Saturday, August 12, 2017

Will Our BBQ Island Side-Hustle Go Up In Flames?

The Gomez family is entrepreneurial...if you haven't noticed.  We like to have conversations about side-hustles at the kitchen table, while cooking, in the car, on date nights, and even across bathroom doors.  A lack of access to capital kept us from starting our previous venture as builders.  We had the city (Pahrump), state (Nevada), and even the empty lots we wanted to build on, but the financing was not to be.  Private lenders didn't want to lend on lots (only on construction) and the banks we spoke to wouldn't lend unless we showed title to the lot(s) we intended to build on.  My rental property refinance fail took the wind out of our sail.  We were going to get cash out and use it as seed money.  Oh well...back to the drawing board.

The wifey building the steel frame with dad watching

While living in Las Vegas before the Great Recession, my father-in-law owned and operated a barbecue island/grill retail store.  I don't know the entire story, but he learned how to make BBQ islands from framing all the way to adding accent rock or stucco as an exterior finish.  Then he taught his oldest son (my wife's brother) and together they set-up shop, becoming one of the most successful and early BBQ shops in town.  Like many business owners who didn't plan for a major slow down, he went slowly and painfully out of business.

Fast forward to today.  The only element of my father-in-law's BBQ island business that survived was my brother-in-law going into business alone, building islands on site as requested.  That is, until now.  My wife wanted to learn the trade.  She figured she could build and sell several of these BBQ islands on the weekends throughout the year.  The idea is not to get ahead of ourselves and build-up inventory, but rather to get orders and build on demand.

Cutting the backer-board.  Very messy, especially if windy.

Our first goal was to build a model.  We are still debating whether to sell this model and use the profit to buy additional tools (to expedite the process) OR to take it around to new developments in our area and drop it off at a model home (with the builder's permission) where hundreds of prospective buyers can decide on ordering one.  One of our challenges right now is physically moving the islands around as they can weigh 300 to 500 pounds depending on what's on them.  We're building them outside in my backyard and it can get messy.

The actual costs of building a barbecue island isn't that much.  About $1,000 for materials on a straight 6-footer, including the grill IF you can get it at wholesale price.  My brother-in-law will help us with this.  What the consumer pays a premium for is the labor.  Having helped build an island, I can tell you that there is plenty of places where you can go wrong and you have to pay attention to detail.  The light gauge steel frame has to be square and supported in the right places.  The backer-board has to be cut with precise dimensions and drilled into the frame properly.  The thin-set has to seal the joints and be plopped in the right amount at the top for the tile (unless you use a granite surface).

With tile surface.  Only stucco process is left.


The risk of this side-hustle is minimal.  So let's say no one wants to buy our first barbecue island/grill.  What then?

We can try to unload to a very lucky buyer on Craigslist.
We can keep the island/grill for ourselves.
If we get too many orders, we may not be able to fill them.


The rewards of this side-hustle are many.   Say we get a manageable number of orders.

We will profit enough to expand, perhaps hire help.
We can get out of our backyard and find a garage or space to use as our workshop.
We can maybe even get a retail space and do the whole brick and mortar thing.  

Success in this era will not come from relying on your paycheck.  You need multiple streams of income and that is only possible from side-hustling.  It made no sense for us to not make us of all our family's talents.  Building BBQ island grills is a technical trade.  Your side-hustle can put your skills to use or you can simply join the ranks of others out there using Internet platforms (leaving the thinking to someone else) to make money.

As for this latest venture of ours...I will be presenting updates to you throughout the year to let you know how we are doing.  I'd like for this side-hustle to be more like a paradise and for it to not go up in flames.  Thanks for reading!

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