How Covid jumpstarted our search for Cartrepreneurs™ and Franchising
For nearly a decade, when people asked us if they could get a King of Pops cart, buy pops and go out and sell them in their neighborhood we would politely say no.
It wasn't even a conversation. It didn't make it past our receptionist as they were trained to explain that, "while we're flattered ... it isn't a part of our vision."
At the start of 2020 (nine year and nine months in business) things were going very well for us. We had been consistently profitable and gro
Spirits were high as we were finalizing plans to celebrate our 10th birthday on April 1st.
Little did we know that the festivals, professional sports leagues, corporate events, weddings, and pretty much all gatherings were about to come to a screeching halt.
Looking back, there wasn't a single moment when things came into focus that we wouldn't be having a normal year. It was a never ending crescendo of unbelievably bad news. Bad for humanity and seemingly particularly bad for our line of business.
I'll never forget when I heard the news that Major League Baseball had postponed opening day. Our seasons align, and the idea of something with so much history and money on the line pushing pause put things into perspective for me.
As days of unknown turned into weeks of fearing the worst, we knew we had to make some big changes.
Our catering sales team was at a complete standstill as our very best customers like Delta, MailChimp and Emory University had bigger concerns than dessserts at their next event.
However, we were starting to see more and more grassroots local events spring up. We would hear of things taking place on our block, but the communications weren't coming through the normal channels. It be word of mouth, a friends Facebook page or a neighborhood leader thro
We just weren't close enough to all of these individual communities.
In 2010 King of Pops only had two paid employees. It was just me and my brother Nick. We would take the cart everywhere with us. We would sign up for the festivals that interested us personally. If there was a concert we wanted to see, we would ask the organizer if we could bring the cart and sell pops. And if our friends were having a party we'd bring the newest flavor.
Some days were good sales wise, sometimes we struck out, but if it was somewhere we wanted to be, then worst case we would just enjoy ourselves.
It was hard work, but simple, fun and profitable.
As we grew our strategy pulled us off the street corners and into offices. We built a teams that focused on each part of the business. We searched for larger events, which we felt could be more profitable. We skipped the event down the street that might make us $500 to attend something that could yield $5,000.
And while this all added to our overall sales, it required a sales department and several layers of operational management to execute. At the height of the pop season we would employ almost 400 people. All of these expenses cut into our profitability, but more importantly, it made our connection with the community more difficult.
We didn't know it yet, but this was the beginning of a hypothesis that there could be a better way.
By April of 2020 the number of calls asking if they could get a King of Pops Cart went from a cute trickle to something more significant. Instead of just saying "no" we began to gather their information.
I started King of Pops with my brother after being laid off during the Great Recession. And it dawned on me that we were very well headed towards a similar situation.
Just as it was for me in 2010, it very well could be for dozens of others as their lives get turned upside down by Covid-19. And this wasn't just a good thing for them. It seemed like a
- It would provide people a fun opportunity to make money.
- It would allow us to better connect with the community.
- It would give provide our company a path forward with an opportunity to make an even bigger impact.
Within a couple weeks we had put together a reseller program and our first batch of Neighborhood Partners were out on the streets. It was terrifying to let someone we barely knew represent us, but we stayed positive and gave them as much support and good vibes as we could muster.
It was immediately apparent that this was the right decision for King of Pops. They were attending events that we would have never found. Our company purpose, to create Unexepected Moments of Happiness, was being executed in new and exciting ways. And best of all they were enjoying it.
Just as I probably never would have started King of Pops if I hadn't been laid off - we never would have made this pivot if not for the pandemic.
Times are tough, but the future is bright. Our next phase of business is going to be special as we continue our search for Cartrepreneurs across the South.
If you know someone who wants to build something special with us, please have them reach out.
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