Written by Dave Gannaway
So often I hear, “I’d love to start a business of my own . . . but I don’t know what to do!” Many motivational stories begin almost by accident in this way. Such is the story of Mick’s produce store.
Mick often wondered what he could do to create a business that offered challenges and opportunities that would lift his mundane life up a notch or two. He owned a small produce store in the humble community where he grew-up. The business was profitable but it failed to challenge his ambitions and vitality.
He came to realize that the way forward may not to look for new ideas but to innovate and expand on what was already in place, there was no need to reinvent the wheel. ‘If it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it!’ So he began looking toward improving and expanding on what was already in place.
As his first effort was to increase his stores turnover, he decided to expand and offer to supply produce to the catering industry. Slowly he began to win new accounts with restaurants, factories and offices. He was conscious that the more added-value he offered his customers the greater the edge he would gain over his competitors. Service was everything, he realized that, but what could he do to improve his service?
When opportunities arose Mick would ask his customers how could he be of greater service to them? Restaurants being his principle clients, replied that preparing produce for cooking was the most time-consuming and laborious jobs they had to undertake. They explained that preparing vegetables to be cooked in time for the lunchtime trade was one of their biggest challenges. So delivering their produce as early in the morning as possible would increase his value.
At this point Mick’s gut responses began to click in. “Why don’t I offer the restaurants produce already prepared and ready to cook?” This would provide a savings in time and convenience.
Mick did his homework and studied the various problems that came up. How to keep potatoes white once peeled, and the best type and grade of potato to use? Then, of course was the cost of peeling and processing machinery.
One by one he found solutions and soon began offering catering produce prepared and ready to cook. To begin with the added cost of the prepared produce found a resistance but when the chiefs and managers saw the quality of Mick’s prepared produce and they realized the savings involved in preparation, they were soon persuaded to use them.
Mick’s prepared produce business quickly grew and soon became so busy that he was forced to expand into larger premises. As news of his innovations spread so he continued to expand, employing more staff, investing in more advanced machinery until he could offer produce prepared, chipped, sliced, diced, shredded or whatever the client desired. All vacuum packed to the customers requirements.
His ideas to expand within the areas he was already familiar and to focus on adding value to his services paid-off.
Talking with Mick on how he came up with the idea he said, “I just looked for ways to improve and increase the value of my service and do the job better than anyone else. Then to stay focused on the most important element of all, the customer. It wasn’t just the price and cheapness of the products that mattered . . . ease of ordering, early and reliable delivery and quality of the produce. Bring these factors into line and I couldn’t stop the business growing. That’s all there is to it,” Mick laughed. “What could be easier than peeling potatoes, dicing carrots and shredding cabbage . . . and making them look pretty?”
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