Unfortunately, we had the change in COVID-19 Alert Levels on Sunday evening, reminding us all of the risks we will continue to face in 2021. Hopefully you have all completed the scenario planning we have recommended and your transition to Alert Level 3 or 2 has been as smooth as possible.
This latest change in levels does not change our view that we can expect good times ahead. We firmly believe that, once COVID-19 is brought under control enough to allow our borders to re-open, New Zealand is extremely well placed for a sustained boom.
We maintain this for two reasons.
1/ We are comparatively small on the global stage, so only need our slice of the global economic pie to increase slightly for strong, sustained growth.
2/ Awareness of New Zealand and our positive reputation has increased significantly during the course of the pandemic, driving up interest from businesses, tourists, students and potential immigrants alike. Interest from all these segments of society will increase flows into the country, helping with the phenomenon, “a rising tide lifts all boats”.
Nevertheless, for now, ‘survive, then thrive’ remains a theme for many kiwi businesses. It’s therefore timely we have the first of our 2021 webinars kicking off on 23 February, focussed on increasing your sales revenue by increasing the sales skills in your business. What would a 10% or 20% increase in revenue mean for your bottom line? This webinar is FREE for all Grow NZ Members. Your access code is GROWNZMEMBER
Easy registration can be completed via this link: How To Increase Your Sales With Integrity Solutions
In the meantime, here’s some instant inspiration from Grow NZ member, Robert Watt, co-owner of The Source Bulk Foods, on how to grow against all odds.
Robert Watt and his sister, Andrea, had just sold a business when they stumbled across inspiring Aussie brand, The Source Bulk Foods, in a magazine. By sheer coincidence (if you believe in those) the pair was due to travel to the Gold Coast the following week, so Robert reached out to the Australian owners of the business, Paul and Emma, and asked for a meeting. Personalities and visions aligned and Robert and Andrea left Australia with the NZ rights to the, now global, brand.
The siblings opened their first store in Milford in September 2017, offering more than 400 unbranded products, sourced as directly as possible from the manufacturers, allowing The Source to cut prices and travel miles. Today they have six stores nationwide. The Kumeu, Milford and Mount Maunganui stores they own themselves and the other three, based in Taupo, Auckland’s Eastridge and Christchurch, are franchised.
The plan now is to expand, with ambitions to open another 10 new stores this year alone.
More than food
Much like their Australian counterparts who established The Source Bulk Foods in search of a better lifestyle, Robert says his company is about so much more than selling food items.
“Franchising was never top of my list of business ambitions, but I loved the customer service side of things with The Source.” Rooted in the premise of a zero-waste revolution, the bulk foods stores offer recipe ideas, a waste-free shopping experience and easy access to a huge range of nutritious ingredients, which you can buy as much or as little of as you like.
“Most people, when they think of zero-waste, instantly think of plastics, and while reducing the amount of single-use plastic is certainly something we advocate and facilitate, we also champion food waste reduction. We celebrate customers who come into our store and buy as little as one teaspoon of turmeric for a recipe they are making, just as much as we celebrate those who come in to bulk-buy litres of coconut oil. It may just mean a $0.42 sale for us, but it also means there’s not an open packet of expired turmeric destined for the bin in a few months’ time.”
Robert believes it’s this intention that distinguishes his business from other bulk food brands. “We like to think of ourselves as educators, we love to help our customers in different ways, inspiring them with new recipes and gift ideas, or nutritious alternatives to standard ingredients – and we really get a kick from seeing our regulars walk in with their refillable jars.”
As you might imagine, lockdown hit The Source Bulk Foods hard. Not only was the business forced to close its doors to the public, having been denied ‘essential service’ status, it had tonnes of fresh ingredients it was forced to write off. But, rather than fret, Robert and Andrea took the opportunity to invest in their website and double-down on marketing, even employing their first full-time, in-house marketing coordinator amid the uncertainty.
“I’m a great believer in the saying you have to spend money to make money and we know that, when times are tough you must invest in your brand and brand awareness. So we did.” says Robert.
The gamble paid off, with the website allowing The Source Bulk Foods to resume trading, albeit on a watered-down scale.
“The upside to lockdown”, says Robert, “is that many kiwis found themselves back in the kitchen trying new things, experimenting with ingredients and being a lot more conscious and mindful of what, how and from where they are buying their groceries. Many more people have embraced slow living and our brand and business fits perfectly into that way of life.”
No time to waste
Now fully back in business, Robert and Andrea are keen to share their zero-waste revolution with more kiwis. Having been granted subsidised Grow NZ marketing support through the Government’s COVID-19 relief programme, the pair has started work with Grow NZ to further develop the store’s web presence and launch a series of digital marketing initiatives.
After week one, The Source’s website traffic was up 48% and online sales increased by 65%, opening up new customer segments who don’t live close by to the physical stores.
Watch this space for more progress over the coming months!
Join the zero-waste revolution
Download the Source Bulk Foods NZ App from the Apple or Google App store, or simply scan the QR code above.
Looking for a franchise opportunity?
If you’re passionate about customers and driving the zero-waste revolution, call Robert on 021 623 867.