How We Got 541+ Pre-Orders For A New Product In One Weekend [With Zero Marketing]

TJ Clark
Founder, Healthy Chew
Healthy Chew
from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
started May 2016
alexa rank
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hi, my name is TJ and I co-own Healthy Chew Kitchen - a weekly meal preparation service.

We sell made fresh weekly meals that contain no preservatives for a customer base that is looking to have delicious ways to both try new things and enjoy their favorite meals in a macro-friendly way.

We have also expanded our product line from just meal prep to adding sweet treats and a new fresh cold press juice line. We sell roughly 1500-2500 products each week.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

Since we last talked in 2022, we have experienced several issues related to inflation. The costs of almost everything have gone up, including bowls, meat, sauces, and pretty much everything related to producing the product itself. Because of this, we have had to increase the cost of the product by roughly 10% to adjust for these increased costs. I imagined a bit of pushback from our customers, but they were surprisingly not too upset with the modest increase.

We have also launched a new cold press juice line. My business partner Peter randomly approached me saying that he wanted to try selling fresh juices alongside our meal prep. At first, I was hesitant to do this, since I knew it would be a strange operational shift.

To go more into detail, one of the hardest challenges we have as a business is producing and storing all of our food Thursday-Sunday. I knew selling juices would add another layer to that process. But he ensured that it wouldn’t be too challenging. He was very wrong about that. We ended up hiring 5 employees, buying 30k worth of equipment, and spending 2 months of testing to figure out what flavors, bottle types, and how long the juices would hold. It was quite a bit more than what he had planned for. But I allowed him to handle about 80% of this per his request.

Why would I allow so much to go into resources for a new product is the typical question I get after telling other business owners about the initial launch of the juice line? The answer is that on the initial launch day of the juices, we decided that we wouldn’t market them whatsoever since he was making them in his spare time and we wanted to get a feel for the overall process. That weekend, we had 541 pre-orders for juice.

We only had 250 empty bottles to make the juice in. So we ended up calling more than half of our customers and getting them refunds. But we learned very quickly that there was a huge market. We also learned that we have a lot of customers that look at our menu than we previously thought since around 40% of the orders were sleeper clients who had not ordered in the last 3 months.

541 juices sold and 85 phone calls to issue refunds later, we learned that we should put a cap on how many of each juice could be sold

We have also worked on a new ordering system called “Prado” for our business. In the past, we have used SendBottle as our primary ordering system. While they have been wonderful towards us, we have decided to part ways for now because their “new and improved” system has restricted a lot of features that brought us to their system, to begin with, and it has caused my team to email them nearly every week for the first 6 months of the year for issues that we weren’t able to fix ourselves, due to settings they don’t allow access to (back end software issues).

I want to be clear and say that I still love their software and will consider them in the future if our new system doesn’t work out. But I would like to see them work out a few kinks they’ve experienced over the last 18 months. Since we haven’t started using Prado yet, I can’t comment on how well it works. But I’ve requested a handful of small features to be added, and John (Prado CEO) and his team have been wonderful to work with and ensured they were released before we signed our contract. I will update everyone on this in the future.

As for marketing, we have used a marketing agency for the first half of this year. At first, I was extremely satisfied with what they did. Sometime in Q3, their work deteriorated and we stopped using them. Their owner reached out and we are going to attempt to use them again in Q1, as we know the quality of work they can put out. But we got sloppy with our oversight of what they posted for us.

The specific thing I’ve always asked was that I wanted to see pictures of FOOD. Quotes, fitness, and everything else are also fine, but above all else, I need to see pictures of FOOD coming from a business that sells FOOD. The agency has promised they would ensure at least 4 of 5 posts would contain food moving forward.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

The biggest challenges this year have been dealing with our ordering software issues and launching the juice line. We had several covid shortages (bowls, gloves, masks, and ordering the big juicer) that make everything either slow or more expensive. But we were more prepared and everything ended up working out great for those.

I’ve already discussed the software challenges, so I’ll talk a bit more about the launch of the juice line. The biggest challenge here was that, hilariously, both my business partner and myself forgot how big our company had grown. We both thought that “if we don’t market something, it won’t sell much”. We both assumed that we’d sell around 50-75 juices our first week putting them on the menu.

541 juices sold and 85 phone calls to issue refunds later, we learned that we should put a cap on how many of each juice could be sold since we didn’t have employees to make it yet, we didn’t have bottles to store it, we didn’t have anything more than a $300 fancy home juicer from amazon to make them.

After hiring employees, getting a process developed for producing a large volume (500+ bottles a week), and buying a second home juicer, we realized there was a huge demand for it. It also helped that since we are a weekly service, people were ordering 3-10 bottles a week. So we started selling kits, cleanses with multiple sizes, and offering a handful of flavors.

We ended up ordering a commercial juice press machine that should both speed up production, save labor, and help us produce a higher volume. The goal here is that we can open our juice line nationally. But as a baby step, our goal for 2023 Q1 is to have 2 delivery days (Sunday/Wednesday) for juices, rather than just the 1 we currently offer, then work on how to get them shipped.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

The vision for the company is to continue expansion and one day sell it to someone who shares the same passion we do.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is to look at expanding my product line. Offering juices was probably the best decision my company has made in the last 3 years since they work great as an upsell and don’t compete with our current product line. They also work great as a standalone product since people have loved our 1 and 3-day juice cleanses.

Another thing I’ve learned is that when you launch a product, you should test a lot of packaging before releasing it. We started with long, round, slender 12oz bottles



We moved to shorter, square shaped 12oz bottles. They both hold the exact same amount of liquid. But our customers were very upset with us because they initially thought our new bottles were smaller. We made a video showing them it wasn’t true, but the backlash was there. We had a number of angry phone calls about this as well. I didn’t really understand it. But we learned that since we started with the tall round ones, we should stick to them to keep our customers happy. Since we have so many of the square bottles (and they’re about $0.02 cheaper), we will use those to ship out to new customers sometime in 2023.

The final lesson I have learned is that selling food is challenging. Getting people to try it requires them to be hungry. People are hungry 3-5x a day. Selling juices has been much easier. People love drinks. They want to try them any time of any day. And they LOVE trying new ones, with a wide range of taste palates.

Some like sweet, some like tart, some like earthy blends, and some like a mix of all 3. But selling juices has been 100x easier than I was expecting it. The production was much harder than selling them. Because of this, I am excited to expand the juice line and hopefully launch more products in the future.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

As always, I highly discourage people to spend much thought into 5-year plans, since I’ve never heard of an entrepreneur actually sticking to them. But my goal for the next 6-18 months, is to focus on continuing to develop a high-quality meal prep product, but also focus all of our extra capacity selling juices.

Our current juice line has nothing but positive reviews, one of which was in regards to our Cabot Jolly Rancher “this is the best juice I’ve ever tasted, it’s not too sweet and just the right amount of tart.” I hope to get 50,000 people to try them over the next 12 months.

The vision for the company is to continue expansion and one day sell it to someone who shares the same passion we do.

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

I’ve listened to this audiobook once a year for the last 5 years but still love it. “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers. It’s roughly 90 minutes, but worth every second.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Don’t be afraid to pivot from your initial vision. If you’ve tried something and found a working system, continue to find ways to expand that product line that doesn’t involve too much extra work. In our case, we have 4 different sizes of our meal prep product, we also have 2 sizes of juice. None of those require more than a different container to produce.

I’d also recommend developing a repeatable system for your employees to follow, so that you can work on your business, rather than working for your business.

Look for opportunities that are in demand. It is always difficult to explain to people that their business is struggling because they opened the 47th frozen yogurt shop in town. But if they opened a different drink and maybe added a few snacks in a great location with a good atmosphere, they’d be more successful.

Finally, they should be constantly looking for ways to optimize time and efficiency. My 3 rules of business have been and always will be saving time, saving money, make money. So I’m always on the lookout to do one, two, or all 3 of those things.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are always looking for kitchen employees.

As for other workers, we are open to new ideas for marketing, but to be considered, a person would need to show me what they offer. I get hundreds of “we will get you the front page of google” emails a month. I’d love for someone to show me why I should use them to market my company.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

TJ Clark, Founder of Healthy Chew

Healthy Chew has provided an update on their business!

12 months ago, we followed up with Healthy Chew to see how they've been doing since we published this article.

Over 2 years ago, we followed up with Healthy Chew to see how they've been doing since we published this article.

Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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