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Question :
Hi, and thanks for having this service available.This is a food production / marketing / business growth questionWe are an Auckland based catering service providing beautiful fresh nutritious catering to Early childcare centres.Due to Covid-19 we have had to close as our centres have been closed. As we re-open we will have lost customers and know our numbers will be down.As a new-ish and small operation we are vulnerable.We would really appreciate some advise on how to effectively reach new business and get our brand out there quickly within the ECE sector. We offer a fantastic service and have been lucky to grow our business so far on great word of mouth and hard work to build a great reputation.To manage our way through this hit we to promote to our service really for the first time.Many thanksWith little to no marketing funds available I know thins is tough. 

Question submitted 08/05/20 @ 12:05pm
Industry: Business Growth
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    Hi I think the best thing is to talk to your customers and see how they are coping. I know many are struggling with new rules and procedures and adapting to the new world. If they say they won’t continue with you that’s valuable insight to address whatever the issues are before approaching new customers. I would not stay Marketing until you understand and can address whatever the issues are (if any). It may be you are just not top of mind or there may be some underlying issues you need to address. Either way job one is talk to all your customers then go from there.

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    Morena,
    I would echo John’s recommendation. Talk to your customers and find out where they are at. Who is coming back? Who needs new solutions? How can you help them? That will enable you to map the likely impact on your business and then you can decide how best to manage through this stage.

    Depending on the severity of the impact you might consider different solutions….
    – target new customers i your existing space
    – target new customer in adjacent spaces – in terms of marketing funds I would just google
    potential customers and then pick up the phone for a conversation.
    – consider if there are other types of catering services you can offer. Meal prep? Partner with a supermarket that wants to offer ready meals or part ready meal kits?
    – maybe even form a partnership with some one operating in the same sector to get economies of scale and help both your businesses keep operating until we are back into a new normal

    All of these activities can be undertaken by picking up the phone and starting talking…good luck!

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    I’d echo the above and also consider areas where you could partner up with meal delivery services or even offer that up as a takeaway offering or weekly meal plan for kids (think hello fresh, eat my lunch, my food bag).
    There is also an opportunity to approach GOVT as there will be a huge need for food in schools as we have not seen the full effect of the “second wave” of Covid19 and an opportunity to provide nutritious food in schools when there will be high need areas that could well do with targeted, nutritious food, to feed some going with out…
    Perhaps a good way to connect into this space is the team at Eat my Lunch who may offer further assistance (despite them doing this themselves) or even Fonterra who manages the milk in schools program.

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    In addition to my last post – I’d also approach the hospital sector – Starship comes to mind, as well as offering a unique service offering to contract suppliers (eg Spotless, OCS) who all do catering on a large scale across many parts of NZ… a unique “child” concept could be of interest for them.

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    All of the above sounds good. I would possibly add trying to get some of the possibly high volume multi centre operators to take a free or very discounted trial of your offer for a short period and get feedback on how that works. I guess you have all the vegetarian and gluten free etc options that might be a pain for centres to work around. If the kids love it and tell their parents, that might help. AT worst you might become an elective option for kids who prefer your offer to the current centre offer.
    And maybe try adding a nice, cheap, offer for the staff / manager that motivates them to support using your service.

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    All of the above sounds good. I would possibly add trying to get some of the possibly high volume multi centre operators to take a free or very discounted trial of your offer for a short period and get feedback on how that works. I guess you have all the vegetarian and gluten free etc options that might be a pain for centres to work around. If the kids love it and tell their parents, that might help. AT worst you might become an elective option for kids who prefer your offer to the current centre offer.
    And maybe try adding a nice, cheap, offer for the staff / manager that motivates them to support using your service.

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