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Advice/Suggestions for a Food Business?

dbuelldbuell subscriber Posts: 1
edited March 2008 in Selecting a Business
   Hello Everyone! I have just recently started a gourmet food business, but it is slightlly different than what it out there. It`s desserts, and they are frozen pre-baked. I have multiple questions and am looking for advice! Here goes: (1) I`ve had some orders - mostly friends - but need some suggestions on low cost marketing ideas. I`ve signed up to host a charity bake sale, and that should help with exposure, but need to get there too! Question (2) - does anyone know anything about freezers? I have a freezer that goes to -4 to -10 degrees, but was looking for one that goes colder! I want to be able to ship and the colder the better. I have ordered frozen cakes (mail order) and they have come rock hard. I`ve called to find out what they use but haven`t gotten a response yet. Anyone know?
Thanks everyone! Love all the ideas!


  • JamesDJamesD subscriber Posts: 0
    Dry ice is how most food companies ship their wares.  It`s the only way to keep the products from getting destroyed in transit (all of the shipping companies hire gorillas to deliver their boxes!).  What type of desserts are you selling?
  • StartUpSmartStartUpSmart subscriber Posts: 0
    Who is your customer, specifically? If you can give me some detail around who you`re targeting then I would love to give you some ideas for inexpensive marketing.
  • beautifullifebeautifullife subscriber Posts: 3
    Regarding marketing, my first thought is that you should have your website up and polished by the time that bake sale rolls around (this will allow you to make the most of the sales). One of the mistakes so many beginners make is looking like a beginner.   Another thing you can do is focus on PR.  Is there an opportunity for a local newspaper to do a story on your business?
  • dbuelldbuell subscriber Posts: 1
    To answer all of the questions above...
    1). I know dry ice is the best - but the transport companies (UPS, USP, FedEx), from what they have told me, prefer you not to use it. I have experimented with freezer bricks and freezer gels. What one of the box companies suggested was starting at a colder base before shipping. I have seen some web refrences to ultra low freezing for food, but have only seen freezer for the bio industry. I have ordered frozen dessert items from others - and they have been received without dry ice but with freezer bricks, so that was a great affirmation. But, I can`t get to how they get the items so cold!!!
    2). I am targeting the end consumer, retail individuals. I am selling frozen prebaked cookies, with expansions aimed at cakes and packaging choices (for gifts). I know it is a "new" market, so few choices out there and no choices for what I am proposing. I wonder if I should change the initial plan and back into it after selling already baked items. Just a thought.
    3). I have a website up (www.mysweetnostalgia.com) You are welcome to look and give suggestions!
    Thanks for any and all help!
  • StartUpSmartStartUpSmart subscriber Posts: 0
    Well, first of all, YUM!
    Now that we have that out of the way, I have a couple of thoughts regarding your target customer. "End consumer, retail individuals" is too broad. I suggest getting more specific, such as:

    what`s their age?
    where do they live? (suburbs, rural, etc)
    what else do they like to eat? (for dinner perhaps)
    Do they eat out often?
    Do they work long hours and want an easy, but high-end treat?

    This may seem overwhelming, but if you can even make estimates about some of these things then you will be able to FIND your customer more easily, and less expensively. For example, if they tend to eat out frequently then maybe you can partner-up with some local restaurants for advertising. Perhaps you can even advertise in their store for free and then share revenues??
    "My name is Sara, I eat at XYZ Italian eatery two times per week. When I`m there I`m usually in a rush and don`t order desert, but I saw a card on the table for ordering gourmet cookies that are shipped and ready to bake right at home. Great idea!"
    Obviously, that was an example, but I think it will be very helpful if you really narrow the target customer down. It will help with getting a clear message across to them and make your marketing efforts more effective.
    Good Luck!!
  • dbuelldbuell subscriber Posts: 1
    Thank you for the ideas. I am trying to hook up with some area businesses such as that - most notable those dinner preparation places that seem to be popping up everywhere. I figure the client is already in the mindset - it should help!
  • JamesDJamesD subscriber Posts: 0
    Dinner prep place are all struggling (at least here in Denver).  They will want products that absorb their overhead more emphatically so outsourcing desserts shouldn`t be what they do.
    Desserts are a hard business to develop as consumers, other than during the Holidays and on certain national holidays such as Mother`s Day and Valentine`s Day, generally try to stay away from sweets.  Unless you are a well known business and a destination location for desserts it`s hard to generate sales.  The other issue is margins.  Your average margin on your type of products is between 50-60% which isn`t as good as coffee (around 90%).  Be sure to really know and understand your true costs of manufacturing so you really know your returns.
    It seems that for you to be successful that you need to have a greater selection initially than cookies.  Cakes, pastries, pies (especially at the Holidays) are all baked goods that people will pay for quality.  But volume can be a challenge as there are so many competitors such as grocery stores, bake shops, and even Harry and Davids (yes, they will be your competitor if you are getting into the gift shipping business).
    I`ve just given you 12 years worth of knowledge in the bakery industry in 5 minutes.  People have paid me a lot of money in the past for this information.  Good luck! 
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