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How Planted Table Found Meal Delivery Success with Megan Scott

Megan Scott is the co-founder of Planted Table, one of the Bay Area’s most successful and innovative meal delivery businesses. We’ll talk about how she built Planted Table, building an environmentally sustainable business and how to use Yelp reviews to grow your business. This is sure to be an awesome chat with an incredible business owner.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Will Schreiber: While we wait, Megan curious. If you're drinking coffee this morning, do you drink coffee?

[00:00:06] Megan Scott: Yes, definitely. I don't know how you could run a meal delivery service and not drink coffee.

[00:00:11] Will Schreiber: Yeah. What's your routine?

Do you make it, do you make it at home? Do you go get coffee?

[00:00:16] Megan Scott: I make it at home. I make an oat milk latte every morning with one pump of peppermint syrup.

[00:00:22] Will Schreiber: Nice. Peppermint syrup, even in the summer?

[00:00:26] Megan Scott: Yep, even in the summer.

[00:00:28] Will Schreiber: Wow, that's wild. That's diabolical.

[00:00:30] Megan Scott: With cinnamon on top.

[00:00:32] Will Schreiber: Wow. I guess Bay Area though, it's probably temperate.

[00:00:37] Megan Scott: It is, and I'm drinking coffee at 5am, so it's always dark and cold at that time.

[00:00:42] Will Schreiber: Yeah, there you go. I have switched to herbal tea. It's now 1 o'clock, I can't justify. I'm already pretty hyped up. I can't justify it. Anyway, let's get rolling. So Megan has joined us. She is the founder and operator of Planted Table in the Bay area.

[00:01:00] And I have had Planted Tables food when I lived in San Francisco. I was a customer and ordered your food and it was awesome. It was fantastic. What was the, one of the downsides of leaving not being able to order it


So. Curious. Just quick.

[00:01:17] Megan Scott: Sorry, you froze. But I'll go ahead and keep talking. I think you were just asking for an overview. So Planted Table is a plant based meal delivery service, and we serve the entire Bay Area in California. And everything's organic 100 percent vegan. We've been around for six years now. And one thing that sets us apart is we don't use any single use containers.

We're a hundred percent plastic free. We use reusable containers. So we aim to be a zero waste meal delivery service.

[00:01:48] Will Schreiber: And what inspired that? Like why is zero waste?

[00:01:53] Megan Scott: It wasn't something we set out to do. My business partner and I were going through the initial stages of [00:02:00] coming up with our business plan.

And part of why we're vegan is for environmental reasons. And we were looking at how many servings of food we'd be putting out every week. And it's over a thousand and, most containers are not compostable or recyclable. So that's a thousand containers. In a landfill every week, just for our business, it just didn't align with our values at all.

So we didn't feel confident moving forward with the business unless we could figure something out. That, wasn't adding so much garbage to landfills. And so that's how we came up with the reusable containers.

[00:02:38] Will Schreiber: Yeah, cool. I'll stop there for one second and just remind everybody. So the goal of today's talk is to just learn more about Planted Table and some of the things Megan has learned both around marketing and running the business and how to grow.

And so we'll get to those topics later on. We were chatting right before this, that, that. Megan has been one of our longest customers, has been with Bottle [00:03:00] for a long time and has seen a lot and is really proud to have the longevity that she's had and we're stoked to see it as well. So that's the theme of today, just learning from another meal delivery operator.

If you have any questions that come up, put them in the Q& A and We'll get to them as it makes sense in the discussion and can take this any sort of direction and all brainstorm together too, but back to the reusable packages for reusable containers for a second. I know it's a logistical kind of nightmare.

So I'm curious first to walk through, how do you handle it from a customer perspective in terms of ordering? I know in your case, you want to offer one time. That can't be reusable, or maybe there's some trick to get the reusable container back on a one time order. And then I'm curious operationally how difficult it is to do, but let's start with the kind of, customer order experience.

[00:03:53] Megan Scott: Sure. So for the customer, it's our job to just make it very clear through the ordering process that [00:04:00] you're. Okay. Delivery will come with reusable containers and it's your responsibility to return them to us. They have to, using Bottle, it's a question that we ask that they have to type yes in the answer form to move forward.

And then we charge a refundable deposit on the containers. Also, it comes with ice packs and an insulated bag. And so once we receive all of those back, they can get their deposit refunded. So it's a little bit more incentive for them to. Get everything back to us. We don't have a complex, P. O.

System to track all of our containers. The we've researched it and the R. O. I. Just isn't there for the investment in time and money to set that up versus the very few people who don't return our containers to us. We think if you're choosing a service like ours, Mhm. We hope that you're invested in the environment as much as we are.

And you don't want to just steal our containers. So we try and make it very easy for customers to return them back to [00:05:00] us. And so it's just on the honor system, whether we get them back or not.

[00:05:04] Will Schreiber: And here's a question right here. What does the customer do to return the containers?

[00:05:09] Megan Scott: Good question.

In most point of contact we have with the customers, we included link to a YouTube video. It's a quick 30 second video that just gives you a step by step how to return the containers to us, but it's just empty out all the food. Let the container dry. We don't want them to wash it or anything and then put it back in the bag.

And then when we deliver the next delivery, we pick up the old bag and container. If you're not getting another delivery, I have a little link. I text you to schedule a pickup and they just go on that website, fill it out and schedule the pickup. We also have several drop off locations that they can access throughout the Bay Area as well.

[00:05:49] Will Schreiber: And you still, I remember when I was a customer, you used a third party delivery service. I can't remember the name of it, but they were pretty good. And you could track the driver on the map [00:06:00] and dropped it off. Are you still doing that? Is it still a third party service? And did they handle the container pickups as well?

[00:06:07] Megan Scott: Yes. About half of our deliveries are third party and half of our drivers are in-House. The Bay Area is such a large territory that it makes sense for us to have a third party driver on this half of the bay, but on this half it makes more sense for us to have our in-house drivers.

[00:06:25] Will Schreiber: . And you're based over in East Bay, right?

Not in San Francisco. In Oakland.

[00:06:29] Megan Scott: Yeah.

[00:06:30] Will Schreiber: Yeah. And but delivered to both.

[00:06:33] Megan Scott: Yeah. So we deliver to about six different counties. So it's a pretty large territory.

[00:06:38] Will Schreiber: Yeah. What do you see in customers that stick with you? Like, why do people sign up for Planted Table and why do your best customers stick around?

[00:06:48] Megan Scott: Hmm.

We've had customers with us since the very beginning and As much as I'd like to say it's because of the environmental aspects or the awesome customer service or the great [00:07:00] ordering platform, it's the food. The food's what keeps people coming back. We make plant based food, but we have such a big variety and one of the interviews you had with the woman who was the head of Parsley.

That's the one thing she was stressing is you've got to have variety. And I can say confidently. We have, probably 40 different dishes on there every week and there's something for everyone of all different cultures. And I think that's what keeps people coming back is just the consistency and quality.

[00:07:31] Will Schreiber: Yeah, that's one of my questions here. I'd love to go ahead and ask, like, how do you think about what items to keep versus new items to introduce to the menu?

[00:07:42] Megan Scott: You have to introduce new items. The weeks that we have new items on the order form and that we promote it, we see a big increase in sales.

If I just put the word new in an email subject line, It gets 10 percent more openings than if I don't have the word new. So [00:08:00] that's huge. You've got to have new items, even if it's like an item, I don't know, similar to something you had, but you just tweak it a little bit. It's a, instead of a green curry, it's a pumpkin curry because it's the fall, and you can make that exciting.

Yeah. So new is really important, but also we have, we're always evaluating the data. It's very clear and easy to see what sells and what people get excited about and what doesn't. A lot of it has to do with how long the food lasts, if it's freezer friendly, um, there's so many different varieties of what makes something sell.

And sometimes it's like throwing spaghetti on a wall and seeing what sticks. A lot of times we just don't really know. Sometimes we're really surprised at what sells.

[00:08:46] Will Schreiber: Yeah, it's a completely random question, but is it in that Is it good when the spaghetti sticks? What, when is spaghetti cooked properly?

When it sticks or when it falls? That's a good

[00:08:57] Megan Scott: question. I think the whole goal is [00:09:00] to just see what happens once you throw it.

[00:09:02] Will Schreiber: Yeah, okay. Yeah. Yeah. That's like on the wagon, off the wagon. I can never, I never know which is which. A question here from Danny how do you balance okay, this is the best seller.

So it's always going to be here versus that newness. Do you have items that always stay? Or do you try to keep a certain percentage rotating? Like, how do you think about that balance?

[00:09:27] Megan Scott: Sure. So we utilize the categories in the Bottle order form and in those categories we have the top one is our new meals for the week.

So I list the delivery date, like right now, our next delivery date's May 1st. So it's May 1st, weekly meals, exclamation point. That's where everything new and exciting is going to be. Then below that, we're getting into more freezer meals that have maybe been on the order form a couple of times now, some soups we're trying to get rid of.

And then below that is what internally we just call add on items. We offer [00:10:00] fresh cut veggies and ranch dip and a fruit platter and breakfast, overnight oats and chia seed pudding, and all kinds of fun snacks, breakfast, desserts. We offer products from other vendors as well that we don't make in house on that part of the order form.

So we utilize probably about seven categories and then in each category. Have between five to maybe 15 items, but the top category is always what's new, exciting and hot. And in that category, we try not to repeat a meal more than once every six weeks is our goal. And then, of course, everything seasonal.

So we wouldn't put anything on the menu right now. That's like a pumpkin dish. Right now we're focusing on end of spring summer. So we've got our corn and tomatoes and. Because we're vegan, it's just heavily a produce based meal. So within the season, we work within certain meals.

[00:10:56] Will Schreiber: And that, that, that is interesting. We hear that continually, [00:11:00] I think, for everyone listening. New items drives new orders. You would think that would wear down the customer messaging. You're saying it's always new from your perspective. My impression is like every email or each week, there's like more new items.

But it just works. I guess people really want that variety.

[00:11:19] Megan Scott: Yeah, and it doesn't even have to be anything huge. We just made a little strawberry shortcake jar because we had some extra organic strawberries. And that's our new exciting item. We've got these strawberry shortcake jars. If I put that at the email header, they will sell out instantly.

[00:11:34] Will Schreiber: Wow, that's really cool. That's really cool to hear. Back to because I think here's a question about subscription versus one off and you're a little unique because the subscription service is tied or rolled up with the reusable containers. But. We have a question like, what percentage of your business is that subscription based versus how many people are just one off ordering?

[00:11:55] Megan Scott: We, the, mainly the times we get one off is people using gift [00:12:00] certificates. We sell a lot of gift certificates, especially for babies and just, Constant gift certificates. And so those people are primarily one offs, but we don't get a lot of other one offs. I think, we don't necessarily have the same people ordering every single week, but at least like once a month will or will get people.

There's not a lot of people who just one time and that's it. We're done. But if I've had to guess, maybe less than 5%.

[00:12:27] Will Schreiber: Yeah. So you're really pushing people to subscribe.

[00:12:31] Megan Scott: Yeah. And even if you're not a, so we have two meal plans. We have weekly subscriber and then we have all a cart. So all a cart, no pressure, nothing automatic.

Place an order when you want to place an order. However, you're not going to get the discounts that you get if you're a weekly meal plan member, you're going to pay full price on everything. And the majority of our members do fall under that a la carte category, they like just the ease of use, no minimums, and they can place one order [00:13:00] every month kind of thing.

And then so that's probably half would be all a car and then half for our weekly members because even on a half of your

[00:13:07] Will Schreiber: orders every week versus the subscription,

[00:13:11] Megan Scott: but I wouldn't call all the cards one off. They still order more than once. They just don't necessarily want to be weekly.

[00:13:18] Will Schreiber: You've got them set up to receive the weekly text from Bottle.

They're still receiving the menu every week. Yes. They're just not being auto charged.

[00:13:25] Megan Scott: Exactly.

[00:13:27] Will Schreiber: That's a good distinction. So both of those in your mind are members of the business, which makes sense, but you're a one time or like gift card. Not even becoming an a la carte member, just ordering once and floating away.

[00:13:40] Megan Scott: Yeah.

[00:13:41] Will Schreiber: Yeah. What's something that you're really proud of and Planted Table from the last six years. I'm

[00:13:48] Megan Scott: proud to still be here after six years. I'm proud of the Reviews we've received. We've never gotten a horrible review. Really proud of our customer service and how well [00:14:00] we take care of our customers.

I'm proud of how well we treat our team and our staff and just how much me and my business partner have grown in the past 6 years. And then I'm proud of what we're offering to people, it's really rewarding when we hear back from customers that we've changed their lives, changed their quality of life, changed their health made transitioning to plant based eating more fun and exciting.

That's really rewarding.

[00:14:27] Will Schreiber: Have you, how have you grown? Are there, is there something in particular you think of about, wow, that was a lesson learned?

[00:14:34] Megan Scott: Many. Many lessons learned. So many lessons are logistical, just on the operation side. Things you learn as you go. Ways to pack bags to be more efficient ways to increase sales.

And yeah, when we first started, we started with 20 meal plans going out every week, and now we're at about [00:15:00] 200. Plus we do some corporate catering and other special partnerships. Yeah, there's been a lot of growth.

[00:15:07] Will Schreiber: Do you have a business philosophy at all that, that you've come to.

[00:15:13] Megan Scott: Yeah, really what I would stress is don't sweat the small stuff. I know it. Kind of cliche, but when we first started out, basically you're going to have stress and hiccups every day, no matter what, on some side of the business, one of your orders doesn't arrive or a staff doesn't show up or, someone's not happy or a delivery didn't make it, there's always going to be things.

And in the beginning, each little thing would be very stressful, sometimes to the point of crying or not sleeping and figuring it out. And now after six years, it's just, everything's fixable. There's always a solution. We don't stress the small stuff. If someone, on the staff quits or doesn't show up we figure it out.

It just, we had a really bad [00:16:00] incident in November with some of our staff stealing from us and it was very stressful, but never to the point of, being so upsetting that it affected my overall quality of life. Because I just knew. We'll figure it out and we'll figure it out and we'll move on and everything will be fine.

And so that's just one thing I would stress, especially if you're on the newer side, is to not let these little things really become toxic in your everyday life. Things to do to work themselves out.

[00:16:28] Will Schreiber: I think that's great advice. Like we feel the same way in our business. It's just, you can only control what you can control to your absolute best.

And work out. I love that. Speaking of that's very Kumbaya, but now let's talk about what my rock the boat, like what are the big challenges you guys face both overall and like day to day, like what are things that you think about are just hard.

[00:16:50] Megan Scott: Having enough time to do everything is hard and balancing, having a family and wanting to do other things besides just work with [00:17:00] growing a business.

It's hard for me as the business owner to allocate tasks to other staff sometimes because I want it done the way I want to do it. And a lot of things I still haven't handed off that I probably should. Staffing is hard. It's just, The nature of the game that you get people who are just not going to be permanent and you get people who, we've had people who are awesome, who've worked for us for over a year that just one day don't show up again.

And you never hear from them again. It just. It's the nature of the game and we learned that the hard way that you just can't really get all that invested and someone doesn't show up. You just have to move along. Staffing is really hard. So when you have a good team. Make the most of it, bring in the most orders.

You can have them, do a lot because it's not always going to be that way as long as

[00:17:54] Will Schreiber: you recruit. How do you recruit

[00:17:57] Megan Scott: people primarily [00:18:00] right now? We're using Craigslist we have tried them all. We've tried indeed message boards, word of mouth and different cooking schools and. Craigslist has been really successful for us.

And then once we find someone good, we promote from within. We never hire at the management level. We always promote from within is something that we've done from the beginning. We invest, in our staff, when we find good ones, we'll send them to training, different management courses try and work with them on our management style.

The kitchen is a different beast and I'm coming from a corporate world. So when I first started running a kitchen, it was like, Whoa, it's a whole nother world in the kitchen. Some people come, we're a woman owned and run kitchen and we like a very calm, respectful environment and some people come in, with guns blazing, coming out of a high energy.

Toxic male dominated kitchen, and we have to [00:19:00] completely change the energy levels and it's very interesting. So I think as I'm not the executive chef, but as my executive chef is in charge of setting the tone for the kitchen. And that's just key. That's key to keeping staff, especially those coming from a stressful environment.

[00:19:17] Will Schreiber: Yeah. What is y'all's kitchen set up now? Is it owned by you? Do you have shared kitchen space? What is y'all's kitchen?

[00:19:26] Megan Scott: We got really lucky. When we first started the business six years ago, we found a gorgeous vegan restaurant and They were only using it for pop ups. And so we started out just by renting the space for three days a week from the main lady who held the lease.

And after about a year, we were growing so fast and she was wanting to scale back. So we ended up taking over the lease from her completely. phased her out and we bought the entire kitchen space from her. So [00:20:00] all of the equipment, everything she had built out in the kitchen, we bought it and took over the space entirely.

So we've had our own private kitchen now for about five years. And just this last December, we started renting out the kitchen space to a pop up restaurant. that's using it when we're not using it. And so that's been really great. There's been a learning curve in, sharing the space with someone.

But overall it's been really great and it's awesome to have some help paying the bills for the space.

[00:20:30] Will Schreiber: Yeah. Very cool. So it seems like this has been a pretty simple journey. I guess a lot of times I hear of, ah, we've moved kitchen three times and we did our own build out and. That sounds pretty calm, like a calm evolution.

[00:20:44] Megan Scott: Yeah, it really was. We toured a lot of spaces because we didn't know if buying the equipment and the kitchen in the space we're in now was the right option for us. And so we had, a realtor help us and we toured a lot of kitchens and all it did was [00:21:00] cement our belief that we are where we're supposed to be.

And so we have eight or nine year lease on this space right now.

[00:21:07] Will Schreiber: Yes. I remember emailing you during COVID and the kitchen regulations and stuff that have been introduced were a nightmare. What was your COVID experience like looking back running this business as things got shut down and all the hoops, everything you had to do.

[00:21:24] Megan Scott: Yeah, so covid going through it was very difficult. As a meal delivery service, our customers were stressing to us how much they needed us. They wanted all this beautiful food dropped off on their doorstep to not have to go anywhere. But our staff especially in the beginning when things were really unknown, they were terrified to be at work and cooking and in a small kitchen space.

And we weren't able to get a lot of the PPP, equipment we would need in the kitchen. And so we tried our best to keep operating, but it became really [00:22:00] hard, especially when kids were out of school. Both me and my business partner have small children and we were taking them to the kitchen with us.

And it was, we were literally crying at the end of every day. It was very difficult. So we made the tough decision to close down I think in May. We stayed closed for 10 weeks and that 10 weeks ended up being a real gift for us because it made us realize how we had been operating in this mode of chaos for a very long time and just trying to survive but never having the time to do anything.

The time to reflect on how we're operating the business and how it could be more efficient and some of the choices we're making, it was just a matter of keeping up. So we really took that 10 weeks to completely overhaul our business so that when we did come back in, we came back with a much smaller crew, a whole different schedule and a whole different [00:23:00] way of operating and fulfilling orders and It turned out to be so much better, and it's been so much better since then.

We've only continued to improve. But I feel if we didn't get that time to just stop operations and reflect, I don't know if we'd ever have gotten to the point we are at now. So looking back, it was a gift. And I think if you are in that situation, Space of barely holding your head above water of pure chaos.

I can tell you there's ways to operate smarter and you don't have to be there, but you can't get there unless you stop and take a break.

[00:23:42] Will Schreiber: That's so interesting to hear. And this is a small plug for. A coffee chat we will do in May. I heard basically the exact same story from another Bottle vendor in New York, a donut shop and she had basically the same realization, the COVID came, it was so [00:24:00] stressful, but in the end was a blessing of realizing why am I doing this and setting new goals for the business?

So we'll email everyone about that. That was going to be the main topic of that chat. So it's really interesting to hear you had a similar journey. Or experienced during COVID as well. That's it's always nice to be able to take a step back and reassess. And that's a great segue to, okay, so you had shut down during COVID and then you restarted.

You probably knew a lot more restarting and you wanted to tamp down the chaos and stuff. But from there, what was your growth trajectory like? And then if you look back on everything you've done since then, are there things that have helped you? You would have done sooner or the things you would have waited on in terms of, the last three, four years of running the business since then.

[00:24:46] Megan Scott: Yeah, one of the things we realized was we had way too many staff members and in this mode of chaos, it was like higher, but never is everyone working as efficient as they possibly [00:25:00] can. So that was a big thing. And since then, we are constantly looking at our staff and does our staff reflect, the numbers that we're bringing in that sort of thing.

And constantly evaluating your menu, even. Is should you have 10 meals and say maybe 50 of each meal or you should you have five meals and aim to sell 100 of those five meals? What does that look like? And that one, the answer is tough on that one. But we're always playing around with those kinds of numbers.

Really streamline the vendors that we work with. I personally don't handle the kitchen ordering, but that's a big part of the job is What you're paying for each item, all of the ingredients, when they deliver, how everything gets processed, and so streamlining that was really helpful.

The way we deliver food, changed, we improved the delivery service that we worked with. And the routes just I don't [00:26:00] think there's a single aspect of the business that we haven't fine tuned

[00:26:04] Will Schreiber: Is there something in particular that you finally did and were like wow, I wish we had done that two years ago

[00:26:12] Megan Scott: Gosh, let me think about that we just recently made the change to model 2. 0. I think we were late in the game on that one. And I do wish we would have done that a couple of years ago.

[00:26:24] Will Schreiber: I'd love to hear that. I promise I was not paid. I promise I was not paid. Yes.

[00:26:28] Megan Scott: No, that, that was a big change for us.

That took a lot of time and a lot of time to implement. And I'm still implementing. Just this last week of unrolling out. The nutrition facts. That's a big game changer. That's I have probably spent 10 hours of my own time figuring out nutrition facts and how those could work for us. And are they going to add to sales or take away?

How is it going to look? Every single change you make. I internalize and think, how is that going to work for my business now? And what does it mean for sales? That's [00:27:00] a big one. We used to do a lot of events in the way of like marketing events, setting up a table, handing out samples.

I said yes to every invitation and now I don't, that definitely changed after COVID events are very expensive. Very time consuming. And the ROI just isn't there for us, unfortunately. And, I really wish it was. So when we do events, we have to think of it as just exposure, but it doesn't bring us a new customer as good as just advertising on Google or Yelp would.

[00:27:36] Will Schreiber: Did it ever? Do you feel like it used to work better and now it doesn't?

[00:27:41] Megan Scott: The interesting thing about events is certain ones do work and the ones that work seem to be where there's like less than 10 people in the room. And so anytime a gym asked me to come speak, I always say yes. Gyms, Are awesome for us, get me in a room with 10 gym members and I can [00:28:00] get three really good new customers.

We can do huge kind of street fair events where I talk to 500 people and we'll get none. We won't get a single person. They'll say, I've heard of you. You're so awesome. I love you guys. I'm going to follow you on Instagram. I'm going to order. We don't get a single order. For us personally, if I can get in a room, With good people who are actually going to retain the information.

We'll get some good customers from that.

[00:28:31] Will Schreiber: That's a, that's so interesting. And I guess makes sense. Like you build a more personal connection with the smaller people, but it is a little counterintuitive.

One of the reasons we really wanted you to come on as well, apart from building a successful business you have and everything was you reached out after we had.

A Google expert earlier, and we're like, Yelp actually really works for me. And that's a really interesting perspective, or it has worked for me. I'd love to dig in there for a second. So one like how do you view Yelp? I think a [00:29:00] lot of people have a negative opinion. But what's your view of how Yelp has helped Planted Table acquire and get new customers?

[00:29:08] Megan Scott: Yeah. Yeah. When I heard that interview and Yelp was really dismissed as a marketing tool I just wanted to share that was not my experience. And when you're first starting a business with us, anyway we didn't get any loans or partnerships for our business. We, my business partner and I both took a little bit of money out of our personal savings to start the business.

So we did not have a lot of money for a large marketing campaign in the beginning. And so getting Yelp reviews didn't cost us anything and we found it to be a really valuable tool, especially for SEO. If you're a brand new company, you're not going to have established SEO. And so unless you're paying Google a lot of money, you're not really going to have a lot showing up on that first page of search results.

But with Yelp, if you've got a couple of good reviews, it's going to show up in the top and the second [00:30:00] line of contact. The context is going to be one of those good reviews. Like the food is so great. I love it when it's delivered right there on the first page of Google. And then when you click on it and see all these nice things, people have to say about your business.

It's a really good marketing tool and it's a time and time again. I want to stop, paying for Yelp advertising. And then I'm always reminded that people, when it comes to food, people are using Yelp and they're reading the reviews. And so we've really invested a lot of time into Yelp. We don't, we do paid advertising with them, but it's not.

A lot. We do more with Google. But we have over 100 5-star reviews and we don't have any reviews under four stars and that just. It's very, that's a very compelling sales tool. Yeah. And then we'll use those reviews on our website, on our social media, in other marketing that we do. So if you aren't starting a business or don't have a [00:31:00] huge marketing campaign, I feel like it could be a really valuable tool.

And just asking your, anytime a customer. Sends us a text through Bottle thing. Hey, I really love this dish this week. I say, thank you so much We really appreciate that and it would just make our day if you could share that on our Yelp page

[00:31:16] Will Schreiber: Now you stole my next question. How do you drive reviews?

So you actually you tell people like specifically Yelp. Hey, please leave a review And do you say Yelp for Google?

[00:31:25] Megan Scott: Yeah, now I'm focusing more on Google because I feel like we have done a really good job establishing our Yelp page and Google's more where we could use the reviews right now. But either one.

Yeah. And so with Yelp, you're obviously not supposed to solicit reviews. I don't. Put it in an email blast or anything. But if someone's reaching in to say something nice, I will say it'd be great if you could help, if you could share that.

[00:31:48] Will Schreiber: Yeah, I didn't even know they asked you not to do that. I just, I feel like everyone asks to leave a review.

But is that different from Google? Are there policies on Google or Yelp that are [00:32:00] penalties?

[00:32:01] Megan Scott: I'm not sure about Google, honestly. I just know Yelp doesn't want you to send out like large emails or have a thing on your website that says leave a Yelp review. They want it to be more authentic.

And look, there's a lot of things about Yelp that are super annoying. They hide some reviews, they want you to advertise If you wanted to, you could sit and find all the reasons to completely ignore Yelp. And I totally get that, but I'm just saying from my experience, it leads to sales.

[00:32:31] Will Schreiber: Yeah.

What are some other growth drivers for y'all in terms of inbound client interest?

[00:32:37] Megan Scott: Definitely we do Google AdWords as well. We, Have I feel like we put a lot of effort into our website and making it very beautiful. We have a sign up for our newsletter and get a free ebook. And I personally wrote the ebook that they get.

So a lot of different touches for engagement. We do use the Bottle referral program, and we give [00:33:00] 20 to the recipient and then the person ordering for the first time as a credit for anyone, and we remind people in marketing, we remind our customers about our referral program. Constantly, um, and then all the touches we do, we're taking advantage of the abandoned cart messaging.

And so the day before the deadline to order, we have a, we noticed you have items in your cart message that goes out. I also have an email blast that goes out with a countdown and a clock, to remind you it's your final few hours to order.

[00:33:33] Will Schreiber: I like that.

[00:33:34] Megan Scott: Yeah. We also actually are really lucky that we have a popular.

Walkable storefront location. So we have a really great signage and we have a QR code and a text stuff to get the menu right on, on the signs. And we've gotten really great customers by people walking by even corporate catering that we have that's been really successful for us. And then. [00:34:00] I have the Bottle phone number right on the door and it says text for menu and I'll just be, I could be at home brushing my teeth and someone wants the menu.

I send it to them. Now they're in our system. And so I can always continue to market to them in the future.

[00:34:14] Will Schreiber: Amazing. That's something we should do. We should build a product for of give you a QR code. That submit your phone number, send the menu, prioritize that for you that you're not the only person doing that.

I think it's a great lead gen tool. The other thing you said that we've now heard a couple of times for other people listening is the ebook, give us your email. And in your case, you've got this great message to share around. Veganism and like eating well and treating your body. I assume that's what the ebook's about.

That's a great tool to get someone's information. So often people aren't ready to buy when they land on your site, but they do like you and they want to build a relationship with you. And I think that's a great tactic that people can steal to, to get information from someone [00:35:00] who might buy from you in the future, but just can't today for whatever reason,

[00:35:04] Megan Scott: Yeah, I made the e book.

The expectation

[00:35:06] Will Schreiber: that they're going to convert today, it shouldn't be there, I guess what I'm saying. What were you about to say?

[00:35:11] Megan Scott: I designed the e book in Canva, and it was pretty easy. To do the whole process. It was one of my COVID 10 week off projects.

[00:35:20] Will Schreiber: Oh, nice. What's the book about?

[00:35:23] Megan Scott: It's about plant based eating, like a guide to plant based eating.

Um, what is plant based eating? What are some of the foods you're going to find most in our meal plans? Any supplements we recommend? Just overall, that sort of thing.

[00:35:36] Will Schreiber: Yeah.

Dave is asking, do you have a loyalty program?

[00:35:39] Megan Scott: Yes. Yeah. So I forget what the amount is. I think it's every 2, 000. We send you a real touchy feely message. Thank you for supporting our small business. Here's 10 on us to get a dessert kind of thing.

[00:35:52] Will Schreiber: Yeah, this is a good two part plug. That is a Bottle feature, the loyalty program.

Hannah's asking, can, [00:36:00] do they request that you go through a landing page? I assume so. And then ask if it was integrated with Bottle. Unfortunately, it's not, that's not a feature we offer, but it's a

[00:36:12] Megan Scott: MailChimp feature. It's a, I designed it in MailChimp and they give you a code to put in the backend of your, I have a WordPress site and so it's a pop up, but it only pops up for people who are visiting our website for the very first time.

So you're not going to see it over and over again.

[00:36:28] Will Schreiber: That's very cool. We've heard it enough now that we're pretty serious about building a tool like that. We're preview for everyone, we'll probably dedicate a coffee chat to this too, but we're building out a full landing page for people to use and having marketing tools on that landing page like the, give us an email, get a digital product or something, will be a part of that at some point. It's cool to hear all the tactics everyone has. While we're talking about Bottle, I feel this is our like plug time. And usually I want to be clear, like for these coffee chats, we want people to join who [00:37:00] don't just use our software. And for this to be helpful for everybody, but I am curious what your experience was pre Bottle and then post Bottle, like how we've been helpful to you as a business owner.

[00:37:12] Megan Scott: I, you're not paying me to say this pre Bottle was a nightmare because we were using a WordPress subscription plugin. I'm the name is escaping me right now. I can't remember what it was called and we were it wasn't made for a meal delivery service at all. It was awful. It was an awful user experience.

It was an awful experience on my end. It just enabled us to launch the business. And I spent, once we were up and running, I spent a long time trying to find a really great meal delivery software, any person who emailed me saying, I've got software for you. I'd set up a call. None of them would work for us.

We have, we're a real specific kind of business, nothing worked and they were all really expensive, way more [00:38:00] than I had the budget for. And I think it was like a year in, Andy emailed me, do you want to hear my spiel on my meal delivery software? And I was like, yes, I'll hear it. And we had a really great conversation and I was like, wait, this could actually like work for us.

And I think we can actually afford this service. And so it led to lots more phone calls, but. Oh, it was a game changer. Personally, it makes my job so much easier because things that I was doing manually, I didn't have to do manually anymore. And it makes the user experience so much easier. The texting feature.

It's such a game changer. Because I could be anywhere I could be anywhere in the world. We actually travel quite a bit. And the second someone has a message for me, I respond instantly. And if you look at our Yelp reviews, one of the most common things you see there is great customer service.

And that's really due to this messaging feature. I use the voice function, and I also set up [00:39:00] shortcuts in my phone. Like if someone's texting wanting nutritional facts, I've got a shortcut where like I just type in N U T and it has my whole spiel on nutritional facts. They get it in seconds, this response.

It makes running the business and communicating with people very easy. And a lot of times they're not used to that. They're not getting that with some of these big name companies.

[00:39:23] Will Schreiber: Yeah. That's awesome to hear. I think I think we've been really lucky to be able to support your business.

And I'm really glad you've been a long time user and for context for everyone, Megan switched to the new product. And what was that just five or six months ago?

[00:39:40] Megan Scott: I think it was December, January. Yeah, it was January,

[00:39:43] Will Schreiber: December. So happy to have you on we're really proud of the new product.

Hopefully it can be continue to grow your business and make things easy for you. Last question, I think, and then if anyone else has Q and a, please pop it in. But. What are your long term plans with Planted Table? [00:40:00] We

[00:40:02] Megan Scott: talk about that a lot. Our lease on our commercial kitchen is up in, I think, three or four years.

And I don't think that we're going to renew the lease for another 10 years. Like we did this time around. I don't know exactly what it's going to look like, but I do know we're not just going to jump back in to keep operating at the level we operate now. We would like to create some more digital products.

We're working on a cookbook. That's another thing. It'd be cool if Bottle could sell some digital downloads for us because right now we offer some on our website, but it'd be nice to sell them through Bottle. But yeah, some cookbooks, some recipes and maybe some events and like trips, since we've got this.

We have an e list of just, thousands of really plant health focused, people in the Bay Area who are passionate about veganism and the environment. And so I feel like there's a lot we could do with that. So we're just [00:41:00] brainstorming what the future might look like without us physically working in the kitchen, for so long.

[00:41:06] Will Schreiber: Yeah. Makes sense. You're not the only one on the digital product desire for business. I feel like there's a lot there, especially with having a niche the way you do and speaking to a specific diet and audience. There's probably some cool stuff you guys could make and sell.

[00:41:21] Megan Scott: One other tip I had just for website is to really take the time to tell your story, like on your about us page or the story behind your business.

A lot of the competitors that we are working with are national based. They're not local. And so it's, most of them don't even have a face attached to the company. It's just like a company logo and that's it. And so my business partner and I, we wrote our whole story of why we started this business.

And we get feedback on that all the time. I've just people who are, we forget people actually sit down and read that and they really like it. And so just take the time to like [00:42:00] authentically put your faith to your business, tell your story because you're a small business and you're competing, like I said, with just a logo.

That's one thing when we started researching our business, we couldn't find. Who the chef was at these companies, like who's actually making the food. So it was a big priority for us to really market our chef.

[00:42:20] Will Schreiber: I think that is such a good point. I'm glad you brought that up. And we talk about this too, with a ton of customers, like your competitor isn't the other local competitor, your competitor is Factor and the national people aren't people.

It's cool to see that the model is validated, but people aren't thrilled with those services. Like they're fine. And the opportunity is definitely there to build something way higher quality and better. And I think you're totally right on explaining that and telling your story and what you're passionate about.

People just gravitate toward in a big way. Like they want to see the personality, the person story behind the business. Definitely.

I totally agree. [00:43:00] Is there anything else? That's a good one. Is there anything else you'd

[00:43:03] Megan Scott: love to impart? I do. Or wisdom? I do handwritten thank you cards to our customers. I pick one customer every week and I do a handwritten thank you card. Wow. And put a little gift in it. I don't know. I think so much time.

We spend so much time focused on the marketing and getting new customers, but I try and always remember how important it is to take good care of the customers we have, especially really good customers.

[00:43:29] Will Schreiber: Yeah, that's so true. I should write you a handwritten note. That's my response to that. so much for being such a great customer all these years.

That's such a good idea. If anyone else has any questions or anything like, feel free to email me and I'll forward them along to Megan. And, um, we're so thankful that you came on and shared your time to tell us all about Planted Table and your business. And and just, thank you.

I think it's awesome what you're building [00:44:00] and that's so cool that people feel that way too, that you've changed their lives and feeding people. Awesome plant-based stuff. So thank you.

[00:44:09] Megan Scott: Thank you, Andy. Thanks for having me. Will and Andy.

[00:44:13] Will Schreiber: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:44:15] Megan Scott: It's been a lot of fun.

[00:44:17] Will Schreiber: Yeah. All I hope everyone has an awesome Thursday.

Hope everyone has a great week and we will post this recording and transcript online and follow up for for anyone who wants to rewatch it or just tuned in a little bit. So have an awesome week and I'll see everyone later.