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Stay-at-Home Mom Feared Solopreneur Grocery Delivery Until She Fell in Love with Building Her Own Client Base

7 Mins read

Val Scaturro’s lived many different lives over her short 35 years. From early beginnings as a young entrepreneur in Chile selling painted rocks and custom-made sushi, to owning an online makeup boutique, teaching preschoolers, and heading off to veterinary school. But her most successful ventures have been becoming a mom and hurdling fears to start her business on Dumpling, Val Shops for You.

After meeting her husband and staying in the US, Val became a stay-at-home-mom and began shopping with Instacart in April 2020 because she could make money with flexible hours. “When the pandemic started, I saw everybody saying, ‘We can get groceries delivered through Instacart,’ and I was like, ‘What is Instacart?’ So I first placed an order to see what it was, then thought it was really cool because you don’t leave your house and you get everything,” Val says.

Fast-forward a year into Instacart and she realized she was tired of the low pay, hefty workload, and that her customers couldn’t consistently order from her. That sent her on a quest for a platform like Dumpling because “the customers always ask me, ‘Can you be my shopper again?’ And I’d say, ‘I can’t really, Instacart doesn’t let you or give you my phone number so I can’t do it,’” she explains.

Val continued looking for another way and saw a post in a mom Facebook group about Dumpling. Post-research, she thought “it was really cool so I signed up.” The only hiccup was her fears about starting and running her own business; could she really do it on her own?

“I was afraid at first so I continued with Instacart, but more people kept asking so I said, ‘I’m just gonna do it,’” explains Val, “My husband, he’s a financial advisor, and at a dinner he was telling a client that I wanted to do a business, but was scared. And they’re like, ‘You have to start somewhere. You don’t just start from being a millionaire, but start somewhere and you’ll have it.’ So I decided to give it a try and my husband’s always been so supportive with like finance and business help.”

Learning to Love Building a Grocery Delivery Biz on Her Own

Through her Dumpling onboarding and coaching, Val learned how to run a grocery delivery business as a solopreneur and found she loves not only personal shopping with the platform, but delivering in her own way for clients and creating her one-of-a-kind spin on social media content. Moving beyond her fear and starting Val Shops for You in June of 2021, she now completes “99.9 percent” of her orders through her Dumpling business.  

In her switch from Instacart to Dumpling, about 20 of her customers (mostly moms with little kids and grandmas) followed her because they adore her family attitude. And she advertised in mom Facebook groups, Instagram, and with flyers.

“They love me because they’re like, ‘I don’t know what my daughter wants for her kids, but I know you already know,’” Val says, “I like to talk with the customers, I like to know what they like, what’s the family like, if they have any concerns, if they want something else. Like I tell them, ‘I’m gonna treat you like I treat my family when I shop. I get the best and I take my time.”

Val shops 2-hour blocks Tuesday through Friday 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Costco, BJ’s, Whole Foods, Aldi, and local pharmacies. She set her pricing at 15 percent with a $15 minimum order while also getting creative with original coupons to grow brand awareness and increase orders.

“I saw that Instacart always throws out a ‘If you order today, you get $30 off or a free order,’ so that’s another thing that I do, too…it’s charging them when they give you ‘free’ something because it’s not free. I go to the stores, I do a lot of research, and check the prices Instacart charges and I show clients it’s not free because in the app, it shows us $20, and the store is $19.99 so you’re not getting anything for free,” Val explains, “So when I do my coupons, you get the receipt and you get a true discount, it’s not fake.”

After securing her business license in February 2022, she’s not only built pride in running her business by herself, but her daughter pretends to shop at home and is so excited when her mom picks her up from school with the business magnet on the car.

Planning Far in Advance to See More Delivery Wins

“I’m always thinking what’s next; like what holidays, what can I do next for the customer? Now I’m looking forward to the school year starting,” Val says. Planning ahead is one way she delivers beyond the standard, stays ahead of the grocery delivery game, and ensures none of her spinning business plates drop. Plus, with further out plans, she’s able to notice client anniversaries and deliver her signature one-year anniversary thank you blankets.

“I give a blanket to my customers, like a little picnic blanket and give them chocolates, and for Mother’s Day, I give them little plants. I’m always giving them something so that’s why I like to plan ahead to see what they love and they love the little stuff,” explains Val, “I’m so thankful for my clients working with me, they need to understand that they’re supporting a dream, and maybe they’re spending like $20, but $20 plus $20 plus $20 really makes a difference.”

As she swells her number of clients, Val’s shooting for a goal of 30 orders per month, and is trying to get her business as well-known as possible with a car magnet, branded shirts with QR codes on the back, and expanding her reach on Instagram.

From being afraid to show her face on camera, to taking a social media marketing class and getting coaching, to now teaching other Dumpling business owners how to use social media to grow their business, Val’s made fantastic strides. She focuses on videos about saving money on the same brands at different stores, deals, and how to be a better grocery shopper.

“You show that you are a person, and people are gonna trust you because now they know who’s shopping for them. Before, they don’t know that it’s a person behind working hard for it so I started doing my videos with my face,” Val says. It’s about being consistent, delivering content you’re proud of that your clients and potential clients ask for, and experimenting with what works.

Just like using Instagram’s app to expand her reach, Val loves that Dumpling’s app provides growth info and business insights. “I really like the app and I use the Insights a lot because they show you how many orders, because I would like 30 orders and to reach that goal, I like to check there and I like the graphics because it’s really easy to see,” Val explains.

And when it comes to Dumpling’s SOS customer service, it’s like an entirely different planet compared to Instacart. “Support always answers when you have a question, like right away when I press the SOS to increase the card limit amount, they answer within like three seconds,” says Val, “One time with Instacart, I was waiting 25 minutes and was having like a panic attack because the problem with Instacart is the client gives you a rating so when they’re waiting forever for the food and it’s not your fault, it’s the support service [that’s the issue].”

In addition to Dumpling’s “easy-to-use app” and SOS support, she “loves the coaches” because “I feel like they’re shoppers, too, and it’s something I really appreciate. They know what they’re talking about and are always so nice,” Val says, “And they help me, they don’t just say, ‘I don’t know,’ they always try to figure it out.”

The community of Dumpling business owners is also vastly different from that of Instacart’s. “I really like the community and…you feel like you’re not alone…like Instacart is just you and that’s it. They’re not gonna support you, they’re not gonna care about you, they just want the money you’re making for them and that’s it,” Val explains. With other Dumpling shoppers, they’re more supportive and interested in everyone’s business excelling.

Communication, Coupons, and Genuine Care

As Val moves forward, she believes communication and asking critical questions are key to creating quality customer experiences. “I always ask what they want and like, and for replacements, I will never replace something without them accepting and I always send multiple pictures,” Val explains, “If they don’t answer, I don’t replace because who wants something they didn’t order?”

It’s building warm contacts, following up with those who’ve placed fewer orders, and knowing what’s going on in your client’s lives that makes a difference to business growth, says Val. And she recommends reaching out to ask if things are ok if you haven’t heard from a client in a reasonable amount of time.

“They usually say something happened with the finances and they can’t afford it, but then I would try a $10 off coupon; I always do coupons on social media,” Val explains, “There’s not a minimum required just $10 off cause when I see a lot of people saying, ‘I can’t afford this,’ which is what’s happening right now because the items so expensive…I will put out a coupon and try to help, and I didn’t increase my prices when gas was up, but tried to be there for everybody.”

“You’re not just a person doing it; [shopping with you] is a deeper experience,” she adds, clients love being treated like you actually care so put your heart into it. Don’t be afraid to give fun gifts and show you’re a real person working hard for them. Prove the top-notch steps you take for client care through video views of your shopping experience and how you’ve gotten better through feedback, she explains.

“You can invite the customers into your business. You can show them they’re not just a number, but it’s like a family and you need to go out [with your Dumpling business] and just go for it,” Val says.

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