Business Owner Profiles

The Grocery Delivery “Vacation” That Turned into 500 5-Star Reviews

6 Mins read

“I feel like I’ve been on vacation for the last 2 years,” explains Pete Mitchell, owner of Dumpling business A Better Way, “That says something because [grocery delivery] never feels like work to me…and after 2 years, I’m not bored.”

After 25 years in wine and spirits, Pete finally feels like he’s moved on from corporate life. “I look at the job board every day where I used to be and I’ve had a couple of interviews over the last year or 2, and every time I put on my suit, I’m like, ‘Yeah, there’s no way,’” he says.  

After a March 2020 COVID reorganization, Pete lost his job and was left with a decision: is it worth it to find another job in the wine and spirits industry? “And as crazy as it sounds, I decided not to make that move and when I found grocery delivery service was available, I started doing the other apps,” says Pete.

He hopped on Instacart and Shipt because “I’m not one to sit still so I wasn’t going on unemployment so I started to do that and it was fairly lucrative business,” he explains, “I always did the shopping in my house anyways and I enjoy running around by nature.” Then it snowballed into a business where he started filling up with great clients.

However, after time on those other platforms, he began the switch to Dumpling where now 80 percent of his revenue comes from. Pete decided in September 2020 he wanted ownership of his business with the ability to grow his own way and Dumpling fit the bill. “The ease of ownership I don’t really have to do anything. Dumpling handles all the back office as far as the app and order management are concerned,” Pete says.

The Pros and Cons Flyer That Said It All…With 5-Star Reviews

He then worked on developing a flyer with specific pros and cons of using his Dumpling business versus other platforms plus his stellar 5-star reviews where he could dangle the carrot to get leads.

“I’ll either have a lead from a current customer just to say, ‘Hey, FYI I have my service if you ever need anything,’ and then I’d say 60 percent call me immediately,” Pete explains, “And one of my favorite things on my flyer is the review talking about how my client ‘Found the Golden Ticket’ and she was so thrilled because before she dealt with the average shopper on another platform.”

About half his clients followed him to Dumpling once they realized it was a better option, and now with 40 active clients, he still markets his business with Facebook. Within local community and township groups, “Once a week I’ll throw up a weekly sale at a local market or a price comparison from what Instacart would charge versus what I charge…and I’ve found that’s clearly the most effective,” says Pete, “It’s free and it’s catering to the local community, which I like.”

For pricing, he offers a flat $15 shopping and delivery fee with a default 15 percent tip. But most of his clients tip at 20 percent or higher. “For me, it’s worth taking the risk on the $15 flat rate for shopping and delivery knowing that I’m gonna get taken care of in the customer tip,” Pete says.

And if he has new clients who don’t understand the fees and pricing, he gives this analogy: Restaurant servers do significantly less work than a grocery delivery shopper for a bigger tip. Why would you tip 10 percent at restaurants and the same 10 percent for someone who drives to the store, shops all your items, and delivers?

“Anytime I’ve talked to anybody and made that analogy, that’s when they get it,” Pete says, “Why would you give 10 percent for doing all that work? And that’s what people need to realize is that you drive the store, you shop, you hand-deliver, some of my clients I deliver in their house, and those are typically the people who tip 20 to 25 percent because they really appreciate it.”

By explaining tips for restaurant servers vs. grocery deliverers, Pete easily makes the connection for clients who then hop into a spot on his seven-day-a-week schedule for Wegmans, ACME, Giant, Costco, and Sprouts from 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

The Dumpling Difference: Relationships and Sincerity

“Here’s the deal, you always have to build relationships, you have to sell the customer on the features and benefits, but at the end of the day when they realize that somebody who cares is doing their grocery shopping, [that matters],” explains Pete.

Sincerity in your relationships matters, flexibility matters, and understanding where your clients are coming from when they shop with you after sub-par service on another platform matters, he adds. “Anytime I’ve approached a new customer, it’s based on a complaint they’ve had on another platform, and they notice the first time they shop with me, they didn’t have any of those problems,” Pete says, “That’s because that’s who I am, how I shop, and how I take care of my customers…when clients see that ‘Hey, this guy cares about my daily needs,’ it means a lot.”

When comparing the typical platform shopper with a Dumpling business owner, they’re “two very different people,” he says, “The Instacart shopper doesn’t care as much about you. They wanna be in and out, make the buck, and for me, if I can’t find product X at the assigned store, then I’m going to another store to find it.”

It’s the fact that Pete only likes to shop for the best products at the best stores at the best value for his clients that makes the biggest impact on the value of his service. And his willingness to go to several stores to do the shop right, “you can’t find that on any other platform by the way, no other platform allows for that,” he explains.

Building strong relationships doesn’t just include his customers, though. He’s “like the local Mayor” at the stores and cultivates relationships with grocery store staff so they’re more like coworkers and friends. They’re willing to go the extra mile to find specific items in that store or another because he treats them well. “They’re a huge tribute to any success I have because I’d be in a bad place without them,” Pete adds.

In addition to having ownership over his client experiences through Dumpling, Pete loves having his own business and that his clients now have one shopper offering high-quality service. “Dumpling’s the only platform I know of that allows the customer to reach the shopper they want every single week,” says Pete, “And I’ve never had any client have an issue with the app or if they couldn’t find something in the Dumpling app, they can create a custom item.”

He also likes being able to build client relationships within the app plus the messaging, texting, or calling. “Like I can go into the app and get a client’s number, their email, and I build such a rapport with my clients…I’ll have ’em on the phone during a shop if I have a question and then we’ll just be shooting breeze while I’m continuing to shop,” Pete explains, “The nice thing about Dumpling versus other platforms as well is you learn clients’ buying habits and you can make an appropriate substitution without getting dinged for it, [with other apps], they can say bad substitution or damaged item.”

Success Based on The Number of Happy Clients

“If I look at the Dumpling app, I can see how many orders, how many clients, what my monthly revenue is,” says Pete, “My success every day is the feedback I get from knowing somebody’s happy with my service, and it doesn’t take the place of money, but that’s how I measure success.”

His next benchmark to get more ecstatic clients? 500 5-star reviews; he’s less than 20 away. He’s also looking toward 60 to 75 active clients because “that’s a number I’m comfortable with as far as being able to service their requests on a regular basis and not get overloaded,” says Pete, “My goal will be getting to $2,000 a week…basically it’s a percentage of what I used to make before so if I could make 70 percent of my old full-time income without any of the headache, I’d opt in for that, that’s the direction I’m going.”

As he grows his business and continues adding warm client leads to the fire, Pete has some advice: “As crazy as it sounds, you’ve gotta overdeliver on what customer expectations are of a shop, and every time when I do a multi-store shop, I’ll let them know, ‘Hey, I’m gonna run to the ACME to grab these 2 items I couldn’t get for you at Wegmans,’ they’re always surprised I’m willing to do it and thank me later,” Pete explains, “Sometimes they add gratuity, but never do it for that.”

This is your own grocery delivery business and it’s your job to “show the customer why you’re better than the other guy, so do it…It’s not just grocery delivery, this is making a difference in somebody’s life by shopping for them,” he adds.

If you’re thinking about moving forward or you enjoy grocery shopping for other platforms, Pete says, “I would highly recommend building something for yourself via Dumpling, with the way that I have it structured, the only fee I pay is the monthly fee…But if you’re thinking about it, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.”

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