Serving with a sharp focus on hearts of gratitude and strong client appreciation, the entrepreneurial duo of Ryan and Netta Duncan worked to grow their grocery delivery business with Instacart all while juggling multiple side businesses and a pair of young twins. They swirled their creative marketing, photography, and videography backgrounds with their gig work experience to bring Duncan Family Delivery to life. But soon realized, there was a better way than Instacart.
“Instacart picked up and it got to the point where I was like, ‘There’s gotta be a better way,’” says Ryan, “I started looking into options and Dumpling was one that came up…And so we said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’ With our other business, we love the idea of us being in charge of our own destiny, and Dumpling with the support that it had and the ability to run it how we wanted was a great fit.”
Dumpling wasn’t like anything they’d seen before, and “It doesn’t even compare to Shipt or Instacart or any of those competitors, it’s in a league of its own, and I’m grateful for that,” Netta adds. With the switch to a one-of-a-kind platform like Dumpling combined with their learner’s mindset, the Duncan duo began setting success building blocks in place.
“I will say with that mindset, it’s like even though I know nothing about this field, I’m willing to learn and I know we’re not going to be millionaires next week or have a fully booked schedule with ongoing clients after three days of effort, I know it’s going to take work, but with that [learner’s] mindset, we’re willing to put in the work,” explains Netta.
Especially when putting in the work meant continuing to learn and grow, removing a platform where non-ideal clients could get you kicked off, and starting a partnership “…where Dumpling has been so appreciative,” Netta says, “It’s also because we get to have more of a say in it. We get to set our own prices, and it’s not building someone else’s dream, we’re building our own dream.”
When you’re honing your own business and entrepreneurial goals, it’s that there’s no limit for how much your business can expand. “We never want to feel like we’ve arrived…You’re either growing or you’re decaying,” explains Netta, “We always want to be growing and the fun thing about owning your own business is there’s no ceiling…We have no idea how big we can grow our business and that’s super exciting.”
Learning and Growing as Budding Grocery Delivery Entrepreneurs
Ryan and Netta saw those growth and learning opportunities in Dumpling plus help that wasn’t available on other platforms, which clearly separated it from competitors. “The Dumpling support system from the first week, Ryan said he had a coaching call and I was like, ‘What?’” Netta says.
“I didn’t understand because Instacart doesn’t have anything like that, and Dumpling was the first one I felt like really cared about its shoppers,” she adds, and those coaching calls were “an absolute game changer.”
Dumpling’s coaches were “…incredible and so sweet and so kind…With Dumpling, there’s people who exist and you’re like, Ashley [the Dumpling coach actually] exists. That’s crazy. Where Instacart, I know no one in Instacart…And I learned so much every single week on the Dumpling (office hours) call, whether I ask questions [or hear] victories, and it’s such a cool community that Dumpling created.”
That personalized, attentive attitude also wove into Dumpling’s SOS support that was quick to help with one-on-one service. “It’s a recognizable face, and not like you get millions of problems that you end up having on other platforms and you get a million different people helping you like a revolving door,” explains Netta, “Dumpling is the same people over and over again, which is a huge blessing because you get to build a relationship.”
And it’s those connections Dumpling provides and emphasis on relationship building, a cornerstone of Duncan Family Delivery, that showed Dumpling cared, aligned with their values, and was supportive of the specific methods they wanted to use to grow their grocery delivery business.
“With Dumpling, we get to be selected, but we also get to be selective,” explains Ryan, “And all the great experiences I had with Instacart, I don’t even hardly remember, but you can bet I remember most of the bad experiences. And with Dumpling, I don’t have to deal with the bad experiences because it’s my choice whether that happens again and that’s freeing.”
Professional Business Juggler Living with a Flexible Schedule in a Supportive Environment
Ryan shops 75 percent of Duncan Family Delivery’s orders, but because of their business flexibility and to have more fun, sometimes Netta and the twins tag along. Their schedule currently includes two to three days of shopping per week, and they run promos like Tasty Tuesday where restaurant deliveries get a discount.
“I love the opportunity to shop multiple stores, that’s pretty big,” Ryan says, especially now that he can check stocks at many stores to offer must-have items to his clients. “That’s great, and being able to meet the need that much better is huge because other apps don’t do that. There’s other apps that claim they do that, but you don’t get to pick where you go, and so it doesn’t net anything better,” he adds.
Although they haven’t decided monetary goals and are striving for additional ongoing orders, Ryan and Netta agree the leads Dumpling provides are incredibly helpful. They also hope those leads will attract more of their ideal clients (families with a heart a gratitude and larger orders) to their premium service.
“I can expect to do a good job and be compensated accordingly because when I got with Instacart, I was whatever guy who shows up, and if I get a tip, clients tip whatever based on whoever would show up,” explains Ryan, “And we recognize that if people are looking for the lowest price, that’s not us, but if they’re looking for the best service at a reasonable price, we’re probably the best fit in our area, and we’re proud of that dynamic on the pricing model for all of the grocery shopping that we do.”
Personalized, One-on-One Family Relationships Built Via Dumpling
Because of the ability to cultivate repeat relationships with customers, Ryan and Netta feel they can truly express their personalities through their Dumpling business. “Not just talking to our clients because they placed an order, but talking because, ‘Hey, I saw this thing and thought of you, let me know if you want it,’ and also, ‘This is a funny joke. I wanted to be able to send it to you,’” Netta says, “If it’s like the four of us shopping, there’ll be a selfie of us in the car and we’ll text, ‘I hope you guys have a great night.’”
It’s the personalized relationships that also trickle down to how they want to raise their twins around their grocery delivery business; respecting others, listening well, and the idea that people may not remember what you say, but they remember how you make them feel.
“And if we’re getting to the brass tacks of it, I believe it’s more profitable to be relational. We’ve seen so many times where people increased their tip or gave cash tips in addition because of who we are not necessarily because they got their groceries five minutes faster,” Ryan says, “It’s always based on us as people and the experience we’ve given…It really points to the fact that Dumpling has an emphasis on relationship and culture, it comes through in dollars and [business and] that’s great, too.”
Beyond financial impact, those relationships, authentic personalities, and premium experience flow through in a wealth of reviews. “I know we’re doing the right thing whether we made a ton of money on that order, whether that was a miserable shopping experience, if I can look at that and go, ‘Yeah, but I did the right thing and made someone’s day,’ we’re on track,” Ryan says.
They’re hoping to eventually add three to four other shoppers to their team, but in the meantime, their advice to future Dumpling biz owners is this: be true to yourself, own who you are, and be the best version of yourself. Be patient with your clients and business growth, be a good listener, and put in the work to grow your business.
“Dumpling cares and Dumpling listens, which means Dumpling takes action. They care about the shoppers, but they also care about the clients and the tech. When people write in and complain or ask questions, there’s adjustments made, Dumpling’s always growing and changing,” explains Netta, “I can’t confidently say that about other platforms out there.”