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Top 10 To-Do List for Food Companies

Friday, January 15, 2021

Business planning  

By Andrea Graves, FAPC Business and Marketing Specialist

 

After putting away holiday decorations, finishing off big meal leftovers and getting the last house guest to finally return to their own place of residence, we get to take a deep breath and begin to think about the start of a new year.

 

The holiday season, which is known as the time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, often is busy for everyone. It also is when many food companies make the most money because of the large volume of food sold and consumed during this time period.

 

When January rolls around again, the entire world seems to slow down, or at least for a little while. Consumers are trying to uphold various New Year’s resolutions such as losing weight and getting healthy. In addition, their pocketbooks have become very thin, and what money they do have is held on to or used to pay off credit card balances of indulgent holiday purchases from the month before.

 

January is considered a slow month for many food manufacturers as food sales take a dip. With this being said, it is the perfect time to conquer what I have titled the top 10 list of actions a food company needs to do annually. These items often are on a day-to-day to-do list throughout the year but frequently get pushed down the priority list.

 

  1. Take a good hard look at your product line.
  • Is a certain product not selling well? Why? Do you need to stop offering it? Do you need to promote it more?
  • Does your packaging/labeling need an update? Is it time to make a change? What are your competitors doing? Successful businesses understand packaging updates are important to avoid looking stale and old fashioned to their consumers. This does not always mean a complete makeover; even small tweaks can make a big difference and help instantly increase sales.
  • Is there something your customers want that you do not currently offer? Does it make sense to fill this need if it is indeed a real need and not just one or two people requesting it? Do you need to change container sizes? Maybe not necessarily a new product, but think about offering it in a foodservice size, like gallon containers in addition to a 12-ounce retail jar.  
  1. Check your costs.
  • How much profit are you really making on your products? 
  • Have materials gone up? What about transportation costs? In 2020, during the pandemic, many of the food companies I assisted had trouble sourcing certain items such as jars and lids. As a result, prices for these necessities increased.
  • When was the last time you increased your prices? It is better to increase slowly each year than a big jump every few years. Buyers expect to see price increases from time to time as you must make a profit, or your business will not survive in the long run.
  1. Renew trademark fees.
  • If you have your brand or any other business items trademarked, check to see when they need to be renewed. Most trademarks need to be renewed between year five and six, then every 10 years. For more information, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  1. Renew annual licenses.
  • Do you have a manufacturing license and make your own products? Visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health about how to renew this license.
  • Do you have a mobile retail license? What other licenses and permits are required for your day-to-day operations?
  1. Review your website.
  • Is everything current? Has your contact information changed over time but has not been adjusted on your website?
  • Are prices correct? 
  • Are pictures current? Do these pictures reflect your current packaging and your complete product line?
  • Does your website need refreshing and a change of content? There is nothing more frustrating to a consumer than an outdated and incomplete website.
  1. Renew your website domain fees.
  • Check the renewal date for your website. This is an easy one to forget but a hard and expensive lesson to learn if you miss a deadline. You may lose the right to use a website address and in turn will have to find a new one. For example, let’s say the website address you have been using was com, but you did not renew in time and were forced to change to another address such as foodcenterbeef.com. This not only means changing every single place where the old website address is listed but also reprinting everything from business cards to signage or even thousands of labels with the new information. In addition, you could lose all content used on your old website and need to start from scratch and redesign your new site. This adds up quickly and will eat up time and resources you might not have.
  1. Make a list of goals for the year.
  • Be somewhat detailed and make yourself accountable.
  • How will you measure these goals?
  • When do you want to achieve these goals? What will you do differently if you do not make these goals?
  1. Strategize your marketing plan.
  • What marketing events are you going to participate in? What are the dates and costs of these events?
  • What specials will you run with retailers? What will this look like?
  • How much product do you think you will use when sampling? How much will this cost you out-of-pocket?
  • Will you pay someone to run your social media? Will you do any paid social advertising or giveaways?
  • How much are you willing to spend on marketing this year? Stick with your number, adjust your initial marketing plan throughout the year if circumstances change. 2020 was a year no one could predict; most typical years won’t be as unusual.
  1. Check to see if the Made in Oklahoma (MIO) program has current and worthy pictures of all your products.
  • If you are a member of MIO or other similar groups, make sure they have correct information to promote you. Be sure to inspect packaging to ensure the labels are put on straight and containers are not damaged. These samples are used for displays and promotional pictures on your company’s behalf so put your best foot forward. Consider it like a job interview.
  1. Review your on-the-road sampling/display kit.
  • Are your props tired or worn? Do they need replacing?
  • Have you been displaying the same display time after time? Can you refresh your setup by making some changes, such as adding some decorative baskets instead of your usual stainless-steel bowls?
  • What challenges do you have with your current setup? Is it time to buy a new microwave because your current one intermittently stops working during the most inconvenient times at shows or store demos? Do you need to invest in a cart to haul supplies instead of making multiple trips and carrying them by hand?

Using downtime to accomplish this list will pay off and will prove to be a good investment in a food company’s future. Contact the FAPC team if you want us to review or assist with your list. We would be happy to help.

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