How do you create a strong and profitable business? Ask Erika and Ray Boland in John’s Creek, GA.
Although…they are so humble about what they do, they’ll say they don’t know exactly why they keep winning awards and growing their business.
I recently had the opportunity to help them open a second Great Harvest bakery in Alpharetta, GA. Seeing them in action left no doubt in my mind why they’re so successful.
So what are the 5 secrets to local retail business success?
1. Hard work. Wow…that old fashioned concept of working HARD every day, not only hard but smart and focused. These two are walking the walk. They do everything they do with gusto and they don’t waste time over-thinking things. Once the decision is made, they act.
2. Partnership. They have a great partnership; both have unique strengths that support the business and each other.
3. Interesting and relevant offerings for customers. They’ve done a great job crafting their menu and tuning into what their customers are looking for. They provide enough varieties of products to keep customers interested but keep it simple enough to stay really good at what they do. When every product is made from scratch, you have to make sure the craft stays intact as you expand your offerings. And you have to be tuned into your customers to understand what they want.
4. Stay on top of efficiencies and numbers. Tracking these every day keeps you in touch with where your business is financially. Erika and Ray know at the end of every day where they stand, and where adjustments need to be made.
5. Work side by side with your employees and develop rapport with customers. I couldn’t get tired of hearing Ray & Erika talk to customers on the counter, greeting people, figuring out their needs, sharing information about the products, offering free slices from the breadboard, and telling customers why our fresh-milled, made-from-scratch whole grain breads are different than anything you can get at the grocery store. An excellent way to connect with customers, and mentor employees in great service.
Opening an additional store, especially when everything is fresh-made, is not an easy task. It requires having a great team in place and working through a lot of logistics. Ray and Erika drew on their crew from the existing store to provide a solid foundation for their new location. That said, hiring, constant mentoring, teaching, training is an ongoing part of their bakery business, as it is for any business. Building a team is paramount. It’s impossible to run a business on your own. Getting a great team in place is the biggest challenge of any small business.
Ray worked for Coke in the early days of their first bakery. Erika ran the store with lots of behind the scenes support from Ray. Erika’s experience as a registered dietician fed right into her passion for providing healthy products for her customers. In the last few years, the store reached sales where Ray could move from his job to helping run the business full time. Balancing their work life with their family, their two kids and outside activities is a challenge, but one they handle gracefully.
Hats off to these two for showing us how it’s done, and proving that strong work ethic and passion for what you do is alive and well in America!