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Business-Boosting Barbecues

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This Denver shop owner uses ribs and brisket to bring on better leads.

Dan Klepper, co-owner of Sawaya Fleet Services in Denver.

Can good food turn into great leads and higher customer retention rates? Dan Klepper believes so. For the last 10 years, the co-owner of Sawaya Fleet Services in Denver has been hosting an annual barbecue to show thanks and invigorate business for the summer months.

May marks National Barbecue Month. In honor of the occasion, we invited Klepper to speak with us about his protein-packed strategy.

Where is the event located and what do you serve?

It’s held at our facility. We close down until about 3 p.m. and place tables and chairs in the shop. We cook ribs, brisket, sausage and sides. I prepare them with the help of some friends of mine. Our location also makes potato salad, beans and coleslaw and serves cookies and cupcakes. We provide water and drinks, too.

Sawaya Fleet Services BBQ

Photo courtesy Sawaya Fleet Services

Customers, crew and family are celebrated at Klepper’s annual barbecue.

How much planning and cost are involved?

A [salesperson] sends out a save the date card. We also call guests and let them know about the event and when it’s going to be held. We plan it the first Friday before the Memorial Day weekend. We clean the shop, and that’s always a 24-hour process or more. The cooking actually takes a week.

[The barbecue usually] costs close to $2,500, and we serve 200 or more [people].

The fact that we’re inviting [our customers] and thanking them goes a long way toward building relationships with people.

How has the occasion improved your business during the summer months?

I think it always spikes afterward. The fact that we do it all ourselves and that we’re inviting [our customers] and thanking them goes a long way toward building relationships with people. We have a book [that attendees sign], and they say they’d like to have more than one per year. They enjoy it!

What kinds of comments do you receive?

“Great food,” “I look forward to this every year” and “You guys are the best!”

 

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