JD: How did you learn?
LF: Trial and error. I learned from my mistakes and really listened to customer suggestions. Some of our best selling items were created by employees and customers.
“Small businesses do a lot for the city, like maintain the sidewalks outside our stores. It would be nice to get something back.”
JD: How do you make business decisions?
LF: First, I always listen to my customers. They have great product ideas. Second, I consider the sales reports from Square. The simple charts show me when each store is busiest so I know when I need extra staff. When things are slower I can build sidework in and efficiently use employee time. Now the shops are cleaner and better stocked.
JD: How do you maintain customer relationships and cultivate regulars?
LF: You need a product that people want to come back for. We also strive to provide a unique experience for every customer. Square’s customer feedback tool is great because we can further customize that buyer experience through direct communication. I respond to everyone that sends feedback, both the good and the bad. If a customer was overcharged for an additional topping or had any issue, it’s invaluable to be able to apologize and immediately issue a refund and correct things. People are so happy when you correct problems. The reaction isn’t, “I’m never coming back.” Instead, it’s, “Thanks! See you soon!” It’s a really powerful channel.
JD: Has the government been supportive and what could they do to help?
LF: I’d love to see lower taxes, especially for small businesses that are just getting started. They seem to give tax breaks to big corporations that have the money to pay more taxes. I don’t know if that’s necessarily fair. Small businesses do a lot for the city, like maintain the sidewalks outside our stores. It would be nice to get something back.
JD: How do you consider your role in the community?
LF: I want to make a product that is good for my customers and the environment. My business is primarily to-go, so I thought a lot about waste. That’s why everything here is compostable.
JD: That’s very cool and real leadership. What advice would you give someone starting a business?
LF: Stick with it. It’s incredibly hard work. You have to do everything, like learn how to replace circuit breakers. Eventually you hit your stride and it’s all worth it