Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tip #211: Save the Old Maids

You wouldn’t throw your Thanksgiving turkey away if you could use the leftovers to make turkey sandwiches for the next two weeks, right? Then why would you throw away the unpopped kernels at the bottom of the popcorn bowl?

Most would consider the popcorn kernels that fail to pop (also known as old maids), to be the duds that remain seemingly unaffected at the bottom of the popcorn bowl. Did you know, allowing “old maids” to absorb moisture can actually rejuvenate them? 
Image: www.popcorn.org

David Woodside, author of What Makes Popcorn Pop?, suggests filling "a one-quart jar three-quarters full of popcorn and adding one tablespoon of water. Cover the jar with an airtight lid and give it a few good shakes every few minutes until the popcorn has absorbed all the water. Store the jar in a cool place."

After two or three days, test-pop the “rejuvenated” batch of kernels. Extra stubborn old maids may need a few more drops of water if they fail the test. After adding more water to the jar, shake it, and let it sit for a few more days.

This process takes very little time and could help you reduce waste and save money if you pop a lot of popcorn.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tip #210: Red Hot Ideas for Increasing Valentine’s Sales

As many consumers begin dreaming of sugar plum fairies and candy canes, the second largest retail season is not far off in many retailers’ minds.

Get ahead of the competition for Valentine’s Day 2017, with the following marketing tactics to increase sales from early-bird shoppers.

Ring in the New Year with Red

Starting the day after New Year’s, begin the transition to Valentine’s Day by incorporating red into your retail space, website and social media pages. While everyone else is talking about New Year’s resolutions, make your e-blasts and direct mail stand out with gift ideas for Valentine’s Day, keeping consistent with a red color scheme.

Set aside time to prepare your marketing materials as far in advance as possible, so you aren't stressed about it the week before Christmas. Schedule e-blasts and social media posts ahead of time and have direct mail printed and ready to go out after Christmas.

With your early promotional materials prepared in advance, you can spend the end of December and early January to work on targeted materials for last-minute shoppers.

Encourage Pre-Orders

Offer coupons, discounts or special add-ons to customers who place their orders in advance to aid in your holiday preparations and lock down sales.

Communicate Clear Last-Ship Dates

According to a survey conducted by Discover Card, only 10% of men wait until Valentine’s Day to purchase gifts, while 65% of shoppers make their purchases the week before Valentine’s Day. Use a call-to-action, such as, “order by February 3 to receive your gift by Valentine’s Day,” as a way to establish clear deadlines and avoid disappointment from procrastinators.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tip # 209: Run Your Small Business From Your Phone

Tis the season for retail businesses, especially in the confectionery industry, to expect increased foot traffic, sales and, unfortunately, stress. With the help of RCI member and past president, Brian Pelletier of Kakao Chocolate, we’ve compiled 3 apps to help make your holidays more merry by increasing efficiency in your business using your smartphone.

Created to help busy families organize a multitude of activities and appointments, through a shared calendar, shopping lists, to-do lists and more. This free app made Brian’s short list because it allows him and his staff to quickly and easily create and share shopping lists in real time. Having multiple locations, each store has access to Cozi through a desktop that’s at each of the shops. This way, when they need more cream or sugar, they can quickly and easily add these items to Cozi’s shopping list, which immediately syncs to mobile devices. Forgot to add eggs to the list, and your manager has already left for a shopping trip? No problem! Last-minute additions to the shopping list update automatically in real time. Once the item has been purchased, simply cross it off the list.

Additionally, items needed can be labeled by location and if you need something specific, you can save details, such as the dimensions of an air conditioner filter. By allowing you to save your recipes, Cozi also makes it easy to transfer recipe ingredients to your shopping list.

QuickBooks App

If you’re a small business, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with or using QuickBooks by Intuit (if not, click here to learn more). If you’re already using QuickBooks software for your accounting and invoicing, but not the app, you are missing out on a tool that offers simple, but valuable functions to this software.

As you would expect, the QuickBooks app syncs with QuickBooks online. The app makes it very easy to access accounting information while away from your desk. The app does, however, have very limited functionality. It does not allow you to balance your books on a smart phone, however, if you need to make a change to an order when making a delivery, you can pull up the invoice on your phone, make the change and immediately email a revised invoice to the customer. You can also check the status of an invoice, if, for example, a customer says they’ve paid the balance. Click here to learn more about QuickBooks online.


If you do business away from your retail shop, such as at special events or farmers’ markets, Square is definitely worth looking into. With the use of the free Square card reader, in conjunction with the mobile app, you can accept credit card payments from an iPhone, iPad or Android mobile device. Customers can add a tip, sign with their finger and receive an electronic receipt via text or email. Square also allows you to review your sales history, resend receipts or issue refunds.

If you own a confectionery shop, where the average ring is quite low, the flat fee applied by other credit card processing systems can add up quickly. Square bases their fees on a flat 2.75% percentage, per swipe, saving you money in the long run. There is no merchant account, monthly fees or set-up costs.

Square is also a great tool for keeping track of customers. With the swipe of a credit card, Square automatically recognizes the card and populates customer information, such as their name and email address. For more details and to sign up, visit the Square website, squareup.com.

RCI Members: Learn how to increase efficiency in your business operations by using your smart phone, by logging on to RCI's website to watch this educational session from the 2016 Annual Convention.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tip 208: 3 Ways to Add Holiday “Cheers” to Your Confections

Add a little holiday “cheers” to your confections this season. Perfect for holiday parties and gifts, we’ve curated three ideas from RCI members that incorporate beer, wine and spirits into their confections.

Joy Lyn's Candies makes Beer Brittle
and Jalapeno Beer Brittle
Beer Brittle

Joy Lyn’s Candies of Paradise, California partners with a local brewery to create a peanut brittle made with Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. Coined as “Beer Brittle,” this popular confection is made in small batches and offers a subtle hint of hops and malt. Given the popularity of the product, Sierra Nevada has allowed Joy Lyn’s to display their logo prominently on the front of the brittle packaging. Joy Lyn’s continues to expand their line of Sierra Nevada flavored products, including a jalapeno beer brittle and a Hop Salt Sout Caramel, as its name suggests, the caramels are sprinkled with salt infused with hops.

Irish Whiskey Truffle Shots

Kakao Chocolate presented their Irish whiskey truffle shots
 to RCI members during Candy Clinic at the 2016
Annual Convention in Indianapolis.
Kakao Chocolate of St. Louis, Missouri has developed an indulgent Irish Whiskey Truffle Shot, by piping Irish whiskey ganache into recyclable sample cups and topped with cocoa nibs. When making the ganache, they add the whiskey at the end so the alcohol doesn’t cook out. If your store hosts a holiday open house, this would be a fun and unexpected treat for adult guests.

Elevated Candy Co. shared their black currant brandy-infused truffles
with RCI members during Candy Clinic at the 2016
Fall Conference in Vancouver, BC.
Black Currant Brandy-Infused Truffles

Elevated Candy Co. of Port Townsend, Washington took the popular pairing of wine and chocolate to create the Black Currant Truffle. This popular confection is made by incorporating a local black currant-infused brandywine into their ganache and finishing the piece with a dash of red Hawaiian alea sea salt.

There are countless ways to incorporate beer, wine and spirits into your confections. Here’s some more ideas (plus, recipes), sure to warm the belly during the cold-weather months ahead; cinnamon whiskey-infused marshmallows coated in chocolate, Beer and Pretzel Caramels or uber-trendy red wine hot chocolate.

If you decide to incorporate beer, wine or spirits into your confections, know that regulations vary from state to state. Check with your local liquor control commission and familiarize yourself with regulations put in place by your state, as many prohibit the sale of confections that contain alcohol.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Throwback Tip #46: 5 Ways to Grow Your Email List

Email marketing can be an effective and budget-friendly marketing tool. But how do you grow your list with qualified leads to maximize your reach? We’ve compiled five easy ways to grow your list below.  

1.     Guestbook in Store – Take advantage of holiday sales traffic in your store by inviting customers to sign up to receive your emails to find out about future sales and promotions. When creating a sign up sheet, remember the more information you request, the less likely they will complete the sign-up so only ask for the necessary info.

2.     Events and Meetings – Since you’re a chamber member  (if not, see post here about why you should be), you’ll be attending networking events and meetings. As you receive business cards from your new contacts, ask them if it would be okay to add them to your email list so they can see when their favorite chocolates are on sale.
Take your list-building efforts to the next level by co-hosting an event with another local business (think coffee shops, boutiques, etc.) to reach a new audience of potential customers.

3.     Email Signatures – Create a customized email signature for everyone in your company to use. A simple sign-up for coupons button with a link to the sign-up page can produce a great response.

4.     Website Sign-up – Include a sign-up box on your website to invite visitors to subscribe to your company sales and updates.

5.     Sales Calls – Do you have sales representatives making visits on your company’s behalf? Be sure they are inviting the contacts they make to join your email list to stay in touch and receive the most up-to-date company information.  You could even print some business card size promotions to hand out that share how to sign up.

Use your email marketing list to reward loyal patrons by sending them a coupon during the month of their birthday or host drawings to giveaway free or deeply discounted goodies. Don't forget to communicate these perks to entice more sign ups. And no false advertising. If you advertise coupons and giveaways, make sure you follow through.

Do you have other ideas that you use to gather email addresses for your list? Share them in the comments below.
Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.