The BBQ Store

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The BBQ Store is a privately owned online barbeque and rotisserie retailer, offering an extensive product range at highly competitive prices. First established in 2008 as a small business out of Owner Gabriel Gewargis’ home, the company has since grown to become the largest of its kind in Australia. “We started off with two barbeques;” Gabriel says, “we sold them online, then we used that money to buy 4, and they sold. It was all natural growth.” From the company’s nascence, Mr Gewargis has placed an emphasis on the automation of The BBQ Store’s online systems in order to ensure ease of use for customers. “When I had a look around online, I found that very few retailers were doing online well,” he says. “We felt that we could make a difference in the market, and so I brought my love for automated systems and my passion for the product, and it really drove the website’s marketing and presentation. I think that was what led us to be known in the market, and what grew our market share.”

One of the most critical elements of The BBQ Store’s success has been the enthusiasm and passion that Gabriel and his team possess for the products that they sell. “We like to think of ourselves as the charcoal and rotisserie experts,” he says. “We’ve always grown up cooking on charcoal and using rotisseries, so it’s been a very natural transition to turn my passion into a business. That passion comes across when we talk to our customers.” The BBQ Store has become known for its highly personalised level of service, which is geared towards the individual needs of its customers. With its vast product range, the company is able to provide the perfect product for any situation, up to and including commercial outdoor kitchens for restaurants, through partnerships between Gabriel’s fabrication team 1 to 1 Engineering and local manufacturers. As well, many of the company’s products, most notably the Cyprus Grill, have received high levels of celebrity exposure on popular television programs such as Better Homes and Gardens, as well as other cooking shows with Iron Chef Bobby Flay in the United States. While best known for its charcoal barbeque products, The BBQ Store also maintains a robust range of gas barbeques, featuring quality brands such as Everdure and Beef Eater.

“There’s one thing I really love about the business that we’re in;” Gabriel says, “our barbeques help create memories for families and friends. Every time I sell a barbeque I think about the people that are going to be around that. I love that network of family and friendship; it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.” Mr Gewargis points out that the unique style of many of The BBQ Store’s products, particularly the BarbeSkew, an innovative self-turning rotisserie, permits greater socialisation while simultaneously acting as a talking point amongst guests. “You just skewer the meats on and watch it cook, while you socialise and interact,” he says. “It’s also a form of marketing, because when people get together for a barbeque, they tend to talk about the grill.”

At present, the greatest challenge associated with the operation of companies such as The BBQ Store is transportation logistics. “Our products vary heavily in size; we go from a 500 gram satchel to a 245 kilogram barbeque,” Gabriel explains. “It’s a wide range of products, from spare parts and accessories through to full outdoor kitchens. We stock the lot, and that’s a real challenge logistically.” Such a broad selection of products has necessitated the provision of a number of different courier options, which initially proved difficult to manage without the complete integration of the company’s accounting, product management, and inventory software. “We searched for almost 3 years, because the technology hadn’t caught up to what we were doing,” Mr Gewargis continues. While attending the PESA Internet Conference, Gabriel finally discovered Neto, a business capable of providing the integration that The BBQ Store needed. “It made my life so much simpler,” he says, “I was able to upload all the different carriers that I was using into the back end of the system, so that when a customer comes onto the website, they can choose the products that they want and then, based on the products and their location, a list of the best courier options will be presented to them.” Once a courier is selected, the system will automatically book the delivery. “We just come in in the morning, pick and pack the order, label it, and the courier comes by and picks it up.”

When The BBQ Store was first established, the company’s limited resources necessitated the use of employment agencies, such as Nova Employment, that offered helpful government incentives to hire their workers. “We received a subsidy for the first 8 weeks from Nova,” says Gabriel. “3 years later, that employee, Craig, is still with us. He’s very dedicated and hardworking, and he’s been a real blessing for our business.” As the business began to expand it’s offering, it faced the need for new capital, a challenge for small businesses without brick-and-mortar operations. “A lot of banks won’t look at or consider stock levels when they’re looking to loan you money, so managing cash flows, especially when you’re importing and need a lot of up-front capital, was quite difficult.” While he was attending PESA conference a later year, Gabriel came across a new startup called Moula specialising in small, fast loans for online businesses. “Within 24 hours we were set and ready to go,” he says. “There’s always a flow of blessings that come through growth. As we grow, we can continue to hire more people, so we’re providing jobs and buying more from our suppliers, so we’re helping both industries and people as we grow. The innovation and design that we’ve achieved has ensured the future of our market in Australia.”

A committed Christian, Gabriel has built The BBQ Store’s mission and vision around the same principles to which he lives his life. “Our 100% satisfaction guarantee stemmed from that,” he says. “When people see a product online, it might not be the size or feel that they wanted, so if they receive a product, and they’re not happy with it, we have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The product doesn’t leave unless it’s packaged in a way that we would like to receive it; our product knowledge is a big part of what makes us different, and I won’t stock product that I don’t believe in. Ultimately our customers are the reason we have a business, and without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, so through all levels of the company, everybody’s customer focused.”

The formation of strategic business alliances is a high priority for The BBQ Store. One such relationship is Nando’s Quality Meats in Kemp’s Creek, located nearby the company’s location in Prestons. “We compliment each other,” Gabriel says. “You don’t have people buying a barbeque and not buying the meat.” Mr Gewargis also emphasises the importance of close relationships with suppliers, such as BeefEater & Everdure, which enables The BBQ Store to provide a superior service its customers. “If a part is needed that’s difficult to find, sometimes I can simply speak to our reps and they can make it happen for us,” Gabriel continues, adding that any questions to do with product knowledge or training are also quickly answered. “We love to hear back from our customers, and pass that information back to our suppliers. The latest innovations have come from listening to our customers’ needs. We provide our product designers with the customer feedback we receive. The BeefEater & Everdure barbeques are designed in Australia; the engineers are located here. They can take that feedback when they produce the next model.”

Due to the fact that a large percentage of The BBQ Store’s product line must be imported, Mr Gewargis views the Australian dollar is the single greatest obstacle that the company currently faces. “We feel it every time we import, and some suppliers have even raised their pricing three times over the past year,” he says, noting that the present currency exchange rates have also necessitated the regular use of local metal manufacturers. “It now makes more financial sense,” he says. “We have a metal manufacturer in our complex, and they complete a wide range of charcoal barbeques and spits for us now. The dollar has brought about new challenges, but I feel that it’s also good for our local market. It still costs more to make it in Australia, but the quality is vastly superior.”

Crediting himself as largely self-taught, Gabriel Gewargis established The BBQ Store with little more than TAFE certificate courses in terms of formal business education. “We were building a business from the ground up, which is always difficult, but highly rewarding,” he says. In the months leading up to the New Year, Mr Gewargis’ personal goal is to refine the company’s hiring process, allowing for the company to begin recruiting and training for new roles in early 2016. Gabriel also intends to place further focus on the growth of the company’s international presence in the New Year, while simultaneously working towards the development of a series of storefront locations across Australia, with the potential for franchising opportunities. “It’s definitely something that I want to look into in the near future.”

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