There’s a brand-new giant in grocery retail who is taking the food industry by storm – but they’re not quite the mass-production factory you have come to expect. Meet Tracy Postic, founder and CEO of Millies Kitchen Creations whose original ideas, super fresh and healthy ingredients, and business smarts have stamped their mark in grocery retail. The idea for Millies Kitchen Creations came from everyday families with fast-paced lives looking for food that offered convenience, flavor, taste, and quality. These include Gluten Free, Vegan, Trans Fat Free, Vegetarian, and Clean Label food options. Tracy takes us into her world of success with her catching personality and easy demeanor. But don’t be fooled! Her skills have got grocery retailers eating out of her hand. Pun intended. For all the Big Boxers out there looking for instant motivation, please enjoy this look into what made Tracy successful and how she stays on course. Take out your pen and pad because her ideas are once in a lifetime!
On this episode, we have Tracy Postic on the program. I met Tracy at an ECRM session. Not that I was attending the session, but the session was being held in Orlando, which was where I live. Joe Ternasky was there. Joe is from the Flash Topic panel discussions. Joe and I met up at the session and he introduced me to Tracy. What a story she has to tell. Tracy Postic owns the company Millie’s Kitchen Creations. I thought that it was important that you get introduced to her and know her story.
The podcast that we did, the Flash Topic that we put out, was about what to do when things go wrong. Tracy has not had an easy time of it. Her success today has come on a hard road. She’s going to talk a little bit about that. I don’t think that there’s anybody else out there better to tell you how to keep going, how to keep moving forward, how to keep making it happen. It is not easy, but there is something at the end. What’s at the end is awesome. She has such a positive attitude. She’s such a nice person and she’s such a smart businesswoman. You’ll get a lot out of this podcast, a lot of our discussion and I can’t wait to introduce you to Tracy.
Tracy, welcome to On The Shelf.
You and I met at an ECRM session. You were there doing business. I was strictly there to eat but we had a good conversation.
That’s the fun part. You’ve got the fun part. You’ve got to go there and eat while I’ve got to go there and talk pretty much all day long and meet a lot of fun folks and also like yourself as well. It’s a great platform, especially some of your audience are trying to get into certain On the Shelf, that is a great platform to use. ECRM is one of my favorite places to do. It was one of the best opportunities because I’ve got to meet you as well, which was fun.
Joe was in town and because a lot of ECRM sessions happen in Orlando but not all the ones that he goes to. The fact that he was in town for that one was easy for me to run out and spend some time with him and then you happen to be there, which made it all the more of a great time. We talked for a couple hours. It wasn’t just a Hi and Bye. We talked about your business and we talked about some of the challenges that you have had. The podcast that we put out was a Flash Topic and it was on what to do when everything goes wrong, and if there’s anybody I’ve talked to that knows what to do when things go wrong, that would be you. I definitely want to get into all of those things and how you’ve overcome adversity so many times. Before we do that, let’s tell the audience a little bit about you, your company, what you do, and what your goals are, and what’s happening in your life right now.
My name is Tracy Postic and I’m the owner of Millie’s Kitchen and also Two 2 Gals, which is my private label company. I’m located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am a foodie gal. Food is fun, and I like to share it to the world. I’ve been doing this for over 25 years. Before this, I was working in a restaurant 80 hours a week, got tired of doing that, and wanted to work for myself. I was a food broker. I sold food for both retail and food service to restaurants and chain, so I’m pretty much all over the place. When I saw the industry, I didn’t like what I saw. I wanted to offer a better product and better items out there.
When you say that you didn’t like what you saw out there, what does that mean?
A lot of my clients, when I used to be a food broker for both retail and food services where you have multiple lines that you represent, you show it to different clients in retail, food service, for schools, hospitals, restaurants, and so forth. It would be like, “I went to a food show, and we’re coming out with something new. It’s a chicken tender.” There’s nothing new about it. It’s a chicken tender with a different breading on it. “This one has a ranch or this one has ranch with blue cheese on it.” It’s the same thing, just done ten different ways. There’s nothing new exciting about it. The end-user, which is the person at back of the house or the restaurant or the retailer, they want something a little bit more that’s healthy, multiple uses, that they can do something with.
Not that it has one thing that sits in their freezer or the refrigerator or if it’s on their shelf. A lot of the ingredients, if you look on the back of the label, which nowadays the consumers are looking and reading and educating themselves on the label. A lot of that stuff doesn’t need to be on that label. I thought, “I’m going to put out my con queso cheese sauce,” it’s all in the label. It’s all-natural, which nobody else has anything like that out there in the industry. You can go to my website where you can go, “One, two, three,” that you can take my con queso and make a con queso mac and cheese or you can add chicken to it or you could make a cheese sauce or a beer cheese soup. It’s all super easy and it takes fifteen to twenty minutes to do it.
It’s like Garanimals for eating?
Yeah. If you go into the grocery store, a lot of these grocery stores on the back of the packages, they have a package and it’s like, “Great,” you’ll eat this. I want to offer where you go into the grocery store or you go into the restaurant and say, “If you buy this, then you could do this with this package.” That way, they can make multiple meals and do multiple applications with it and they’re not just buying one product and do one different thing.
When you were saying that you didn’t like what you saw, it wasn’t like you were seeing spider legs in food or anything.
There wasn’t anything new.
Chicken fingers, I totally get what you mean. You were just looking for new, different, healthier and you just didn’t like the same old, same old.
For the breakfast category, for a long time, there’s nothing that’s new and exciting. Anything that you could pump it up and say, “This is cool what’s going on in the breakfast category.” If you went to the freezer section right now, it’s pretty much the same stuff you’ve seen in there for years or if you went over to the meat and seafood department right now, there’s nothing new. These people, the gentlemen and the ladies in the meat and seafood department, they would love to be able to offer something different over in their section and say, “This is something totally different and new,” and being able to market in a different avenue. This is something that I have now come to market and it’s exploding. You’re going to be seeing this in the next two to three months. You’re going to see it all over the United States, which is pretty exciting.
You’ve got to the point where you were not liking what you saw. Tracy and her company, Millie’s Kitchen Creations is blowing up all over the country and you are going to be eating it, whether you want to or not. It’s coming to your house, so be ready. As you were seeing that you didn’t like what was going on, how did you fix that? What was your thought process? You’re a broker and you’re selling food to retailers into restaurants that you don’t like. There’s nothing new about it. It’s boring, and so you decided to do what?
A lot of people were absolutely astonished, especially my family. I quit my job and moved out of my house. For the last four or five years, I’ve been renting. I’ve lived in people’s basements. I took everything out of my 401(k), out of my savings. I’ve taken odd jobs here and there and I spent every single dollar and everything in creating this company. One of the things that I’ve done is I took all the criteria and everything I’ve learned as being a broker when I was in the restaurant, when I went out to eat, what I saw, and even sitting in parking lots or going into the grocery stores or in convenience stores.
I pretend I’m a customer and I start a conversation with the actual people next to me. I was like, “I’ve never been here. What is this? What’s good in here? What do you recommend? Is this salad good? What do you like?” That’s how I gathered information and decided how I was going to start developing my line, what people were looking for, and what they wanted. Then I asked friends around the country, of different states and family members to do the same thing for me, which they did. They collected all that inventory and intel and product and I started to work on my line.
It seems on the surface it makes sense. Ask people what they want and then give it to them. That seems so simple, but so many times I run into people that have created a product and then they’re trying to create an issue for this product to solve. There wasn’t an issue there first, so they’re trying now to create this issue for their product to solve rather than just going to people and finding out what it is they want. It seems simple but a lot of people don’t do that.
What Tracy talked about, that’s called going all-in. So often, I talk to people that want to put a toe in or they want to put two toes in and they want to see like, “Maybe I’m going to put my product in retail” or, “Maybe I’m going to pull it off,” or, “Maybe I’m going to go to big-box retail and do that in the Amazon,” but there’s a difference between going all-in and trying something. When everything is on the line, then everything’s on the line. When you’re putting everything and pulling it out of your 401(k) and living on the jail cell of a basement in somebody’s house, that’s going all-in.
One of the things that I have to say is if you want it to happen and you believe in what you want, and you believe in what you do, it will happen for you. I can’t tell you how many people that say, “I want to do this. I have a great product or so and so said that I have the best salsa or I have a really good barbecue seasoning or barbecue sauce. I should market that.” That’s great that someone said that to you, but you have to believe that. If you don’t believe 110% that this is the best thing and you’re going to change someone’s life and you’re going to make a difference, and people are going to say, “I’m so excited,” if you’re not showing enthusiastic and so off the top about this, then you’re not going to get anywhere with it. You have to be on the line, you have to put all-in.
You’re going to have to be the cheerleader. It’s not going to be your husband, your wife, your daughter, your family. You, every day, have to look in that mirror and say, “Today’s the day. Tomorrow might be the day, the next day,” but every day, you have to look in the mirror and say, “Today’s the day, I’m going to make it happen. If it doesn’t happen today, it’s going to happen tomorrow. If it doesn’t happen tomorrow, it’s going to happen the next day.” You have to work at it and you have to put in the hours. If you don’t, then it’s on you.
You talked about getting a lot of pumping up from family and friends and a lot of times you get nothing from them. A lot of times, they look at you sideways like, “What are you doing?”
A lot of them thought I was crazy and they said, “That’s not a job.” Some of the family, they want to support you at the very beginning. Then after a while, they said, “If it was that great, then you would have already been in business. You would have already been selling this and this would have been going.” Sometimes it’s hitting the right person at the right time and hitting that right account. You have to be your own cheerleader. You have to believe in your product. If you believe in it, that one person will look at you and believe in you as well.
[Tweet “The only way you’re going to get it is to make it happen.”]
The first person who has to sell your product is you. A lot of times, suppliers, they get their product made and it gets to their house and then they start looking for somebody to sell it. My recommendation always is, and Tracy, you’re a living example of this, is that the first person to sell your product has to be you because you’re the one that has all the passion for it.
That’s the one thing that I get all the time. For example, every time I’m sitting there in the meeting or I’m in anywhere talking and showing and bringing my product to any retailer and I’m talking about it, they say, “Your face just lights up. You’re so passionate about it. You get so excited and you talk and you get carried away.” I said, “Why not? It’s so neat. Why wouldn’t you want buy it?” They get excited. If you’re excited about it, they get excited. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been saying it for two years. Every time you’re in front of somebody and she’d be like, “It’s the first time you’re saying it and it’s the first time they’re excited about it.” it has to be that every time.
Tracy is a broker, didn’t like what she was seeing. She decided to cash it all in and go all-in on her own business and come up with some food creations of her own that were amazing and clean and the Garanimals of food where you could pair one thing. Then things went massively awesome for you right out of the gate.
Not right out of the gate.
I’ve been in business for about five years and the first year, it took me for developing the concept. I wanted that each product to interchange and no matter where I brought it, that the product can be sold to anybody anywhere at any type of business. Wherever I brought any item, that item could be sold. It’s fine in a co-packer. One of the things that I have to say is when you look to have somebody to do the product for you, if you are a woman-owned or minority-owned, make sure you get your certificates because they’ll tell you when you want to get into those retailers. That is a very important thing, even in for the restaurant as well or chains. That’s going to help you open up a lot of doors. That’s number one. Before you even start to try to sell it, try to get that in order. Two, a lot of it for the co-packers, make sure they have an SQ2. It was a learning experience for me. A lot of these don’t have an SQ2 but they’re not up to speed.
What’s an SQ2?
They’re the BRC, which is ready to eat. SQ2 is a level of a HACCP plan of a food insurance policy. That means that they meet special standards in the USD-FDA government that will require for retailers like SuperValu, Walmart and all that stuff that would want to do business with you. You want to have an SQ2 to an SQ3 operation. If you do not have those certificates that show that you were clean, that you meet safety requirements, food requirements, you have a great HACCP plan, you have great sanitations in place and food preparation and so forth, they will not do business with you. If you want to go big, then you need to have a company right off the bat that have an SQ2 or an SQ3. Then you have your BRC. A BRC is ready to eat. Those are okay for C-store and so forth. It’s a learning curve depending on what type of food you are and what you’re going for and what type of business and how big you want to go.
Let’s be specific too. Tracy is not saying that you personally have to have that, what she’s saying is that your co-packer needs to have that. Food or not food, every factory that makes your product has to have a certain level of QA or be certified in a certain way, so it’s important no matter what you’re selling. If you’re wanting to go to big-box retail, you have to find out what the certifications are. I’ve had probably ten people come to me that want to do business with Costco and they have a cookie or something that they love and they’re currently making it in their own kitchen. First of all, they have this thought process that they’re going to be able to keep up with Costco, make it in their own kitchen. We know that’s not going to happen.
You’ve got to find a co-packer that’ll make it for you, but they have to have certifications because the last thing you want is to get the deal done and then find out that your co-packer doesn’t meet the standard. Then secondly, Tracy mentioned minority-owned business. We did do a podcast with a lady who was an expert in getting you certified and she gave a lot of websites and information. Big boxers, if you’re wondering about that, you can go back and search under minority and that podcast will come up and all those websites will be on there. Tracy’s right. I’ve worked with several different companies that had the opportunity to become certified and it makes all the difference.
Whether you’re a minority or a woman and so forth, the more certificates that you can put under your belt, the better that you look. Sometimes if you can’t be a WBENC or a WBE, Women’s Business Enterprises or something like that, you could do a NAWBO, which is a national business. Just any of certificates of a type of business that does that or any words, you want to make sure you put that front foot forward because that’s going to only help your business in that sense. Those SQ2, if you know that you don’t want to stay local, then right off the bat, make sure then you search for those businesses that are SQ2. You don’t want to start right off the bat with a company that’s a BRC or so forth. It’s depending on your product again.
You don’t want to switch midway and say, “I need a search for that” because co-packers are very hard to come by. Either you’re too small. My problem was getting off the ground. Part of my problem was getting taken seriously and also with my product line, either I was too big of whatever I’m bringing to them or I was too small. Part of the problem is bringing into a co-packer. They want existing business. I have people who want to buy my product, but it’s not made. That’s the part that you’re going to find the biggest hump to get over is when you want somebody who wants to buy your product but you’re not currently in business and being in the kitchen doesn’t cut it with these co-packers that want to take you on to get to that next level. How do you get to that next level when you’ve been working out of a kitchen to take to a co-packer to take it seriously to bring you on to go to that next level?
One of my very first clients nine years ago, he did a ton of research and found multiple co-packers that could make his product and it was a process. That’s a great podcast to have, especially in the food industry. How do you find the right co-packer?
That is a process. That’s what took me the longest to launch my company. It took me a year and a half. I must have gone through twelve different co-packers to try to find the right co-packer. I have five co-packers I deal with who is in the United States. I have set my first one in April of a semi-truck load of almost 3,000 cases to Canada in bulk, which is pretty exciting. I’m going to retail. I will be opening nationwide with some pretty large retailers that I can’t quite announce yet because we’re going in the next 30 to 45 days. It took me almost three years to get there because of different co-packers in meeting my needs from going to zero to 180. A lot of that is finding the right people that can meet your needs to make it to go there. I’ve gotten to the point where I was so stressed. I had a very large client that we’ve got to the point where we were going to go sign on the dotted line for a very large C-store and my co-packer backed out on me and cost me literally millions of dollars.
You’re right there, you’re at the table, the co-packer said, “I can’t handle it,” and pulls out. What happened then?
I pretty much lost the business. I had to go back, and they said, “We can do a third of the business. We thought we could handle it.” I couldn’t handle it. I had to spin it and I said, “That’s when you have to look at the clients.” The clients, when you’re dealing with that and you get in love with the product that said, “The product was great. I know you loved it. I know we’re ready to move forward with it, but I don’t think with the industry, I see you have to spin it and how you are going to spin it is how you’re going to do.”
I said, “I don’t think we’re going to be on the ingredient level. I see that there’s going to be a rise and that I don’t think we’re going to be able to keep up on the ingredient level and I don’t want to put you in an imposition. It’s best if we don’t go with this and let me see if we can come up with something that is more feasible, that’s more around,” and they agreed to that, so I lucked out. It’s not always going to be that way. You have to think of how to spin it. You don’t want to always place the blame on your co-packer because at the end, it’s not the co-packer, it’s you that’s in front of the client and you’re the one who has to make sure that you can go back to that person because they need to know that if you want to do business with them again, that they can believe and trust in you. If they can’t believe and trust that you can deliver, then they’re not going to do business with you again.
You make a good point because a lot of times, you’re going to want to place that blame, “My co-packer backed out on me,” but here’s the hard truth. If any of you listened to Jocko’s podcast, he would tell you, “Absolute ownership.” When you’re in front of a buyer, you’ve got to take it on the chin and own up to that. If you try to pass the blame onto somebody else, then you’re going to look like an unreliable person to do business with. Where you went with that, Tracy, is probably the best place that you could do, “We’re right there, but the quality is not where I think it should be and I don’t want to put you in a bad position, so we need to hold off.”
That’s taking ownership in a little bit of a spin it way because if you would’ve walked in there and said, “My co-packer bailed on me,” then it makes you look incompetent. Sometimes you can’t place the blame. Don’t look to the left or to the right. Just go look in the mirror. That’s the person who screwed up, whether somebody bailed on you, you created that relationship, so good advice.
The other thing is when you do that, at the same time, you also said, “I’m looking out for you.” When you look out for someone else’s business, and they’re like, “Thank you. I’m sorry. At the very latest, I want to make sure that you’re taken care of,” they realized that, “This person’s looking out for my interest.” That’s a really big thing. That’s what’s going to make them want to come back and do business. They said that, “In the future, when you find something ready and it’s all completed and ready to go, please contact us again,” is what they said. I’ve got my new product that’s coming out and once it’s all in the market and we’ve got the kinks worked out, I’m going back to them, which will be great to do. That saved face for me and able to go back to them.
You’re all-in on this business, you’re living on the cement floor, you have this business that you put together. You’re in front of this buyer, there’s millions of dollars on the line, and then in a day, it’s gone. At some point, you picked yourself up. How did you do that? How did you come back the next day and keep going after it?
Pretty much everybody told me after that that I should just quit and get a real job. I said, “Let me ask you this. If I get a real job, could that real job turn-around where I could get laid off, I could get fired. They could go out of business. There could be a fire.” There are so many things. I said, “A real job nowadays doesn’t guarantee that you could wake up in the morning and that job’s going to be there.” You could get a job and work 9 to 5, that doesn’t mean that nowadays, you’re going to be able to have that steady paycheck, that you’re going to be able to have that. Hours can be cut. Positions are being changed constantly. You never know where you’re going to be the next day or where your position is going to be. I saw it over the years with my company that I worked when I was a broker, it got changed over, merged in. I saw about twenty different people get laid off from different changes of both gaining new manufacturing lines and losing manufacturing lines and that people’s positions got lost.
There’s never any guarantee in life if you have where you’re working for yourself or if you’re working for someone else. You have to decide how badly you want it. Did I get discouraged? Absolutely. Was I devastated? Did it hurt me financially? Absolutely. I did a part-time job and I’m working 90 hours a week. I started at 2:00 PM, worked until 11:00 PM, got home, got on LinkedIn, worked until 1:00 AM, back up at 6:00 AM. Then I started at 2:00 PM working on my company. You don’t get a lot of sleep, but again, I want it and the only way you’re going to get it is to make it happen. I was determined. It’s hard.
You’re going to have some days that you’re going to be like, “I can’t do this. I don’t know if this is going to happen,” and then you’ve got to say, “I can’t quit. I have too much debt on me, but also at the same time, I’ve put so much into this and I know people are going to like it and I just had to find that one plant, that one person, that one company that’s going to make it happen. I‘ve got to figure out how I’m going to do that,” and that’s the key. Talk to people, find out, don’t put your head in a hole. This is a great product. Listen to broadcasts, go on LinkedIn, go on Facebook, look at food companies, read magazines. If you’re interested in the cookie business, learn everything about the cookie business and how people got their start and then start researching it. That’s how you get ahead. That’s how you learn.
When you say that getting through the dark times, which is you have to have this commitment and believe in yourself and that has to be so steadfast that it’s the thing that pulls you out of those dark times.
I am my own cheerleader. When I say look in the mirror and say, “I have great product. I know that this is going to happen.” When I say, “Be your own cheerleader,” be your own cheerleader.
Tracy, do you have a cheer that you give yourself? Do you have one that you do in front of the mirror with pompoms?
Every day I look at myself, I’m like, “Today’s going to be the day.” That’s all I say, “Today’s a good day. Today’s going to be that day.”
I don’t think you could be entrepreneur or a salesperson without doing that every day. People ask me, “Do you think that you can sell it?” I’m like, “I’m a sales guy. I always think that I can sell it. I always think that they’re going to buy it.” I never walk into one meeting ever in my whole life thinking, “No, nobody’s going to buy this.” I always walk in thinking it’s already a done deal and it’s already happened. I don’t think that you can be a true salesperson or entrepreneur if you don’t have that attitude. If you’re wondering, “Is my product good enough?” or, “Are they going to like it?” No, you have to be so steadfast because that will come across. It’s like jumping on a horse and that horse can tell that you’re a little scared, and so it starts acting weird. When you walk into a buyer meeting and they’re looking at you, if you have fear on your face, they’re going to smell that and your meeting is over.
One of the other things that you brought up is when you walk into a meeting, dress for success. Don’t over-dress. I can’t tell you how many people that I’ve seen, whether you’re doing it like if you’re at an ECRM or if you’re doing private meetings, showings in a room or a periodic table fair, I can’t tell you how many people have told me that when they walk into my room at a business meeting or at even at a table fair or at a food fair, they’re like, “You have an amazing table.” The first thing that people do is they eat with their eyes, then they eat with their nose.
[Tweet “If they can’t believe and trust that you can deliver, then they’re not going to do business with you again.”]
Last thing is they eat with their mouth and their taste buds. If they hear it, they see it, they smell it, then they eat it. That’s the last thing. If it looks good, if it smells good, they hear it’s good, then they already have it in their mind that is going to be the best thing in the world that they’re going to have. I can’t tell you how many people, when they walk in the room, they said, “This is amazing. This is what it should be.” When you come in, you should have not only dress the part, have a smile on your face and happy and excited. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, your product should look amazing, refreshed on every meeting, and your table should look amazing.
I can’t tell you how much of a presentation. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to a buyer. I go to buyers all the time and I walk in to their office and I already have it in a little jar or something heated up. I will have a napkin, plates, and not just like a cheap little paper plate. I go and I do these little silver fork and little cups and make it look nice. Go that extra effort. These guys and gals sit in their office and they listen, and they have these salespeople come in. Wow them. Make that lasting impression.
We talk about it all the time on the podcast, being professional and keeping it professional and making sure that you’re coming across a certain way. There’s two types of customer experience, and I’m talking end-user customer experience. One, they have in the store and then one, they have when they get home and they open up what they bought and they either eat it or play with it or use it and they have that experience too. If that experience is poor, no matter how great you did in the store, in that customer’s mind, it’s going to have a bad rep because, “This is where I got it. I’m not happy with the experience once I’ve used it.” When you go into a buyer, the same thing can happen.
It’s all about first impressions. It’s all about making the buyer feel special. It’s all about being ready and not wasting their time. Those kinds of things can get you over the hump with your product over the other ten products that maybe they didn’t go that extra mile. Tracy, maybe they didn’t bring a napkin or maybe they didn’t bring a fork or some silverware or whatever it is. They had to stop the meeting and go to the cafeteria and get some utensils and bring it back. All those things kill your momentum. All those things kill your opportunity. Then once they’re back and they sit down, and they resettle, you’re nervous now. It’s going to affect how things go. I’ve been on the table side of good meetings and bad meetings. Those little extra things can make a big difference. If you had to categorize yourself as a type of person, I don’t have any categories in mind, if somebody were to ask you, “What type of person are you?” what would you say to that?
I’ve been categorized as memorable and I have a nickname, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
Titanic references aren’t always the best but memorable.
It doesn’t matter what you throw at me, I will always get back on my feet. Nothing keeps me down. I’m very energetic, enthusiastic, and memorable.
I like memorable because when you said that nobody can push you down, it’s like Weebles Wobble, you always come back up, but I like memorable. If you would like to narrow down your best quality and the one that helps your business be successful, what quality would that be?
I’m very organized and great with follow-up.
Follow-up and organize, in our organization, go hand-in-hand. Joe said something to me before we met. You’re a very gregarious and affable person and you come right up in the conversations easy. Joe said, “Once she gets into the meeting, it’s a whole different Tracy. It’s like it’s on.” When he was describing you to me, he’s saying that you had this personality that you share with everybody and you’re laughing and everybody’s good. Not that you’re not happy and fun when you’re doing your meeting, but you take it up a whole different level when you’re pitching your product. You dress for the part, your place is looking perfect, and you bring it up a whole another level. That’s what I always thought about when I was thinking probably your ability to take it up a level when you need to.
I follow the lead of who is in front of me. If they’re looking like, “I need to wrap this up,” or they’re enjoying what they’re hearing and then they need more information, I read their body language.
I was at a Walmart meeting when the buyer yawned the entire time and looked at their phone. It was so distracting because every time I would start to talk, he’d yawn. I thought I was going to get sucked in. His yawn was so big and he didn’t cover his mouth or anything. Have you ever been in a buyer meeting where the buyers are so distractingly uninterested?
I’ve had them where I’m in the middle of doing my presentation, they’ve literally taken their phone and they start texting right in front of me. Then they start writing something and they’re looking around and I said, “How’s your day going?” I looked at them and I asked him a question, I said, “What’s your favorite food? What do you like?” Instead of talking at them, I have them answer a question, a personal question. Then I draw them out of them being bored. They’re bored because all they deal is with salespeople talking at them. Instead of talking at them, I want them to be part of our conversation because they don’t want me to talk at them. I say, “What’s your favorite food? What do you like? What do you do? What’s your favorite drink?” I take it off topic to draw them out. When I draw them out and when I find out what their favorite item is, then I figure it out and I work it in the conversation with some or one of my items.
It’s like we’re kindred spirits. It’s like we’ve already worked together because when I teach sales, I always say, “If you lose or are losing control of the meeting, ask a question. It doesn’t matter what question you ask.” You could say, “What’s the last time you were at the beach?” It could be some totally random question, but the second they answer it, you’re back in the game and you’re back in control of the meeting and you can move on. They’re texting and you ask them about, “What kind of food do you like?” Just one question to get them back engaged. I couldn’t answer that better myself. If you took your company, Millie’s Kitchen Creations, what do you think is the one thing that sets your company apart from the thousands of people that are trying to sell food to retailers and to restaurants?
It’s interchangeable product. No matter where I go, nobody has any product exactly like it because it’s clean label, all-natural, and it has multiple uses. My product, whether it’s in the restaurant or the retail, it gives you direction on my website of how to do the one-two-three to make different items with it, which nobody’s offered.
It’s not necessarily an aspect of your company, it’s your offering. It’s the one thing that sets your company apart from any other company. You can answer that question two ways. One of them could be something that your company does or something that your company is, but the thing that puts you apart is what you’re offering, which is amazing.
The clean label and all-natural, I’m not organic. Some of my products are organic. Some of my products are kosher. Do I label that? No, because the guidelines are going through changes right now. One of the things that I like to do is say, “I’m all clean label, all-natural, which their products are not like that and they’re interchangeable and nobody has any products that are like my product. That makes me unique.” Then I step it up and say, “Let me help you on how to fix it. Just microwave it or put it in the oven.”
That’s what people want to know. People want to have fresh product and show how to do different
things with it and that’s why some of these other companies are doing well, but they don’t necessarily want to buy a $50 kit sent to their home to do that. They’d rather buy something in the grocery store out of the frozen section and say, “On the back of this, Millie’s got a website where I can go and when I go there, I don’t have to buy this kit with all these different things. When I get home, I can go on the website and see whatever I have in my kitchen.”
I feel like you pitched your product and then you do a mic drop and walk out. If you think that you’re having a tough time, you’re probably not even close to all the different things that have set her business back to zero a multitude of times. What awesome things are happening right now?
Since I’ve been at ECRM and some of the other shows, I’ve worked on the website and so forth. I launched to Canada nationwide. I had done twelve items, which I sent over 3,000 cases to Canada. That is launching, and everybody is very excited about that. They’re already looking at doing another order. I have three large national restaurant chains that have approached me to do a private label. I have a food service chain, which is a national distributor who has asked me to do a private label on ten items. I also have five grocery stores, one of the largest ones in the United States, asked me to do not only my label, but also a private label for them.
If you don’t know what the definition of that, it’s called crushing it. From the basement floor to crushing it in five years with all the setbacks you have had is pretty amazing. It was such a pleasure to meet you in person and even more to have you on the podcast. There’s something I ask all my guests because it’s the thing that I’ve struggled with my whole life. I want to know how do you keep it all together? What’s your one organizational tool that you use to keep it all together and not letting anything slip through the cracks?
I take notes. Every time I get back from doing a food show or a meeting, I’m old school, I do folders. I do business card and I take a cam shot, put it in my phone, but I also write it in a folder in the side and then I make notes on that because you never know what’s going to happen with it. Then I have folders that say, “Week one, week two and this is what I have to do for follow ups.” I write notes, “This is what I didn’t finish for today,” and I do a note for what I have to accomplish for tomorrow.
You just put that into a regular notebook?
Yes. I have check list and every time I don’t finish that checklist for that day, then I put in highlights, “If I didn’t get that done today, I have to get it done tomorrow,” then I highlight it in yellow. That’s the first thing on the list. That’s a must that needs to be done. Then anything that gets carried over in anything that’s on the list for the next day. I have a five-day, a two-week, a month and it’s all written down. Every time I have to carry something over, it needs to get done. I keep doing follow ups. I do schedules and it says, “This is what they like, this is what they bought,” and this is what I forward on and I do my follow-ups and keep after them. You say, “I don’t mean to bother you but this is what I’ve got, and I want to say ‘hey’.” When you send an email to someone on a follow-up, just ask them, “Tell me yes or no if you’re interested,” because there’s nothing worse than bugging somebody on and on.
It’s a lot of effort to follow up with people that don’t respond to you or don’t say anything. A lot of times, people are afraid they’d get a no, but I did a podcast on the noes, wanting to get those noes because then you can move on from that to somebody who’s going to say yes. I like your approach, “Just tell me yes or no.” What else is interesting is that everybody that I interviewed mostly is old school with their organizational. They still do it on notebook. To me, writing things down, going back to paper is the new tech almost. That’s why all of these written planners are blowing up Facebook and that’s what I’m finding. Every time I asked somebody, “How do you keep it all together?” “I write it down.”
I see some people that say, “I put it in my phone,” and all that stuff. I said, “What happens if your phone breaks or it goes in the water or on the lake? What are you going to do then?”
I’m an all Mac person, so if it’s in my phone, then it’s on my iPad, then it’s on my computer. If my backpack goes into water, then I’m in trouble because everything’s in there. Tracy, wonderful to have you on the podcast. We’ll talk again soon. Big Boxers, keep track of the upcoming Flash Topics because I’m sure that Tracy is going to be a guest panelist on one of those. Tracy, thanks so much for your time and we’ll talk again soon.
Thanks, Tim. I hope you enjoyed what I had to say. Best of luck for you out there. Keep smiling and say that you’re going to do it. I know you all can. Good luck.
Tracy did not disappoint. She is the real deal. For her, at times, getting to where she’s gotten, the struggle has been completely real. I had a great time meeting her in person, had a great time with her own podcast. I have no doubt that she’s going to be a guest panelist on Flash Topic. We’re probably going to have her back on the podcast just to finish up some of the discussions that we had. I hope that you were able to understand where she was coming from. I hope that you were able to get and absorb a little bit of her electricity, her positiveness, and the way she approaches business. I hope you’re able to take some of that with you. It’s important. All of us wake up every day and have to strike out like it’s a brand-new day.
No matter what happened yesterday or the week before, but what’s going to happen tomorrow? Today is a brand-new day. Anything can happen. You can make anything happen. Thank you for taking the time to give introduced to Tracy. I know that she appreciates all of you. Thank you so much for being Big Boxers and supporting the program. If you want to reach out to us, you can on Twitter @TLBConsult. You can reach out to us on Facebook @TLBConsulting. You can join our On The Shelf “Now” Facebook group. You can go to our website at TLBConsulting.com and you can shoot us an email. Great to have some conversations with you. I look forward to next time. Until then, look forward to seeing your products On The Shelf.
The Company idea came to me from looking for food that offered convenience, flavor, taste, quality and keeping up with current trends in the market. The every day person and family is fast paced so I created a product line to meet those needs. This is what gave me the idea for the company now before you. Creation Sensations motto is simple …
”I offer passion and integrity with outstanding service to our clients”. I excel in everything I do. I offer the highest in superior products and consistency.
We offer our products in retail 10 oz deli cups along with foodservice 4/4# bags. We offer products in the following categories:
Trans Fat Free
We sell in Mid West and Southern States (Offices in AZ an sell in CA. & Las Vegas). We have the capabilities nationally. Please reach out to us if interested. We would love to start a great business relationship with you!