In the fall of 2010 an ad appeared on Craiglist stating Tres Petite Creperie for sale. One thing led to another and on Thursday March 10, 2011 we set up our newly licensed crêpe cart in the Silverton Grange at the evening flea market. We had 13 crêpes on the menu, including Nutella (of course), Ham & Cheese & Turkey. The menu has grown a bit, and while something have changed, but one thing that has not changed is our interest in making sure we serve the best food we can serve. As Joe DiMaggio said…
There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.
Now we are embarking on a new venture, a 30 seat cafe where we are adding breakfast and lunch service with espresso and an expanded menu. We hope you will visit our new location at Pringle Park Plaza, next to Gamberretti’s.
We are not in Joltin Joe’s league, but every day we owe our customers our best efforts. With the help of our friends, suppliers, and special thanks to all our our past, present and future customers, we will continue to do so for a long time to come.
Richard, Lynne & the staff.
Yes, we will be opening a tiny crêpe cafe in
March in the lower level of the Reed Opera House. Update: We may not make March due to some permitting issues. But we’ll get there, With a service window and open area seating.
We look forward to having everyone come and enjoy a crêpe with us. We will still be at the Farmers Markets, select events and catering in Salem and other locations. The announcement is here: Cafe Announcement:
We are building a business plan for a new phase of our business. In the “learn by example” mode of market research that means a lot of time looking at other bakery and crêperie websites and their use of social media. Some of them are truly appalling.
There are so many self-inflicted marketing injuries on the internet. Here are few favorites:
- Hidden information? What city? How do we contact you? What do you want to say to the site visitor in those vital first few seconds before they click away?
- Websites with internal links that lead nowhere. Especially important trust building content or calls to action like like “Franchise Information” and “Special Offers”
- Websites that have “404 pages” or better, “Internal Server Error. Please contact administrator.” Sorry, your readers are not going to waste their time debugging your site.
- Picture galleries with one picture from 2009
- Event calendar with no events. How very sad.
- Blogs with no new posts since the WhateverFest of August 2011
- FAQ or other information plagiarized from another website. If the Catering FAQ, for example looks familiar, chances are it is. What does that say about the food or service?
- Incredibly pretentious/bogus claims – especially for ‘plans’ or huge franchise fees for a business that is 2 years old with ONE location. Really? Sadly, you’re only fooling yourself.
This does not apply just to crêpes, bakeries or caterers, of course. Recently a storefront dessert shop closed here in Salem. Looking at their online presence gave some clues as to the failure:
- Facebook page started 2009. Last update July 2011
- Website with links going nowhere
- Last Foursquare checkin 13 months ago
Not suggesting a cause here, merely a correlation.
There is a large circle:
- Success comes from profitable sales.
- Sales come from customers.
- Customers come from effective* marketing activities
- See step 1.
*Effectivene activities are: Timely Accurate and Relevant TAR
If a consumer-facing business cannot manage to market, then the are on a path to putting up the “Closed sign”
Look at your online presence. What does it say about you? Is it fresh? acurate? Relevant? Does it tell your story? If not, you know what to do.
A number of the blogs and forums I read for small business – especially for restaurants, concessionaires and food trucks are filled with questions about increasing sales. There are so many ways to spend hard earned dollars to get the word out. And hundreds of large and small companies willing to take your dollars and tell you what to do. I’m just going to, as Anton Ego requested in Ratatouille, offer a little perspective. Perspective, some farmeworks and ideas that might help you evaluate you own situation. The web and your local community college are full of resources. Use them!
Every Thing Works
Yes, every marketing/sales/ad idea works. For someone. For some product. For some demographic. For some price. For some time. The question is what will work for you? To answer that, in addition to your goals, you need to know:
- Your Customer
- Their Demographic
- Your Product(s)
- Your Timeline
- Your Resources
Let’s start with product pricing.
Price or Value
What should I charge? You can based your strategy for your product or company on price or on value. $1 burgers are sold on price. Ruth Chris sells steaks on the value of the brand and the product. The important thing to understand is that either strategy can be successful! And each may have a place in your repertoire of success. Value based strategies help maintain profit margins, but that route can be a long slow road to recognition and revenue. Price-based sales strategies can be fast and furious, but are often called the race to the bottom for good reason. Someone can almost always undersell, especially when a small vendor tries to compete against a large one with more resources. Walmart versus the little guy. My personal opinion is that as a very small vendor (VSV) you need to have a value-based strategy with price sensitivity.
Pricing must reflect your niche, your costs, and your competition. Are you, like us, a food booth at a farmers market or are you in a food court in the mall with a different cost structure? What are the typical financial ratios for your operation. How close are you to your industry norms?
Upcoming talking points:
- Who is your Customer Current, future
- What is their Demographic
- By the Numbers – pricing your product(s)
- Your Timeline – trends, fads, locales
- Your Resources – money, time, ability
- Marketing Tools
- Sales Tools
- Advertising Tools
125 130 markets and events. 125 130 (3 with the new winch) times loading and unloading our cart, setting up the tent, creating our portable restaurant. And making a LOT of crêpes. We ended up at the McMinnville Public Market in November and December. Nice people, very chilly outside, but it helped us round out the season.
Happy to report that we still enjoy making crêpes.
When we started we knew three things about how we like to work:
- Make good food.
- Talk with people that purchase what we make.
- Source local ingredients, get to know the people working hard to make good things.
Making crêpes has met all those goals, and more. We get to cook and talk with our customers, rather than be stuck in the ‘back of the house;’ have met many incredible farmers, cheesemongers and others; and get to work together putting smiles on peoples faces. We’ve also met other vendors, a community of hardworking genuine people from all walks of life.
We are especially happy to have made so many people happy to have a crêpe. Some people became regulars, and we’ve been happy to see them each week. For others it brought back memories of their first crêpe in Paris, or Brussells, or Sunday mornings at their grandmothers. When we introduced Gluten Free crêpes we pleased a lot of people that had given up on crêpes, unable to handle the wheat.
Over the slow season, we will be doing events and a winter market in McMinnville. We are also making some changes. We’ll be adjusting the menu, trying a few new things and adapting some recipes. We have some changes to the cart to help reduce the time and effort for setup and cleanup.
All in all, it was a good season. Financially we did well, met lots of nice customers, market staff and other vendors, and are looking forward to a good season in 2012.
Here in our first year, we have had the good fortune to be invited to be a vendor at several well known area events. They include the Cheese Festival in Central Point, Earth Day at the Oregon Gardens, the Silverton Arts Festival and the Marion County Fair.
We have worked a couple of these events, had a great time, made a modest profit, and learned a lot. We now understand what such venues demand for success, and come to find out that we do not have the needed infrastructure, logistics or staff. With what we have, our cart and our very crowded van Vanna, we simply cannot make and sell enough crêpes to do well enough at those events to generate a return that supports the increased revenue over our farmers market income.
There are only so many crêpes Lynne and I can make, only so many fillings that we can craft. Now that we have done a few dozen markets and events, we see that we can only do so much with what we have. To expand further brings increases in costs and labor that would be difficult to recoup without doing more and more events, and that starts us down a very slippery slope of burnout. So we have declined some incredible events, and are putting our catering on hold until the fall.
Time will tell whether or not this was a good decision.
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