“The Customer Is Always Right, Even If They’re Wrong”

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Can you tell me about the Flavour Chef?

I started the Flavour Chef last year, after seeing a unique gap in the market. A lot of processed seasonings had fillings like sugar and salt. I was talking to lots of people who are into fitness, and they all wanted something to put on their protein; when you’re a bit of a gym junkie salt is your evil. So I mucked around in the kitchen like a mad professor with some herbs and spices, had a few guinea pigs to test the product, and we launched in January.

Did you need any funding to start it?

No, we’ve done shoestring all the way. I could have gone out and got a business loan and sold my soul to the banks, but then in the long term, just doing the full time job and also doing the full time business, I don’t want to fall into that theory of growing too fast and going broke!

If you don’t use salt, does it still taste as nice? What do you use instead?

There’s no scientific equivalent to salt, but garlic is probably the closest. So we substitute the salt for garlic, and that gives it a similar taste, but it doesn’t have any of the naughties that salts got in it. That’s kind of one of the secret herbs and spices, if you could call it that. It tastes just as good, if not better. Because it’s better for you in the long-term. Especially for people on the other side of the gym, people who can’t have salt in their diet – low sodium diet. They’ve loved the product too because of that reason.

What would you say some of your biggest challenges are?

Probably moving into the wholesale side of it. I think bringing a new product into today’s market is so competitive, even when you’ve got a point of difference. So we’re slowly knocking on doors and slowly getting into health food shops, plus investing more of our own money to make sure we’ve got the stock to fill up orders that want 20 boxes of each flavour for instance.

How do you get those health food shops on board?

It’s basically old fashioned cold calling. When you’re working for a company selling their products, it’s a completely different game to when you’re selling something you’ve actually invested your time into; you’ve got more of a thinner skin. You may knock on 10 doors and you may get one person who is 50 per cent, then it’s a fine line between keeping them aware of your brand and becoming a pest. There are no AVO’s against me yet, so I think I’m doing pretty well.

How do you stand out from competitors?

It’s always about customer service. The customer is always right, even if they’re wrong. As soon as enquiries come in, I reply. When people send an email or a message on social media, they want an answer straight away. When you’re a one man show, you haven’t got a huge call centre that can reply, so you’ve got to be on it, you can’t rest on your laurels in this game.

What’s your best advice for other entrepreneurs?

I think start small, and take one step at a time. If you can, try to shoestring the business because in the long-term, it’s going to be a lot more fun and a lot less stressful. And you can be true to your brand. When you incorporate finance or investors, not that it’s a bad thing, you can become a cog in the machine, and can lose sight of the original ‘why’.

Every day, KBB’s Dannie Doughan chats with an entrepreneur and features their story on our website. If your business wants a ‘Date with Dannie’, email us a quick bit about your biz!

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All pics: Supplied.