I'm going to use the doughnut business model again but obviously if you're a florist, you won't be thinking about making doughnuts at all.
1// Don't feel loyal at the beginning.
Business is business and people who don't understand that aren't worth going into business with anyway. That sounds incredibly harsh, doesn't it? But it's true. You need to find what works best for you and your suppliers need to understand that too. In the beginning, you'll be looking for the best deal and that means that even if your best friend is running the company you need goods from, you need to assess the deal itself.
At my doughnut store, I need to find the best quality chocolate at the lowest prices to use as a topping on my doughnuts. If my best friend owns a chocolate manufacturer but can only supply the product at 20% more than anywhere else, I will need to make the decision to go with another company.
Ever heard the "all is fair in love and war" phrase? Well the same goes for business.
2// Review your product as often as possible.
Now that you've got your doughnuts recipes, you've got your suppliers and you're ready to go, you need to start thinking about the customers. You need to look at the product and ask yourself one question: "Would I buy this?"
This is the one question that people fail to ask themselves. If you're not prepared to buy it then don't think of selling it. The big mistake people make is selling a product that they don't believe in. Now, this can be taken in two different contexts so let me explain:
- Your doughnut shop is starting out and you want to sell something a little crazy so you introduce it slowly. This is something I encourage, you should definitely play around with products, but perhaps what you find appealing won't be appealing to the public? This just means you need to review it. Perhaps instead of pecan nuts (your favourite nut) there should be peanuts on the top? Or perhaps your glaze is a bit rich for most people? Just tone it down a little. Things can be easily fixed.
- You want to sell a drink with your doughnut as a combo. If your doughnuts are better suited to coffee or tea then sell that, don't cling to selling homemade lemonade if no one is buying.
"Would I buy this doughnut with this drink?" No? Well then review the plan.
3// Speaking of customers. How are you relating to yours? Are you supplying the demand?
Let me give you an example. We went to the zoo and there was a lovely cafe with outdoor seating that was shaded from direct sunlight. The majority of the people at the zoo were mothers with their broods of children and push chairs. The tables were too far apart but the shade was what the mothers craved so they disrupted everyone else. The food was over priced and not what you'd feed a toddler.
The solution is simple. Lose a few tables in a specific area and label it "Stroller Friendly" and start stocking things that kids eat. Offer a kid's nuggets and chips on the menu or a make your own sundae section.
If you know what your customers want then you should try to give it to them. Obviously, you can't please everyone but if you notice a high demand for something in particular then try supplying it as often as you can.
4// And when relating to customers, ask yourself about your people skills.
You may be a fantastic doughnut maker, but if you can't relate to people then perhaps you shouldn't be on the till? Likewise, if you get bored with the cooking and want to chat forever and a day then make sure you are in the position to do that.
The majority of people are not just there for a product, they want a service too and this means treating them like an individual. People never ever want to feel like part of a horde or another number. You need to make them feel like they're coming into a small family owned business (or individually owned) but get a quality product with a professional touch like they would if they went to the big brand chains. It's a difficult balance to strike and it may take a while to get there but you will in the end.
5// Word of mouth counts.
You can advertise until you're blue in the face but people might not read your adverts and you need to be aware of that at all times. But never under estimate the word of mouth.
You want people to talk about your product and give a positive review to everyone they know. There are a few tips and tricks to get them to do so and I might do a whole post based on that if anyone's interested so let me know in the comments.
6// Don't under estimate gossip.
Now this sounds strange, I know that but you have to understand that all gossip starts somewhere. You want to have a loyal customer base and a good working relationship with your suppliers and regulars so that you hear stuff first. You always want to be in the loop, you just need to be careful of what's important and what's not.
Saying that, try not to be a gossip yourself. Once again, balance is key!
If there is something that effects someone in particular and you know they don't know, then drop them a subtle hint. "Hey Kev, did you know there's going to be council working on the road in front of your shop next week?" is a great way to tell Kev about the work. Saying "Hey Kev, have you heard that the council is going to be doing work in front of your shop next week? Totally uncalled for if you ask me. That local council is dumber than a llama" is not appropriate.
Learn to differenciate between gossip and information.
If you missed the first post in this series then you can find it here.
Depending on reaction, I might continue this series further and see how it goes so let me know if it helps!