Are you providing high-quality standards that exceed customer expectations?
Many of you are probably feeling a bit sad as summer comes to an end. But there is so much to look forward to in the months ahead including: cooler weather, beautiful fall-foliage… and one of my favorites… caramel apples!
With this in mind, I had a chat with Greg Hackenbracht, the owner of Tastee Apple®, Inc., www.tasteeapple.com. Tastee Apple has been family-owned and operated since 1974 in Newcomerstown, Ohio.
As a successful entrepreneur, here are some of the tips Greg had to share with the StartupNation audience:
Tell us about Tastee Apple and why your business and caramel apples are unique.
For the past 40 years, Tastee Apple has been known for providing “old-fashioned” goodness and the highest-quality-possible candy and caramel apples. We sell an average of 10.2 million apples a year including: various candy and caramel apples, Chocolate Turtle Apples, Jelly Apples, Fantasy Gourmet Apples for special occasions and Super-Premium Apples, rolled in caramel and chocolate.
We have a unique and extensive, quality-control-process to guarantee every single apple is fresh and perfect before it leaves our state-of-the-art facility. We are extremely hands, and eyes, on and our experts reject about ten percent of the apples that arrive at our facility. Apples without our high standards would probably be accepted and just covered up with topping by others.
While most of our competitors just look at the apples, we go a step further. We measure the firmness of our fruit to determine which apples meet our crispness requirements and which do not. Only those that pass go on to our cleansing process. Safety, keeping our facilities immaculate and following a very thorough process of water washing, brushing, and sanitizing, while preventing bruising and maintaining the integrity of the fruit, is extremely important to us. When the fruit is ready, it is dipped in our made-from-scratch, small-batch, kettle-cooked caramel, carefully packaged and sent via refrigerated trucks to grocery stores throughout the country. Obviously, we take great pride in our products.
What is the secret to your success?
Tastee Apple has been successful for the last 40 years because we provide a product that is guaranteed fresh and delicious. And this takes a lot of hard work and a great team of people. In addition, we communicate with our customers and listen to their needs. This helps us to create new, caramel apple flavors each year that people want to tell their friends about. And this makes all of the extra work-hours and processes worthwhile.
What marketing activities have you used to increase sales for your apples?
Over the years, we have used traditional marketing activities with fun displays and advertising at various stores, online communications and contests and even sponsored ARCA and NASCAR driver, Chad Hackenbracht of CGH Motorsports via Tastee Racing. But the marketing that most increased sales was positive, word-of-mouth. People of all ages love a good caramel apple or candy apple, and they want to share it with their friends and family.
What tips do you have for other entrepreneurs starting out?
If you want to create a successful business, you’ve got to be willing to work hard and take the extra steps necessary to produce a high-quality product that your competitors can’t touch.
Conduct research to see what your target market wants and then do what it takes to exceed their expectations. We could save a lot of time, effort and money using the simplistic, apple-rating system other companies use. Instead, we created requirements for ourselves far ahead of the average standard. And because of this, we are able to provide extremely high-quality, delicious and fresh products our customers request over the competition.
Thanks for your insights Greg. Well, now I’m hungry for a caramel apple.
If you’d like to discover more about Tastee Apple, visit www.tasteeapple.com.
And if you need help boosting sales with content strategy and PR, please write to me here or at www.rembrandtwrites.com.