Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tip #246: Making Meltaways with Untempered Chocolate

The most common way to make a meltaway is to combine tempered chocolate with melted coconut oil until it is smooth. Because coconut oil is a lauric fat, it must be added at a lower temperature so not to throw the chocolate out of temper. If the chocolate becomes untempered (or was never tempered to start with) the nice, smooth texture of the meltaway will eventually be replaced with an unpleasant mouthfeel due to the formation of fat globules.

Mixing Things Up
Consider this alternative method to making stable, smooth-textured meltaways with untempered chocolate. Instead of adding fat to tempered chocolate, combine untempered chocolate and coconut oil in a mixer. Mix at a slow speed until the temperature is below 78ยบ F and has visibly thickened. Referred to as the “mixer method” in curriculum shared at RCI’s Chocolate Boot Camp®, it achieves the same desired stability and texture the meltaway is revered for, without the hassle of keeping temper.

Newcomers and veterans alike are invited to learn techniques of chocolate making, like this, during RCI’s Chocolate Boot Camp February 19-22, 2018 in Waterbury, CT at Fascia’s Chocolates. This popular hands-on course covers topics such as:
  • Tempering
  • Moulding
  • Enrobing
  • Chocolate Artistry
  • and more!
SPACE IS VERY LIMITED! This course is expected to sell out! For complete information and to register online, visit retailconfectioners.org/bootcamp.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tip #245: Give Thanks For Your Staff

Thanksgiving can be a helpful reminder of the importance of showing gratitude. In the workplace, employee recognition has proven to be a strong motivator, positively effecting employee engagement, productivity and turn over. According to a survey by Globoforce:
  • 67% of employees value praise and commendation from a direct manager over financial incentives.
  • 78% of U.S. workers report that being recognized motivates them at their job.
  • Companies with strategic recognition reported 23.4% less turnover than companies without any recognition program.
RCI member and the owner/manager of Cowboy-Up Chocolates, James Crowder, shared how he uses a simple questionnaire to recognize his staff in a 2014 article published in Kettle Talk magazine (RCI members: click here to login in to view the full article).

“At Cowboy-Up Chocolates we use a 'get to know you' questionnaire to get to know our employees on a deeper level. We ask questions to indentify their favorite foods, hobbies, influences, values, movies, birthday, etc. We have new employees complete the questionnaire one month after employment; at this time they feel more comfortable to honestly and thoroughly complete it.

We don’t just file the questionnaire with employee paperwork. We use it to show appreciation for our employees throughout the year. Some examples, include:
  • One associate liked sunflower seeds so we purchased a five pound bag of sunflower seeds and placed them on her desk with a note of appreciation--she beamed for three days.
  • A member of management said he loved a certain restaurant and would always eat there when he visited that city. We called the restaurant and asked to buy a menu. We had it framed and presented it to him with a gift certificate to the restaurant--his work attitude improved.
  • One of our employees plays trumpet in a jazz band. At a hobby shop, I found a ceramic frog playing a trumpet and purchased it for her--she keeps it on her desk and gives a big smile every time I pass by.”
The holiday season is an especially important time to show your team they are appreciated, but it is equally important to show your employees they are valued all year.

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 14, 2017

Throwback Tip #48 Set a Thermometer Alarm Below Desired Temperature

This week’s tip helps you manage your time and maintain the quality of your candies, which is especially important with the busy holiday season ahead.

Set your candy thermometer with an alarm for one or two degrees lower than your cooking time to ensure you don't overcook.

When you start a batch of caramel and walk away to work on packaging, you’ll be alerted to the candy cooking process with enough time to remove it or begin the next step before it gets even one degree too high.

Source: CDN

Programmable candy thermometers like the one pictured on the left are available on Amazon starting at $21.99.

Looking for other supplies? From thermometers to taffy. Chocolate to caramels. Moulds to mixers and peanuts to packaging solutions, RCI's Buyer's Guide is your all-in-one resource for products and services needed to run your business. Remember, RCI members can login to access RCI Buyer’s Guide on the member side of the website or call the RCI office to be connected to a supplier.

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 7, 2017

Tip #244: Stand Out on Small Business Saturday

Photo source: American Express
Start preparing now for Small Business Saturday on November 25, 2017. Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are typically held at the big box stores, this is a day to celebrate small business and encourage holiday shoppers to visit the brick and mortar businesses that serve their local community. According to American Express, 112 million shoppers spent a reported $15.4 billion at their local small businesses on Small Business Saturday in 2016.

Tips for a Successful Small Business Saturday

Create a Special Offer
Use this day as an opportunity to reach not only your current customers, but gain some new ones. Create a special offer that involves a discount for one-day only or free samples with purchase. Make your customers feel special by going above and beyond, enticing them to keep coming back throughout the holiday season. While you want customers to visit your brick and mortar store don’t forget your e-commerce customers. Create a special offer that could be redeemed online as well.

Use the Tools Provided by American Express
Since 2010, American Express has offered free marketing materials to businesses promoting the holiday.  The Shop Small® Studio offers tools and templates for small businesses to create customizable marketing materials for their retail shop, website and social media sites in less than two minutes. Visit americanexpress.com/ShopSmall to find event ideas, inspiration and signage templates available to help small businesses spread the word at no cost.

Get Social
Use all aspects of social media to engage consumers, but make it about more than just a special offer. Think of creative ways to engage with customers and friends the week leading up to Small Business Saturday. Offer a special discount for liking the Facebook page, a drawing if the store reaches a certain number of likes, or unique specials to those that check in while shopping at your store. Use Instagram to post new products or specials throughout the week. Tweet store discounts, new products and special store hours for the day.

Make it a Party
Customers will want to be a part of your Small Business Saturday event if you make it like a party. One idea is to create a countdown in your store leading up to November 25th. Offer small incentives to get customers in the door on the day of the event. Having samples, coupons and a party atmosphere will really get people excited to be a part of this shopping day.

Involve Entire Community
Involving your community is a great way for local businesses to promote each other, driving traffic to multiple stores. Many communities are taking advantage of Small Business Saturday by having their own community-wide promotion or special marketing efforts surrounding this day. Contact your CVB or Chamber of Commerce to see if your city/town has any shop local, shop small efforts to promote this day.

Make your business stand out in your community by preparing for Small Business Saturday now.

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.