Archive for the ‘Let’s Dish’ Category

A conversation with Terese Hunerson

As a companion piece to the article: Scarsdale entrepreneur a victim of failing trend we have this interview/conversation with the owner of Let’s Dish who is closing her doors. Many believe Hudson-Valley area is the prime demographic for a meal assembly store to thrive, but sadly even seemingly perfect conditions can’t keep the wheels from coming off the meal assembly wagon…

Reporter Julie Moran Alterio, who interviewed Terese Hunerson of Scarsdale about her Let’s Dish franchise when it opened in 2006, sat down with the busy mom of three during one of the store’s last sessions this past week:

Journal News: Going back to August 2006, I remember you were very excited.

Terese Hunerson: You could feel the momentum from what we called the early adopters, the innovators, who were open to this concept and spreading the word. It was a very exciting time. I’m very proud of the fact that we have one of the highest customer retention rates in the industry, meaning the percentage of our customers who keep coming back was over 50 percent.

A conversation with Terese Hunerson

Scarsdale entrepreneur a victim of failing trend


Terese Hunerson is closing her meal-preparation store, Let’s Dish, after a two-year run in Scarsdale. “This concept is meant to help a busy person, but people found themselves so busy that they didn’t know how to incorporate this into their lives,” Hunerson said, adding that higher food and gas prices didn’t help business.

It is the last of four meal-assembly stores in Westchester to fail. Super Suppers of New Rochelle closed last month. One … Two… Three … DINNER in Briarcliff Manor and Sip & Supper in Tuckahoe closed more than a year ago.

Scarsdale entrepreneur a victim of failing trend

Let’s Dish! Launches Delivery Service

I bet they stole this idea from Dinner by Design. No wait, they stole it from Super Suppers. Now wait, they got it from…

It’s pretty amazing what’s considered “news” in the world of meal assembly these days.

(Baltimore, MD)—Let’s Dish!, the region’s leading meal assembly company, announced today that it has launched DishDelivery, a delivery service for those in Maryland, Northern Virginia and South Central Pennsylvania. DishDelivery adds to the company’s time—and cost-saving services, which include in-store sessions, the pick-up service Dish-n-Dash, and preassembled Ready Made meals sold at each of the nine regional locations.

“We are always working to develop and enhance our services in order to provide our customers with the most convenient means of putting dinner on the table,” said Jeremy Kugel, director of marketing for Let’s Dish! Mid-Atlantic. “For many, there aren’t enough hours in the day or week to dish in-store or even pick up their orders. For those customers, we can now offer DishDelivery.”

Let’s Dish! Launches Delivery Service

Break the dinner routine

Ok this is kind of interesting, especially the “Make Over My Meal” idea… I wonder if you could use this “Make Over” idea to introduce people to the idea of meal assembly. It certainly has some interesting angles and might generate some ideas.

This month, Lisa (co-owner of Let’s Dish! stores in MD and Northern VA) had her skills as the “woman behind the Let’s Dish! menu” put to the test by The Baltimore Sun. Though she has been putting dinner on the table for tens of thousands of families in the mid-Atlantic as our head of menu devlopment, this was a serious challenge: in just one afternoon, could she break the dinner routine for a family of four?

Yes, Lisa decided, heading up to Bel Air, MD, for a wintry afternoon with Sun reporter, Meredith Cohn, and local family, the Rhymauns. The series, called “Make Over My Meal,” is designed to help families “learn how to transform some of the less-than-healthful meals so many of us eat, with help from a pro.”

Click the link below to read more.

Let’s Dish! Food for Thought » Lisa breaks the dinner routine in The Baltimore Sun

Speaking of customer loyalty

The topic of customer loyalty comes up quite a bit, so I thought I would offer my opinion on the topic.
The type of loyalty program that the industry needs is one that is integrated within the stores own customer database, with no action required by the store owner other than to be notified of this very important customer.
Some examples, (I guess the timer starts…. NOW, to see which franchise/meal prep software vendor, implements some of these ideas. Hey we aren’t just here to watch, we want to help too)
1. Every customer that comes in and does a minimum of X number of meals for 3 months in a row should automatically get a free meal on their order. It should just pop up on the screen “Hey thanks for your loyalty, you have earned a free meal, please make your additional meal selection” then for each subsequent month, they should get that free meal. If they skip a month, they have to come in for 3 months again to get on that free meal program.

2. Want to run a promotion? How about using promotion codes, every other eCommerce site on the internet does it. Want to reward special customers, give them a code. Put it in your magazine ads, whatever. Don’t want the “special” codes to get out? Make them expire after a certain amount of time. Make them unique. It’s very easy to do. The key here is that when the customer is placing the order, they enter the code and it gives them a free meal (or whatever) automatically, no further action required on the store owners part. It shows up in their order, you know how much extra food you need. It would be in the database for your reporting of promo/giveaway items that you should be tracking for accounting purposes.

3. Giving out items to the customers doesn’t create loyalty, it creates a mentality of “what do I get this month”. Giving out free meals, makes sense, the problem was that it isn’t consistent, and it isn’t AUTOMATIC.
Other businesses need customer loyalty cards to track purchases because their customers can purchase anonymously (does Skippy behind the register at the local sub shop know who you are? No, so they need a loyalty card/key ring etc to keep track) the meal assembly industry already has that tracking system in place; they just don’t use it, effectively.

4. Past purchase tie-ins. You know that the last time you had your super braided dream steak, it was a hit, and you know exactly who purchased that item. Now 3 months later you are A. putting it on the menu again or B. doing something similar. You could query the database and send out an email notifying everyone that purchased that item that it’s back or that “if you liked the super braided dream steak you’ll love the next months even more super dreamy steak”

5. Give the customer a free meal, automatically in their order if they sign up for next month, within the first few days of this month. Again, simple to do, give them a big notice on the screen thanking them for their loyalty, and ordering early.

6. Have some customers that have been in several times but now have been absent for a couple of months? Put a free meal in their account; send them an email saying that as an incentive to come back, you are offering them a free meal on their next purchase.

7. Send out surveys that the customer can fill out and earn a free meal on their next order. Have that free meal show up automatically and remind why they are getting the free meal. “Hi, don’t forget you earned a free meal for filling out our survey back in January and helping us better serve you”

8. Are you running some type of fundraiser where the customer might prefer to donate their free meal credit to some other school/family in need etc? If it’s in the database, it can happen automatically

9. Have a refer a friend program? If it’s in the database, the friend could refer a customer via a email web link, if the friend uses the link to sign up, the referring friend would earn a free meal on the next order and it would show up automatically. Be sure to put a comment on their order of why they got the free meal and send them an email to let them know they earned it.

10. Private party or sample party host earning a free meal(s) have it in the database so that the meal just show up in their next order.

Make these things happen automatically, and REMIND your customer why they are getting the free meal. Print it on their order put it on the printout they use in the store while they are making the meals. Make sure they see it and are reminded of it.

These are just a few things off the top of my head, I’m sure there are dozens of more great ideas out there.

By having these items shows up automatically, (you have noticed I keep mentioning automatically right?) you know how much extra food you need. You are less likely to get caught on Saturday night running low on an item. You spend less time making manual adjustments to orders/inventory/spreadsheets/note cards etc. It would be in the database for your reporting of promo/giveaway items that you should be tracking for accounting purposes.

Should you use all of these promotions at the same time? No, but a mixture of them would probably help.

I’m sure someone somewhere in the industry has done one of two of these things, or are about to, some I claim as my own ideas, the issue is, why haven’t they been doing this all along? It’s not like this is such a difficult thing to figure out. You’ve got a giant database of customers, and you know what they like to eat, why not use it effectively? Also remember that these are things the franchisor or the independent software vendors need to do, not something the individual store owners can do. We certainly don’t expect the store owners to know how to work with the database, but they should have the tools needed to run their business in the most efficient manner.

You are probably saying “well we do some of these things it’s just not automatic” Well then you are spending too much money on the promotion. A free meal the customer earns which requires no further intervention on your part costs very little. Taking10 minutes, or even 5 minutes of your time to enter a free meal onto your customers account multiplied by 100 loyal (hopefully more) customers a month is costing your some real money. Your time is money too. Don’t ever forget that.

There may be all kinds of incentives offered to your customers, but how many of those happen automatically? Please don’t comment about “knowing your customer” etc. Making this process automatic would help you spend more time with the customer, marketing your business etc, and knowing that your loyal customers ARE being rewarded without any manual intervention on your part.

The Meal Blogger

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