Coming from a family bakery biz and owning businesses since she was 22, Erika Martin learned the fundamentals of going the extra mile and phenomenal customer service early on.
“My dad always gave me that line, ‘The customer’s always right,’ and although that’s not always true, it is about making sure the people who pay your bills are the ones you treat really well so my dad always went that extra mile,” Erika says, “My dad would pop something extra into somebody’s order, give a few freebies here and there, but in the long run, it ended up coming back to him tenfold.”
Catering to those connections and relationships is how Erika morphed her family business learnings into building her grocery delivery business, Queen of the Hill Deliveries. But that was sparked by her move from Vermont where she worked in special education to Georgia where, after helping her kids transition to new schools, she looked for work beyond education.
“When I started looking into working in the Georgia school system, they wanted me to have another degree and pay me $8 less an hour so that wasn’t an option, and my neighbor across the street told me about Shipt and that she’d done that in between jobs,” says Erika.
This got her into giving grocery delivery a shot in May 2018, and she ended up working with Shipt for the next 2.5 years until she was the top Shipt shopper allowing her to choose her orders. “But in September 2020, Shipt decided to change their pay algorithm…and I found that cut my pay between 30 percent to 50 percent and I knew I couldn’t maintain that,” explains Erika.
“Grocery delivery was my full-time job and to have my pay cut that drastically, I realized I had to do something different. So a friend of mine was doing orders with Dumpling and mentioned it to me quite a few times,” she adds, “When Shipt cut our pay, I realized I didn’t want somebody else to be that in charge of my paycheck and that’s when I signed up for Dumpling in September 2020.”
A Loyal Customer Base Seeing Why She Switched and They Saved with Dumpling
Even though she had years with Shipt, Erika moved forward with Dumpling and let her Facebook friends know she started her new business, Queen of the Hill Deliveries. Turns out, because her clients (who “became like family”) followed her on Facebook, this announcement with a link to download Dumpling helped jumpstart her business with 60 clients flowing in.
Erika also posted in her town’s community Facebook group of 16,000 members plus mom groups she’s in. And when someone had an especially poor experience on another platform, she made sure to comment.
“When people complain about competitors and the bad experiences they’ve had, I’ll usually step in under my business profile and be like, ‘Hey, I’d be happy to do your grocery shopping for you. Here’s what I offer, I’m cheaper than the other guys, I can save you money, and you get the same shopper every time,’ and that’s why people are switching to me now,” Erika says.
Recently, it’s been Instacart customers with bad experiences who want the same shopper that move to Erika’s grocery delivery service, and her loyal clients help increase new customers by recommending Erika’s business within comments and posts.
Another benefit she saw from moving on from Shipt was eliminating pricing and pay headaches. With Dumpling, she has a minimum delivery fee of 15 percent and a minimum tip of 15 percent, and averages around $50 per order, with some three-day weekends clocking in at $800. Yet with Shipt, “the bigger the order, the less you get paid, which is why I switched,” Erika says.
“It’s really hard for customers to understand there’s a delivery fee because when they’re with Shipt or Instacart, they’re told it’s free delivery if you buy $35 or more, but you and I know there’s a hidden markup and that markup is really high,” explains Erika, “So I started tracking receipt totals and I found the markup is 25 percent to 30 percent, and that was a huge part of my Dumpling marketing when I started.”
For one client who resisted her delivery fee over the “free delivery” of Shipt, Erika started explaining the math differences between platforms. On that client’s recent $600 Shipt order, the 30 percent markup added up to $187 and the client tipped $80 making the total paid out by the client $267, which Erika received $40 of.
“I showed her and said, ‘Let’s do the math here. I’d charge you 15 percent with Dumpling so that’s half, $90, of what you just paid to Shipt so you just saved half of $180,” explains Erika, “Then you tipped me 10 percent, which would’ve paid me $60 so that become $150 total instead of $267…And she goes, ‘Sign me up. Sign me up.’” This math explanation has been one of the most helpful ways she’s found to educate clients on other platforms’ markups, and the switch and savings with Dumpling.
Replacing Shipt Income with Dumpling in a Few Months
At Shipt, Erika made about $800 per week and up to $3,200 per month, which meant her new business needed to replace that. And she did within 3 months of starting her Dumpling biz. After a few rocky summer 2022 months with increasing inflation and grocery prices, she also recently cleared 80 orders and $3,400 for the month.
Her future goal is to add more assistant shoppers, like her current helper, Melanie, to grow her business. Both a neighbor and shopper, Erika’s assistant helps her get some time off after her seven-days-a-week 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM shopping schedule at Publix, Kroger, and CVS.
But more than her ability to increase her income with Dumpling, she loves the platform because she can control her paychecks and her own business, make better money on her own schedule, work with the same “friends and family” clients, and has freedom and flexibility within the app.
“This is gonna sound weird, but I love that I can organize my orders with Dumpling…That feature is one of my favorite things because at Shipt, I couldn’t organize the entire order,” says Erika, “I love the fact that I have two cards [for my assistant and me]…I love not having to scan barcodes or worry about pricing with replacement items…I like the fact that we have Insights so I can keep track of my orders, my money, and I never had that before where I knew how much I was making per month.”
With Dumpling’s app and tools, Erika loves watching her numbers go up, the switch to Dumpling’s Pro Plan, and now has a more accurate way to gauge when she can financially take time off. “Switching to where I was only paying a processing fee on what I made rather than the order total made a huge difference in my bottom line,” Erika says, “The thing I love about Dumpling is having control of my paycheck and my schedule, and I love having customers who value and appreciate me, and treat me well.”
High-Caliber Customer Care = Nonstop Business Growth
Having that incredible relationship building aspect is a “huge part” of why her Dumpling business continues to grow, says Erika. And because she’s going the extra mile, her clients continually share kind words about her on social media.
To show how grateful she is for her clients, every three months she sends handmade cards thanking them for trusting her with their shopping and adds a bouquet of flowers, or stickers or pencils for kids, to one of their future orders. “It might cost me a couple pennies here and there, but in the long run, it’s about the connections and relationships that I build with people here,” Erika explains, “This was a town we moved to where I knew nobody, we didn’t have family or friends here…and how I made my friends was through grocery shopping.”
If you’re wondering how you can grow your Dumpling business, Erika recommends posting on Facebook and joining groups since it’s free and you can connect with potential clients. She also warns to ensure you set your pricing according to your quality-of-service level. Jump into Dumpling’s robust Pro Plan and test it out with your clients to see your numbers and how it works, she says. Then with your financials for delivery and tipping where you want them, you can see growth and feel more comfortable financially.