How a young entrepreneur turned a superstitious tradition into a thriving cookie business.
Heather’s Keys to Tapping into a Community
A lot of sports fans are superstitious when their favorite team is in the playoffs. They may think that what they wear, where they sit, or what food they eat will affect whether their team wins or loses. So when Heather Yunger started making cookies and bringing them to a bar whenever her favorite hockey team played – and they kept winning games – she naturally felt a responsibility to continue that tradition throughout the playoff run. Eventually everybody at the bar came to expect that when Heather showed up on game day with her famous cookies, their team would win. They took home the championship that year and Heather came away with a winning idea for a business.
Heather knew she had a great product with a small but growing fan base, and decided that she was ready to go pro. That’s when the idea of Top Shelf Cookies was first conceived. After saving up enough money to go into business debt-free, she quit her job and launched Top Shelf Cookies in 2014. Her business has grown since then, and her customer base that once consisted of a bar full of hockey fans has grown with her.
Heather continues to embrace the community aspect of her business today. She understands that customers want to feel a connection to the brands they use, and they’re more likely to be loyal to a business that embraces their passions.
One way that Heather differentiates herself from the competition, and earns the loyalty of her customers, is by personalizing orders (even when customers don’t expect it). For example, in the past when she has been asked to make cookies for a wedding, she has put in the effort to find out something about the couple (like, say, their favorite hockey team) and customized the cookie order accordingly. She has found that surprises like this endear her to her customers. “It is a core value to deliver amazing service. We make a special product, but also I think the brand that we convey is that we’re good neighbors too. We have a strong, loyal following, and a very rabid fan base.”
Follow up with kind gestures
Another way she demonstrates amazing customer service is by personally emailing, and returning emails from, her customers. Customers are surprised and impressed when they receive an email from the president of the company, and it makes the experience feel much more personal than it would dealing with a larger company.
With that kind of customer service, it’s no surprise that much of Heather’s business comes from word-of-mouth recommendations. Being part of a community is a rewarding experience that people want to share. Just make sure you’re not rooting against one of Heather’s teams though – it might not turn out well for you.
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