Tag Archives: Advice

Service with a smile

The latest Food For Thought workshop was run in conjunction with Food Drink Devon in March and looked at ideas for attracting and retaining customers in both retail and hospitality businesses.

The challenge for both retailers and cafes and restaurants is very similar; you still can’t eat lunch online, but increasingly customers’ expectations have altered dramatically due to the advance of Amazon, Ocado and numerous order online delivery services.

Barbara King faces that change everyday at The Shops at Dartington and generously shared her experiences with a thought provoking presentation focusing on how to stand out from the online crowd and retain a loyal customer base.

Customers no longer go to “bricks and mortar” shops purely for supplies; they want to enjoy spending their money and feel content about parting with it. Shoppers will always appreciate good value, but also our increasingly aware customers want to know the provenance and local/ ethical credentials of the goods they buy.

By explaining to customers why you have chosen particular products in the range you show that you are carefully curating the massive selection of options currently on offer so that they don’t have to look any further. This is easy to do with some simple signposting and labelling, and often producers supply their own material.

Creating a welcoming environment for customers is absolutely crucial to making them feel at home. We are all aware of the “have a nice day” style of customer focus, but independent retailers and eateries have an opportunity to use the initial greeting, maybe even just a smile and a hello, to show that they offer a unique service and genuinely care about their customers.

Finally, why not make it easy for customers to find a reason to visit again; give them a loyalty offer (free coffee on your 6th visit?) or tell them about future events (a postcard with an invitation to a launch event?) and stay in touch via a newsletter, relating new developments and other news.

Ultimately happy customers are returning customers, and happy customers will spread the word about you do to their contacts, all of which does the marketing hard work for you!

There will be more blogs summarising the topics discussed in March over the coming weeks and if you would like to find out about the next workshop, planned for autumn 2019, please leave a comment to let me know.

Food & Drink Business Finance Workshop

I’ve not been writing much recently, but that’s not to say that I’ve not been busy!

I am hard at work in the background putting together a workshop to help ambitious food producers understand their finances and make sure that they are looking at the right information to make good decisions and grow their businesses.

Every business has some way of tracking their income and their spending. When you start out it’s easy to have a simple system that you understand, but as your business grows – especially if you’re ambitious and your idea finds hungry customers – it can be difficult to keep track of the finances.

Is there time for business growth? The accounts that are prepared at the end of the year show how much profit has been made during the year, but often that is only useful to HMRC so that you know how much tax to pay!

When it comes to growing your business you need to know how you make profit, in order to make sure any new sales add more profit! So you need to be able to compare different products, different customers or compare the profit that you’ve made with the effort you’ve put in to the business. Year end accounts usually don’t help much with this.

Add to that the fact that you probably don’t get these accounts until at least 3 months after the end of the year. If you spot an opportunity or a problem during the year you want to have information to react to it immediately, not wait 9 months and hope you did the right thing.

So you need good data, and in order for it to mean something you need to have a some history as well. In order to get the information you need to manage your business successfully you need to know what it is you’re trying to measure and develop a system (maybe just notes on paper, maybe more complicated) to record it.

The challenge is that the information required varies from business to business, it even varies at different stages of a business’ life and often isn’t immediately available from your accounting system.

Information is key to growing your businessIn the forthcoming workshop I have partnered with Mary Quicke of Quicke’s Traditional, an award winning cheese maker who has established a successful and trusted brand making traditional high quality cheese.

Mary has a wealth of experience gained from growing her business and will share the KPIs, financial information and some of the strategies that she used to grow her business.

The workshop will be held on 10th September from 9.30 until 13.30 at The Cedars Inn in Barnstaple. It is open to all ambitious food producers.

For the moment please contact me for more information: the registration page is under construction!