Running a food business can be challenging at the best of times. Like all businesses, there are some key strategies to ensure business continually grows and the delivery of a product or service provided at optimal levels. But where should a food business look for inspiration and strategies to improve their productivity? They look at other successful food businesses and glean strategies from their success.
Emma & Tom’s, run by Emma & Tom are known for their high quality, fresh juices. They recently shared their amazing journey in business with the Collective Hub. Here are 7 things your food business can learn from Emma & Tom.
Tom admits he's seen it all when it comes to starting a fresh food business. It’s very much like managing one disaster from the next. From producing batches of juices that didn’t taste good to bad payers and expiring juices with no one to buy it. These situations can make a food business Manager question if they have made the right decision about starting the business. But these ‘disasters’ help you learn and the early years are often the hardest years. Many businesses take years to become an overnight success. Each disaster is a lesson learned.
Having a business partner to shoulder the weight of the decisions, while collaborating on direction and growth can be a blessing when starting out. Emma and Tom respect each other and have never had an argument in the 10 years they’ve worked together. Business partners need to be on the same page together by having the same vision and working towards their goals together. Respect and trust are important between the two partners of a business. This is a great foundation for any business and this positive relationship overflows into the way the business interacts with its customers.
Tom knows the names of all 2000 of his and Emma’s customers. Not only does he know the names of each customer, but he also familiarises himself with their business. Food service businesses should be aware their customers by name and understand how their customers run their business.
A friendly relationship with customers ensures a long term business partnership. This relationship is crucial to the success of both entities.
Spend time with family and friends who have invested time – emotionally and/or financially into your business. When the finance reports are complete, Tom and Emma visit their parents as they are ‘indirect emotional stakeholders’. Tom always lives by the motto his father taught him, ‘Look after those who look after you’. This is foundational to those who ride the business journey with you, as well as the customers who take a chance in ordering your products.
Emma and Tom relied heavily on a distributor in their first years of business. They now distribute themselves which has allowed them to grow. But there are other areas of their business where they had to invest in quality relationships like getting PR and a designer.
Sometimes a negative situation can be turned into a positive. Tom recalls, “When we first launched, we made 8000 bottles for our first run and had no customers to sell them to. We sold what we could and because the juice had a limited shelf life, we turned it into marketing and gave free juice to competitors at Melbourne’s Around the Bay in a Day event.” There are times where you will have to think on your feet to come up with a viable solution for a negative situation.
Before you explore other markets or produce other products, tailor your niche. Tom explains, “It’s easy to go off on tangents but you need to stick to your focus and be focused. The chilled juice section [in Australia] is a half-a-billion-dollar market and we have a significant share, but there’s room for growth. There’s no point running off somewhere to do something funky, let’s get Australia right first.”
The success of others can be a great resource for businesses to grow. These tips have helped Emma & Tom’s business and they can be used as inspiration to build your own food business to see it mature and grow.