One of the goals I set myself when I started Little Birdy Cakes was to work myself out of the hands on positions in my business. Delivery driver, baker, decorator etc. Always work to your strengths and my strengths lie in client relations or client management. That is what I am working towards.
When is the right time to outsource or hire someone?
In my first year, I desperately wanted to hand over all my hands on positions. I baked late at night and then got up early the next morning to deliver all the cakes to my clients. Delivery driving was the worst. It took up so much of my time and it had a big effect on how I worked for the rest of the day. But I couldn’t see how I could afford to pay a driver. Most courier companies didn’t want to give us the time of day as we were too small. “We don’t do cakes” and “Come and see us when you are doing 30-40 deliveries a day” was a common response.
My little brain kept telling me that no matter what I had to find a solution. I was too valuable (*cough) to sit in a car all day delivering cakes. I was hindering my own progress.
When you are a small fish, how do you get the results you need?
The delivery drivers were poorly dressed, rude and I was concerned about the cakes being placed in the back seat of a car with no due care.
I trialled using an on-demand courier service, and it was not a great experience. The delivery drivers were poorly dressed and rude. I was concerned about the cakes being placed in the back seat of a car with no due care. And because it was an on demand service, it could be up to a two hour wait for it to be picked up. It was a nightmare.
But there was a silver lining. One morning, a courier driver turned up who was on time, appropriately dressed and he had a delivery van rather than a car. After a chat it turned out that he only took the on demand jobs on slow days to make some extra money. He often delivered for a couple of other cake makers and the back of his van was customised to make sure that nothing moved around. We negotiated and from that day he became my courier driver. And I have not looked back. His services are at the high end of my budget but he is worth every cent.
Who knew I would miss it?
While I was extremely happy to no longer be delivering all of our cakes, there are some things that I miss. I do miss seeing my customers every day. It is so important to grow and maintain relationships with clients. Now I have to make sure I catch up with them regularly. I miss keeping up with news and podcasts. Being in the car so much, I always tried to make good use of my time. Nowadays, I rarely know what is going on in the news (between a business and two kids under 5, I have no time) and podcasts are a luxury.
I can reverse park into any spot without any trouble, I am the Queen of reverse parking!
What I don’t miss is constantly having to drive carefully for the fear that the cakes will get damaged. Trying to find parking, especially in the city! Although I have become very good at reverse parking. Thanks to all the difficult parking in Brisbane, I can reverse park into any spot without any trouble, I am the Queen of reverse parking!
I am more confident on the road (without being aggressive) and I know so many more suburbs in Brisbane. There is a long running joke in my house, if I don’t know where a suburb is I say it is on the Northside. Growing up in the Southern and Western suburbs of Brisbane, I have little knowledge of the Northern suburbs. But I have increased my knowledge, just a little.
I have no regrets that it took me a year to outsource my deliveries and here’s why. It has given me a better understanding and insight into what it takes to get the job done. I go out of my way to make sure my courier has every piece of information he needs. Do you wonder why we ask you what time your office opens and what time you celebrate your birthdays? It is because to get the most optimal route and use time efficiently, a larger time frame for delivery is best.
I know there is a limit to how many deliveries can be made in a day. I am always in contact with my courier leading up to big days so he knows ahead of time what is going on. And if there are special instructions on how to access loading docks etc, I make sure that this information is communicated.
Is it the best decision for Little Birdy Cakes?
And in return I get a courier who is the face of my company. Kurt, my courier, is polite and sociable. He goes out of his way to make sure our cakes are delivered on time and in tact. I will always get a message from him if I have not notified him of our deliveries in case I have forgotten.
If I need help, Kurt is always willing to jump in and help. I was once running late getting an order ready for delivery and instead of getting in a huff that he had to wait, he pitched in and helped. He put the individual boxes together for me and placed stickers on the boxes once the cupcakes were inside. Tell me another courier who does that!! He is also meticulous about the presentation of our cakes. Kurt will let me know if something doesn’t look right before it leaves the kitchen so it can be fixed. He treats my business the same way he treats his own, who could ask for more than that.
Should you always take advice when it is given?
Way back when Little Birdy Cakes started, I was advised that a delivery driver was the way to go from day one. It was all about using my time in the best way possible. Although it took me almost a year to get there, I think it is something I needed to get to on my own. If I had found my courier, at the start I would not have appreciated how amazing he is. Sometimes you are just not ready for certain things. Even if someone is speaking from experience and what they say makes sense. Learning from others mistakes can be invaluable but sometimes you need to walk your own path.
What piece of advice were you given that you didn’t follow straight away but ended up doing down the track?