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Friends. I’M SO EXCITED to release this interview. This is part one of a two-part interview I did with Don and every second of it is PURE GOLD. We talk about delegating, streamlining your operations, bridal shows, OWNING your market, and so much more!

Sit down with a pen and paper because there are a ton of takeaways that you won’t want to miss.

“There’s never been anyone more successful than me that’s told me to slow down.” YES DON!

If you want to catch more of Don, you can find him:
His podcast:
His Youtube:


Sarah Murphy 0:00
Hi friends. Welcome to the Mobile Bev Pros podcast, a podcast dedicated to providing mobile bar professionals with the information they need to succeed.

I’m your host and fellow mobile bar owner, Sarah Murphy. Each episode, I’ll be bringing you interviews, knowledge, anecdotes, or opinions, with the goal of assisting you in building a profitable, sustainable and scalable mobile bar business that will support the lifestyle you dream of. I’m excited for today’s episode. So let’s get started.

Hey, everyone, today’s episode is such a treat. I’m talking to Don Branzuela from HD Liquid Catering, and he is one of the true OG’s of the mobile bar world. He has so much information to share. We had an amazing conversation, it lasted almost two hours. So today’s episode is actually the first in a two part series. You’ll have to come back next week for part two, but there’s so much packed into even just this one episode. I’m not gonna keep you waiting any longer. Here it is.

Don Branzuela 1:01
So how you doing? How’s everything?

Sarah Murphy 1:03
It’s okay. I mean, we just went back into phase two. And so I don’t know, I don’t know what our August events are going to look like. But whatever, events will always bounce back. So

Don Branzuela 1:15
yeah, yeah. Well, we’re hoping cuz it’s, we’re, we’re like, we’re not saying we’re dying. But man, we could certainly, we could certainly definitely use more. Um, I feel like I’m stuck.

Sarah Murphy 1:26

Don Branzuela 1:27
With all the stuff I want to do. I don’t know if I can. And so just moving forward on everything. And so yeah,

Sarah Murphy 1:33
Well, the one thing that I know is gonna be fine is you Don, because you, not only are you an OG,

Don Branzuela 1:39

Sarah Murphy 1:40
But you are, you hustle on a whole different level. I was literally just talking to my husband. He’s like you have a podcast tonight? I was like, Yeah, I opened up one night a week, just in case I will have, you know, like our industry kind of night owls anyways.

Don Branzuela 1:53
I appreciate that by the way, because I saw like your time slots, and then I saw the 9pm. Like YESSS.

Sarah Murphy 2:00
We are used to working at nine o’clock, so it’s not a big deal. And I have some people in like South Africa, some people in Australia. And so this kind of just gives a nice middle ground. And he was like, Who is this guy? And I was like, Oh, this is an O-G, like, this is a big get for this podcast. And I just love the way your brain works Don like, well, the way that you approach this industry and everything that you’ve done, and like no one else is doing the things that you do. And I just love that. So if anybody can tackle COVID and turn it to their own advantage, I know it’s you

Don Branzuela 2:37
Well, we’ll hope so, hope so because it’s like a different world right now. I feel like we’ve, our competitors are catching up. And then we’re kind of playing in a different different arena. As far as like what works, like the big scale is not. So we have to start thinking small, we have to almost start over again, is my, that’s our mentality right now is how do we start over? How do we get down to the basics on everything. But enough, enough of that is like one of them. Let me know what you want to talk about today. Because I have no idea. I don’t know,

Sarah Murphy 3:08
Just this

But I literally just I love just talking to people about whatever it is that lights them up. Typically, it’s like I’m really like, people are like, I’m really passionate about this. I’m like, let’s talk about that. Because I don’t care what we talk about. But it’s all just fun. It’s all just fun. And all of its applicable when you’ve owned a mobile bar. Okay, this is what we’re gonna talk about, we’re gonna talk about your very first business card, Don, tell me your very first business card set, because I love it.

Don Branzuela 3:37
I was like, if you don’t need a darn fine bartender at this very moment, and then you flip it over, like this card will work as this card will help you, like get that piece of basil out of your front teeth.

It caught a lot of

It was good.

Sarah Murphy 3:54
But to me that is like, we talked a couple episodes ago about authentic voice. And people had a really hard time kind of finding their authentic voice. Because a lot of times in this industry, people will just try and be like all the other people that are doing the thing that they’re doing. And they just figure Well, that’s working for them. Therefore it works. And I should make it work for me. Right?

Don Branzuela 4:15

Sarah Murphy 4:15
But what you did from the very first moment when you made those first business cards, you decided you weren’t going to do at all what other people were doing. And you were just you and that obviously 20 years laters

Don Branzuela 4:28
Jesus, yeah! It’s not so bad because it doesn’t feel like 20 years. I mean, I feel like I’m still in the same spot. I still feel like I think the only difference is I have more people lifting stuff for me then.

Sarah Murphy 4:40
Which is important because the older you get, the harder it gets to lift all that stuff

Don Branzuela 4:43
Than I used to before, so I think that’s the only thing I feel like I can do. And that’s now just my finger. Kind of like hey, I need you to put that over there and go do that over there. And then I go home much earlier on Saturdays.

Sarah Murphy 4:57
Totally. But that’s that’s I mean, I think it’s everyone’s stream after 20 years, if I’m still having to stay until 12pm lugging shit out of an event then I’m doing something wrong, but

Don Branzuela 5:10
No, but you know what? So I don’t know if you’re recording already.

Sarah Murphy 5:13
I am.

Don Branzuela 5:14
Okay. So I thought about that post you put on your Facebook today about the hustle and then about kind of like taking time for yourself.

Sarah Murphy 5:21

Don Branzuela 5:22
And then I thought about that tonight before, before coming on. And it’s like, as much I’m the same way as you were, I should make more time for myself, but then this is a this is what I love doing.

Sarah Murphy 5:33

Don Branzuela 5:33
Like I can’t, it’s not doesn’t feel like I’m working. It doesn’t like, and then the one only thing I can say is like, there’s never been anybody more successful than me that ever told me to slow down. Like nobody has ever, it’s always somebody that’s just kind of sitting on the sideline watching what you’re doing, working a nine to five saying, Hey, you know what, you should really relax, you should be working too hard. And then it’s like, but when I talk to other business owners like that are doing it even on not this business. But other business companies, big catering companies on I tell them all the stuff that they’re doing. And then they’re like, Oh, that’s cute. Until about how much we know, like our revenue and everything. And they’re like, Oh, well, you’ll get here someday. Which makes it even more cause you know, you talk to people that are solopreneurs and everything they get, it’s always impressive, like what you do like the numbers you do, but they’re always just relative,

Sarah Murphy 6:21

Don Branzuela 6:22
And so I just think about that, like, Don’t ever don’t ever stop and think that hey, you know what, like, this is my, this is my me time. Like, this is my you know, like, I think the best thing about it is we have the choice to stop when we want to and to take off. And so I feel like that’s the one thing that nobody else, not that many people have.

Sarah Murphy 6:40
Oh, 100%

Don Branzuela 6:41
So, that’s always been my biggest thing is like, look, I work because I choose to do this side, I’m gonna leave for six weeks, then I’m gonna choose to do that to

Sarah Murphy 6:49

Don Branzuela 6:49
Or I choose not to return my emails and I do that a lot, quite frankly say,

Sarah Murphy 6:56
Right. I choose to hire someone to do my emails for me. So it works out.

Don Branzuela 7:00
Hey, I’m very proud of you. You know what, when you said that, like, you know, when you put up with your bookkeeping, or whatever it is that you you, you handed it off to lemmme tell you what, that that in itself is almost like, you want more of that feeling? Because like the more people take away from you and then now you’re just kinda like more of an overseer? Oh, it’s like the best feeling.

Sarah Murphy 7:19
Yeah. So I hired a coach, a very expensive coach, that is kind of a few steps ahead of me. Like she’s already doing like, I don’t know, $20,000 months, but like not, I’m not in events, but just coaching. And I basically was like, This is what I’ve got going on. And I’m pulled in a lot of different directions. And she really helped me kind of figure out like, Where’s your zone of genius? Like, where are you adding the most amount of most value? And what are you doing that other people can do? Like probably even better than you. And that was a really hard exercise for me. Because as a solopreneur, we just do all the things, right? Like, we just kind of start doing all the things. We just keep doing the things and then suddenly, you’re like, no one can do it like I can do it. And so three years into Bar Magnolia, and I’m like dying over here, because I’ve started Mobile Bev Pros, I now do SWIG, all these other things. And I made a list and I went through it with her. And she’s like a VA can do that, a VA can do that, a VA– bookkeeper can do that. And I was like, Okay, and so I hired a bookkeeper. And that was the easy part. But it was hard for me because I actually have the skill set necessary for that.

Don Branzuela 8:29
Yeah, yeah.

Sarah Murphy 8:29
And so I’m like, no one’s gonna make sense of my books, because it’s a mess. It’s a mess of restaurants and like things like what we do, there’s a lot of in and out and whatever. I was being stupid, obviously, someone can do it better than me. And so I did, I hired a bookkeeper, and I just hired a VA to help with Mobile Bev Pros. She’s amazing. She’s better than me at pretty much everything I was doing.

Don Branzuela 8:54
So there’s a book because I was like that where you were probably in 2014. Okay, I was still working on my own before we did HD and I went to this thing called Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. So it’s this big social media conference, everybody’s Facebook, Twitter, you know, all this. And then I went to this one like room, and then the guy’s title was like, I know what, procrastinate on purpose, and how to multiply your time. And then it kind of like spoke to me like, okay, and the guy’s name is Rory Vaden, okay? And basically, he taught the same thing, but he put it this way. It’s like, Hey, you know what? So how much would you like, if you ask yourself, How much do you make per hour? How much if you put your business like, what’s your, how much would you give yourself hourly, right? Yeah. And that was like, you know, I’d pay myself $50 an hour right $100 an hour. It’s like, okay. Well, then, you know what, say then you need to find all the other things that you paying other people $10 an hour for then you need to find them to do it. And he basically talks about, hey, how do you find how do you make an extra 500 hours in a year right? So find something that takes you, the thing that you hate the most like bookkeeping, right? Yeah, that’s all he talks about how many hours that take you a month, a week.

Sarah Murphy 10:06

Don Branzuela 10:06
For you now, and then 16 per month, times, let’s just say times 12 is almost like 175 hours. If you hired somebody, and then train them, even just for 20 hours to do it. And the next thing, you know, you just literally clear the books for that many hours, in your- in your year to do more stuff. And so it means the same basic thing, but that’s the thing that spoke to me. And I was like, Yeah, okay, that, yeah, I can do that.

Sarah Murphy 10:32
Yeah. And I think conceptually, it’s like, obviously, obviously, but then you’re in it, you’re just to keep going and just keep doing it.

Don Branzuela 10:41
That was the hardest thing. It seriously is trying to, like watching, especially watching somebody struggle at first doing like the small stuff like, but you almost have to be, you have to be patient and know that, hey, this is a bigger purpose. And then finally, after that, we just kind of like start hiring more people. And then and then coming up with systems. And that was like my most like, my most fun thing right now, like in this business is just coming up with systems.

Sarah Murphy 11:04

Don Branzuela 11:05
Process and systems. And every time something goes wrong, it’s probably gonna be like, well, we don’t have a system for that.

Sarah Murphy 11:10

Don Branzuela 11:11
And I feel like everybody here in the office every time I always say system, they’re always like, okay, yeah. Every time I say something is like, well, because it isn’t stuff that’s working well. I mean, there’s a lot like right now, our biggest thing is decor. Okay, it sounds so simple. But it’s not because we’re always scrambling around before every open house, before every marketing event before every event. As far as like, what are we going to use to decorate the- now normally for everybody– Hey, you know, what, one or two events? That’s cool. You have it right. But then how do you do it for, like, 20 events on a Saturday night?

Sarah Murphy 11:46

Don Branzuela 11:47
How do you decorate each one to look nice. And so we’re kind of working on a system where basically we’re creating boxes, and we’re going to spend a lot of money on it, but we’re just going to pick so because we need to be where the guys in the warehouse don’t have to think about, oh, hey, this is gonna look great here. It’s literally just gonna be like, Hey, where’s the venue? Okay, here, there’s a decor box for that venue and add it to the, to the thing and then, so that’s why I’m kind of like working on the Cricut stuff. It was trying to, I don’t want to buy any of this. Yeah, cuz like, decor is expensive. So you can go into like, 70%. And then there’s not a lot of bar stuff. But when you go to like, Michaels or Hobby Lobby or anything like that, there’s a lot of kitchen kind of decor, but there’s never like, hey, alcohol. Like what that no great story ever started with a salad. It’s kind of like I love that sign.

You’re like I’ll take a dozen. Thank you,

Right? Now we’re gonna have to make them and everything. So that’s kind of like our biggest. It’s our biggest, like, we do everything right, like 95%, everything solid, all this and then but the decor and the bar just looks like blah. like 20 years later, it’s still an issue, right? You know? So it was like it’s never like is one thing, you figure something out, and it’s always something small.

Sarah Murphy 13:04
That’s right.

Don Branzuela 13:04
that makes you look like a total amateur every time. So that’s our biggest struggle. It’s like, you know, we’ve conquered all the big stuff, then all the little things, like amateur night, like every night, and then it’s like the most frustrating thing. But it’s also the thing that keeps us always on our toes.

Sarah Murphy 13:18
And I think also, if you get to the point where you no longer have the big stuff, and you’re now worried about what piece of decor is going in the bar. You’ve kind of made it.

Don Branzuela 13:28
Yeah, but man, I tell you what it’s like it’s one of those things, you know, it’s always like, you got to be able to tackle the little things, because it’s the thing that people thats what they see it, nobody’s impressed. But we never want to say that we never tell clients or venues like hey, by the way, sorry, we don’t have this. You know, we have 20 events tonight.

Sarah Murphy 13:45
Right. Absolutely.

Don Branzuela 13:46
Nobody’s impressed by that.

Sarah Murphy 13:48

Don Branzuela 13:48
And so you can’t that you can’t use your business as an excuse

Sarah Murphy 13:52

Don Branzuela 13:52
Just almost have to say hey, how do we just make it better? Like, what kind of system do we put in here?

Sarah Murphy 13:57

Don Branzuela 13:58
So that this doesn’t happen again.

Sarah Murphy 13:59
One of the concepts that I go over with my coaching clients when they get to kind of that overwhelm stage is the rule of three, automate, delegate, eliminate? Right, like what are the things that you can– because a lot of things, and Don you probably can make a very long list in the last 20 years of the things that you thought were super important, you spent time on, you effort on and nobody gave a shit?

Don Branzuela 14:23

Sarah Murphy 14:24
Those are the eliminate things, but we do. We think they’re important and nobody cares.

Don Branzuela 14:31
To be honest with you right now, like our biggest thing is our cocktails right? Look, I know how super important cocktails are to us. You know how we have to make it’s so good and so fresh and everything but then, man, all the time you take to do it. And then the end of the day you know what, I just did one just put one in real quick. I’m not as intricate and making cocktails as Heather is so mine is just almost very like Hey, what is it? What color does it need to be?

Sarah Murphy 14:57
What are the bridesmaid dresses?

Don Branzuela 14:58
Right exactly for me cocktail hour, a cocktail like craft cocktails and signature cocktails is really all about just taking something that already tastes good. And then giving it a better name, and putting in a different glass and then putting in a better garnish, and different that’s like you can have a cape cod called something different, put it in a really sweet looking glass, put some really cool stuff coming out of it, and everybody’s gonna do a flip out over it. Right, that’s how I like to do. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about what they see everything like that, but they hesitate a lot more. And I just keep my way out of this, like back and forth all the time of like, you know, they’re not really gonna care. I was like, as much as we think they do. And then even but then I also have my own things where I tried to be really, like, picky about, then everybody has to tell me like, hey, nobody’s gonna care about that. Because you know, you think that your clients see this, or this is what you expect that your client is happy with this.

Sarah Murphy 15:48
Right, a great example that

Don Branzuela 15:50
And all that extra work is like,

Sarah Murphy 15:52

Don Branzuela 15:52

Sarah Murphy 15:53
One of my favorite examples is when I first launched, I was all about the fresh juices, because you and I know fresh lime juice, fresh squeezed lemon juice, fresh squeezed orange juice, way better. It’s delicious. And I came from the restaurant scene where it’s like local, organic. That’s what they wanted

Don Branzuela 16:08
Right, right.

Sarah Murphy 16:08
Right. So that’s what I launched with an I out of curiosity at one point, I looked at my cost, and I was like, dang, like, I am really eating it here. So let me put on fresh squeezed juices as an upgrade to the main mixer package. And that way I can recoup some of that difference, right? Of the hundred events that I booked in the year that I did this AB test. You know how many pick the fresh juices?

Don Branzuela 16:16
I don’t know

Sarah Murphy 16:35

Don Branzuela 16:39
They don’t care.

Sarah Murphy 16:42
They don’t care!

AB test your shit. Because you what you what’s important to you what you think is really, really like I will die on that hill, it may not be to your clients.

Don Branzuela 16:55
Well, no, because that’s doesn’t work is that we get all hung up on that instead of just trying to sell it. And so I’ve always just told people, I was like, every time somebody talks to me about that about like a cocktails, but there’s like, look, I’m not here to try to impress other bartenders, I’m trying to impress my paying clients. And they’re happy with it, then that’s all I can say is like, Look, I always talk about like McDonald’s does not make the best burger they know there’s 100 burgers in the world better than McDonald’s. Right?

Sarah Murphy 17:19

Don Branzuela 17:19
But sure as hell they sell more than anybody else. Ya know? And like, you know why they figured out how to put 16 year olds have never worked a job before in their life to run this business.

Sarah Murphy 17:30

Don Branzuela 17:31
And it’s all it’s and it’s so like I said, it’s process. It’s automation, it’s training. And so that’s what we just kind of need to get to is like and get not get hung up on freshness and flavor. And if there’s like, if you want it to be good,

Sarah Murphy 17:43

Don Branzuela 17:43
It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.

Sarah Murphy 17:45

Don Branzuela 17:46
You’ll go crazy, trying to figure itout

Sarah Murphy 17:47
And then people like oh, luxury, I want to be that luxury market, because those are the ones that pay. But we all know the celebrities are ordering McDonald’s at like two in the morning. They’re not above McDonald’s. I’m not.

Don Branzuela 17:58
Even celebrity you know what you would think they would bet like we’ve had some celebrity clients, but they want stuff free all the time. Like none of them have ever just gone up and just be like, Oh, hey, you know who I am? I made millions of dollars. Give me whatever you have is the most of it’s always like, no

Sarah Murphy 18:12
You’re 100% right. I remember there was a huge influencer, that my main competitor here in Nashville had done an event for it. And they had been reaching out to me. And I was like, oh, that’d be great. So that then I’m like, well, like, what’s your budget? Like? What are you looking for? And they basically were like, Oh, no, that’s not how this works, we will guarantee that she gives you a shout out on on social media, but what are you willing to offer? And I was I mean we’re two years in at this point, I was juggling a ton of events, and I would have had to shuffle some shit around. And I was like, yeah, that’s not really that, you know, that’s not really how I make money.

Don Branzuela 18:49
And the bank doesn’t take shout outs.

Sarah Murphy 18:53
But I have to say, if I hadn’t worked in the Hamptons for four years, I probably would have been all over that. Only I happen to have experience with all of the celebrities that kind of roam around the Hamptons, and I know they’re the cheapest out there.

Don Branzuela 19:10
And then sometimes they’re not even the ones putting it together. It’s other people they’re just showing up but then they’re using whoever it is influencers, event planners, whatnot. They’re the ones just basically using their name to get all this stuff for free. And I see a lot of people jumping on stuff like that. It’s like I mean we put our money into networking groups like that’s our number one thing it’s like when we sponsored bars for all the big galas yes everything like that because we need to stay keep our name on top like that’s where our marketing dollars go

Sarah Murphy 19:39

Don Branzuela 19:40
It’s like bridal shows. I know there’s always a lot of talk on Mobile Bev Pros.

Sarah Murphy 19:43
Let’s talk about bridal shows, Don because you are the king of bridal shows. And anytime anyone’s like, should I do bridal shows you are they worth the the money. I’m always like, I never thought so but then I met Don and Don-he’s a hustler bridal shows and he doesn’t give a crap about the brides.

Don Branzuela 20:07
When you’re doing it so long, I’ll tell you what. So like the first time what when you do a bridal show, you’re always like trying to be that hustle guy, like, Hey, you need this, you need this, you need this. And then I would work just by myself, or just having a just trying to save money, because I’ve already spent like, $800, $900 on this show, so I can’t even and then but it never worked. And so what’s really cool is there, the lady that runs the bridal show company here, she actually like for all her bridal show people, she offers free classes on how to succeed in her shows,

Sarah Murphy 20:37
That’s awesome.

Don Branzuela 20:38
She tells you like, this is what you need to do, this is what you need to do. And I took that class twice.

Sarah Murphy 20:43
In case you miss something.

Don Branzuela 20:44
Yeah, and then you know, we just, there’s like a bunch of us four or five, seven of us and just kind of sitting in a room in her office just sitting on the floor. And she’s just talking like, this is how it works. And so finally, we decided alright we’re going to spend this much money already. Let’s hire people to work it. And then let me have free time to network on the floor. I mean, because depending on how many people there are look I mean here, Dallas, obviously, it’s a bigger market. So you can have anywhere from 200, 300 different vendors and the it’s a two days, two days, all I do is literally just go around stopping by and I do little micro visits. Every time I walk that floor for two days straight now. It’s like I don’t stop by my booth. And then you kind of like and then you can’t look at it like, Hey, is this one a good show? You have to good look at it for a whole year. So there’s four shows the charging $800, like look at your spending $3200. That’s your marketing budget. So you don’t have to think about, oh, hey, this is gonna be the good time to do it’s like, because if we’ve seen it before, we missed the show once. And we saw a dip in our bookings, you know,

Sarah Murphy 21:42

Don Branzuela 21:43
because yeah, just because I like because when we go there we work on- so my goal is to go over there and find new venues, that’s where new venues always end up. They’re always looking for vendors. They’re always looking for this. And I just my first question is always, hey, do you have an open house coming up? And you should really do one. Now try to like, give him some pointers. Do this. And then finally he’s like, hey, if you like, I don’t want to say if you’d like I would love to offer alcohol free and then they’re like, Yeah, please do it. Because once you get into an open house, now you’re in front of brides right there.

Sarah Murphy 22:14

Don Branzuela 22:15
B ook. So the money is in the you’re spending money on the bridal show, but it’s a free open house. I know you kind of wonder how you people trying to cold call, like man cold calling does not work. I spent over a decade cold calling people. And they don’t answer. They don’t. They don’t give a crap. And then I did a I also run a luncheon around here. And then we offered a bunch of like wedding venues chance to speak. And so we just asked him like, kind of like a panel. And it’s like, how do you feel about people just calling you and they’re like, No, don’t do it.

Don’t even

Sarah Murphy 22:47
Especially if they’re like planning a wedding. Right? Like, imagine if you had a florist, everybody all

Don Branzuela 22:52
Everybody’s coming at you. And they don’t know who they are. You know, I’m saying? So it’s a lot of this is such I’ve always told people like, Look, this is I’m not in the wedding business. I’m not in the bar business. I’m not in, like, you know, alcohol business. I mean, we’re in the people business like this is you know, we deal with people all the time. It’s like, you know, people do business with people they like, so mines always like how do I get them to like me first. And then from there? How do I then push my business?

Sarah Murphy 23:16

Don Branzuela 23:17
And then so it’s Um, so yeah, it just goes from there. And that’s just the that’s just our kind of like, our trickle down. And then we also work on all the little, I don’t wanna say fringe, but the other vendors. Now you would think, hey, how does the photographer help me?

Sarah Murphy 23:29

Don Branzuela 23:29
You know, how does? How does these guys help me like you know what they do it a lot because anybody who’s come in contact with brides, especially the first between photographer, florist, and cake venue, those are the ones that they’re always asking, Hey, who do you I’m still missing this. A lot of vendors always try to push their friends. So yeah, so we just do that. Like I go around to these things. I always give like vendors or just by themselves, I give them like bathroom breaks. I kind of go there and go, Hey, you know, you need to go to the restroom. I’ll sit here, you go. Go grab something to eat, you know,

Sarah Murphy 23:58
I love that

Don Branzuela 23:59
And handout. I’ll hand out your cards, everything like that. And they just look at me like, seriously? I’m like yea!

Sarah Murphy 24:06
I love that. But the two shows ago I really was starving. Because even though I recommend this literally in the MBP group, there’s a bridal show success, like, whatever resource for bridal shows. It says, bring food, because you never know if there’s I’m always hungry. It’s always too long. It’s always like during a meal period. Yeah. And I totally forgot to bring food two times ago. And I’m like, I have got to eat something and I ended up having to just leave my booth like unattended for a hot minute and with just fliers out which to be fair brides probably loved. They loved that they just go and get one without me having to be like, Hey, planning a wedding? Like obviously they are.

Don Branzuela 24:51
Even for us like before, the whole thing was Hey, you leave for a bartender. Hey, you know, it’s like we became like little hustlers on the street, right? I’m like, you know,

Sarah Murphy 24:58
Like spinning sign.

Don Branzuela 25:00
Yeah, look, I’m from the Philippines. And every time you go like in the busy streets, everybody’s always hustling, you know, Hey, come in you here to my store this? So finally, you know what, we’re just kind of just sitting here it would say, look, let em come to us. Don’t be too- a number one thing we learned too don’t give away samples. We do not give away samples at the, at the bridal show, just because you’ll have a long line of people that you know what?

Sarah Murphy 25:21
Don’t care.

Don Branzuela 25:22
Nope. Yeah, yeah, you’ll end up spending more like, you know, I’d much rather have a line of just one person who’s interested than 100 that’s just there for the drinks.

Sarah Murphy 25:30

Don Branzuela 25:30
So, we don’t, yeah, so we don’t mess with that. And then

Sarah Murphy 25:33
But you tak eit as an opportunity to network which network like that is 100%. And one of the tips that I give people in the membership resource is if you want to, like really dazzle, go to Costco, get some frickin snack bars. And then just before the show when everyone’s like, at their just booth waiting, just go and like hand people like some some snacks, because you know, they’re gonna be starving, because nobody else brought food either.

Don Branzuela 25:58
And that’s a way to just come in and just be nice human being. And then also, the one thing too is like, get there before, don’t you know, like, I get there beforehand, just kind of see who I want to talk to. And then afterwards, don’t catch em. And then I’m really good at breaking off. Talking to him doing it. As soon as the client as soon as a potential client comes up. I’m just I know, how to-

Sarah Murphy 26:16

Don Branzuela 26:17
Break out. Yeah, I don’t want to sit there and take their time. And I’m like, okay, you’re

Sarah Murphy 26:20
Awkwardly waiting on the side. Being like I’ll wait.

Don Branzuela 26:23
Right, then they hate you.

Sarah Murphy 26:25
Right? Because it’s a weird, dynamic at that point.

Don Branzuela 26:27
Yeah. But then you but they want somebody to talk to and you always want to just offer a kind of like value. It’s like my one story about the bridal show, which is like, this is why this is so important to us is we do networking outside, thank god like your Dalls/Fort Worth. There’s so many networking opportunities just outside of bridal shows.

Sarah Murphy 26:43

Don Branzuela 26:43
Um, different groups. And then there’s this little group that we run here or that’s run here in Fort Worth it’s called Thursday therapy. And it’s just an evening. It’s a free thing. Nobody has to join. And, you know, we provide alcohol for it. And there’s a lady that I met, she was a caterer. And we exchanged numbers, we tried to meet meet up for lunch one time, it didn’t really work out. And so but we still kept in contact. And then eight months later at the January bridal show, I’m walking around. Now she’s not with the caterer anymore, she’s with the venue. Okay. And then she saw me and then she was like, hey, I’ve been wanting to talk to you. We need a, we need an exclusive bartending for our new venue. And this venue turned out to be like a 450 person, big deal. And then we got it to a point where we were able to put our liquor license on the premise, and

Sarah Murphy 27:31

Don Branzuela 27:31
Then another liquor license. And that thing became like a six figure contract, mid-six figures for like a year. I mean, they were, it was incredible. And it was all from one networking thing. And one bridal show. It’s like an then for us, like that thing is paid for the next 10 years of bridal shows.

Sarah Murphy 27:49

Don Branzuela 27:50
And so and then, and then the thing is, like, then we lost that account, like just this past year, because they decided to do their alcohol in house.

Sarah Murphy 27:57

Don Branzuela 27:57
Because they saw how much money we were making

Sarah Murphy 27:58
They saw the money.

Don Branzuela 28:01
You almost can’t stop, so you can’t get too comfortable.

Sarah Murphy 28:04

Don Branzuela 28:05
That was my big lesson in 2004. Whenever I was like, Hey, you know, I have all these exclusive contracts. And the next thing Oh, God. One way or another the start all over again. And then 2013 had big ones– gone. So now it’s like, we’re always looking for the next big one. But then same time, always looking like don’t be happy with what you have, because so that’s why I’m kind of. So that’s my job here in the company, just kind of keeping our ears open and see who was out there drop by.

Sarah Murphy 28:33
Yeah, well, I mean, if you focus on hospitality, meaning like everyone that you come in contact with you are trying to add value, you’re hospitable you are you, then you’ll stick in their mind. And you’ll never, they never even know they just like oh, that’s Don with HD Catering, he’s amazing. I don’t have a need for him right now. But then they may three years from now be in a position where suddenly they’re like, I need a bartender or I need an exclusive contract or whatever. And they know they can trust you. You’ve built yourself a reputation you’re always around. So you’re always front of mind. Right?

Don Branzuela 29:10
That’s our number one thing, you know, like we can’t, like we can’t- anything that they pretty much people anything they ask us to do, we kind of do it like style shoots, I mean, we will jump on them in a heartbeat. Styled shoots, I’ll tell you what, that’s the best free networking you can do and to top and to top it off, it’s the best way to get to know vendors on a really personal level because first of all, I hate style shoots, okay? I hate the planners that put them together because they’re never on time. It’s never what they want. I hate photographers. I’m always like in a bad mood, it’s like why did they want me to do this. But then at the end of it, you know throughout the whole time like everybody’s mad at the situation right so that you have this one common theme,

Sarah Murphy 29:51
And it’s always hot! Or is it just me or is it always like stupid hot.

Don Branzuela 29:54
It’s always hot and then they ask you for stupid stuff like hey, can you do popsicles in the cocktail? Okay, we’re ready to shoot it. And then finally, like, been like

Sarah Murphy 30:03
dead in the glass

Don Branzuela 30:04
Forty-five minutes later so we’re like, I hate you. They tell us, hey, here’s our theme. This is what you need to do is like, Hey, bring this, right? So we’ve learned and then we’ll bring one and they’re like, well, we need one for the whole tablescape. Now you didn’t say that. You I didn’t know I needed 12.

You just told me to bring Oh, hey, bring some nice tropical looking cocktails. And so now we’ve learned what to ask. It’s like, what are you shooting it for? What is it this this, but then the whole time we’re hanging out, we’re just talking to rental people. Were just having a good time throughout the whole thing. And now I bring cocktails just for us.

Sarah Murphy 30:42
Because everyone needs one.

Don Branzuela 30:43
Everybody needs one. So it’s just a good way that we said all this free marketing, just to get to know people just on a personal level. That’s how we win. But because our competitors don’t put that kind of effort into it. And so they think they’re doing the stuff that they said they’re watching us. They’re doing all this stuff that they think they should be doing. But but a lot of people don’t have that. They’re not going that extra stuff.

Sarah Murphy 31:05
Right. And even if they were I’m a big believer of authentic voice. Whereas even if someone else is doing the exact same thing you are they’re not you.

Don Branzuela 31:14
They’re not. That’s exactly what it says. Like, this always tell us like sometimes when the staff and the sales staff gets kind of worried. And then hey, we lost this we lost. There’s like, Look we’re always gonna, for every one that closes there’s always gonna be a new one that opens. And also like, you know, the one thing they don’t have is me. They don’t have any- they don’t. I don’t mean to say that. They don’t have me, they don’t have like, our team

Sarah Murphy 31:31

Don Branzuela 31:31
You know, it’s like,

Sarah Murphy 31:32
That’s true

Don Branzuela 31:32
Our stuff they don’t have. You know they can replicate like, Look, I always tell people like monkeys can do what we do, too. So you can train dogs.

Sarah Murphy 31:40
Maybe not dogs, monkey’s for sure

Don Branzuela 31:41
Monkeys, okay. Monkey, machines, especially, you know what, like,

Sarah Murphy 31:45
There’s literally a cocktail machine out there

Don Branzuela 31:48
Yes. Exactly. So what is it that makes people decide to go with us or go with you more than anything else? Like, look, especially now you’ve seen this, everybody’s trailers beautiful. And everybody’s this like, now it gets to a point where, where’s the difference? What’s the difference between this trailer and that trailer. Once again, they don’t really care that Oh, this one doesn’t have a tap system. And this one does this that’s like.

Sarah Murphy 32:08

Don Branzuela 32:09
Oh, you know?

Sarah Murphy 32:09
This one’s white. This one’s black. This one’s $2500. This one’s $2400. Who cares? Right? Like, if you’re gonna, you’re gonna pick my competitor over me for 100 extra dollars, you can have them?

Don Branzuela 32:20
That’s us and you know we always, like we always say that too. But then also at the same time, so then, I always think but what could we have done? It was like, what was it about? It wasn’t just price. You know,

Sarah Murphy 32:30
It wasn’t the 100 bucks I’ll tell you that.

Don Branzuela 32:32
What was it about what we did and how we approached things that decided how did it well, how is it that we made them feel too, you know I mean? Because

Sarah Murphy 32:38

Don Branzuela 32:39
That was a bit that’s our big thing, too, with going back to bridal shows. I stopped talking to girls, actually, because, you know, when I asked men, you know, we kind of talk to our brides and stuff like from a more like analytical, kind of, like, more logical approach, not to say that women aren’t logical. The thing is, like, like, we all come from it from

Sarah Murphy 32:58
That’s a safe zone, the logic zone for a male to approach a female like, it’s safe to talk about logic.

Don Branzuela 33:03
Right. So you know, the thing, my logic that never says, like, why are we spending so much money on flowers? You know, I’m saying, like, why can’t we? Like, I’ve always wanted to just go, Hey, you should look at catering hashtag can’t drink flowers, you know? I don’t want my florist friends to hate me. So I just like, we’ve always just like, especially when we approach it, like, we always have to be like, hey, talk to them from like, here, you know, it’s like you have to. So that’s why we paint a picture. We don’t ever put pricing down. You know, it’s like when, because that’s the first question everybody always asks, okay, how much do you cost, how much do you charge?

Sarah Murphy 33:36

Don Branzuela 33:37
Almost like, the next question is always well, what do you want?

Sarah Murphy 33:40

Don Branzuela 33:41
What are you looking for? Talk to me about this. And they kind of start painting the picture for you. And then when you send them the proposal and kind of match the picture that they then it doesn’t look as bad, it doesn’t hurt as much. Because if they’d say, they go, how much do you charge? Like, well, we started off at $25 per person or whatever, for that and they’re gonna be like, No. No, you’re too much. I’m gonna go to this guy. So that’s why we never, never start with price we never- you know, it’s like anytime we always make fun, like anytime with any of our competitors talk about budget, or this, this and this. Look, we’ve already won.

Sarah Murphy 34:14
Oh my gosh.

Don Branzuela 34:15
That’s their number one thing.

Sarah Murphy 34:16
The first thing, that’s the first thing I removed from my contact form. When I first launched, it had budget. And that was the first thing I removed because it didn’t, it didn’t matter if I was going to get back to you anyways, whether or not even if I was double your budget, I was going to try and make that sale anyway.

Don Branzuela 34:31
Yeah, exactly. And then also like I said, unless you know what they actually want that then you you don’t really know what you can’t put a price on it. And then even certainly, it was like, well, under they we have to put us in a corner. It’s like well, you can you can it’s anywhere from $200 to to $4,000 or $6,000 for normal-you tell me what you want. I can’t tell you, see it’s the same thing for your dress. Now, it’s like, you can’t just ask him how much of that dress like what what do you want? You know what I mean?

Sarah Murphy 34:58
How much is a wedding dress?

Don Branzuela 35:00
Right, like-

Sarah Murphy 35:00
What dress do you want?

Don Branzuela 35:03
Where are you getting it? You know, like what it is like, you can go from free to like six figures. So I don’t like look, so this is what this is. So until you get more specific with me and tell me exactly what you’re looking for, and how you want it done, then I can get closer to that. So that’s what kind of makes grabbing people a lot more rather than here’s our price list.

Sarah Murphy 35:20

Don Branzuela 35:21
That doesn’t that doesn’t work.

Sarah Murphy 35:22
Right, and of course, we have one.

Don Branzuela 35:24
Oh, yeah

Sarah Murphy 35:24
We could definitely- I mean, I literally have all of my pricing on bar magnolias website now. It’s like, you can build your own package. And it gives you a quote right there. Because it’s easy. And obviously, I know what I’m going to charge for what, but when I can get you like face to face, at athe bridal show or something like that, then, like, we’re gonna sell the experience, the emotion, way more than we are just the transaction.

Don Branzuela 35:51
Right. And I also understand coming from your perspective that you have to put the pricing on there just because like, like you’re doing it by yourself at the beginning, or right now.

Sarah Murphy 35:59

Don Branzuela 35:59
We’ve had the luxury, you know, we had before COVID, we had like four full time sales people. So they’re at you know, they’re answering all the phone calls, doing all that. And then we’ve kind of also split them up into venues. So we had like, so many venues that okay, like this salesperson is in charge of all the events

Sarah Murphy 36:16

Don Branzuela 36:17
These these in these so we can really, because you have continuity you have so they’re not asking the same questions, or they know exactly what questions to ask. And they know how to the venue works.

Sarah Murphy 36:26

Don Branzuela 36:26
You know?And then. So going back to kind of what we were talking about before, I was like, I know I sent you the thing. And then it sounds like sounds like a big number. But it’s like, so we should we did about 1000 events last year.

Sarah Murphy 36:37
That’s amazing!

Don Branzuela 36:39
Rightand then so but when you talk about how to find them, you know what this is where it all goes ties back into the bridal shows, right? For us, instead of going out there and finding the thousand brides. And then to actually close 1000 Brides, you’d actually have to send proposals to 4000 brides.

Sarah Murphy 36:56
Yeah, accurately.

Don Branzuela 36:57
You have a closing rate of 25%.

Sarah Murphy 37:00

Don Branzuela 37:00
And if you’re good, you know what, 50%. So you’d have to send out 2000. We don’t want to do that. So our goal has always been to look how many events you want to do, and then find how many. So if we wanted to do 1000 events, then we go find 50 venues, right? And then do 20 events a year out of each one of those. And then that’s it. I don’t want to say that it sounds simple, but it’s literally that’s how we started off like, Hey, we’re gonna do

Sarah Murphy 37:24
Thats a strategy! It’s what you- not everybody’s strategy needs to be the same. But that- that’s a strategy.

Don Branzuela 37:30
no, but that’s how we got to it. Right? So it started off with like this event. Now this venue, right? So it started off before 10, 10 and 10. Yeah, find 10 venues. And then those are A list and then our B list was fine 10 caterers that were going to work with us and then find 10 event planners and that’s out of those, you know what, and then see how many of them and what can get out of each one.

Sarah Murphy 37:50

Don Branzuela 37:50
And then just keep adding to it and adding to it now I know that some will drop off some will retire some will go out of business. That’s why you’re always jobs always fishing, you know, like it doesn’t always fishing. So that’s

Sarah Murphy 38:02
Of those three, I found venues to be A list.

Don Branzuela 38:07
Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Murphy 38:08
And event planners to be B list. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. I feel like no venues want someone who’s gonna take care of their space, that they’re reliable that they you know, represent their venue, well, that they know like, they’re not going to get them so drunk, they’re gonna start smash-smashing windows. But then there’s the event planners that also want to- you make them look good. They know that if they hire you, you’re going to be on point, that you’re easy to work with, that they enjoy that experience. Caterers I’m-and maybe this is just the Nashville market, but I have exactly one caterer that I really enjoy working with, that they’ll like reach out to us if they have like, just 1099 bartenders, and like this couple wants more than what we can provide. Or that what we’re interested in providing in the way of bartending, and they’re amazing, they do amazing food. Everyone else I feel like we come in and like ughhhh, Bar Magnolia took the bar business. Do you have that experience? And

Don Branzuela 39:05
Yeah, they hate us.

Sarah Murphy 39:07
Right?! Caterers hate us!

Don Branzuela 39:09
Yeah, but at the same time, you know what, they also respect that Oh, cuz like, that’s our like, whenever we come in, like, there’s like five huge catering companies here. So they actually are the ones we look at as our competitors. Yeah, I don’t look at the other bartending companies as our competitors, because we’re doing we’re doing stuff like next level stuff that the caterers are doing, and so we’re going after their clients, because they’re their clients are the more big money clients. And so anytime we can get into a venue, and the venue says, hey, look, it’s great that you do this, but HD is going to be one doing. We’re the ones because, like, you hit it right on the nose like we push to the venues that, hey, we’re here to take care of you. We’re taking we’re here to represent you, you know, because the venue’s thing to the venue like anytime anything goes wrong, and the client never thinks about or the guests never think about, hey, it’s HD or this, this and this. They always think hey that’s the venue. The food’s bad. Even though the venue doesn’t serve food, they’re gonna think that the venue is the one that created the food.

Sarah Murphy 40:06

Don Branzuela 40:06
It’s like and everything like that. And so it’s kind of fun, because I’ll walk into a meeting, and then the caterer is there. And they’ll see me walk in, and they’re like, Oh, I’m like, Yeah.

Sarah Murphy 40:16
And really, you know, it’s like, again, I come from the restaurant industry. And so back of the house front of the house has always had this lovely tug of war. And so the chef, obviously, and then the bartender, right. So like, we’ve always been teams as a restaurant. So like, I come in, and I’m like, hey, Chef, maybe we should, like build the menu together. But then it’s like, we wanted that business. Like we wanted the the bar business, but it’s such a small portion of what they do, like, they’re literally just 10 9090 some people they can mix and pour, right, that’s, that’s their thing, the poor in the mix, and people are gonna think we are part of them. So you’d think they’d light up and like, oh, because well,

Don Branzuela 41:01
No, no

Sarah Murphy 41:02
Most of the time it’s caterers and bartenders, but no.

Don Branzuela 41:04
I’ll tell you one thing. So the one that the one like insight I got from the caterers around here is that the reason why they want the bar is because that’s the thing that they discount the most says that they’re getting $35/$40 per person on the so they use the they use the bar as a sweetener to get the deal. Ah, understand what I’m saying. So it’s like they don’t care. Like, yeah, the beer is like, you know what, because you can do beer at this price this price. And I was like, Look, you’re paying 98 cents for Bud Light. You know what? So even if you break even on the bar, right, they want the they want the caterer food? Yeah, right. So that’s what that’s how they all treat it here. But that’s also why the caterer the venues hate caterers doing it, sometimes, because they don’t treat the bar the same way we do

Sarah Murphy 41:45
Yea, they don’t. Because it’s not a guarantee every time.

Don Branzuela 41:49
No, because it’s a throw away for them

Sarah Murphy 41:50
It’s a throw away. And that’s how they treat it. And so caterers if you’re listening to this, which I know you’re not, if you are, and you really want to do yourselves a favor, stop treating the bar, like a like a throwaway, because people are drinking all night, they’re only eating for a hot fuckin’ hour

Don Branzuela 42:07
We’re there, like, we’re the first ones they’re looking for, and then we’re the last ones that they touch. I mean, it’s horrible. You know, I’m saying it’s like in terms of like the caterers, you know, that’s at least said to get the bartenders, they’re not. But so I use that against some we use that in our advantage a little bit. So I go after caterers that don’t have liquor licenses, but are pretty big. And then I tell them say, hey, you should work with me, you know, because what’s happening is you’re losing business to x caterer, you know, like one of the big five. So how about we work together? You know, what’s like, sell my, I tell them to sell my services as theirs.

Sarah Murphy 42:40
Yea, so you white label?

Don Branzuela 42:42
Yeah, white label it. You know, it’s like, I don’t care how much you sent us. But here’s my bottom line. This is all you need to give me. You know, it’s like, the venue already trusts us.

Sarah Murphy 42:50

Don Branzuela 42:50
So go out there and compete with these guys. Instead of saying, Well, no, we don’t do alcohol, then they’re gonna go to the next one. Right? Because right now, especially now, we’re finding out more people. And everybody’s, I hate one stop shops. Okay. But people are starting to look for that.

Sarah Murphy 43:03

Don Branzuela 43:03
You know, anytime you could be a convenient because it’s also a service, when it is if you can help them like, hey, there’s one less thing you have to do.

Sarah Murphy 43:10
Which was kind of I mean, at least for Bar Magnolia, that’s kind of like literally our mission to make great event bars easy, we’re a one stop shop, but we’ll handle as much or as little of the beverages you want, right. And so that’s because we know brides are already overwhelmed, event planners overwhelmed with all the planning. And they know if they hired Bar Magnolia, that’s one thing they don’t have to worry about is the bar, they don’t have to lug around alcohol, they don’t have to worry about whether the bartender is going to show up smelling like smoke or half drunk. Like they don’t have to worry about that. And so one stop shops, if done correctly, are very attractive.

Don Branzuela 43:43

Sarah Murphy 43:44
Which works against us a little bit unless you can get in as the bar side of that one stop shop.

Don Branzuela 43:51
Yeah. So that’s all we’re doing. And so you know, and then the next thing that we’re trying to figure out now is like, know, how do we

Sarah Murphy 43:58
Oop, and I’m gonna stop him right there. If you want to hear what Don is working on next in his business, you’ll have to tune in next week for the remaining 45 minutes of this epic interview. There’s some really great stuff here. You will not want to miss it. And that wraps up today’s episode, I hope it was valuable. I would love to hear from you what you thought. You can drop me a line at Or find me on Instagram @MobileBevPros. If you’re looking for more valuable mobile bar related content, we have a website full of it. You can find us at And I’d love to see you in our Facebook community, also by the name of you guessed it, Mobile Bev Pros. Thank you for joining me today. And until next time, cheers!

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