In just over two years, from what came in as merely a rookie testing out the waters as a small scale business, Alowishus Delicious has lived up to its slogan of being “the change” around town, becoming a familiar landmark for quality coffee and sandwiches, and not without valuable help from friends, the community, and Facebook
Interview by Dan Willersdorf & Katrina Carey
Edited By France Pinzon
At present Bundaberg café Alowishus Delicious has become one of the favourite go-to places in the city, where one can get nice fresh, ready-made food – ranging from sandwiches, pastries, pasta, pizza, coffee and refreshments. It has been an attraction to both teens and the family-oriented crowd, and even to the businessmen, who would like to hold their meetings in a relaxed venue that serves good food.
Tracey McPhee, formerly in retail banking, recollects how her brainchild was conceived in 2004. “My husband (Michael) and I went on a holiday to the UK and we saw a shop called Prêt A Manger, which means ‘ready-to-eat’, in French. It’s a big franchise in Europe,” she says. “My husband is a big ideas man. He was like, ‘Oh, we’ve got to open one of these. We have to do this’.”
“They had sandwiches and cakes, and things. And they had coffee. It was sort of an in-and-out place,” she adds.
BREWING AND LAUNCH PHASE
The opportunity to have her very own store never left Tracey. Time passed and she would still aspire for it, especially when certain establishments she would go to would reignite her passion over and over.
With much encouragement from her peers and loved ones, Tracey realised the time to fulfill the dream was fast approaching. She also took into account the business opportunity beyond 3 o’clock in the afternoon, as the town didn’t have any shops open on the weekends and at night back then.
With Michael adding more to the flow of ideas, Alowishus Delicious was finally becoming reality, many years since their fateful encounter with that famous French-themed shop in UK.
At the inaugural, Tracey recounts how her confidence in her products and services ultimately overshadowed any kind of doubt she would have upon launching Alowishus, particularly its location. “I just always had this thought in my head: ‘Just open and the people will come’,” admits Tracey.
Alowishus is situated off the main street at the back of Earls Court. While it was out of the way for casual shoppers, it was an easy destination for the many office workers in the CBD.
And there was also the stress over having to go through a traditional grand opening event to follow the soft opening, but since it has welcomed customers in, Alowishus has been running like a well-oiled machine. Ultimately, Tracey decided to skip tradition, especially since it wasn’t really necessary anymore. Another pressure avoided, which Tracey always finds valuable in running a business.
THE FACEBOOK FACTOR
“Facebook’s been a big tool in us getting as successful as we did so quickly – just getting the word out there,” says Tracey.
Compared to the traditional ways of promoting a brand, getting promoted via Facebook brings a different sense of credibility to the table. “It’s friends telling their friends. It’s not someone just on the television going: ‘You should come here because they’ve got great coffee’,” she explains, “I think the powerful thing with Facebook is it is friends’ recommendations.”
“We ran a little Facebook Check-in promotion. I got some branded pens made. There were 50-cent pins and we’d put a sign up in the shop: ‘Check-in and get your free gift.’ Someone checked in and 500 people saw it,” Tracey narrates, “That’s cheap advertising.”
On the contrary, Tracey cites another instance in which she gave the conventional method a shot just to see the difference.
“We ran an advertising campaign on the radio for three months and it cost me $880 a month. I asked on Facebook: ‘Has anyone heard my radio ad?’ Not a big percentage said yes,” she adds.
- Not Time Consuming
Tracey appreciates how scheduling posts on Facebook is much easier than running an ad somewhere else, since you are doing it yourself and in your own free time.
“I couldn’t imagine that it’d be more than 20 minutes a day,” says Tracey, “Effort versus the reward – it’s very minimal effort for what you get out of it.”
- More Personal
“Mum said to me the other day, ‘Well, what’s wrong with a friend just seeing someone in the street and telling them?’ I said ‘Well, they can do that too, mum. But on this, someone checks in and then, bang! They’ve got 500 people that have seen that straight away’,” Tracey shares.
- More Visible Results
“We made these little Banoffee Pie posts just because we made up too much base for something and one of the girls said: ‘Oh let’s put banana and put some caramel in there.’ So we Googled how to spell ‘banoffee pie’, made them, posted them [on Facebook], and we had people coming in to the shop all afternoon buying these banoffee pies. They sold out like in an hour and a half,” she adds, “That was solely from Facebook.”
What if Facebook never happened?
“I don’t know. I probably still would have done word-of-mouth,” she admits on the thought of a world without Facebook, “I was just thinking about that on the way because I’ve always said – I’ve never – like when I first started I thought if they charge for it I wouldn’t do it, but it’s become sort of an invaluable tool now. And I think even if they did start charging, I think we would stick with it depending on what the costs were.”
And when you DO get your business on Facebook…
- Be active – post regularly
“Make sure that you post several times a day,” Tracey says, “but [don’t] post like a gazillion tons a day because then people get sick of seeing you.”
- Add your personal touch – but keep the posts fun and light
“Share an interesting feel-good thing that someone might like,” the proud owner recommends, “like I posted the other day and it was an old dog with a coffee cup sitting on his head holding the coffee. So yeah, just different things like that.”
- Mon-Wed, 7am to 5pm
- Thurs, 7am to 9pm
- Fri-Sat, 7am to 11pm
- Sun, 7am to 10pm
At present, Alowishus Delicious also prides itself of its impeccable catering services, and has recently launched its gelato bar – pay them a visit in Earls Court 4/176 Bourbong Street, Bundaberg, Queensland.
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