Business Owner Profiles

Spurred by Pandemic Changes, This Rural Grocery Deliverer Grows with Family-Forward Attitude While Mentoring Other Shoppers

6 Mins read

My Hannah. My Sandy. My Jerry and Barb. That’s how Jennifer Slack speaks about her Dumpling clients; as if they’re dozens of family members. At 6 feet tall, pulling 2 carts secured together with a Velcro strap around the grocery store, Jennifer works hard to show her clients, many of them widowed seniors, how much she cares for them.

“I was in the online business consulting and coaching world, but when the pandemic happened, I immediately felt called to be of assistance,” Jennifer says, “My son, Samuel, has asthma and of course it was a bit scary and he couldn’t breathe with a mask on so I couldn’t imagine how other people, like seniors, felt not being able to get their own stuff. It just really hit home.”

Signing up in March 2020 for grocery delivery with Shipt, Jennifer finished her first order by April 9, 2020 with “Ms. Gloria, I’ll never forget her.” At the height of the pandemic, she worked 10- to 12-hour days completing 65 orders a week even though she lives in rural Three Rivers, Michigan. Shipt had 350 daily orders in the queue, and she made great money with in-store pickup at Fred Meyer.

However, in Fall 2021, Shipt yet again changed their algorithm and Jennifer’s super shopper Facebook group, the Golden Girls, realized Shipt’s bundles began overriding preferred customers. That meant any clients who wanted Jennifer as their shopper had to annoyingly cancel and resubmit orders, and if they didn’t have 51 items, Shipt would hold their order to bundle it.

So I had to teach my customers, like my Chris, to message me to set up their orders, Jennifer says. “Chris never had 51 items, it’s just her and her hubby, and Shipt would hold their order so she would add 20 items, like onions, to get her order to kick out to me so it wouldn’t hold in the system and bundle her,” she explains.

With Shipt’s bundles, shoppers were paid less, hundreds of area clients were affected, and critical relationships severely suffered. “I have a lot of seniors who are widows and they want the socialization time. By doing bundles, it didn’t allow me to socialize with these widows, and that socialization time is more important than me even doing the shopping,” Jennifer says. That sparked her desire to transition to a platform like Dumpling, which she joined in January 2022 to create her business, AssistYouShopper.

Inviting Clients to Experience Excellence in Grocery Delivery

In moving to Dumpling, Jennifer says it was “a no brainer” and invited around 100 clients. About 75 percent of them joined her on Dumpling, with 31 clients ordering regularly. Jennifer was also able to cut her weekly orders down to 30 and let some lower tippers go.

“I have my seniors, I have all my 2 parents working, busy, running around with either young kids or teenagers with all the events going on, and the third group is people going through either surgeries or temporary short-term needs,” explains Jennifer, “Which is what I love about Dumpling not having the annual fee for people who don’t need me long term. It’s a great option that they’re not committed to, Dumpling doesn’t frown upon them, and they’re able to get their personal shopper.”

Through the process of moving from Shipt to Dumpling, she created a spreadsheet as well to show clients documented data that they could save 5 percent to 15 percent by switching to Dumpling. It’s this transparency and her kindness that has such a high number of clients following her; not a platform or grocery store.

“I just really wish I would’ve known about Dumpling sooner because I cringe at the amount of people I lost, but Shipt continued to play what we all called ‘Shipt Games,’” Jennifer says, “When I found Dumpling and people could place orders directly with me, my Colleen’s a desktop gal and was disappointed with that there’s no desktop version so I bought her a tablet. Then discovered this little lady, who I’ve been calling on her landline to do order subs, had a cellphone so I put Dumpling on it.”

The expansion into a new platform also allowed Jennifer to shop cities and towns that were previously unavailable even though she drove through them to complete Shipt orders. There’s a prominent neighborhood in Sturgis and they’re notorious for picking our store instead because we’re better shoppers, and it’s a heck of a drive, but Shipt said it was excluded, Jennifer says.  

“From the whole delivery service, including the city, Jones, that lives a few miles down the road from me, and I’ve had so many people say, ‘Do you deliver to Jones?’…Now I can say yes, and I love that I get that control, especially when I had to drive through Jones [but couldn’t deliver],” she adds.

As she motors around, her AssistUShopper schedule is “every Monday, I have my Hannah at 9, I have my Colleen at 10, I have my Sandy at 1, and my double widows, Jerry and Barb, who don’t live together but are a mile apart and went to school together and think it’s great I shop for them together,” Jennifer explains, “I have a lot of my people who are set in my schedule like that, and I could run down my list for Thursday and do the same thing.”

Jennifer works up to 45 hours per week, starts at 7:00 AM and shops until about 4:00 PM Wednesdays through Mondays, with Tuesdays off so she can sync up with the delivery trucks freshening up grocery store inventories. “I worked 6 days a week, but I don’t work full days hardly at all any more since switching to Dumpling because I’m far more picky if a Shipt order pops up, I’m like, ‘Nope,’” says Jennifer, and she built a database to track orders, accounting, and expenses which helps her cut down her workload with Dumpling.

Morphing into the Dumpling Mentor Who’s on a Relationship Rocketship to Success

With Shipt, Jennifer made about $1,500 per week, and with Dumpling, she’s currently around $1,000 per week. But by the end of summer 2022, she plans to have her income back up to the $1,500 a week mark while working fewer hours. Plus, because of her success growing her business and her helpful, extroverted personality, she now partners with Dumpling to help recruit and mentor new business owners. 

As for Dumpling features that have helped her run a better business, Jennifer says that clients ordering directly from her and helping her widows reschedule orders without contacting support are the best.

Another “no brainer” she loved was Dumpling’s coaching because she could ask questions, learn, and share wins. “For me, the $30, that’s a no brainer to test Dumpling out…the coaching alone is worth that, and 2 times a week I actually talk to people who work at Dumpling,” Jennifer explains, “Hands down, love the fact that I’ve gotten to speak with people at Dumpling, versus Shipt I’ve never spoken with anybody, and the one time I did, another shopper got fired, and I got written up.”

As Jennifer moves away from Shipt and works on her Dumpling business, she’s focusing on a “broader quality of service,” with higher attention to detail, more client options, and detailed tools.  That means a closer watch on the shelves for items her clients adore, staying attuned to allergy preferences, and maintaining quality relationships with grocery store staff so she’s ahead of the curve.

Jennifer says it’s about learning to have good conversations, picking up on tidbits of useful client info, and knowing their lifestyle, habits, and schedule. Or even sending voice recordings or photos so clients feel a warmer connection to you as their personal shopper.

“I’ll never forget my gummy bear Linda…I went to her and I said, ‘I’m a 10 for 10 week [at Fred Meyer], and it’s the little bag, and you picked the big bag of gummy bears.’ And she put her head down [because I met her at store pickup] and she goes, ‘No, I have a gummy bear problem. I really do want the big bag,’” Jennifer explains, “But you don’t make them feel guilty for their pleasures like that, especially in the height of a pandemic.” Part of high-quality customer service for Jennifer is staying kind and not judging orders while also making sure she knows exactly the right item for her customers.

“The other customer service thing is don’t be afraid to teach the customers. Don’t think they’re dictating to you how the service needs to work,” she says, “There’s a good portion of them that would prefer to be [educated]…People want a personal shopper, not just a shopper, and that’s the huge difference. Hence, the reason why my [clients say], ‘Jen, I’ll go wherever you go; I’m loyal to you, not Shipt or Fred Meyer, it’s you.’”

Although Jennifer says she wishes she found Dumpling back in 2020 because “it’s better for the customer and it’s better for me,” she offers some useful advice not only for those considering marketing a new business with Dumpling: “Branded t-shirts hands down are the number one marketing thing anybody should put in place because people do pay attention…and anybody who doesn’t wear a branded t-shirt, they’re losing money on their bottom line.”

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