Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tip #298: Plugging into Podcasts: 10 Business-Related that will Inspire You!

When is the last time you invested in education for you or your team? It’s so easy to get lost in the details, as you scramble to complete daily tasks before the sun sets. Even if you crave the opportunity to learn, it can be difficult to invest your time when it always seems so limited. I have recently discovered podcasts as an easy and quick way to gain valuable insights in both my professional and personal life. 

Even though I love to read before turning in for the night, it can be a challenge for me to find the time and energy to make this a regular practice. However, by taking advantage of my commute time to and from work, I suddenly have 60 minutes of time each day which I now devote to listening to podcasts that stimulate my brain, spark my creativity and inspire me to set and achieve new goals.

“Packed with expert interviews, fascinating conversations and creative content you can absorb while commuting, waiting for a flight, or running on a treadmill, entrepreneur podcasts are fast becoming a go-to for top leaders,” as stated in an article on Inc.com.

Below is a list of 10 business-related podcasts that we think you'll love as much as we do!

  1. The Brendon Show, by Brendon Burchard
    As one of the world’s leading high-performance coaches, Brendon Burchard shares tactical training on how to achieve your highest potential. 
  2. EntreLeadership, by Ken Coleman
    EntreLeadership offers weekly interviews with today’s top thought leaders designed to help you grow, develop your team and provide inspiration to boost your bottom line. 
  3. The Tim Ferriss Show, by Tim Ferriss 
    Tim Ferriss examines habits of high-performing people to extract the tactics, tools and routines that listeners can apply to their lives or businesses.
  4. The Marie Forleo Podcast, by Marie Forleo
    From business, marketing and career advice, to tackling failure, disappointment, fear and philanthropy Marie Forleo shares advice to help you build a life and business you love.
  5. RISE Podcast, by Rachel Hollis
    Gain tangible and tactical tools for your life and business through a series of bold conversations with business powerhouses and personal development leaders.
  6. Building a StoryBrand, by Donald Miller
    Get people talking about your brand, grow your company and stand out in the marketplace with Donald Miller's practical advice about clarifying your message.
  7. Online Marketing Made Easy, by Amy Porterfield
    Expert interviews, mini execution plans and intimate behind-the-scenes secrets all tied together to make everything you listen to as actionable and profitable as possible.
  8. Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Series, hosted by Stanford University
    If you're partial to academic thinking and want to learn from highly successful entrepreneurs, this podcast is packed with serious value and knowledge in one-hour chunks.
  9. The GaryVee Audio Experience, by Gary Vaynerchuk
    Media mogul and entrepreneur advocate, Gary Vaynerchuk, shares a combination of keynote speeches, interviews about business and marketing plus motivational advice.
  10. Business Boutique, by Christy Wright
    For women interested in starting and growing their own businesses, this podcast features deep dives on topics like marketing, selling, social media, pricing and more.
Start listening now! Access podcasts for FREE using your computer, Apple or Android device. Most podcasts have a website where all their episodes are available to listen to anytime. Otherwise, look for the pre-installed Podcast app on all iPhones or download a podcast app, such as Spotify or Stitcher, if you have an Android device.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tip #297: 5 Smart Purchasing Habits to Pick Up Today

For entrepreneurs, the challenges of purchasing for a business are an everyday concern. In this week’s post, RCI 1st Vice President, Barry Bomboy of Bomboy’s Home Made Candy, shares five purchasing habits that help his family’s business maintain or increase the quality of their products while staying conscious of the bottom line.

As a member of RCI, we have been able to network with other great companies and build relationships, which allows us to have greater purchasing options. In some cases, we are able to combine our orders with other companies' orders to purchase ingredients and supplies. This allows us to collectively meet larger minimums and receive better pricing.

Cooperative purchasing can add great value to your business, however, you may have to adjust your buying patterns to get this type of cooperative buying to work. It is important to figure out who has the best options for receiving larger shipments and make sure you have the storage available for a larger purchase. You may be at the mercy of someone else’s buying schedule, but when you join forces you will find that your buying power can save a significant amount of money, which goes right to your bottom line.

We try to schedule our deliveries so that they are staggered at a pace that will allow us to keep our everyday flow moving. We want to make sure we have raw materials for manufacturing and also packaging materials for finished goods. We also have to ensure that we have enough space to continue working and to store inventory. We are able to schedule seasonal employees based upon the delivery dates we have chosen to keep production at a maximum.

We keep records of all of our purchases and sales leading up to and during each holiday season so we can plan for the following year. At the end of a season, we ask ourselves if the timing worked and if we had enough or too much inventory. We track not only what we sold, but also how much and when it sold. We feel that we can never have enough notes to make the following year better.

Another challenge is making larger purchases of equipment for manufacturing and packaging. To prevent unnecessary spending, we, first, have to answer the following questions:
  • Do we need it?
  • Will it improve efficiency?
  • Is there room for it?
  • Do we need to change electric hookups or plumbing?

By taking steps to address these questions, we are able to avoid making decisions that could be counterproductive, if for instance, the equipment is of no use because we don't have room for it or we don't have the proper electrical hookups.

Lastly, there is one other major item that we track from year to year, because we are located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country: weather. We know that our sales could have been affected by that major snowstorm that hit three days before Valentine’s Day or a late 85-degree Easter. Our customer’s buying habits often reflect that our business is driven by weather.

Look for ways to incorporate one or more of these proactive approaches to help you form smart purchasing habits that will propel the success of your business.

Now is the time to start planning for the holidays! Explore what’s new in the confectionery industry and connect with fellow candy makers, chocolatiers and suppliers at RCI’s Annual Convention & Industry Expo on June 3-7,2019 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT. Register by March 29 to get the best rates!

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tip #296: Shipping Chocolate in the Summer is Possible! Here's How!

Are you using the right size gel pack?

What are you doing to prevent condensation from turning your shipping box into a soggy mess?

Shipping chocolate in the summer is tricky, but not impossible with the right supplies. Pulled from an article in RCI's Kettle Talk magazine, shipping experts from InsulTote by Innovative Energy, Inc. shared a list of must-have supplies and important considerations to ensure your precious cargo is properly packaged.

summer shipping toolbox
When shipping temperature-sensitive products, like chocolate, frozen gel packs are a given. Maximize the life of your gel packs by equipping yourself with the following summer shipping tools.
  • Insulated box liners
  • Large frozen gel pack(s)
  • Dry ice (for shipping frozen items)
  • Shrink wrap
  • Absorbent pads
  • Packing tape

When choosing gel packs, look for the largest size you can afford to ship. One large gel pack will provide better performance than several smaller ones. For example, if you place four ice cubes next to one big block of ice both at room temperature, the ice cubes will melt faster than the block of ice. The larger the mass, the longer it will take to thaw.

with air comes heat
It is equally as important to fill your box as full as possible, allowing the energy from the gel pack to focus on keeping the enclosed products cold and not the surrounding air. If using an insulated box liner, press down on it to release air before sealing. For added protection, taping the outside of the box at every seam will also slow down the infiltration of air.

Liner Storage
Extend the life of your gel packs by storing insulated liners, in a cool place prior to use. Starting with cool air inside each bubble means the gel pack doesn't have to work overtime to cool down the air inside the liners.

To save on shipping cost, you may want to use dry ice for frozen items that will be in transit for more than 24 hours. A combination of dry ice and gel packs is the best insurance. Dry ice will keep the gel pack frozen the first day and after the dry ice evaporates, the frozen gel pack will keep the contents of the package cool for the second day. The amount of dry ice depends on the size of package, freight carrier requirements and transit times. If using dry ice, do not tape the outside seams of your boxes to allow the carbon dioxide gas to escape as it evaporates.

Using dry ice is not always recommended for foods that are not frozen, as it may give off an odor that could be absorbed by foods, such as chocolate. To keep dry ice from effecting the flavor of your product, carefully cover your product with shrink wrap and only use dry ice when necessary. To ensure product meets your quality standards, taste test it after it's been packaged with dry ice for 48 hours.

The space between the inside of a corrugated box and the outside of an insulated liner may condensate in warmer weather. Occasionally this may be enough to dampen a corrugated box and cause it to become soft. To avoid this, place an absorbent pad in the bottom of the corrugated box under the insulated liner. Absorbent meat pads can be found online and are an inexpensive way to abate excess moisture.

Shipping in warm weather is definitely a challenge, but when successful, it can surprise and delight your customers and create new sales opportunities.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. Plus, review past blog posts for quick and actionable tips to apply to your business. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Tip #295: 4 Steps to Create Oversized Moulded Chocolates

Many confectioners create showpieces or “attention grabbers” for their retail storefronts. RCI member, Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections started making a three-foot tall rabbit, affectionately known as “BFB” (Big Friendly Bunny), about 20 years ago to grab everyone’s attention, and along the way we have learned a few tricks to making this work seamlessly.

Start with a warm mould, 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit, to allow for easier mould release. If your production area is cooler, warm the mould with a hair dryer for a moment before filling. This tip also seems to reduce the amount of cocoa butter left behind on the mould and yield a better shine, since fat migration doesn’t occur where the mould meets the chocolate.

A book-mould with an open bottom is a popular choice for creating large moulded chocolates. At Wilbur’s, they bolt two sides together and start filling the mould from the tempering kettle, a little at a time. Utilizing skewers and a shaker table will help ensure all crevices are filled and air bubbles are release. Many larger operations have mould spinners that can make this step easier, but spinners require a closed mould. 

To create a hollow moulded piece, turn it over on parchment paper to set. The chocolate that is still liquid will move to the bottom and create a base. Time in the cool closet needs to be watched carefully with a piece as large and as time consuming as this one. Regularly rotate the mould to evenly cool the chocolate and then start to loosen the wing nuts on the bolts as it nears release. Great caution is vital during this step since cracking means starting over. Wilbur’s clocks in about an hour of time to complete each large mould, but agree the time is worth it.

After release, it’s time to trim and brush off the trimmings before transporting the moulded chocolate piece to the retail shop. To protect your large and delicate the large and delicate chocolates from getting banged up, Wilbur’s recommends placing the chocolate back in the mould, loosely bolted together.

Even though it takes about an hour for Wilbur’s to create their three-foot tall rabbit, they agree the time is worth it. “We have sold a few of the BFBs over the years, but he serves primarily as a decoration, a conversation starter and a selfie opportunity,” said Andy Wilbur, owner of Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections. “Using him as a promotion or a raffle is a great bonus. We have found that even customers reluctant to sign up for email lists are eager to share if they have a chance at winning a large specialty item such as the BFB.”

Making an oversized moulded chocolate can be intimidating, but with practice these tips will help you create showstopping chocolate centerpieces for your retail displays. Hoppy moulding!

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Curious how you scored on the Chocolate Knowledge Quiz? Here's the answers to the quiz from blog post #293. 1. (C)  2. (B)  3. (A)  4. (B)