Emily Ostrom’s commitment to her clients goes so deep that she didn’t even stop grocery shopping to chat for this story. As she added to cart and checked out, ensuring her clients got their orders ASAP, she answered questions about her long history of excelling at businesses like Wells Fargo and Yelp. It’s her self-starter motivation, competitive attitude, and willingness to do tough work that helps her business and customers win.
Although she’s worked since she was 13 and had her son at 17, one of the best examples of Emily’s impressive work ethic hails from her banking and sales career at Wells Fargo. “I moved up the ladder and was promoted over 20 times when I was there…By the time I was 21, I was a district manager at Wells Fargo and hadn’t even graduated from college yet,” she says, “If I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna be the best at it.”
About 2 weeks after her 18th birthday, Emily started as a 2-month contract temp at Wells Fargo, but “within like a week, I was the top teller in the entire country…I just looked at the leaderboard and wondered how much I need to do in sales to beat the person at the very top, and I just did it, and just let it consume me; that was the goal and that was what was gonna get done.”
She ended with her own Wells Fargo branch, then went on to be a certified sommelier. By becoming 1 of 10,000 employees at her restaurant to win a wine scholarship, she received a year of mentorship under one of the world’s 269 Master Sommeliers. “Most people take a year to a year and a half to study for their intro, then it takes them about four years to finish and get certified, and I took my intro and certification in the same year,” Emily explains.
When she was furloughed during COVID, she next tried grocery delivery, liked it, and has been helping clients for the past 2.5 years. In fact, last year, she made over $120,000 from her grocery delivery business, Never Enough Thyme.
“In the past, I’ve had a lot of jobs where my success was built on the success of the team,” Emily says, “I always felt like other people sort of dragged me down, but when my accomplishments and achievements were separate, I always seemed to do better so that’s what I liked about Dumpling was it gave me the opportunity to completely control the outcome because it was me and only me standing behind it.”
Proving the Naysayers Wrong with Old School Hard Work
In building her grocery delivery business, Emily’s the type of person to go all in and works hard to prove the naysayers wrong by a mile. “I’ve always been really good at taking accountability and ownership over everything, and am really good at constantly checking in with myself and making sure that I’m doing what I need to do, and I’m incredibly competitive,” she says.
“I come from a world of commission so I understand commission and I understand results-based finances, I love that and I respond to that…[I love] work that has to do with being rewarded for your input and your output,” Emily adds, “Basically, I’m willing to do anything that needs to be done [and get it done]. Every morning, the lion and the gazelle wake up, and it’s the lion’s job to run faster than the gazelle, and it’s the gazelle’s job to outrun the lion. I wake up and I gotta be the lion.”
Her motivation to “be the lion” in her business also comes from supporting her wife who’s in college getting her Master’s degree and being the income source for her family. That means getting up at 6:00 AM, 7 days a week and working long hours to run her Dumpling business well. Although it’s tiring, Emily loves that her success or failure is completely up to her and the more control over how successful she is, the better she feels.
“What I really love about Dumpling is it’s a great way to be independent and completely self-sufficient. I get to see people turn from leads into clients, I love that I can offer any local store, to include: Whole Food, Fresh Market, and Wegmans, I like being able to offer stores to people that I couldn’t before,” Emily says, “I love the journey of introduction to acquisition, it gives me the butterflies, and I love getting the yes [from a lead turning into a client].” And getting a “yes” not only boosts her confidence, but solidifies the incredible value she offers to her client base, which she grows through referrals.
A Friendly Deliverer Striving to be the Bright Light in Your Day
“I always try to anticipate people’s needs I mean I can’t tell you how many times people send me lists and I’m like, ‘Wait a sec, this is missing something,’” Emily explains, “Just always making sure that I pay attention to the small things like I know everyone’s kids’ names, what brands they like, I am not afraid to make multiple stops for someone, or do what I need to do in order for someone to have or get what they need.”
It’s that anticipation of needs, striving to go above and beyond, being consistent and reliable, and never forgetting the importance of hard work that helps her stay “super engaged” with clients. “I have a client who’s agoraphobic and I spend the entire time I’m shopping on the phone with her,” Emily explains, “Not because I have to, but because I’m her link to the outside world, and when she talks to me on the phone, it gives her almost like the experience of being at the store herself.”
She also has clients who’ve become her best friends because of her strong ability to connect well with others and show how much she cares through staying ahead of their orders, having a fantastic attitude, and making her delivery service exactly what her clients ask for and more.
It’s choosing to create her business as a friendship and being someone who’s warm and friendly that has her relationships and business blooming. “Every client knows I’m putting my wife through school and that my son is an operational smile kid with 12 surgeries and a Junior Olympic swimmer, so proud of him, and I always have so much going on, so it’s like my clients are invested in me and I’m invested in them,” says Emily.
One of the last tidbits she keeps in her back pocket to help with quality customer service in grocery delivery is trying to be a shining light in her clients’ day. “I had to read this book [when I was a kid] and my takeaway was it was incredible how this guy had one experience with one other person and it completely changed the course of his entire life and how he’s gonna interact with the people around him,” Emily says.
“So when I meet someone new, I always pretend like they’re having the worst day of their life and I think about that all the time that no matter what someone has going on in their day, I’m gonna be a positive, bright light, even if I’m just a little blip in an otherwise miserable day,” she explains. And that’s the key to growing her thriving business, long-term relationships, and referrals from clients who can’t get enough of her.