Australia’s diversity — as a nation that attracts immigrants from countries around the globe — has heavily influenced our ever-changing dining culture. Visit any market, food truck park or high-end restaurant and you’ll be greeted with a wide array of options, from Asian and Italian cuisines to newer flavours from Japan and the Middle East. Now we can add Brazilian cuisine to that list, with its churrascarias and mobile barbecues.
“Brazilian cuisine is really just starting to be recognized in Australia and we are very excited to be part of a growing market,” says Emily Gorman, co-creator of Skewered Brazilian BBQ. The mobile barbecue company launched in March 2015 with the goal of selling Brazilian meats, vegetables and salads at events across Victoria. After trying some of its delicious barbecued pork, we took five minutes to speak with Emily about her measured approach and how she’s using big data to manage a new (and fast-growing) small business.
Tell us the story behind Skewered Brazilian BBQ. How did you get started?
With over 10 years of combined experience in Brazilian restaurants in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, we felt it was time to give it a go ourselves. We had also seen a Brazilian restaurant in Melbourne rise and fall in a short period of time. So we did our research, wrote our business plan, repeated the mantra: “measure twice, cut once,” and we think it paid off. The funny thing about starting a small business is that you can have the best research team and marketing, but until someone is actually willing to pay for your service, you constantly doubt that you are heading down the right path.
Skewered Brazilian BBQ trades at many different events around the state. How do you decide which ones to visit?
We listen to our customers. The great thing about being mobile is we are always in new places meeting new people. We’re constantly receiving recommendations from locals who have experience, who have tried our food and who assure us that we would be a perfect fit. We take it from there by researching foot traffic data, the competition, public awareness and market frequency.
The mix of vendors is really important too. We are passionate about food but we always have more success when there is a mix of other non-food stalls. We don’t just want to reach out to the foodies.
How do you use data to help make these types of business decisions?
Square Dashboard has allowed us to identify whether or not we are doing our jobs right. We can easily match products sold with sales revenue, which enables us to hone our inventory to reduce waste and keep our prices competitive. Since there are often multiple markets that fall on the same day, we often need to make a choice. The ability to assess item sales by the hour means we are able to make better decisions about where to trade. Having a tool that can give us confidence that we’re making the right decisions is invaluable.
Great Brazilian BBQ is all about cooking the right amount of meat for the right amount of time to ensure it is fresh, tender and delicious. How have you used Square Dashboard to help make this process easier?
Our number one priority at Skewered is to provide a delicious, authentic Brazilian experience while minimising waste — cooking “little and often.” Square allows us to track sales to the hour and this is essential for us. All our meats are prepared fresh daily and cooked to order (with up to eight different meats cooking at once). It’s really important that we can do this without creating waste. Data from Square helps us achieve this.
What’s the biggest challenge that lies ahead as you grow Skewered?
The biggest challenge is the uncertainty of where we will stand in one year, three years and five years from now, but that is part of the joy of building a business that you love.
One piece of advice you’d give to anyone considering opening a small business?
Build a really great team. It’s a bit cliché, but you should never underestimate a team of people who can support each other mentally and physically in the beginning. There have been some difficult moments and having the right team around us has helped solve problems that seemed impossible without their input.
What’s on the horizon for Skewered? What are your plans for 2016?
For next summer we’re looking to expand with multiple set-ups so that we can meet demand and don’t have to turn down any opportunities. We’d love to be at more markets and events in Victoria and possibly in New South Wales. We want to continue to refine our service and range of products whilst ensuring growth at a pace that suits us and our customers. We are just starting to feel really connected with Melbourne market goers and opening in a new state is a challenge we really look forward to.