Dawn’s business, The Melting Pot, offers chocolate workshops for adults, children and teams in Hertfordshire. Since joining the EC, her average party numbers have gone up by more than 30%, she has moved 10% of her customers to a higher price tier and has been on the pages of the Sun and Independent newspapers and on TV.
But there’s been exciting expansion for Dawn; she’s packaged up her workshop concept and turned the Melting Pot into a business opportunity, offering people the chance to buy their own ‘business in a chocolate box’ nationwide and most importantly for her, created that ‘magical’ residual income stream.
“A key part in creating opportunity for business growth has come from the support of the EC” Dawn says. “Although creating a ‘business in a box’ offering is something I realised might be the best way forward very early on, it seemed too daunting a prospect, and I just kept putting it off. I was worried about the commitment and especially how it might affect family life – but with help from the EC, I have scoped a model that is manageable, profitable and fits my brief.”
Dawn credits her successes to the many of the nuggets she picked up over the years with the EC. She passes on the best bits to the new members of her ‘chocolate family’. She says, “Pricing – for children’s parties I charge per head, with minimum numbers. As most children want as many friends as possible at their party, my average party fee has gone up by 30% per booking. I offer a range of workshop products at a range of prices – mini, standard and deluxe. I get around 10% deluxe bookings over the year, which carry a much higher profit margin. There is also a shop in the workshop which is perfectly placed for the upsell. My customers are my best sales force – word of mouth marketing is my best marketing pillar but I have a system in place to ask people to do this for me and I reward them accordingly when they bring in additional business.
“Keeping in touch regularly – my newsletter goes out every month and I have built my database significantly with a loyal readership. Open rates depend on a killer subject line so of course I try to write one every month! I’m very conscious of the personality I have built for the business. I work hard to create and maintain a warm fuzzy feeling and build longstanding relationships with my customers.
“I’ve had great success with PR – using Twitter to build a relationship with journalists, which has got me featured in The Sun, The Independent and won me an iPad from Nigel! I regularly appear in the local papers, and never miss an opportunity to fire off a press release and mention my latest news. This has led to many bookings and keeps my profile high in the community. The EC has served me well in providing an ‘excuse’ for great copy to send in, such as winning or being nominated for prizes. My latest PR venture is into TV – an approach from a researcher led to an hour’s slot on Gala TV as the chocolate expert. It’s a bingo channel – a perfect fit for my customer avatar!
“You will see a theme emerging, and that’s my passion for providing fantastic customer experience. I speak on a regular basis about getting ‘sticky customers’. I know I get mine covered in a little chocolate and genuinely sticky, but it’s so important that we keep hold of our customers, love them lots and get them to spread their love of what we do to all their friends. I’m using my ‘sticky customer’ talk as one of the ways of spreading the news about my new business venture.
“I also wrote my first book ’12 steps to getting sticky customers’, using my 90 minute chunks to get it done. On top of this, I’ve devised a ‘WOW workout’ – a programme designed to help other business owners become brilliant at providing the best possible customer experience, and a free download ‘100 Ways to WOW’ can be found on my Dawn Fry website (nicely building on my database – as does ‘how to temper chocolate in the microwave’ free download on my chocolate website, if you are into that sort of thing!)
“All together the results have been fantastic. There has been such a surge in the workshop business on the back of all the great marketing pillars I’ve deployed, that I’ve had my busiest time ever – with a 50% increase in turnover year on year.
“Being a member of the EC has raised my aspirations and my game. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to think. I’ve done a lot of planning, tweaking and heading off in different directions over the years, but I’m focused on where I want to be in the future and the gap I need to close to get there – getting clarity on your goals is key.”