"Hey you should sell these"
That's what my colleague had said after trying a cheesecake I brought into work. I pondered that for a moment. Then, with confidence I decided she was was mad.
But what if she wasn't mad?
This was 2012. By then I knew my cheesecake tasted good, great even! After all, I had spent the four years previous testing and tweaking an authentic baked New York cheesecake recipe to the point I could call it my very own.
Why had I been ‘testing and tweaking’ recipes? It was quite simple, I wanted to eat the great tasting New York style baked cheesecakes that I had enjoyed whilst holidaying in the USA. Put honestly, I couldn’t find anything near suitable in the UK. The options I was left with were set chilled impersonations or cheaply made, additive laden, supermarket abominations. No thanks, so I got baking.
But was my colleague right and more importantly would people really buy it?
I decided if I was going to sell these cheesecakes I needed a set of rules.
I was going to put flavour first. I'm not an artist and I wasn’t going to pretend to be. I had bought enough ‘fancy’ looking cakes only to be let down when it came to flavour or texture, or more often than not, both! After all it was 2012 and everyone, including their Gran, was selling cupcakes on Facebook. I was sick of being duped.
I decided my cheesecakes would be served putting flavour front and centre. It would be served with my signature whipped cream, or ganache, and a little decoration to differentiate flavours.
I was going to put customer service at the heart of what I do. If it wasn't right, if I messed up, if there was an issue or a problem then it was clear in my mind that I would take responsibility, fix it and do it quickly.
Two simple rules, that I knew if I stuck by I could call myself a success no matter how many cheesecakes I sold.
Beyond an idea
With my rules in place I started my Facebook page and I was ready to start selling. Within a month I had my first sale, but I was stood up.
After that I set ‘Rule 3’...Get paid first!!!
Undeterred, I sliced up that cheesecake and posted a picture on Facebook declaring that I had 16 slices of "cheesecake for sale" with free delivery in Dundee. Success!!! I sold all 16 slices in my first hour.
Cheesecake of the Week was born
It was a simple concept, I would set a different cheesecake flavour every week, slice it, then offer it for sale with free delivery direct to the customers door. Oh and we'd deliver it with a big smile.
Within a month things had snowballed, I was selling 160 slices of cheesecake in under 7 minutes.
The cheesecakes kept selling and selling well. Dundee Cheesecakes, as I was known then, was the talk of the water cooler, word of mouth spread fast and the page quickly boasted over 3000 likes on Facebook.
Since then Hometown Cheesecakes has developed more flavours than I can count (sadly we can't sell them all here), we have racked up well over 9000 likes, with a 4.9 customer review rating on Facebook. I don't mind saying that missing 0.1 bugs me. You can also now find us on Instagram.
The Cheesecake of the Week deliveries continue and now serves Forfar as well as Dundee. Our cheesecakes can be found in a number outlets in Dundee and we are producing whole cakes direct to customers.
Excitingly for us, we have dedicated time in setting up a presence at local farmers markets and are presently at venues throughout Scotland. To find us click here - Farmers Market Events
I didn't start this with a business plan, in fact I've just tried to apply commonsense, do what I think is right and trust my instincts. What that means for Hometown Cheesecakes going forward is that we will continue to develop our online store and serve the immediate Dundee area with a view to ship nationally in the near future. We intend on increasing our Farmers Market presence and expand our cheesecake of the week offer into the towns and cities surrounding Dundee. And dare I dream about a bricks and mortar store...I think I will dare.
No matter how Hometown Cheesecakes grows we'll follow our simple rules and ensure that we put flavour first and deliver amazing customer service.