Bunnings sausage sizzles are an iconic Australian fundraiser, and a great opportunity for local community groups, not for profits and charities to raise much needed funds for their cause. It's a well supported fundraiser; you could almost say it was un-Australian to not grab a snag when leaving the store.
We've done our fair share of sizzles, and put together this super handy guide to help your day be as successful as possible.
*Please note - all of our sausage sizzles have been held in Perth, Western Australia. Rules and requirements may change by store and state*
How do you get started?
You can request to book a sausage sizzle at your local Bunnings store. This will be the store in the same local area your community group, not for profit or charity is based. If you are not sure which Bunnings store is your local, call a store in your area and speak to the Warehouse Activities Organiser. They will be able to point you in the right direction.
Bookings generally open twice a year, around November for January to June of the following year, and again around May for July to December. We have been previously been allocated two sizzles per year, one in the first half, one in the second, but some stores may be more flexible. Depending on the area your local store covers bookings can fill quickly, so it pays to get in touch with your Warehouse Activities Organiser as soon as possible.. Once your sizzle is booked, you will be sent a confirmation email which needs to be signed and returned along with a Certificate of Currency for your Public Liability Insurance.
TIP: If your store is fully booked, ask the Warehouse Activities Officer to add you to the wait list for when the next booking period opens.
Your sizzle is booked.. What do you do next?
It's time to organise your helpers! Divide your day into manageable shifts, and work out how many people you need for each timeslot. Prior to COVID restrictions, we were able to run the sizzle with three to four helpers for the morning and afternoon shift,, and a fifth helper during the lunch rush (generally one afternoon shift volunteer would come slightly early, or a morning shift volunteer would stay a little longer). In Western Australia, we are currently required to have five people rostered on at all times during the day in the following positions:
- BBQ Captain. This is a key volunteer to ensure the fundraiser runs smoothly and is successful.
- Greeter. Customer focused, this volunteer assists the customer with physical distancing requirements, and provides instructions on how to order and collect their purchase.
- Order. Takes customer orders and communicates this to other volunteers.
- Cook. This one is straight forward!
- Collect. Apply sauce to orders, provide to customer.
For more details regarding the responsibilities of each of these positions, see your Bunnings Community Group Flow Chart, which will be provided as part of your BBQ Paperwork.
Here's a copy of our roster for an 8am - 4pm sizzle. We are required to start cooking at 7.30am, and have sausage sizzles available to purchase from 8am until 4pm. Our sausage sizzles have been for a basketball club, so in each timeslot we roster two players, and a parent or responsible adult for each player. A club representative is the captain.
TIP: You will need to roster a responsible adult on the first and last shift for setup and pack up. Both of these events should be checked by a Bunnings Representative.
Purchasing your supplies
In order to maximise your profit, it is important to keep costs as low as possible. As well as purchasing at low prices, catering as accurately as you can to the day's sausage sizzle sales will avoid wastage and save money.
The big question is, how many sausages and rolls should you purchase? Your Warehouse Activities Officer will provide a guide on how many sausages you should expect to sell. This can vary depending on the weather, and the time of year. For example, on a rainy winter's day you are likely to sell less sausage sizzles than on a 30 degree day in early December, when people are visiting Bunnings in order to get their homes ready for Christmas.
TIP: For a more accurate estimate, pop down to the sizzle on the weekend before yours, and ask the community group how may sausages they have sold. We have sold as little as 396 to as many as 872 at the same location on the same day of the week, so numbers can vary greatly.
To keep costs down
- Purchase water, cool drink and sauce on sale at your local supermarket. For drinks, you should be aiming for a maximum spend of 50c a can. With clever buying, you can get this down to 40c.
- Approach your local butcher, baker or supermarket to see if they can support you, either by providing supplies at a discounted price or donating a gift card.
- Use online coupon codes at Woolworths and Coles to further reduce the cost of your purchases. With some clever Googling you should be able to receive a minimum of $10 off your order, but a good promo code could give you a discount of up to $25. @ShoppingScrooge regularly posts validated promo codes for Woolworths and Coles.
- Use e-gift cards. Some memberships allow you to purchase gift cards at discount, for example RACWA offers members a 3% discount on Woolworths e-gift cards. This reduces your overall spend, and 3-gift cards can be used in conjunction with a promo code to boost your savings.
- Order rolls and sausages in advance, and don't forget to call the day before to confirm your order. Last minute purchasing will drive up your purchase price.
We've created a handy Bunnings Sausage Sizzle Shopping List for you to make sure you have all of your purchases covered. You can also download the list in pdf format.
You will need a float in a secure tin for cash purchases. Some Bunnings sizzlers are offering cashless payment, but most purchasers are still expecting to pay in cash.
We use a float of $150, broken down as follows
$20 x 2
$10 x 3
$5 x 4
$2 x 20
$1 x 10
50c x 20
TIP: Make sure your closing captain knows the value of the float. At the end of the day, this will need to be deducted from the total cash takings to calculate your profit.
The day before
Double check you have all of the supplies you need for your sizzle, and send out a reminder to your volunteers, letting them know who the captain is for each timeslot. Remind volunteers they will need to wear enclosed shoes, a hat and a shirt with sleeves.
Cut onions, and pack them in zip lock bags. We cut ours outside using a mandolin, and each family member gets a job. One tops and tails the onions, one peels and one slices. We refer to this as family bonding time, but in truth there is not much bonding going on!
Cut approximately 100 rolls three quarters of the way through, wrap them in serviettes, and return them to their original packaging. The remaining rolls can be cut onsite on the morning of the sizzle, which is normally a quieter shift. This keeps the volunteers busy. (Western Australia is the only state to provide rolls for our sausage sizzles. All other states are able to use bread).
TIP: We only came across this hot tip last year! Previously we had one person volunteer to cut 15-20kg of onions, and bring them to the sizzle for the first shift. This is a very smelly and onerous task. Now we ask each family to bring 2kg of chopped onions when they arrive for their shift. This shares the load and the smell - many hands make light work!
You will need to make sure you pack all of the equipment you need to run the sizzle on the day. Here's our Bunnings Sausage Sizzle Equipment Checklist to make that task easier.
On the day
It's finally time to raise some funds!
Purchase ice on the way to the sizzle to keep drinks, onions and sausages cool in their eskies. We purchase 9 bags at the start of the day.
TIP: Our local Bunnings store sells ice, but we aren't able to purchase ice until the store is open for business. This means that during the day we can restock ice from Bunnings, but ice for the first shift needs to be purchased elsewhere.
On arrival, most Bunnings stores will require you to setup the BBQ area in the morning. Make sure your morning shift volunteers are capable of setting up, as this can require some heavy lifting and maneuvering. You will also need to pack up at the end of the day - if you work out any tips or tricks, communicate those with the afternoon shift volunteers.
Place the eskies close to the volunteers who will need to access to them the most, and make sure excess drinks, sauces and other supplies not currently being used are tucked away safely under a table, keeping the floor space as free as possible.
In the morning while the sizzle is quiet, cut the remaining bread rolls, wrap them in serviettes and return them to their original packaging. This helps during the chaos of the lunch rush.
Through out the day, regularly refill sauces, restock drinks in eskies and tidy the sizzle area. Keep an eye on your supplies, and if you think you will run out of a critical item call the Captain on the next shift. They can purchase any additional items on the way to the sizzle.
Communication is key to smooth sausage sizzle. Remind the volunteers to let the cashier take the customer's order without disruption. Once the cashier has taken the order, ask them to call the sizzle order out loudly so the Cook and Order person can hear. We call out 'ONE WITH' for a sausage with onion, or 'ONE WITHOUT' for a sausage in a bun. This keeps us working together as a well oiled machine. That's until the lunch rush starts, and you hear 'SEVEN WITH' or 'ONE WITH, BUT WITH TWO SAUSAGES IN ONE BUN AND ONE SAUSAGE WITH NO BUN IN A SERVIETTE FOR THE DOG'! Don't forget suggestive selling techniques - you will be surprised how many times the question 'would you like a drink with your order' is answered with 'yes please!'.
TIP: Your Cook plays a very pivotal role in the success of your sausage sizzle. Not only do they need to cook sausages and onions to a good standard, rotating food to avoid overcooking, they need to continuously load uncooked food on the BBQ to ensure they don't run out. There is nothing worse than a long line of snag hungry DIYers waiting for snags to cook! Keep an eye on the Cook to make sure they are keeping up with demand, and step in and lend a hand if needed.
When it's time for a shift change and the new volunteers arrive, work out who is taking over each position, and show them where to find items they will need to perform their role. Make sure the new shift captain knows how many drinks, sausages and rolls remain available, and where any excess stock is being stored.
TIP: You must remove your rubbish at the end of the day, it is not able to be disposed of in the Bunnings Warehouse bins.. At the end of each shift, ask a volunteer to take a bag of rubbish with them to dispose of at home. This avoids the volunteers on the last shift being overwhelmed with rubbish and recycling.
As it heads towards the end of the day, start packing away unused items, and cleaning and tidying the sizzle area. While you are required to have sausage sizzles available until a set time (for us it's normally 4pm), we make sure our area is as clean as possible and packed up as much as possible by around 3.30pm. We just keep a small number of sausages and onion on the BBQ for the latecomers. This means we can finalise the pack up and leave as soon as possible after shutting down the BBQ.
Once the sizzle has closed and you have packed up, you will be required to inform a Bunnings Representative of the total funds raised from the sizzle on the day. Have your purchase costs already tallied, and add the cost of any extra purchases made throughout the day (such as ice) as they occur. Total the cash received on the day, less the float, and you will be able to calculate your profit.
TIP: For security reasons, it's best not to leave all of your cash takings at the sizzle all day. On Saturdays our local bank open until 1pm, so we bank the morning's sales proceeds at lunchtime.. Alternatively, count and send home some of the sales proceeds with a trustworthy volunteer part way through the day.
What if you have supplies left at the end of the sizzle?
Do you have another sausage sizzle booked? Water and soft drinks will keep until your next event, and sausages, rolls and even chopped onion can be frozen for a certain amount of time if freezer space is available. If you don't have any future sizzles booked, or you want to maximise your cash return, try selling the perishable items to family, friends or volunteers at cost or slightly below. You can also contact the fundraiser running the sizzle the following day or week, and offer to sell them items at a discounted price. We have even put together BBQ packs on our local Facebook Community page, and sold a 24 pack of sausages with 24 buns at a discounted price.
SOCKABLE LEVEL EXPERT TIP: This one is not for the faint hearted!
So you're an excellent planner, you are supported by a great group of volunteers, and you can run a sausage sizzle with your eyes closed. You have forged relationships with your suppliers, and you know exactly what needs to be done to make a sizzle happen. Maybe you even enjoy hanging out at Bunnings Sausage Sizzles so much you just want more!
Let me tell you an insider secret.
Bunnings often have fundraisers cancel at very short notice (sometimes they just don't show up the day). What happens if there is no community group to run the sizzle? Bunnings has to provide their own staff and run it themselves. That means a Bunnings staffer has to go to the shop to purchase supplies with limited notice, and staff are taken from their rostered role in the Warehouse on the weekend to cook and serve snags. Bunnings doesn't like doing this, so they try to find another community groups to take on the sizzle at short notice. Sometimes the Warehouse Activity Organiser can can call 10 or more numbers, and still not find a volunteer to step up. If you want to boost your fundraising dollars, get on this list, and get to the top.
How do you do that? Let the Warehouse Activity Organiser know that if they have a cancellation, you are ready to go at short notice. When you get the call, say yes without hesitation.. Then turn up on the day and knock it out of the park. Once you've done this once, trust me you will head to the top of that list. The Warehouse Activity Organiser will be asked to share the cancellation sizzles around between fundraisers, but I can assure you that if the receive a short notice cancellation and know you will solve their problem, you will get the call. You may even be able to get on the short notice list at more than one store.
How do we know this? In 2019 we went as far as having a fully stocked BBQ kit ready to go at no notice. When we received a call with a day or two's notice, we only had to source rolls and sausages. Sometimes we received an incentive for running the sizzles at such short notice,, such as a gift voucher which you can sell or raffle, or a donation of supplies.
We can't tell you how many Bunnings Sausage Sizzles we ran in 2019 at short notice.. We can say it was a fantastic boost to our fundraising efforts to take a Varsity Girls and Varsity Boy's Basketball team on tour for 3 weeks around the USA in November the same year.
We hope you enjoyed The Ultimate Bunnings Sausage Sizzle Guide. Please share it with your friends, and we hope you are able to maximise your fundraising profit at your next sausage sizzle.