Saturday, April 14, 2012

a look back...

Once again, it's been awhile since I last wrote, but such is life when you're busy running an empire :o). I will do my best to summarize all that's transpired over the last (almost) year. A daunting task, but at least it will be cathartic for me.

As promised, here is recap from my trip last summer. I went to California and had an amazing time visiting frozen yogurt stores. I went to probably twenty frozen yogurt places. Each time I went to a store, I brought along my family members. I taught them the finer aspects of frozen yogurt as we sniffed and tasted as though we were wine tasting. We probably looked ridiculous. Most of the stores were similar in concept to the self-serve model and most of them had yogurt made with syrups and other artificial ingredients. After being spoiled for months with Ono Yo, these places left much to be desired. Funky after tastes, icy consistencies, lack of fresh toppings... I may sound like a yogurt snob, but I've certainly become one since opening my own business where we use real fruit and creamy Greek yogurt. One thing the trip did tell me: California could use some Ono Yo! Not all places were bad, of course. I found places that used real fruit and got some great ideas for our business. It was also helpful meeting other fellow frozen yogurt shop owners. All-in-all it was an eventful trip and was worth every spoonful!

We survived the summer last year! We got through the slump and made it to see another year of business. School started up again, Kahuku was a "bustling" country town again, and we were glad to see everyone! Things were moving along as we approached our year anniversary, and then the unthinkable happened. We really didn't think we could get any lower in sales than last summer. And then we did. By a lot. It was right as we hit our one-year anniversary. The bills piled up once again, we had unexpected emergency expenses once again, and once again we buckled up for another business and marital challenge.

Then the unthinkable happened again. This is going to sound ridiculous, but it's really what happened. We randomly said one day in late December, "Why don't we turn the truck around to face the road?" So one night after we closed, Alex turned it around and our sales made a huge jump the next day. Seriously. We turned the truck at the end of December and January's sales were almost 50% higher than December's! That's one benefit we didn't even think of with having a business in a truck. We're not limited to one fixed location. We're not stuck in the dead end of the mall. We can move our "window" to get more exposure.

So why didn't we think of this earlier? No doubt we had wanted to do it for awhile, but we were bound to what the land owners had asked us to do. In case you haven't been there before, our location is in a grass field (so country, right?). The owners were planning to have multiple food trucks lining the fence area of the field so we had to adhere to that. Well, months went by, food trucks came and went, and we were still there alone in the field. We decided that it was probably safe to assume that we were going to be the lone rangers and went for the turn-around. Suddenly our whole world opened up (or at least our business did). We've been enjoying our new vantage-point and so have our customers!

There's been advertisements in tourist magazines, commercials (on OC-16 soon!), new professional menu & price signs, photo shoots, and tons of Facebook posts. The marketing has been in full-swing. I really never thought I'd be a business owner because for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. Today I am a teacher and now I'm also a business owner. I majored in Communication in college and then went on to get my teaching credential in secondary English and Masters in Education. Like I said, I never thought I'd be a business owner, but it seems that the universe knew I would be one day since I didn't major in English, but rather studied media and communication. This background has proven valuable as I've struggled to enter the world of marketing and business.

So where do we go from here? Only time and sales will tell. Things have been going really well and we're still getting amazing feedback. We're planning some exciting new additions to the truck, which will be developing over the rest of this year, and eventually we hope to expand to store locations around the islands. We're not sure if we'll make the jump across the pond to the mainland, but we're open to it. So stay tuned for more from Ono Yo and Starting Up Married!