out to go pick up the order.

It would have cost around $300 to have it shipped so we went and picked it up in my Ford Expedition. It cost a bit less even with the gas hog so it was a no brainer to us!

 

38211_1520723468138_1270568_n

Our first Order!!

First bottle!!

The First Bottle!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast Forward

We had quite a few orders since then. We also changed the company name and introduced the world to 2 other flavors!! We sold nearly 2500 bottles of sauce in our initial 25 locations and have shipped to 10 states and donated a portion of our profits to the Wounded Warrior Project. We’ve done all this as a debt free company too!!

We needed to get our costs down so we decided to look at other co-packers. A friend recommended one from Indiana.  At least PART of our cost savings would come from driving less than 2 hours vs. over 6 hours!

I called the prospective packer and started the process. I was in for a pleasant a surprise right away. In our initial conversation, I asked about their process and the fee. I knew our former packer had raised their fee to $500. The new packer said they didn’t charge anything for the formulation part! WHAT???? He said they do the formulation at no charge and that once the formula was right that I would pay $60 for the lab testing!!  Out with the old, In with the new!!

Last Thursday I received 2 bottles from our new co-packer. These are the 3rd samples and they are right on the money!!! Perfect!

We have a brand new look for the labels too! We wanted something more “Branding friendly” and wanted a look that hopefully reminds you of WWII Aircraft nose art! I did the new design and when I look at it, it makes me feel good!

Glaze of Glory label

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for a quick word on barcodes…UPC’s

I looked online at GS1.org. Barcodes come from them. The way they work is you buy a licence for a number of barcodes…10, 100, 1000, 10000, 100000. Think carefully about this. Lets say you sell shoes. You have 5 different styles, in 5 different sizes and EACH gets a different code. We only had 3 sauces so I chose to buy 3 barcodes from a discount website at around $80 each to save a bit off the $250 for up to 10 codes from GS1 and to avoid paying the licence renewal of $50 each year.  The licence is important because it identifies your company. The codes I bought don’t identify 2 Vets BBQ, they identify the company I bought them from.  It’s common for individuals and small companies to do this. These codes are fine for flea markets and local mom and pop grocers but I am re-branding the company for growth.  If we want to grow big we’ll need wholesale distribution and the licence matters to them.

So I channel my inner Dave Ramsey regarding my 1st barcode purchase and call it a “stupid tax”

“You live and learn or you don’t live long”

 

We also have this new website and pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and a host of others.

Stay tuned because coming VERY soon is a page where you can order our Glaze of Glory sauce!! We plan to roll out the other flavors later this year and to introduce a few new ones next year!

I’ll share follow-ups as things progress!

I wanted to do this post because you might have a dream to do something and don’t think you “have the stuff” for it.

My wife and I cashed out our retirements to open a restaurant that we would end up closing almost 5 years later and going through bankruptcy. We lost 2 houses and our only car. If we can do it, so can you!!

Click here for some suggested reading

I am giving you permission to IGNORE negative thoughts and chase your dreams!!

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

comments

Posted in Business.