The Month End Podcast

Episode 20: Alli Ball • Food Biz Wiz®

April 26, 2022 Alli Ball Season 1 Episode 20
The Month End Podcast
Episode 20: Alli Ball • Food Biz Wiz®
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The Month End provides emerging inventory-based brands real life knowledge in the accounting, finance, and operational world. Our guests are not only similar brand founders and owners, but key stakeholders and contributors to the industry. Each episode provides a glimpse into the vast experience and insight from its guest’s unique background in a casual, conversational tone.


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In episode twenty, Accountfully's CEO and Partner, Brad Ebenhoeh, sits down with Alli Ball, founder and CEO of Food Biz Wiz®.  Alli is a veteran grocery buyer and long time wholesale consultant, who offers expert coaching and a community for emerging CPG brands aiming to get on the shelf and sell (whether that's in person or virtual).  This episode offers some great insight into where to focus your efforts to create a successful food brand, including an inside tip for what makes an impact in your grocery buyer pitch.


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The Food Biz Wiz® Website:  https://www.alliball.com/


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Brad Ebenhoeh:

Welcome to The Month End CPG community chat. The Month End will provide emerging CPG brands real life knowledge into the accounting, finance and operational worlds. Our guests will be key stakeholders from those same brands, as well as other key contributors to the industry. All of which have vast experiences and insights that will be shared with the audience. Welcome to Episode 20 of The Month End with Alli Ball. How you doing today, Alli?

Alli Ball:

I'm great. Thanks for having me on, Brad.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

All right, Alli runs a company called Food Biz Whiz. And she is an industry guru in the CPG world. So super excited to have her on, let's just learn all of her insights about the CPG industry and everything. So as we get started, Alli can you give a little background on Food Biz Whiz and kind of what you're doing right now? And then we'll backtrack to your extensive experience in this space?

Alli Ball:

Yes, of course. So I'm the founder and CEO of Food Biz Wiz. I'm a former grocery buyer turned wholesale consultant. So at Food Biz Wiz we support emerging CPG brands through our signature program, Brad, you know all about it, it's called Retail Ready. It's a course, coaching, and community that helps brands navigate the behind the scenes of wholesale. So how to land on the retail shelf, whether that's a physical shelf, or a digital shelf, and how to have high sales once you actually get there.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Sounds like some great things to conquer and learn for the small industry space. So why don't we start back where you came from, from the grocery buyer aspect/store manager aspects. So kind of give a little background from five, eight years ago, before Food Biz Wiz and Retail Ready?

Alli Ball:

Yeah, even longer. So this was, Brad, this was like 2008/2009, I started as a grocery buyer actually assisting grocery buyer, to be clear. Bi Right Market, 18th Street here in San Francisco, it was a single location, we were only that one store when I started. And my job was to choose products for our shelves and make sure they sold once we put them on the shelf. So it was really cool, Brad, because back then Bi Right really was this hub for emerging brands. It was you know, we were in a recession. So again, like cooking, home cooking specialty specialty products were really, really exciting. People were spending a lot of money on grocery shopping, and I got to help brands land on the shelf for the very first time. And you know, in that role, I acted almost like an in house consultant for Bi Right, helping these young brands understand exactly what it would take to succeed on our shelves. Knowing that, of course, having a single account, having Bi Right doesn't guarantee success, we had to make sure that they extended beyond the walls of Bi Right. So we did that for a long time and loved it. And then we decided to open by Bi Right Divisadero, which is about three miles across town. And I became head of grocery and store manager of that new location. So in that role, Brad, when you know where this is going, my my role completely shifted. And I was heads down in the P&L, every single week, making sure that our department was financially sound. So we did about $7 million in my department. And in that first year of sales, I managed about 3500 SKUs. And my job was just to make sure that we were selling product. And Brad, I value that time a lot like there's nothing, nothing more important than having financial literacy. But I really missed working directly with producers. I really, really missed helping them figure out how to build wholesale models that worked for their brands. So I left Bi Right in 2014, eight years ago and started my consulting business.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Awesome. Those P&L reviews in the grocery world probably has helped you out in the old Food Biz Wiz space.

Alli Ball:

Totally. And it's cool, Brad like it's what I really loved about that was looking at something and saying, you know, even like doing category review and saying, okay, this granola that we make really great margin on just isn't selling well enough. Like what is that tiny tweak that we can do in order to have it move faster? Like, can we move it up three shelves? Can we add a shelf talker? Can we do a staff tasting and make sure that our team knows about it? Like there were so many different ways to solve the problem of slow sales. And you know, in that role, it was really great to have that creative side where I got to, like play around with numbers and sales at the same time.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Is there like and I'm just putting on the spot here. Is there one story or one like brand that you just remember that like you know that you helped or really helped to kind of, you know, succeed in those roles you were in?

Alli Ball:

Oh my God, that's such a good question. You're putting me on the spot here. I'm gonna tell you a story of one brand who I rejected. I was like, it's not going to work for us. And now they're like a national brand. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna like raise my hand and say grocery buyers aren't always right. This was, gosh, this was back at 18th Street. So this probably was 2009/2010 when a guy named Tyler who was the co-founder of Runa, do you know this ready to drink iced tea brand? R-U-N-A. They came to me and they pitched their products for our shelves. And back then it was just, it was dried tea, so it wasn't the ready to drink. And it was really, you know, it was yerba matte based, I believe, and I was like, our store is not ready for this. Like our customers do not want this. Tea is not a big category for us, your packaging needs some improvement. Like I'm a no, almost like Shark Tank like I was a no. And now sure enough, you know, a decade later, they're a national brand. And so I use that example for two reasons. One, again, to say like, I wasn't always right, you know, I tried my best, but I wasn't always like the arbiter of taste here. But then also, not every product is the right fit for every store. So Tyler may not have had a brand that would work on our shelves at Bi Righ, but it didn't mean that he didn't have a successful brand.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Well, thanks for playing along on that on the spot. What is the one thing that is super interesting, or it would be good to know, as a brand owner, brand creator that for them to know about a buyer? Like is there like a specific thing and their role or their responsibility that maybe they don't know?

Alli Ball:

Yeah, absolutely. This is this is a huge one. And it's really a lightbulb moment inside of Retail Ready. It is the understanding that a buyer doesn't actually care about your product attributes, they don't care about the taste, they don't care about your mission, they don't care that you are female or BIPOC owned, they don't care about your sustainability. I mean, sure, all of that is just like icing on the cake. But what they really care about, Brad, is how you're going to perform on their shelf. And so often, we see brands who formulate their buyer pitches based on the fact that they're delicious, or they're sustainable, or, you know, we give that to XYZ nonprofit, but at the end of the day, that buyer wants to know that your product is going to come in and going to is going to outsell the products that they already have in your category. And so if you can shift your pitch as a producer, if you can shift your sales pitch, where you're much more focused on what you're going to do to help that buyer hit their category goals, that is so much more of an appealing sales pitch, then I'm so delicious, or I've got this value.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

That's interesting. Like it does go to like know who you're selling to you. So you need to understand, like the person buying, the buyer, right, you should have a different pitch for that you should have a different pitch for the actual direct consumer sales, because actually the consumer sales, they may care about those attributes, you should have a direct pitch to the investor that you're trying to raise money from because they care about something different. So you need to customize and cater to that. So understanding your stakeholders goals can help you customize what what you should really focus on. That's super good. And that's in all spaces that's everything you're doing right selling it.

Alli Ball:

Oh, totally, totally. And Brad, you know, I think it I know why this happens, right? Especially as these young brands start direct to consumer, they're so used to pitching to the consumer who does care about the taste, of course, we want you to have a delicious product. Like they do care about the the benefits of using your product or the values there. But you're right, we've got to switch it and realize that at the end of the day, that buyer really cares about sales or margin. Yeah, that's it.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Interesting, interesting. So you were in these roles, then you decided to become entrepreneurial? Or how did that all work out?

Alli Ball:

Yeah. Great question. So we opened Bi Right Divis, I got married that same year, Brad, and it just put me through the wringer. I will be completely honest. I'm like Bi Right knows this, right? There are no secrets here. Like I just got burnt out. And I was like, I can't, I can't do this all day, every day. I can't work 60 hours a week on a retail floor. Like I just can't, I can't do it. And so there was this like natural pull where I knew I wanted to start my own business. I knew I wanted to go back to working directly with brands. And I saw this big gap in our industry. I saw these brands, like couldn't get wholesale buyers to talk to them and to actually share what they wanted out of these brands. Or it was really hard to get wholesale buyers to talk about it. And so you know, it was just this light bulb moment where I was like, I have got to start a business around helping emerging brands succeed here. It was just heartbreaking to see these, I'm sure you see it too, Brad, but like really, really heartfelt producers really values oriented producers not succeed with their business dreams just because of lack of knowledge. Yep, lack of knowledge, lack of resources, lack of connection, lack of network... Lack of all these things, right. But I will say, I am in a very privileged position where everyone in my family has started their own business--my mom, my dad, my two brothers, my grandfather, my grandma, like everybody. And so it was just, you know, it's just that like, when you see it, when you are able to see an example of someone doing it before you, it makes it so much easier to obtain. So like, again, I'm really, really privileged to be in a position where I saw my parents do that. I saw my grandparents do that. And I knew, at some point that I would start my own business.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Awesome. So then you started your own business?

Alli Ball:

Yes.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

And now what is the business to do? Who do you target? What do you offer? I know Retail Ready, everything, give us the background.

Alli Ball: Yeah so Retail Ready is the only way that you can work with me. That is it. That is it. And so once you are inside of Retail Ready, like I said, it's that that course, the coaching, the community, and you get lifetime access to all of it. So let me talk through like the three, the three things that we help brands with in Retail Ready, because that's really where our bread and butter is. So we formulate Retail Ready around three steps. So we organize our curriculum and our coaching around these three steps:

attract, pitch, and grow. So attract, like you were saying, Brad, is all about figuring out who your ideal customer is, and where and why they're purchasing your products, right, because we want to sell where they already are shopping. So we've got to really, really dial that in. That pitch phase is all about understanding the brands of the wholesale buyer and why they would say yes or no to your product line. And how to change that no around right. In this step, we make sure that you have a really like, excuse me, I'm tripping up over this word read like repeatable effective sales strategy. So you're not just winging it every single time you try to land a new account. And then lastly, we turn to that grow step, which is all about making sure that your product sells off the shelf. So whether that's in person or digital marketing, effective promotions, working with brokers or distributors, we want to make sure that that brands are making the right decisions for your own company. Right. So that's all on Retail Ready. And that is the only way as of now that we work with with clients.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Awesome. And your brand owners, these producers, do they range in revenue, like number of stores is like is there is a sweet spot, right?

Alli Ball:

Great question. So one of the qualifications for Retail Ready is that brands are already in production. So Brad, I am not a product developer. I'm not a food food scientist. I'm not a health inspector, like, you know, we have brands literally from all over the globe. And those things vary from country, like regulations vary from country to country, and all of that sort of stuff. So I don't do anything around product development, nor do I want to. And so we say you have to be in production. Once you're in production, and you are ready to start selling wholesale come into Retail Ready. That being said, we have brands who have been in business for a decade or 15 years who are like, oh shoot, like the industry has changed. And we do not know how to keep up with a changing industry. So they'll come into Retail Ready. We have one, one brand Banyan Botanicals, they came into retail ready, having been in business for a couple of decades, I think they launched like in the 70s. And they had over 300 SKUs. And we were like okay, like, first off, let's like, look at your assortment here and see if that's necessary. But it was just so, you know, I really looked at them as an example of someone who realizes that our that our industry is changing. And you've got to figure out how to keep up with the changing times of the industry. So whether that's, you know, listening to podcasts or enrolling in an online course, or, you know, hiring a consultant, whatever it is, you've got to continue to grow with the industry. So Brad, long story short, it really ranges anyone from zero wholesale accounts to 5000 wholesale accounts who just wants to stay up to date on strategy.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Awesome. All right. So you touched on a couple of things here. Let's get into it. Number one, how was the industry changed from your perspective now versus 15 years ago? 13, whatever, 14 years ago when you were a buyer and started that?

Alli Ball:

Yeah, well, it's changed a lot, obviously. And I think the biggest thing that has changed is E-commerce. Right? Like I would be remiss not to touch on that, especially over the past few years. Brad, like the the increase of E-commerce more sales is just wild. What I think people don't realize, though, is that yes, direct to consumer has grown. Absolutely. But in the food industry, the E-commerce growth that we see is actually still wholesale. It is platforms like Thrive Market. Here in the Bay Area, one that I love is Good Eggs, it's platforms like that, where the consumer can go online, create a whole shopping basket, you know, just like they would in the store and purchase in one, you know, one click of a button and get a whole basket, you know, a whole box delivered straight to their door. So we have certainly seen the rise of E-commerce. But in the food industry, it's a it's a little bit different than than what we think of in other industries. So that's a huge one. And the impact that it has on producers, it's a few things. One, it means that we've got to make sure that we've got an omni-channel strategy in place, that we are looking at all different channels, whether that is brick and mortar, e commerce, food service, you know, whatever it is direct to consumer, and that we are really, really clear on our profitability in all channels, and that we are not spreading too thin, not being spread too thin, while we still are making sure to get in front of our target consumers. And Brad, I think that's that's likely where you guys come in to make sure that people have the data to make smart decisions on channel strategy. Right?

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Definitely, definitely, definitely, we give the actual numbers of revenues, COGS contribution margin, operating profit margin after advertising, breaking up by sales channel, and, and you know, one of the one of this joy, it's always interesting, because every sales channel is, has a different strategy, as you're discussing, right? Every customer has a different strategy. But also like the one thing I do notice that some of our clients or some of the brands who are smaller, it's like you're in 10 different things. It's like, well, I don't know how you focus on it, you know what I'm saying in terms of like all these ecommerce reselling platform plus Amazon, on their website, food service truck, and I'm just like, This is too much for me, like, you know, it's you know, so it's, it's having a kind of a vector example of that company having so many SKUs, it's like, let's try to focus a little bit. I think focusing really helps people understanding that with the limited time and resources you have, like, how can we focus on what we need to do and plow forward in that way.

Alli Ball:

Totally, I mean, Brad, that's exactly why Retail Ready is the only way that we work with clients. I'm like, we have perfected a system I've been, we launched Retail Ready six years ago. So like, long before pandemic long before, like online learning. And luckily for everybody went digital. And we did it because we had a system that works for our clients. So we can focus solely on Retail Ready and ensure that we are delivering the best possible experience for our brands.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Awesome. So then, what is some things to think about to get like the cost to get into a store, whether it's distribution, whether it's to retail, give us some pointers on that?

Alli Ball:

Yeah, so I hate this answer, Brad, but it totally depends. I am a huge, huge advocate for starting small, starting in independence, and really penetrating your own region before you expand, right, like go deep in your own region, it's so much easier to connect with your accounts, to support your accounts to market your products when it's local. And you know, local still might be a big region, right? We might be talking about all of Northern California, or all of Western Rockies, you know, not just saying your own like, small, little, little backyard. Typically when you work with independents, there aren't slotting fees, there aren't free refills required, there aren't required quarterly promotions, there aren't those financial obligations that start to come into play, when you start going with larger chains like Kroger and Safeway, and Stop and Shop and things like that. So I would say, you know, when you ask, like, what are the dollar amounts that it takes to get into the store, it can be zero besides of course, like, you know, your startup costs, it can be zero if you're targeting independents and small chains besides your time, of course.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

That's, you know, good to know, for for a lot of folks because you know, when they just come to the industry, or come to the world with people to just discuss distribution deductions, and it's just like this nightmare. And it's like, it's a different world. And again, I've only been around in the space five/six years in my roles like an accountant and connecting with brands. But because of the way E-commerce, Amazon has come into play, it's completely taken a lot of power away from the old way of doing things, you know, so it's like understanding that and understanding of bidders opportunities where you can go and if you don't have a ton of capital, just to throw a bunch of money at it.

Alli Ball:

Yeah, and I want to I do want to be clear here. I've got a couple of things to expand on here. One, I think so often brands hear that they have to have a broker or distributor to get to that next level. And I'll be the first to say we have so many brands inside of Retail Ready, who are on, you know, big accounts and big accounts like Whole Foods who have no distributor, they still do everything direct. So it is yes, like, oftentimes stores will say, look, you know, they'll ask, Do you have a distributor? Do you have a broker? But it doesn't mean that that is a complete no if you don't. So I always advise brands to push back, certainly build in a broker and distributor margin at the beginning. But you don't have to jump to a broker and distributor unless it truly is the right choice for your brand.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

When you deal with your, you know, your brands then the producers within Retail Ready? Do they come to you with different goals in mind, ie want to just grow nationally and become the best SKU in this space and just grow top line, I don't care whether people are like, look, I want to be profitable in 18 months, instead of just taking money and growing like do you get to that level? And then it's kind of custom based upon that?

Alli Ball:

Totally. So we have, everybody has different goals, right. And I think one of the challenges or one of the like red flags and businesses when someone comes into Retail Ready, and they're like, hey, I make a single SKU of hot sauce, and I want to be sold nationally in Costco in the next six months. I'm like, okay, you can try. And I will try right, right alongside you. But this is going to be a really challenging, challenging goal for us here. If that hot sauce producer came to me and they said, Alli, I want to make $40,000 a year, I want to sell in like two farmers markets on the weekend, and I want to like teach my kids how to run a business. I'm like, awesome, we can definitely make that goal happen. Right. So I think it just depends, you know, from the onset of, you know, whether how much you want to put into the business and what sort of lifestyle you want and need around it too. So yeah, Brad, I mean, we see people who have all different goals.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

I'm sure you guys use the term velocity a lot. Give me some information on velocity and thoughts and what does it mean? And how can brands use it? Or use the terms?

Alli Ball:

Yeah. Okay. So when we talk about velocity, we mean, how fast does your product sell? What's your velocity? And that can be as simple as, okay, I make potato chips. And I sell 36 units a week, per SKU per store. Right? So 36 units is your velocity. When when we think about velocity in Retail Ready, we think about, we always emphasize how important it is to focus on velocity over accounts. So velocity over doors, something you'll hear me say a lot. Because think about it, Brad, I'm sure we would all agree, you would rather be a potato chip company who has three dozen really fantastic accounts, who reorder twice a week, then 200 stores where your product just sits there. Right? So velocity is so so important. I also think velocity is really important to realize, to think about when you think about sales projections, and you're doing analysis, or projections for the future, because you want to recognize what the average velocity in your category is, and do your projections based off that. Because again, using a potato chip example, a potato chip sells so much faster than a jar of truffle salt. Right? And so if this potato chip brand sells 36 units per SKU per week, per store, that's very different than that truffle salt producer who might sell one jar every two weeks per account, right? And you just can't compare those sales stats, because they're in completely different categories.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Right answer love it. Yep. And it's like, it's the whole concept of getting deep versus why right. So getting deep on those focused accounts versus going why. What else? What is the, the other any other concepts or questions or anything else that I should be asking specifically in terms of the brands within retail ready or anything?

Alli Ball:

Good question. So we talked about brokers and distributors a little bit. I want to talk about samples.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Oh, great.

Alli Ball:

Samples, people always ask me about samples. So Brad, I want to talk to you about the sample box. And it is something that every single store has, and yet no one really talks about it So, typically what happens is producers prepare samples for buyers, you know, and in my mind, if you see me on video I'm making like this hand gesture where they're packing like a little brown craft bag, and they put in a sell sheet a business card, and maybe like a sweet little letter on like, well, you should carry my product. And then you write the buyers name, if you have it, and you bring it to the store, or you ship it to the store and you leave it with a cashier, or you blind ship it and just address to like, to whom it may concern at such and such a market. And Brad, you can imagine what happens in this scenario, those delicious samples, there's two things that happen. Either they're so delicious and that like wonderful, best of intentions, cashier looks inside your your sample box, or excuse me, your like little little bag and thinks like, Oh, these look really good. I'm gonna take them home to my apartment, or I'm going to eat them on my break. Or maybe they're like CBD samples. And that cashier is like, you know what, we actually don't sell CBD products. They're coming home with me, not knowing that that buyer is like building out a CBD category as we speak, right. So often, they don't end up on the buyer's desk anyways, they go home with, you know, that sweet person that you leave them with. Or if they do end up at the buyer's desk, they get put in the sample box. And this is really important to know. When you leave samples, when you leave blind samples with a store, they just get collected in this box. And it is, you know, I've never seen a sample box that is organized and you know, beautifully, you know, beautifully arranged there. What it typically is is like an old dusty box that's like in the corner, upper corner of the buyer says where samples literally get tossed in.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Like a lost and found in like in a preschool or in kindergarten.

Alli Ball:

Oh my gosh, Brad, I'm going to start using that analogy because that is spot on. It is like a lost and found box. And so what happens is that that buying team typically goes through that sample box, once a quarter or so. And by the time they go through that sample box, your samples are crushed or separated from your sell sheet or expired or moldy or open or you know, whatever they are, but they're certainly not in the condition that you expected them to be in when that buyer sees your product for the first time. And so one of the things that I really, really warn people about is blind shipping samples without connecting to that wholesale buyer beforehand. Or just swinging by with samples in an attempt to catch that buyer and hand them off face to face. We have different, we have things to do instead of that. But Brad, like on a high level, it's one of the things that I really like to talk about, or really like to drill it into producers, that that blind shipping of the samples is just a waste of money.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

So yeah, and kind of the one thing you know, from just a pure accounting standpoint is just definitely making sure you're taking your promos and your samples and splitting them out from your COGS. So you could really understand how much money you're spending on samples and promos, and really having a good analysis of any ROI on there. So totally, like plug a little bit of financial and accounting and advice

Alli Ball:

Well what I'll say too, and here's like a pro tip from the buyer side is I as a buyer, I used to pay for samples, and I always encourage our Retail Ready brands to to require payment for samples. And there's some strategy and the way that you can do this. But one of the things that I love, Brad, is saying, you know, our buyer reaches out, they're like, hey, we want samples, and that producer can say okay, samples are at cost. And if you place a first order will deduct that off your opening order. So it's a win win for both.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Perfect, love it. Sales strategy. All right, so we touched on a lot of points, you know, retail comments, love it. Retail Ready course, do you have kind of I guess two things. Number one, is anything new in the hopper any new chat about or kind of like anything, any other future developments within that or Food Biz Wiz or anything?

Alli Ball:

Yeah, so actually, we just launched a new thing literally two days ago inside of Retail Ready for our students. That's our sales and retail tracker. And it is Brad, it's so cool. I feel like your brain would really like this. But it is a way that we can track all of your wholesale accounts. And each of the orders from your from your accounts. We have a tagging system for channel right so you know which channel they're in. You put in the SKUs and you know the average order frequency, so it reminds you when you have to ping that buyer next so you don't forget about the reorder. And then you can sort your data by channel or by SKU or you know, whatever it is so you can actually see your ROI or your at least your your sales and how they rank based on SKU channel or retailer, which is really, really cool. We just launched it a couple of days ago. So I'm really excited about that. And then the second thing that I'll mention is we just launched a new series on our podcast. So you know, Brad, we've got a podcast as well. It's called Food Biz Whiz. And inside the Retail Ready, we have one of my employees, his name is Charlie Berkinshaw. He's actually a CPG founder as well. He founded Element Shrub, about eight years ago, and that's a ready to drink and concentrated beverage line. So he's our VP of Student Success inside of Retail Ready, and he just launched a little series on our podcast called Charlie, Is It Worth It? And it's where he takes Retail Ready students and they dive deep into a student's topic, or like a debate that they're having about whether it's worth it to do something with their brand. So we just launched our first episode of that he he walks a student through whether it's worth it for her to change her packaging size. So it's really, really fun. It's public facing, like I said, it's on our podcast. So you get to see some of the coaching that we do inside of Retail Ready, and our brain as we go through that decision making process with students. Awesome yeah, I was wondering about the podcasts. So two things. Where can we find Retail Ready? Where can we sign up or provide information and where can we find the podcast? Great, lots of questions. Okay, so you can find me my favorite place to connect with brands is on Instagram. I'm at it @itsalliball. So if you're listening to this podcast, please snap a picture tag Brad and me and your stories like let us know you're following along and I will follow you back and we can get to know each other in the DMs. So Instagram is definitely a great place to like find me personally, if you want to find out about me, my team like what we do, it's at alliball.com. And then on our website too, Brad, we have a waitlist for Retail Ready. So we always have two options. With Retail Ready, you can put your name on the waitlist and you can figure out find out when we are doing the next like big live cohort. Or once you submit your name on the waitlist, you have a quickstart option on that thank you page where you can like leapfrog the line and just like jump on in and do it at your own pace. So it's just on our website under Retail Ready.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

There are tons of resources out there for the CPG producers. So as we wrap up here a little bit, kind of getting get to the final two questions for your Alli. Number one is one is what is one CPG Industry do?

Alli Ball:

Okay, can I give some tough love? Yeah. Okay. My do my do is that brands need to or they they should take do take full responsibility for selling off the shelf once you land on those new wholesale accounts. So I always say like you are the person responsible for getting your product off the retail shelves and into the basket. So it is not the store's responsibility to sell your product. It's not the category managers responsibility to make sure you're fast moving. It's not the stockers or the merchandisers touching your product. It's not even Brad, it's not even the brokers and distributors who have likely promised the world to these brands, it is on the producer. So the do is to take full responsibility of your sales once you're on the shelf.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Perfect. Love that one. What about a one industry don't?

Alli Ball:

I have so many don'ts, there's so many don'ts. Don't swing by right, don't blind ship samples. And I'm gonna reiterate a don't that I touched on earlier. And it is to don't make the incorrect assumption that the buyer is going to bring in your product line because of your delicious taste, your company values, your mission, or your sustainability. So we have to recognize, we talked about this, the real reason why buyers bring in your product line, and it's to increase sales or margin in the category. So if the faster you realize this, the faster you will start to create a pitch that's of any interest to that that retail buyer.

Brad Ebenhoeh:

Fantastic intel here on some insights of getting into a grocery store and getting into the customer's shopping cart. So, Alli, love it. Thanks for the time. Thanks for all the insight again. Alli Ball Consulting, Food Biz Whiz, Retail Ready, Food Biz Whiz podcast, I'm sure you can Google them all. If you can't find it, you'll be able to do a follow on Instagram as you said. Alli it's been great, a great resource for Accountfully and really enjoyed this chat. Alli, thanks for your time and I hope everybody enjoyed episode 20 of The Month End podcast.

Alli Ball:

Thanks Brad.

Alli's story as a grocery buyer
How complex P&L Review helped in her current role, and how it was interesting as a manager
A stand out story of a brand Alli remembers
An inside tip from Alli on what brands need to know for their pitches to grocery buyers
Why you need different pitches for different sales channel goals
How and why Alli went from buyer/manager to entrepreneur
The rundown on Food Biz Wiz - what Alli does, who she helps and more
The demographics of brands she helps the most
How the industry has changed since she first started to now
Why focusing helps success in both Alli's business and from what Accountfully sees in client companies
What brands should expect from a cost perspective getting into a store
The myth surrounding brokers and distributors
The ranges of goals of businesses in Alli's Retail Ready course
Thoughts on velocity - what it means, how brands can use it, and its terms
The concept of going deep versus wide
All about samples; best practices and what not to do
Samples from an accounting standpoint
Sample pro tip from the buyer's point of view (they don't have to be free)
What's in the works for Retail Ready, Alli, and Food Biz Wiz
Alli's CPG Do
Alli's CPG Don't