This is a follow up story for Trini Pepper Sauce. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Trini Pepper Sauce by Findlay Food Group LLC is a family and friend-run operation that produces two varieties of sauce with different heat levels. I, CEO Mustafa Mannan, started this company to share my family’s tradition with the world, and have been sharing my Grandmother’s recipe for over five years now. Trini Sauce comprises a unique blend of peppers imported from the island of Trinidad, and fresh ingredients such as papaya and shado beni. These ingredients combine to create a flavor-forward sauce that is followed by a creeping heat.
Our supporters find Trini Sauce to be a versatile sauce that can be used on everything from your morning eggs to a spice bomb for your evening chili. Also, they appreciate the low sodium and sugar content of the sauce which is accommodating for many dietary needs. Supporters have been inquiring about new products and we have had plans for the past two years that we had to pause because of the pandemic.
We had to put the new products on pause because of supply chain issues caused by the pandemic. Also, we refocused on the e-commerce side of the business. And over the past few months of summer, we have managed to find shelf space in new storefronts while maintaining great relations with our other physical locations. Allowing us to increase our monthly revenue to $3500.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
The main focus of this year has been e-commerce. We have increased our online sales by switching to a more e-commerce friendly email service called Klaviyo. Klaviyo has provided real-time data on our customers allowing us to retarget and provide a more personal experience for different customer segments. What’s more is Klaviyo has automation and data science features that allow us to remind customers when to restock based on past purchases, and to remarket to new customers that sign up for our newsletter. To obtain new customer sign-ups we had to invest in online advertisement.
We started with Facebook Ads which involved testing out the different picture and video advertisements. We contracted out this work to a marketing company to optimize the SEO, target audience, etc. Our website had to be audited as well to be improved to work with Facebook advertisements. For instance, we had to test landing pages to see which land page led to the highest sales conversion. After about 5 months of doing paid ads with Facebook, we started to do paid ads with Google as well. Around the same time, we changed the marketing company we were contracting so both our Facebook and Google advertisements could be handled, and as a result, we started to experience more unique visitors.
We created a blog on our website, which we obtain the “.com” for, to drive traffic. The blog had content from previous Instagram and Facebook posts with the addition of new ideas. One of which has been our biweekly recipes. These recipes do an excellent job of showing all the different uses of Trini Sauce. Also, they make for great Instagram and Facebook posts, as well as content to send to our various newsletter subscribers which drives recurring sales.
We implemented management tools Asana and Slack. Asana helped us prioritize and delegate tasks. Slack assisted with communication with each other and customers. Both applications generally made us more organized and proactive.
To increase interaction with customers on our website we started using Intercom. It allows customers to ask us any questions they may have for them to get an immediate response, this is great when someone is on the fence about whether or not to buy and we can quickly get them the information they need to make the best decision. Intercom has also helped us recognize common questions that people have so that we can make sure that information is in an easy-to-access place for the customer.
Concerning storefronts, we have made it a goal since May to get into 1-2 new stores every month and we have been successful this summer in achieving that goal. This really required persistence. Store managers are often very busy juggling many different tasks, so we had to maintain contact, making sure that they never forgot about us or felt like it was too difficult to get us in the store.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
We learned the importance of securing your supply chain. With the pandemic still going on, there have been several shortages in the US and around the world. In the past few months when we started preparing to make a new batch of sauce, we found out there is a shortage of 5-ounce bottles in the US. A shortage of glass bottles was the last thing we would have expected.
Also, we learned about the power of paid ads. The funneling techniques, trial and error with certain ad campaigns, and the continual tweaking of SEO and other variables to obtain better traffic and conversion rates were a never-ending learning experience. Also, adapting to the new landscape of vending events and pop-ups. We had to make our tasting as sanitary as possible, wear masks, provide hand sanitizer, and more.
Also the importance of marketing to the right audience.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We plan to keep growing through the use of paid advertisements online and obtain 1-2 new storefronts every month. We want to continue to do more and more pop-up events so we can generate more media and obtain more newsletter subscriptions. Eventually, we want to put out new products and expand across the US.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Teamwork makes the dream work. Try to embrace all struggles between team members and different business opportunities. And try to learn and grow from them. It can get hard at times but you have to stick with it. All the hurdles you overcome will give you valuable experience.
Communication and organization are key. Everyone needs to know what the goal is and how each person is working together to make it happen. There are so many problems that can be eliminated when you strive to communicate better with your team members and those that you do business with. In fact, one store that we had been trying to get into for a while decided to give us a chance because of our organization and prompt communication with them.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Trini Pepper Sauce has provided an update on their business!
Almost 2 years ago, we followed up with Trini Pepper Sauce to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
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