Oprah Winfrey once said, “We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
Like any other industry, success in the ice cream and frozen dessert world depends on reflecting on the past – and figuring out how to do things better in the future.
As the owner and CEO of INNODELICE, a global network of manufacturers, brands, distributors, and suppliers, I help partners practice this advice every day. But even better, I get to witness the unlimited results they achieve when they do so successfully.
Like you, I’ve got my eyes set on the year ahead and some big goals for my company.
However, I firmly believe in productively learning from the past, and 2022 taught me many lessons.
At INNODELICE, we’re all about collaboration amongst the ecosystem. So, I thought, why not share my biggest learnings with you, my loyal readers?
That way, you can gain insight that you can use to facilitate your own business growth.
Below, I share four of what I believe are my most significant takeaways from 2022 – advice that can help no matter what role you play in the ice cream world.
Image by Pexels
#1: Cost Management: Make Every Dollar Count
Since competition is fierce in the frozen dessert industry, you have to be at the top of your game when it comes to market research, R&D development, securing supply, global market strategy, and more.
Sometimes, focusing too much on all these aspects makes you overlook the recipe and operations costs, which can get out of hand. Product costs start increasing and soon become higher than your competition’s.
When you add in the problem of inflation, costs get even scarier.
Instead of absorbing the incremental costs and risk of becoming unprofitable or passing those increases to the consumer and becoming uncompetitive, brand owners need to think hard before spending every dollar.
They need to ask themselves one key question: “When spending this dollar, does this deliberately contribute to my consumer’s satisfaction?”
If the answer’s no, I recommend you list expenses from largest to smallest, then get to work looking for solutions. For example, reducing supplier expenses may be possible by inquiring about cost reductions from current suppliers and/or researching new suppliers (ones with more purchasing power or cheaper shipping costs).
If a solution is found, implement it as fast as possible after testing it out.
This advice worked well for one of INNODELICE’s manufacturing partners who was looking for fruits. After some research and the help of our fruit trader partner Charles Masson, I found that the switch in suppliers could create savings of 15 percent without compromising quality!
The same strategy was used to create up to 50 percent savings for another brand partner when they started using INNODELICE’s flavor house ecosystem partner, Jean Niel.
The Bottom Line? Although consumers may be willing to pay more for a higher quality product, they won’t pay more for areas where savings can be made on your end – so make every dollar count!
#2: Use Clear, Courageous, and Kind Communication
When leadership expert Brené Brown stated, “Clear is kind and unclear is unkind,” I couldn’t agree more.
Here’s why: Although most of us understand the benefits of clear communication, we don’t always know how to communicate clearly. Being truly clear requires two key things: clarity of thought, needs, and decision-making, and time (time to prepare, document, and share).
Being clear may be harder to do initially, and answering all the critical questions at the start of a project can be difficult.
It also requires more courage to communicate when you’re wrong or have a change of heart. However, being clear costs less in time and resources in the end.
For example, at INNODELICE, I integrate a robust communications methodology into my company’s practices. From starting with a comprehensive brief to taking minutes at all partner meetings to creating timelines that are in agreeance by all parties, I encourage transparency about all parties’ objectives.
And it’s done wonders for us! Throughout my company’s history of working with its ecosystem partners, we’re noted for the effort, time, and courage that’s required of our clear communication. It’s perceived as kindness, which quickly develops into trust.
The Bottom Line? Through clear, courageous, and kind communication, we create trust. From there, we develop the type of speed that is essential to compete in our industry.
#3: Make Time for Proactive Pipeline Planning
Defining, developing, and sharing your goals for the future is even more important than reaching your short-term goals. Creating a strategic roadmap helps you select the appropriate partners, build on past successes, and helps avoid preventable challenges.
When I work with brand partners, I help identify their future products, volume evolution, and margin targets. This helps me partner them with co-packers or suppliers best suited to their short and mid-term goals and take their company to the next level.
In 2023, I plan to continue using this strategy, especially when working with co-packers. Developing a clear understanding of a co-packer’s capabilities will allow INNODELICE to identify the most promising customers within the ecosystem.
The Bottom Line? This year’s results are KING, but securing your pipeline is GOLD. Those who can clearly develop their pipeline will be able to reach success quicker, with fewer disruptions and costs.
#4: Recognize that External Partners Are People, Too
Alongside mobilizing the right team for our companies, we must foster positive relationships with our external partners, such as suppliers and co-packers.
Applying intentional, consistent effort in the same way that you do your internal team can push your project forward in ways you couldn’t imagine. The entire team benefits from more creative thinking, and you experience improvements in areas such as product development, supply and cost savings.
At INNODELICE, I like to set regular weekly touchpoints between buying and selling partners after converting a brief into an official project. This helps achieve timelines with less effort, creates more creative solutions to challenges, but most importantly, develops stronger relationships between partners.
The Bottom Line? Investing time in your external partners will make them an extension of your team and lay the foundation for a successful long-term relationship.
I hope the four key learnings I shared above are practices you’ll use to grow your business in 2023. I’ve seen firsthand that they’re worth the effort when you do!
The best part? They shouldn’t cost your organization anything (and if you need help with their implementation, INNODELICE is here for you).
Andrea Montreuil Owner & CEO, INNODELICE
Founded by former executives in the ice cream industry, INNODELICE aims to create a worldwide ecosystem of solutions within the frozen dessert industry. Thanks to the relationships fostered by INNODELICE, manufacturers, brands, importers, distributors, and suppliers can discover, buy, and sell solutions to grow their businesses. These solutions include co-manufactured and branded products and innovative and competitive ingredients, packaging, and services. Our collaboration model generates lower costs and fewer risks for our participating partners while optimizing their time to market. To learn more about INNODELICE, contact Andrea Montreuil or visit www.innodelice.com.