"I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business"
I thought I would give this website forum a try to see if
anyone could help me get jumpstarted with how to develop more
direct customer business.
My name is C. and I have a high end pastry business. I have
been in business for about 4yrs. I have a website which
customers go to for more info as well as to place orders or
they may call it in too.
I have some wholesale business (restaraunts and catering
companies) whom carry my pasties and cookies. I operate out
of a pastry kitchen; I do not have a storefront due to the
amount of overhead....cusotmers, however may come out to
pick-up their order or we will deliver it. I get exposure by
par-taking in local events, markets, as well as the wholesale
business but for me this is not enough.
My sales are good. Good meaning that I am not losing money
but breaking even. I do not take a pay check nor can I at
I want to develop this business, grow it to the point where I
can take a paycheck, as well as begin to hire people but I am
not there yet.
I have received great PR and awards since the start of the
company but great PR only lasts so long. My rut is how do I
keep that going?
How do I develop this business...get more sales from direct
customers- get more people to call and really think of us
first over my competitors? I know, this seems to simple or
should be but it is not.
I am seeking some advice on how to attract more customers to
Oh, one last question:
I am in the process of writing a press release. Does my
website need to be top-notch before I send anything out?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
#1. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
I would sell this product through broad line distributors if you want to hit the restaurant market. Be prepared to give back end money, terms, and possibly rebates. You need to be producing volumes to support this approach otherwise hire a commission sales person to go sell your product for you.
#2. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
Hi C. <-- I couldn't resist.
>I have received great PR and awards since the start of the >company but great PR only lasts so long. My rut is how do I >keep that going?
How did you get the original PR... who did you talk to? Where did you present your product that got you this PR. How did you win the awards, etc. Sounds to me like you've got a winning plan, keep doing those things.
>How do I develop this business...get more sales from direct >customers- get more people to call and really think of us >first over my competitors? I know, this seems to simple or >should be but it is not.
Try co-operating with local businesses. The more visible you are, the more people will know of your existence. Also, if you can, I would open a store front.
>I am seeking some advice on how to attract more customers to >my company?
It sounds to me like you are doing just fine. Perhaps you need to do some co-op advertising... write some articles on how to ice a cake or get some recipes into local newspapers, etc. Perhaps you might consider doing some video blogging.
>Oh, one last question: >I am in the process of writing a press release. Does my >website need to be top-notch before I send anything out?
If you wait until everything is perfect, you will never send anything out. Send it when it is working and functional. AND never apologize for the fact that it isn't finished yet. As far as anyone is concerned every business including the huge conglomerates that have winning recipes and been in business for a thousand years are constantly upgrading and improving their company. Your business is always a work in progress.
#3. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
First thing I would like to say is that after reading your post, I now have a craving for some sweets/pastries. Unfortunately I live in Alberta, so I probably can't visit you.
Ok, on to serious matters. A few things off hand I can think of would be to take down information from your existing customers (names, phone numbers, addresses, emails, birthdays, etc). Start up a monthly newsletter where you keep in touch with your customers, letting them know some strange facts, maybe a puzzle or two, a few articles and maybe even recipes, and your latest offerings. This will keep you in the mind of your customer, and if you have a coupon of the month/week, you will keep them coming back.
Also, do you currently do birthday or wedding specials? If you do great, if not, it might be a good idea to start. In your newsletter, or through another manner, let people know you have special deals when they order bulk for their wedding/birthday parties, so when any of your customers is planning a special occasion, you're right there (in print) to give them the idea to come to you (as much as they enjoy your products, they might not think of this otherwise).
Also if you can get customers to give you their birth date (let them know they'll be receiving a special gift from you if they do), then you can send them a few items free of charge on their birthday. They will love this so much, they will be unlikely to go anywhere else, and will be a lot more likely to tell their friends/family about you.
The thing about this is that most people don't celebrate their birthday alone, so it is likely someone else (who probably hasn't tried your product before) will be there, and if they hear their friend got these products for free, and the products are good, how likely do you think it is that that person will want to become a customer of yours?
These are a few examples of what you can do, the most important thing is to keep your customers thinking about you. The more you do that, the more they will bring you up in their conversations, remain a loyal customer, tell others about you, etc. Considering a newsletter won't take more then 30 min-hour to create and 50 cents to sent out, I'd be willing to be if you could get just a few new customers/big orders, it would more than pay off. Continue using a system like this as your business grows and you will find yourself with many happy, loyal customers, and a steady stream of income.
Good luck with your business and if I am ever in your area, I will make a point to try some of your products as I'm sure they're delicious.
#4. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
I found some notes I had written for another baker. These links will also apply very well to you in your business. Have a look:
The first thing I think you should do is listen to this great CD I found for you. It's called Buffy and the Baker - you can probably buy it from Dan Kennedy at www.dankennedyrocks.com - an excellent interview with a guy who sells baked goods and has done very well improving his profits using untraditional marketing.
Have you tried The Nutman approach? That has built them a very sizable business in Calgary.
Could you not give away some coupons to the office managers in the towers nearby?
Have a look at these articles - while it is selling juice drinks - the application is the same.
#5. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
Your Website needs to be CUTE and have general Info!!
Since you don't have a store front, I recommend finding a local retailer and renting a portion of their window space (or make a Guaranteed sale agreement with them in exchange to the window space, retailers LOVE that). Then dress up the store front and get out there and Sample...sample...and sample or have the store employees do the sampling for you!
#6. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 5
Which reminds me of a bad joke...
Guy is walking through town, discovers his watch is broken. A little while later he passes a window with watches and clocks in the window.
He goes in to find a little old Jewish man behind a desk.
"Can you fix my watch", he asks
"Fix your watch?" says the old guy, "I'm a mohel!"
The old guy goes on to explain that mohel is a man who does ritual circumcisions for the Jewish faith.
Puzzled now, the guys asks, "If you're a mohel, then why do you have all those watches and clocks in the window?"
And the mohel replies; "What you want I should put in the window?"
I hope it illustrates my point that whatever you put in the window will be associated with the business behind it. I wouldn't want to field questions about why I have cookies in the window after telling someone I'm a lawyer.
I can't speak for anyone else, but it may be common on the other side of the pond, but simply strikes me as odd, here in Canada.
#7. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
my very next move would absolutely be a top notch website. Today, without it your business will look small and unprofessional. Think about how many times you visit a companies website for information? It is the virtual "first impression" and very important!
#8. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
I think your business is doing great, I love pastries.. if you really want advertising, why not organize a pastry event or something that showcases free taste for your products. give business cards or something.. Also offer to restaurants and bakeshops..
The best thing though is to open your own shop.. people will know where to find you..
#9. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
I'm notorious for writing in real brainstorm time so please forgive me. The fact that you've received great PR and awards got me thinking. Why don't you give it back? You could have a Baker's Dozen Day. On the 13th of the month , select 13 businesses or organizations to "award" with your product. Plus you could do an ongoing press release noting the businesses you are recognizing. Everyone likes to be recognized. And instead of your marketing materials reaching just one person in an office, your award is reaching the entire business . So when those organizations and individuals need pastries, who is likely to come to mind?
#10. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
Well it seems to me that you're half way there. Most businesses are not breaking even so the fact that you're not losing money is a testament to you and your efforts. Press release is good and no you don't have to have the best website with all of the bells and whistles. The name of the game is exposure. Make sure that your submitting your site to all of the search engines and utilizing search engine optimization (SEO) to help you get your message to the masses. I run a promotional advertising company and I can tell you that I spend the majority of my time working with my clients trying to figure out these same things. Often times I spend so much time working to figure out their issues and concerns that I often neglect my own business. Promotional advertising is a good way to send a message to your potential clients through a creative medium. I'm not just talking about pens and magnets either. I think a custom imprinted recipe book or generic cookbooks with your company logo would have a strong appeal to your clients. How about offering baking classes..simple stuff where it would not take away from your business...people could pay a fee and you could provide them with one on one instruction and you could do a custom imprinted apron as part of their registration fee. The key to your lasting success is to get interactive. You have to give a little to make a little.
#11. "RE: I am in a rut re: how gain more direct customer business" In response to Reply # 0
I can see the non food industry people are posting.
Okay #1 you know the website just needs to be general. Without sampling your food noone will carry it on a wholesale end. We both know that.
Your awards and credentials will carry you further than any waebsite. Key is to have a sharp clear picture of your food on the website and your basic information as well as the list of your awards, credentials etc.
Then send out the press realease. I think I missed where you are located. But why not try and get some of these larger bakery industry companies to hire you for shows for exposure. I knwo of many flour and ingredients companies that love to do that.
PS I was Marketing Manager at Puratos (Belcolade) Corp for 8 years (www.puratos.com) I am sure you know the name.