Has anyone ever shopped their local competition? Recently my daughter's school had a golf tourney fundraiser. We, the parents, were supposed to go out and solicit businesses for gift certificates or merchandise for raffle prizes. Normally I give a gc of mine for our big auction, but for a golf tourney I didn't give anything because I didn't really think men would want a gc for cookies. However, one parent saw a new cookie place in town and got a gc for the tourney from them. At first I was kind of mad because they know I do cookies and why would you promote another place knowing I do the same thing, I just don't have a storefront like they do. I got over it and moved on.
Well, at the tourney my husband's friend won the gc and of course didn't really want it because as I suspected...what man really wants a gc like that. So he gave it to my DH. My DH was thrilled to take it off his friend's hands because he knows I WOULD LOVE TO SHOP MY COMPETITION and doing it for free is even better.
SO, my friend and I went to the little tiny shop they opened just recently. They are living my dream so I just had to see what they had to offer. I must say that the cookies are super cute. The place was the size of a postage stamp though. It was located inside another store and was a seperate little room off to the side. The customer service was great. I was very fortunate that the husband was running the counter at the time, so he answered my million questions that I asked without even wondering why this person was so inquisitive. HA! He even let me order 12 different cookies. And we all know what a pain in the butt it is to do one order with each cookie being different! They do RI on their cookies and I do fondant with RI accents. I made my order then when I got home I decided to change the pick up date because I had a friend I wanted to show them to so she could help me compare them to my cookies. I called and they very nicely moved my pick up date back 2 days. SO customer services was great all the way around. I must give them that.
Pick up day arrives and I bop in there to get my cookies. I had to make sure I didn't take my kids with me because they would surely blow my cover. Ha! I take the cookies home to examine them. Presentation was very nice. They used a white bakery box (too flimsy in my opinion, because their cookies were very thick and heavy) with a nice bow tied around the box and their clear sticker with logo on the box. I opened the box and the cookies were packaged very cute and sat on shredded white paper. The cookies themselves were super cute looking . I did not think they tied the bags very tight to keep air out. I turn the cookies over to look them over and I can see that they are not cooked through. They are basically RAW! They were super thick too! The RI they iced them with was still soft, and I could put my nail print in them. I suppose it did not harden because the cookie was still basically dough or because they did not give them enough time to dry. Everyone I had look at them agreed they were really cute. But almost everyone that tasted them spit them out
because they were way too sweet and way too raw.
I think it's a good idea to shop your competition. You can learn a lot from their mistakes and also the things they do well. And in my case, I am very sure I have a superior product and am no long jealous.
Of course I shop my competition. Regularly. Yesterday was my birthday, so SIL went to a boutique bakery and got slices of 5 different cakes. We all sat around with forks and sampled.
Dang straight you shop the competition! I'm frequently the "sister in charge of the shower cake" or I'm helping my sister plan a wedding "....because if we let her do it alone, we'll be eating Ho's Ho's and pizza!"
If you don't shop your competition, how do you know if you are better than them?
Now this is not meant to sound mean because I love the other cake ladies in my town (you know who you are) and we get along so well partially because while we have the same basic product, it is different-- different brands, different flavors, different recipes. If I didn't think that I could sell my product as well as or better than my competition, then why did I open a business?
You always want to check in periodically and make sure that you are still on top of your game.
As soon as I saw the title I thought oh thats a bit mean.
Over here to shop your competition basicly means to grass on them or notify authorites and such like of things not above board. We would say,
'' I'm going to shop on them'' or ''somebody shopped on me'' LOL.
Happy B-day LeahS!
I did that this past Christmas. There are only three other bakeries in my town so it was easy to order a dozen frosted cookies from each one and have my mom go pick them up.
They weren't even close to the product I will offer. One was slapped on wierd frosting. Not BC but not RI, I don't know what the heck it was, but the cookies were crazy dry, no taste, ugh, my stomach turns just thinking of them.
The next one was BC but was spread sloppy, white frosting on all of them and sprinkles that didn't match just tossed all over. Tasted like the first ones.
The last one was RI but the base wasn't even and the piping was done with almost clearish white icing and they had dragged the tip so that it wasn't in nice thickish lines, just flat messy lines.
So my point is, is that yes, I have done that and I will probably do it again this Christmas. I felt like a detective and I had a blast except for the part of spending money on bad cookies, lol.
It sounds like the competition has some work to do on their techniques so as long as you have a better product I wouldn't worry. Just make sure that your customer service is at the same level or better than theirs and also that your packaging is equal or better too.
It's really nice that you got the free GC to check them out, did you mention if their prices are comparable with yours? Do they charge per cookie and then by the dozen? I'm curious about them letting you pick 12 different designs. Were they all totally different?
OK, my post has gotten way out of hand, lol. I'd better stop writing or I'll go on all night!!
Hedi, their prices ranged from 2.00-3.50. My prices range from 2.50-4.50. The husband did say that when their website was complete that the prices were going to change. I think they realized they could make more than they are now. They do charge per cookie. All of the cookies were in the same theme but each required a different cutter and not all of the RI colors were the same.
I do think my packaging of the individual cookies is better. They use really short bags and the tie a knot instead of a bow. I think the knot made the ribbon harder to get off the bag, but on the other hand the know was not tied very tight and air could get into the bag easily. I do need to order a nice box to present my cookies to customers in. Now I just use bags. I've got to do some box research and pricing.
I am really big on customer service. I have fear that I am lacking there. And I must say theirs was equal to mine.
Wow, it's really good to hear what that competition does and how they compare to you. Very disturbing to hear that the cookies were raw....
The couple of places of know of around here that sell decorated cookies, have tasteless cookies too. But it goes to show you that most customers will buy for the looks of the cookies and not necessarily for the tastes. Weird.
I don't understand that about taste either, why eat it if it's pretty but bland? I like to think with the vanilla and lemon I add to mine they are just as yummy as they are pretty.
I don't get it either. I got a platter of cookies when we bought a new house and the whole thing went into the garbage when even my kids spit it out!!! Yes it looked nice but what's the point? Just send dummy cookies decorated on styrofoam already. If they're already going through the trouble of making dough, rolling out, cutting, and baking, then why not make sure it tastes good too?