Starting a business is a series of singular events. Maybe it takes a few months, or years, or only a few weeks. The government paperwork, start up money, signage, and whatever that business requires. A series of Firsts that rarely require any Seconds. A lease is signed once, a loan is approved once, the door is unlocked for the first time. After the Starting all that is left is a series of repeats.... Seconds upon Seconds. Repeat the right formula often enough and hopefully dollars will follow.
Three months after starting Graze Catering, a guy I just met at a home poker game asked, "What do you do for work John?" to which I replied "I started a catering business". His response was a wry "So you started a catering business, have you actually catered for anyone?". Sadly the answer was "for very few"... and the future response to that question became, "I operate Graze Catering, we do pretty much everything, but mostly wine events and weddings." A valuable lesson poker playing Old Bob taught me.
After a year of very little catering, and a crisis of belief and a near towel throwing in, starting this blog became instrumental in getting brides and grooms to know Graze Catering. It drove the business, and a couple of years after Starting, we were Repeating Repeating Repeating, the most successful and busiest catering outfit in Walla Walla. The blog has withered as the sandwich shops have thrived and the catering business has been gently retired.
I have always been as open about the business with... well, anyone that asks. If you are first time customer and we happen to chat about the business, and I have time, and you are interested... well my wife says I talk to much. I like to talk business, not just mine, and I like to hear peoples thoughts (business thoughts, no not your pet's rituals or your favorite actors, kill me now).
A long time ago, I would send emails to customers who signed up for our email messages. I wrote stories about our sandwiches, or why we do something, or a certain new thing we are trying. It was successful, a few hundred people would read them, and I would get some great and honest feedback. It was personal, and real, and fun. I stopped that about a year ago when Sandwiching In Chief became a bit too crazy.
Maybe it is time to start over again. The catering business did its last official 2016 catering obligation a week ago. We promoted our Drive Thru Manager to be the General Manager for all four stores (which is crazy, absolutely crazy to think about. Corporations, Fast Food Mega Chains have general managers. We are just these little sandwich shops, what are we doing with a general manager?). We hope to start adding new sandwiches, specials, and test runs to the menus in the next few months.
Re-Start the Blog. Create some new sandwiches. Invent a general manager role.
Business is great. It will be fun to Start Over some stuff again.