Tips for business growth: How to guidance from The Fruit Box’s CEO
Marty Halphen , CEO of The Fruit Box
Australian Food News recently interviewed Martin Halphen, Owner and Chief Executive Officer of fruit and milk delivery service, The Fruit Box. He offered the following tips and advice for other food companies.
Behind every customer question is a potential business opportunity. At least that is how Marty Halphen, Owner and Chief Executive Officer of The Fruit Box sees it.
Since acquiring a fruit delivery service, The Fruit Box, Halphen has listened a lot to his customers, something which he says has lead his business to the success it experiences today.
When Halphen brought The Fruit Box in the early 2000s, the business delivered fruit to homes in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, but it was after a customer one day asked whether or not he could deliver to an office, he (successfully) explored doing so.
“The key for us is that we have just listened to the questions that have come our way,” Halphen told Australian Food News.
“So if a customer asks you a question, there is a reason why they have asked you that question and I think behind that question is a potential opportunity.”
“When the home delivery customer asked us can we deliver to the office, that was a question. In 2004, one of our bigger Melbourne food customers asked us if we could deliver to their Sydney office, so that was a question that lead onto an expansion program,” he explains.
Not that all of the questions lead to successful business ventures admits Halphen.
“I think everything is worth testing if it is not going to break the bank,” he says.
“In that first year or two, I would have tried many things because I did have an open-mind and this [office delivery] was just the one that stuck.”
Seeing your customer as a teacher
It is this philosophy of listening to customers which has also lead Halphen to see his customers as teachers.
“I think you need to look at your customer as a teacher and someone to guide you, because that’s essentially the needs you are trying to service,” he says.
“Engaging and working together with your customer, and finding a way to continually enhance a better experience for them is what drives us.”
You cannot build a house, or a business, in a day
Engaging in smart growth is on Halphen’s agenda as a believer in setting the foundations right first.
“It just takes a lot of time to do it, you can’t build a house in a day, it is something that takes a lot of time,” he said.
“You have got to get the design right, you have got to get the foundation right, it is just a lot in it and I think the fact that we are in an industry where your only option to grow is to do it slowly has kept us in good stead.”
“We have never grown too quickly,” he said.
Slow but steady growth is evident across The Fruit Box which slowly evolved from a home delivery fruit service, to an office one, to a milkman service.
It is also evident in other parts of the business too, with The Fruit Box this year launching a formal expansion of its charitable efforts, deciding to donate boxes to those in need.
“For us personally, we have a lot to be thankful for and I felt that once we started engaging in a proper community program. This is not just about a healthy bottom line, there is a bit more about it,” Halphen said.
“From a personal point of view, I felt that we were a lot more well rounded if we did something a lot more purposeful for the community.”
The future of The Fruit Box
So where will The Fruit Box’s next steady growth action take them?
Halphen says an expansion into offering offices more supplies, such as general pantry and janitorial items is on the cards.
“We have managed to build a pretty good base by just doing fruit and milk,” he said.
“We feel that going into the future that our relevance will diminish if we don’t expand our product range. So where we’re heading is to expand our product range and become a more comprehensive offering outside fruit and milk.”
“We do 30, 000 deliveries, but at the moment we have 8, 000 corporate customers. They are trusted relationships and I think if we are able to introduce such a range, I would trust them to expand their business with us. That’s where we are heading.”
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