Author Archives: Susie

About Susie

Susie is a Management Accountant who specializes in helping small, ambitious businesses understand their finances. With a background in the food industry she has helped a number of Devon based businesses take control of their finances. If you would like a free chat call Susie on 07801 199 671 or email susie@poundlane.co.uk

Food For Thought: “Excellent: Very informative, covering business, marketing, finance and funding”

Last Tuesday was the big day for my “Food For Thought” workshop. Despite the ominous weather forecasts the snow held off long enough for the event to go fantastically.

The presentations centred around the need to ensure that new sales are the right sales to make profits – making sure that the businesses there are growing profitably, not being busy fools!

We started off with my favourite presentation topic – making sure that you have an up to date business plan that identifies what you need to do to reach your personal and business goals.

Despite the fact that we had some micro businesses and some full on large businesses everybody identified their own goals for 2018 and further afield.

We were lucky enough to have a presentation from Charles Baughan, the MD of the award winning sausage maker Westaway Sausages. Charles is an engaging and enthusiastic speaker and his romp through his top tips for success in the food industry left the group inspired to put their plans into action, and with good advice for doing so.

Next up was Hayley Reynolds, the founder of food industry specialists RAW PR & Marketing. Recently Hayley has worked with some of Devon’s most successful brands and she gave us a masterclass in getting good returns from PR efforts. By understanding the business’ target customers and the needs of the journalists and publications who can reach them she has had some fantastic (and cost effective) results.

Before lunch Janet Herniman, a North Devon based grant funding adviser gave us an entertaining overview of the current grant landscape. More importantly, as a result of her current work, Janet is able to give application tips from both the applicant and the grant assessor’s point of view. As she pointed out, there is a lot of hard work required to put together a successful application but given the sums of money potentially available (up to 40% of your projected spend) it is time well spent.

The morning was rounded off with a networking lunch, and time for the businesses present to assemble their notes from the day into their own personalised action plan. The feedback from the attendees was that they had thoroughly enjoyed the day and found it inspiring and aspirational.

So, now I need to build on this success: another workshop, new speakers, and maybe a different location!

Food For Thought: A Workshop for Food and Drink Businesses

Plans for the Food For Thought workshop are coming together now, and its looking exciting.

I’ve lined up great speakers to join me, and together we will address:
* pinpointing what your customers value,
* which products or customers are worth most to you
* getting noticed by the right customers

All building towards making sure sales growth in 2018 brings profit growth at the same time.

The idea behind the workshop was the number of businesses whom I have met with in the last 5 years who have got themselves into trouble because they put all their effort into getting more sales when what they really wanted was more profit.

If you sell more than one product, to more than one customer I would be prepared to bet that some of the sales are super profitable, but some only just cover their costs.

That’s usually unavoidable, but the key thing is to make sure YOU have made a decision to make the not so profitable sale instead of just being led by what the customer wants.

Selling what the customer wants is not guaranteed to make profit for your business. However, direct profit isn’t the only factor to consider; there’s also issues like keeping customers happy, spreading delivery costs, and establishing a reputation to allow you to develop other products. The challenge was illustrated quite nicely by a business that I met with last month:

The have two product lines which sell well, in large quantities, and are profitable. They have another product (product C) which sells in smaller volumes, is not profitable and causes lots of problems for their factory because they need different processes and different ingredients.

From a finance perspective product C is a disaster and should be discontinued as soon as possible and the factory manager would agree wholeheartedly with this.

However there are other things to consider; the customers who do buy the product love it and the retailers who stock it can’t get enough. Also, competitors who make either one or both of the profitable lines don’t make product C so retailers will not move away from this business while they offer something that no-one else does.

So, from the sales and marketing team’s perspective the business should sell more of this product, even though it is not profitable!

The solution here is to have enough information to know that some sales of product C is good, but more isn’t necessarily better. And a balance between the perspectives of sales, marketing, operations and finance is essential to success.

On the day I will be joined by:

The workshop is at The Cedars Inn in Barnstaple on 27th February from 9.30am to 1.30pm.
Tickets are £30 (inc VAT) until the end of January and can be booked here