Monthly Archives: April 2016

Clarity.

So, as it turns out, a lot of you have opinions about serving 2500 desserts at a price of .65 cents each and that makes me LOVE YOU SO SO SO MUCH.  Last night’s topic lit up Facebook with a number of interesting and astute observations and flooded my email and blog comments with invaluable feedback. I just don’t even know what we would do with you.  (Probably make 2500 slices of pie and nearly kill each other in the process, honestly.)

But without question, the overwhelming response was righteous indignation that Super Big Company would ask for product at a such a low price.  (And if you know anything about me by now, you probably know that Righteous Indignation is one of my favorite emotions, yo.)  Quite a few people asked me if the event was for charity – it isn’t.  It is for an annual company celebration…which sounds like an awesome perk for their employees.  Quite a few people also asked me if the company was local…they are not (which means that getting the 2500 tarts or pie slices or whatever there would require some travel cost).

We’ve decided, based on all your wise and thoughtful input, to respond to the request and offer 2500 of our super cute and super adorable three inch pie tarts to Super Big Company…for their standard retail value of $1.50 each.  Sure, it is around $2,125 more than the party planners allotted for dessert but I’m completely unclear about what sort of dessert can be purchased for .55 to .65 cents each.  Jeanne, Gunnar and I spent a little time discussing today what options exist for dessert at that price point.  I think I’ll include the following as an addendum to our response to Super Big Company:

  1. A standard Twix bar can be purchased at Target online for .89 cents.  So each guest could have 1/3 of a Twix bar.  Seems legit.
  2. M&M’s are currently available at Target online for 22.3 cents an ounce.  So each guest could have two ounces of M&M’s, leaving a few cents for the value of the little plastic cup you would serve them in.  I’m not sure how many M&M’s are in two ounces, but I’m guessing the answer is NOT ENOUGH.
  3. A single Hostess Twinkie is available for 29.7 cents at online.  I guess everyone could have two Twinkies.  The thought of two Twinkies just made my stomach heave.  Also, “Twinkie” is an odd looking word when you type it four more times in one paragraph than you said it in total over the last 15 years.
  4. Three ounces of Jolly Ranchers are available on the open market for 56.9 cents.  I’m not sure, but I think that is ONE Jolly Rancher.
  5. Did you know there is an entire site on the Internet that sells penny candy?  Except none of it costs a penny.  You could serve one ounce of Jordan Almonds for 37.5 cents.  Awesome.

But the point is that we can’t make a completely from scratch, gourmet pie for the price asked.  The Mars company can’t even figure out how to make an entire Twix bar for the price asked.  Somehow, this is soothing information to me.

You all really are just the best.  Thanks for giving us clarity when we need it the most.  When we have a world headquarters and throw a big party, you all are coming and we will have an unlimited dessert budget.

A Dilemma.

Yesterday afternoon, I received an email from a rather large corporation (and because it isn’t really ripe for discussion just yet, I’ll withhold the name and let’s just all call it Super Big Company).  The email asked us to respond to the possibility of providing dessert for 2500 guests at annual party hosted by Super Big Company.  TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED.

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BUT.

You knew there had to be a catch, right?

The catch is that the budget per person for dessert is .55-.65 cents, including all the materials needed to serve, such as napkins and forks.

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So, before you whip out your calculator, on the high end of .65 cents times 2,500…the total payout is around $1,625.  I’m sure half of you will stop reading right now.

Since we are basically quizzing everyone we know about this, here is what we are thinking:

The Pros

  1. Huge honor to be asked to respond to the proposal for Super Big Company.
  2. Opportunity to expose over 2,000 people to PJP and WorldPieDomination, building brand recognition and (hopefully) a legion of new fans.
  3. It would be a huge challenge and Jeanne and I like nothing more than wondering if we can pull something off.

The Cons

  1. At .65 cents a serving, we wouldn’t make a single cent of profit…in fact, we might lose a little.
  2. Using our current space to make 2,500 of anything will basically cripple normal PJP Buttonwood operations and walk-in customers probably would have few options on the day before and the day of the event.
  3. We might kill each other because the stress of performing well means one or both of us will cry and probably be shouty with the other one.

So, you can see our dilemma…solid arguments for both sides.  And probably an excellent example of what any entrepreneur deals with as a business grows.  I feel like this should be a problem in a textbook somewhere…much like, “If a big company asks PJP to make 2,500 servings of pie and is willing to pay .65 cents per serving, what is the break-even analysis?  Show your work.”  Or maybe even “If Jeanne gets on a  train in Los Angeles with 1,250 tarts and Rebecca gets on a train in New York with 1,250 tarts, who will get to Super Big Company party first?”.  But I digress.

We will need to submit an answer by this time next week, so comments welcome.

Something To Think About.

At the beginning of each month, I take a quick look at our net sales for the same month in the previous year.  Then I divide that number by the number of days we will be open for business that month and arrive at a daily sales goal so that we can stay on target (or hopefully exceed that target) for growth of PJP over time.

And if you are thinking here that all of that sounds actually nothing like me, just know that I’m as surprised as you are.  Probably whatever I’m doing by figuring this number out has some sort of real name like “The Warshaw Theory” but whatever, I just use my iPhone calculator.

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Because while Jeanne and I could give you 152 new business ideas we would like to try in the next 12 months before we would even sit down and pour over a profit and loss statement, the only way that our brains register PJP success is by watching the sales growth line move steadily upward.  March 2016 was actually up 27% from March 2015…and when we are tired and grouchy and wondering if we are making any progress at all to World Pie Domination, that knowledge helps our attitudes by 27%-ish.

Which is all just to say that now we are down to the final days of April and knowing that we have some big numbers to post in the next few days to beat April 2015 sends my competitive heart into overdrive.  You how sometimes you see the guy on the sidewalk dancing with the Little Caesar’s sign to catch the attention of all the traffic on Nifong during rush hour?  That was probably thought up by some store manager hellbent on beating last year’s sales numbers.

Earlier this evening, I just happened to read an article about Chipotle’s continuing decline in sales and their first posted loss since becoming a publicly traded company.  In fact, Chipotle is down 27% in the first quarter compared to last year.  Yet, I doubt Steve Ells is sitting home and crying tonight and blaming himself and questioning whether if he would just give the guacamole away at no cost, people would come back.  Rather, Chipotle plans to open 220 new stores late this year all around the country.  He is either crazy or genius…but I bet he isn’t working on his calculator to figure out how many dollars and cents will knock him out of his slump in May (he probably has people for that).

Which makes me think that really, my quest to prove PJP is growing isn’t really about numbers but a way to find a benchmark to measure our forward progress.  We feel the growth and we know it is there, but when the month comes that doesn’t outperform the data from 12 months ago…how will we react?  Who knows…but I’m leaning towards the free guacamole/self-doubt approach.  And it should really be the “open 220 new stores” approach.

I don’t know.  Something to think about.