In the aftermath of my pitching efforts, I was extremely deflated. I really had to sit and think about what had happened and why it had affected me so much. Going into the event, I had no expectation about winning anything. However, I still wanted to get a result from the time and effort put into it. After receiving not so useful feedback it was hard to take anything away from the event.
Where to next?
My salvation came from, not the judges, but from a fellow food producer. Maya is the definition of fierce. When I think about Maya and how she approaches her business, it is with a sense of determination and is completely unwavering. But she will always pause to help out anyone who needs it. Maya pitched her business at the pitching night and found herself in a similar position to me.
Light bulb moment
We caught up after receiving our feedback and during the discussion, she gave me the little gem I had been looking for. Maya has spent many years as a customer of Wandering Cooks and has seen numerous businesses come and go. In an offhand comment, Maya said “too many businesses here operate as if they are still working from home”.
It gave me pause to think. What did she mean exactly? She said that they need to think more like manufacturers. And for me in particular, I needed to assess my processes and look at how I could be more like a manufacturer.
I will not be mass producing poorly made cakes that taste like cardboard and look like they have been made in a factory any time soon.
Is it a time saver?
Now, rest assured, I will not be mass producing poorly made cakes that taste like cardboard and look like they have been made in a factory any time soon. But it did make me rethink what I had currently been doing.
Maya gave me a great example that highlighted my need to change. She asked how long it takes to batch up one cake flavour ready for the oven. I told her it takes about 30 minutes give or take. She then asked how long it would take to make the same batch but with the dry ingredients already measured out. My answer – about 10 minutes. It was like a light bulb went off. That is a saving of 20 minutes, for every batch of cakes we put in the oven. Based on two cakes being baked on every shift it is a saving of 40 minutes.
Now it does take time to batch up the dry mix however it takes about 10 minutes to make a weeks worth of one dry mix. Do the maths. 40 minutes x 3 shifts a week = 120 minutes – 20 minutes to make the 2 dry mixes x 52 weeks = 5200 minutes a year or 86.66 hours!!
Test, taste and tweak
As much as I wanted it to be, it wasn’t as simple as putting all my dry ingredients together. I started with my basic chocolate cake mix and started to work through the problems. When I mixed the cocoa powder into the cake, the cake came out differently. It wasn’t as moist. So I removed the cocoa powder and kept that separate. Then I had trouble mixing the butter into the dry mix. I tried taking the sugar out and then creaming the butter and sugar as per usual. But that didn’t save me much time as I had to measure out the sugar separately. So I tried different oils in place of the butter.
Bit by bit, each part was tested and tasted and tweaked. After much testing, I hit on the right formula.
Change is good!
I was given some wonderful advice on making and storing dry mixes by Melinda from Melinda’s Gluten Free Goodies. She reached out to me after the pitching event to say that she loved my pitch (such a thrill from a seasoned professional!). We haven’t looked back since. Changing just one simple thing in our process has completely changed the way we operate. I now look at our processes differently.
We haven’t looked back since.
While the pitch event didn’t directly give me the result I was looking for, it inadvertently gave me a brilliant and much needed change. It also gave me a great contact in Melinda, who has a wealth of knowledge and is very willing to share her experiences.
The dry mixes are only the start. There will be many more changes to come and I look to the future with a different attitude and mindset about how to take my business forward. Each step is a learning curve and I look forward to being able to help another business owner out with the things that I am learning.