Welcome to the Small-Business Soap series, in which we follow a start-up in real time. Getting a small business off the ground can have as many twists and turns as a daytime drama. But unlike television plots, these stories can inspire and educate entrepreneurs -- be sure to tune in every Wednesday to find out how.
Treats Truck's first week on the road was a smash hit, thanks to a June 12 writeup in
Daily Candy and other free media attention.
Owner Kim Ima even welcomed Web site problems due to high traffic, although her Web designer had to switch to another server. Ima had to hire a worker to enter the 500 people who signed up for her mailing list into a spreadsheet, but that was OK, too.
Tending to the Team
"You keep going because the business is your baby," Ima says of her seemingly endless energy.
However, this week, after all the
permit furor finally died down, she noticed that her crew looked a little limp. "It's one thing to fight the system," says Ima, but when you have an overworked team, that's a different monster altogether.
So although she is not taking any days off, Ima gave her assistant manager a day off and rearranged her schedule for an easier workload. "I have to motivate people in a different way because this is not their baby," she explains.
Labor tops the list of expenses for Ima, but she knows she will have to hire more people to make a happier crew overall.
Finding the right people is the hard part.
Ima has put out the word to contacts from culinary schools and on Craigslist. More than anything, she needs someone who can run the kitchen in her absence and get the recipes right.
Quality control is hard to find, she says, as depending on the humidity or how the oven is functioning, recipes have to be tweaked.
Midtown Manhattan has been most profitable for Ima so far, but she has been getting amazing responses all over Manhattan from people who have already heard of her. "The funny thing is people already want to know exactly where I'll be parked," she says.
Ima posts her location via cell phone as soon as she picks a spot. She has also been doing some free events like the Independent Handbag Designer Awards on June 20, where she will hand out bag-shaped cookies.
She hasn't had much parking trouble, but did get a scare when a cop pulled up to her truck. It turns out the police officer just wanted to buy some treats, even coming back an hour later for more!
Right now Ima is just excited about her presence and getting good reviews. She doesn't even know how close she is to breaking even.
"On average I gross about $600 a day," she says. "I will look at the way I do business and review things in a couple of weeks. My attitude is not exactly what they teach in business school."
One thing that has been cheap is the composed natural gas that Sugar, the truck, runs on. Ima also just put a $1,000 deposit down on a second truck, which she says wasn't reckless spending because, "the opportunity to get a used CNG truck doesn't happen every day."