Sometimes change is the best ingredient for small business success

Sometimes change is the best ingredient for small business success

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur collaborators are their own.

Yelp’s behind-the-scenes host and small business expert, Emily Washkovic, shares a look at this week’s episode of the podcast.

Three dairy

When the urge hits, sometimes there’s no way around it. You just have to have it.

Audrey S., a Yelp reviewer in Seattle, saw a photo of her friend’s tres leches cake and that was all it took to send her online to find one nearby. A traditional Mexican dessert, tri milk cakes are moist and sweet, but not overly so.

And if you know, you know how delicious they are and also how hard they are to find in the regular bakery.

“I’m a really, really big fan of tres leches cake,” Audrey said. “My best friend is in California and she sent me a picture of the cake she was eating. And that really made me crave her. It’s a really special thing, the tres leches cake. The first thing I did was go online and see if I knew of anywhere that sold this type of cake. And I actually found this place called Tres Lecheria.”

Co-owner and baker Kevin Moulder owned Cubes Baking Company before it became Tres Lecheria, and part circumstance and part quick thinking allowed him and his business partner to pivot to a tres leches-only bakery during the pandemic.

“I remember it clearly. We sat at the bar next to our bakery. And he said to me, “Hey, things aren’t looking so good, Kev. What are we going to do?’ We had a tiny, tiny refrigerator at the time that had four flavors of tres leches cake. Nine out of 10 customers were coming for it. And nine out of 10 reviews we were seeing on Yelp and everywhere else online were for that,” he said.

“So let’s try this. Let’s expand the options of our tres leches cakes and let’s just become a bakery that is exclusively tres leches and see what happens. So it happened in 2020 and it was the best decision we could have made.”

While this strategic point saved the bakery, Kevin’s ability to take advantage of another fortunate circumstance allowed Tres Lecheria to expand beyond the walls of their storefront and into grocery stores up and down the West Coast. A former employee got a job as a bakery buyer at a grocery store, which led to more orders and another revenue stream. But it took planning and thought to make it work, as well as a willingness to accept change as part of business growth.

“I think a lot of business owners get stuck and are afraid to make changes. They are afraid to abandon a certain concept. Sometimes it’s hard, especially when it’s a passion project. It’s hard to give it up and say, you know what? I really wanted this to work 100%. Sure it works fine, but we’re just spinning and never getting anywhere. We have to make that change,” Kevin said.

As he expanded, Kevin used a graphic designer to make the most of his labels, using them as branding for the bakery. Although he thought he had succeeded, a simple suggestion from one of the grocery buyers – to add color to the labels to differentiate flavors – was initially met with mild resistance from Kevin.

“I was resistant because I thought it was just more money. And when we’re just trying to survive, why do we need to make this change right now? So that was the conversation I had with my business partner. And he was all for it. He said she was the expert. And I resisted that,” he said.

“And then I remember the day the color labels came out and I made a mock-up of all our flavors and arranged them in order according to the colors of the rainbow. And I thought, yeah, these pops. It was definitely the right decision.”

The branding change was simple but impactful. Sales increased and his product became more recognizable, which resonated with reviewers like Audrey.

“I thought their packaging, their branding, was really unique and that made an impression on me because with food being such a close interaction with people, you touch the products, you touch the packaging. I feel like it really plays an important role and adds to your overall experience.”

Use these tools from Tres Lecheria’s success to grow your small business, including:

  • Where you start may not be where you end up. Be open to developing your business based on internal and external motivators.
  • Set small goals along the way to scale to make it more attainable. When it comes to growing your business, set small achievable goals as benchmarks to bigger goals.
  • Be open to opportunities as they come. Kevin didn’t open his bakery with the intention of starting a national wholesale business, but the opportunity presented itself.
  • Take constructive criticism as intended: to make your business better. Whether through reviews or vendor feedback, Kevin uses these messages to improve his business.

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Kevin and Audrey, and subscribe Behind the review for more than new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Soundcloud

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