Selecting a BGE Dealer
08/08/13 -10:43 Filed in: BGE | Big Green Egg
Now that I am a Big Green Egg owner myself, I visit more places both in the real world and online where I hear discussions about the Big Green Egg. Often the discussions are by people who are thinking about buying a Big Green Egg and are put off by the price. They are often asking a question along the lines of: What dealer has the best price? This blog is going to describe why I think the first question you should ask after deciding to get a Big Green Egg isn’t: “What size Egg do I need?” Nor is it: “What dealer has the lowest price?”, or “What Eggcessories will I need?” The first thing you should do is find the BEST DEALER in your area. So ask: “Who is the BEST dealer in my area?”, NOT “Who is the cheapest dealer in my area?”
You are going to have your Big Green Egg for a long time, 20 years or more if you take care of it. You will want to find a dealer who will support you through the long haul. When you take into account the BGE is a grill, a smoker and an outdoor oven and it excels at all three tasks, suddenly the price doesn’t seem so bad. The long life span of the Egg cuts the overall cost down-you may get 4 cheaper grills over that same time period. The Egg is very stingy on charcoal and you will save money big time there too. When you look at the big picture and the amount of time you will use this grill, the $50 or $100 you save at one dealer vs another is relatively small. This assumes all else is equal between the two dealers and you have to ask where does that $50 or $100 savings come from?
SUPPORT: I may be odd in these days of the internet and instant gratification, where everyone expects things to be free or $0.99. I truly value the support that a store gives me. I realize there is a cost associated with that support. If I am looking for the lowest possible cost for something, I often expect the lowest amount of support as the trade off. The store has to make up for the discount they give you and supporting the customer before and after the sale is often the first thing to go. The Big Green Egg is an extraordinary product and it actually is incredibly easy to use once you get rolling. But it is a bit different from most other grills. You may need some help to get you pointed in the right direction in the beginning. Who do you think is going to give you better support after the sale? The dealer that charged a reasonable price or the dealer that cut their price to the bone?
KNOWLEDGE-General: One thing you should do when shopping around for a Big Green Egg is find out what kind of experience the sales staff has. Ask your sales person if they actually use the Egg themselves and possibly try to find out how long they have used it. Also ask who else in the store is a BGE user? You are not buying some widget that just any “box pusher” type sales person can sell. This is a specialized product, that is not the typical grill you can buy in a hardware store, a supermarket or big box retail store.
KNOWLEDGE-Real World Example - The Bad: I know from where I speak. I bought my Big Green Egg from a store I had been doing business with for 10 years and I knew they carried Big Green Eggs. I had been buying charcoal and wood chunks there for my smoker and accessories for my gas grill. I went there when it was time to buy my Egg, because I knew the owner was very knowledgeable about the Egg. The sales person who helped me, told me he’d been using the Egg for about a year now. It was mid-afternoon and the store was a little slow, so the owner stayed within earshot the whole time and any question the sales person couldn’t answer, the owner fielded. I spent a good deal of time there asking questions, looking at accessories and they put together a quote for me. I never once tried to haggle over price and the owner actually threw in free delivery and setup. The salesperson volunteered that the owner must have like the way I did business, because my house was outside their normal delivery area and delivery was normally $75.00. He said lots of people come in and the try to haggle over price on each and every item and they waste a lot of time doing it. My attitude was their knowledge and advice was valuable to me and it has a price associated with it, so I was not going to try to beat them down.
Later that week they delivered my Egg and I was off and running. Fast forward two-weeks. I went to the dealership to pick up some back-ordered Eggcessories and I found the dealership had been sold. There were all new people on staff and none of them knew or used the Egg. The new owner came over to introduce himself and he actually said: “I don’t really use the Big Green Egg, but I am excited that I am going to be learning all about it”. Bottom line for me was after two short weeks of ownership, I knew more about the Egg than anyone at this dealership. I know because I asked questions of the various new folks as I wandered around the store. This lack of experience quickly manifested itself. Twice an order I placed in person at the store got messed up. I was actually holding the item I wanted in my hand when they ordered it. I wasted 3 extra trips to the store over those two Eggcessories. I also asked a question about a setup issue I was having. No one at the dealer had a clue. They called their distributer for me, but it took 3 days to get an answer. So why am I describing this?2 if you are deciding between two dealers based on price only, you owe it to yourself to find out their experience level. Those 3 extra and unneeded trips to the store cost me $25 in gas money. While I will not mention, the name of this dealer, because it is possible they have gotten some training on the Egg I was not going to wait for them to get to know more about the Egg than I did.
KNOWLEDGE-Real World Example - The Good: I needed to find myself a new Big Green Egg dealer. I looked around my area and visited the dozen or so Big Green Egg dealers. I eventually decided that Oasis Hot Tub & Sauna in Nashua, N.H. would be my new Big Green Egg dealer going forward. On my first visit, I threw out the question that had stumped the new folks at my old dealer. When I asked the question at my original dealership it took a call to the regional distributer, and a 3 day wait for an answer. At Oasis my sales person, Tom, knew the answer right away PLUS he gave me two other alternative ways of doing the same thing. There is a real world value to this type of knowledge, and I don’t mind paying a little more for the product when that knowledge is part of the deal.
KNOWLEDGE-Before the Sale: A knowledgeable sales person is going to help you buy the right sized Egg for your needs and help you get the Eggcessories you really need. I should mention that the Egg itself has it’s price set by the Big Green Egg Company itself. They also dictate the price some of the major Eggcessories can be sold for. Other Eggcessories the dealer can set the price on them. When a dealer gives a discount on the Egg, it is often sold as a package with several Eggcessories. Some are things where the dealer can set the price and while it looks like you are getting a discount on the Egg, it is really several of the 2nd tier Eggcessories that are being sold at a slashed price. But then you’ve got to ask yourself if this is something you really need? A reputable dealer is going to help you pick the items you really need, vs. what they need to include to discount the package. They are also not just pushing boxes as cheaply as possible. They are looking to build a long term relationship with you, they realize their knowledge of the Egg is something that can keep customer’s coming back over time.
KNOWLEDGE-After the Sale: As I mentioned earlier, the Egg is an easy to use product once you get the hang of it. But you are going to need to use it differently than most other charcoal grills. So you may need some BGE specific help getting started. The things you have to do aren’t particularly hard, but they are a bit different. A knowledgeable dealer can help get you pointed in the right direction and also recommend an Eggcessory that will help you accomplish the task. One of the interesting things about the Egg is it’s versatility, and in this case I mean that there are often several different ways to do the same thing. Several times I have been at my dealer and the three different people who were working all had different ways they did something I was asking about. So instead of leaving with just one solution, I had three to try out and see which worked best for me.
STOCK/TURNOVER: You also want a dealer where the Big Green Egg is a big part of their monthly sales, not a curiosity gathering dust in a remote part of the store. The Egg will never fly out of the store like the iPod flew out of Apple Stores, but you want it to be an important part of their business. You want the dealer to have samples of all of the sizes, so you can decide on a size based on looking at them in the flesh. You can’t expect them to have every Eggcessory, but you’ll want them to stock the major Eggcessories. Trust me when you get going, you WILL want to Eggcessorize. You’ll also want them to carry some of the latest greatest new Eggcessories. A dealer with a good stock and turnover means you will be able to walk in and get instant gratification. If you are thinking about getting an Egg for the first time you will get to see the variety of Eggcessories available for helping your Egg do a wide range of cooking tasks..
STOCK/TURNOVER - Real World Example: Right after I bought my first Large BGE, the company introduced a new and improved model with some large and small changes. The most important change as far as I am concerned was the new stock gasket, which was a high temperature model which will last a lot longer than the old stock wool gasket. My “new” dealer Oasis Hot Tub & Sauna got the new models in fairly quickly. Meanwhile an out of state friend of mine, who bought their Egg in late November, ended up with one of the old model Eggs. Nothing was said to him about the changes, and he was rather upset when he found out. If you dealer sells a lot of Eggs, it helps insure you are getting the latest, greatest versions.
STOCK/TURNOVER - Other Items Carried: Take a look at the other grilling related items (non-Big Green Egg branded) that the store carries. I use Wicked Good Weekend Warrior lump charcoal and Oasis Carries a good supply of that. Oasis also carries a line of outdoor cabinets for the Egg made by American Outdoor Kitchen and they have several of these cabinets on display in the showroom. I have started using these units for my outdoor kitchen and I never would have found out about them if I hadn’t seen them in person at the dealer.You are going to want to Eggcessorize, trust me. If two dealers appear to be otherwise equal, these third party items may be the deciding factor.
SALES STAFF ATTITUDE: There are vast differences in the type of treatment I’ve received at various stores. Sometimes you don’t care because you are making a one time purchase and won’t need to deal with the sales staff again. For a one and done purchase a “box pusher” is not so pleasant to deal with, but it is doable. By a “box pusher” I mean the type of salesperson who is comfortable selling anything: widgets or geegaws. Whatever is in the box on the shelves. They really know little about the actual use of what they are selling. They just know what is printed in the “product spin” documents they receive from the manufacturer. The other type of sales person knows and actually uses the product they re selling. They also take the time to find out what your needs and expectations are, so they can make sure the product they are selling you will actually meet your needs. What a concept-eh?!! Oasis falls into this second category. They are very friendly and treat their customers with respect. You are quickly on first name basis with the folks you deal with. I totally don’t care whether someone knows my name, it doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling or make me feel “special”. What it does hint at is treating their customers well is in their DNA. They take the time to get the little details right. To me this tells me my dealings with them will will be problem free because of this attention to the little details.
SALES STAFF ATTITUDE: Real World Example: Oasis recently had a Customer Appreciation Day with free food and demo cooks. One of the things the staff did was use their customers to help each other. If someone was having a problem, a member of the staff would help them. But then they would take this person to someone who does whatever it is they are having trouble with. If a new customer was having trouble with baking, they would take them to a long time customer who does a lot of baking. This shows the level that they get to know their customers. It also shows the customers that what the sales staff is saying is actually the truth. A salesperson will sometimes bend the truth or even outright lie to make a sale. By having someone who is just another customer like you help out, this shows the person having problems that it is possible to do this in the real world. You are talking to someone that does it regularly.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Customer service is very important with a product like the Egg and once again you usually get exactly what you pay for. The lowest price on your Egg may also buy you the lowest level of customer service. You also should not take good customer service for granted. When you are getting ready to buy something, you will generally get the highest level of customer service at all of the stores carrying that product. They are all trying to get you to spend that first big chunk of money with them. What separates the stores is how they treat people after the big sale. When I am at the store I like to keep an eye on what happens when an existing customer comes in. This can be for many service related issues such as repairs, problems or questions. Without being obvious about it, I see what the customer’s experience is like and how the store deals with their issues. I also look online to see if the store has been reviewed on one or more sites. It can be interesting to see what others have said about their experience.
CUSTOMER SERVICE - Real World Example 1: Oasis Pool & Spa in Nashua, my new dealer, does a great job with customer service. This is a store that wants to treat it’s customers well. They do this in part because they are able to pay attention to the small details. They take the time to learn how you want to use your Egg and this helps when you need recommendations. When I went to Oasis I already owned my Egg. I even told them my story about the dealership changing hands, leaving the dealers name out. Word gets around, I am sure they knew who it was. The bottom line here was I already had my Egg and so I wasn’t a big candidate for another one (or so I thought). They treated me just like any of their other customers and answered my newbie questions.
CUSTOMER SERVICE - Real World Example 2: To my great surprise I bought a second large BGE 4 months after my first. Although there are a dozen BGE dealers within 25 miles of me, I didn’t hesitate. I just went to Oasis & bought it. My faith in them was rewarded less than 2 weeks later. On a cold Friday morning in January, I needed to remove the ceramic firebox from my new Egg. I had been working for a while with my gloves off and my fingers were pretty numb. I went to remove the ceramic firebox and to my horror I felt it slipping out of my frozen fingers. It dropped onto my concrete terrace and broke into about 50 pieces. Suddenly I had a big problem on my hands. I had invited people over for brunch on Saturday morning and I needed both Eggs to make my brunch. I called Oasis and Tom, who generally is the person who waits on me, answered the phone. I didn’t try to come up with some story, I came right out and said I dropped my firebox and I need to get my hands on one this very day because I need it tomorrow morning at 8:00AM. This wasn’t a part they stocked, because the ceramics of the Egg are lifetime guaranteed. This meant they don’t break very much. Now he could have said: “We can order you one, but we don’t have any in stock.” and left it at that. I would have understood, this was my fault not his fault, not a warrantee issue, just a stupid user problem. But instead he mentioned they might be able to order one for me and let me borrow one from their demo LBGE so I could do my cook the next day. But he also asked I he could call me back in 15 minutes, so he could explore some other possibilities. In 10 minutes he called and told me he had made arrangement for me to buy & pay for it at their store and pick it up at their distributer. The distributer normally doesn’t sell to the public, but he had asked them for a favor. Seriously, you can’t ask for better than that. They could have taken the easy route, but instead they went all out to try to service a customer. This type of service pays off long term, because they now have a customer for life.
CONCLUSION: Don’t just shop for a Big Green Egg. You owe it to yourself to shop for the right dealer. Don’t let price be the driving force behind your choice of dealer. You may end of having your Egg for 25 or 30 years, so what is a $25, $50 or even $100 savings at sales time when spread over 25 or 30 years. Evaluate the other considerations here and make a decision based on the totality of what the various dealers offer. You usually get what you pay for. So in your quest for the lowest price, you may be also be throwing out customer service, education, and after sale support. Be sure to shop for the best dealer, not the best price. Oh and if you live near Nashua N.H., check out Oasis Hot Tub & Sauna for your BGE needs.
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