Are You Going to Eat That?

I know that many may not agree with me on this, but I am willing to say it anyway…growing your business to mammoth proportions is not necessary!

The idea of businesses so large that all personal contact is lost, all faces become signs, and all personality is sucked completely out of the original concept is puzzling and a bit disheartening to me.

Case in point: Some years back, my sister and I were providing baked goods to a franchisee’s coffee shop of a major chain. None of the other same-named shops were using our service- they were using what our guy used to use- a commercial company product that comes in frozen.

Within a week of selling our homemade product (which we delivered hot from the oven every morning at 5am), they were selling out everyday. The owner was thrilled to say the least. He was making a killing off our product and getting word of mouth traffic like he’d never seen in his years of owning the shop.

Photo by Michelle Leman on

During February and March we decided to bring in some of our specialty cookies (themed of course), for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. We didn’t charge for the first batch. We offered them as a “see what sells” type of project, and thought he could actually make a little more off of them due to the detailed (labor intensive), nature of them (Darn! I wish I could find the pic’s I had of them). We recommended selling them at .75 each or $9 for a dozen. He was shocked and didn’t think they would sell at all, but he was willing to give it a try since it was no cost for him on the first go-round and he knew our product was exceptional.

We no sooner walked out of the shop when a woman walked in, ordered a coffee, and asked about the cookies. She was almost angry at the price, but our guy was so convinced of the quality that he told her if she didn’t like it, he would refund her money. Within minutes she walked back up to the counter and asked if she could order eight dozen.

The following day the shop owner came to us with an offer that really blew us away. He was one of the decision makers for all the Minnesota franchise shops and asked if we would be interested in doing the baked goods for 24 shops in the surrounding 5-state area. We told him we would discuss it and get back to him by the end of the week.

We were so excited and then… we weren’t. This offer would mean we would have to do things in a big-commercial way.

There is no way we could do for 24 shops what we did for one. Everything we did was from scratch – real butter, pure cane sugar, real fruits and fillings, flavorings, etc. This could not be accomplished on a large level across multiple states with only two of us to do the work. Okay, we could hire people, but that would mean out of sight, out of touch, and out of control of things with our name and reputation on them.

Our final decision was to decline the offer. He was not happy about it. And quite frankly, neither were we. But it was the only answer for us to maintain our values on the product and our philosophy on quality. Sometimes in business…bigger is not always better.

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