Have you started a new business and are looking for ways to grow your customer base? Well, this Glory-ous doughnut shop has a sweet thing going.
When preparing for a workshop recently on Marketing Your Business, I reached out to a doughnut lover’s dream, Glory Hole Doughnuts and spoke to their General Manager, Heather Stainback for a case study. Not only are they one of my favourite places to stop by for a sweet treat, but they are a growing business, so much so that they are opening up a new location on Toronto’s east end (Gerrard St. E). So I asked this Parkdale joint to name their top 3 ways of gaining business.
Top 3 ways Glory Hole Doughnuts gains their business:
1. WORD OF MOUTH
“[It’s] probably the most important and underrated method. People often try us because of the cheeky name, or they heard from a friend, and they come back because our product is really good! We also cater many events, so guests of those events eventually turn into new customers!” says Heather.
Word of mouth is a very powerful tool to increase your business. Offering great customer service and a great product is vital to receiving great word of mouth. People often listen to their friends or colleagues about their experiences with a particular establishment. In Adweek's article by Matt Roche, Why Peer-to-Peer Marketing Does More Than Celebrity Endorsements he writes, "at the end of the day, nothing feels more authentic than talking to a friend and hearing what they think of their latest purchase.”
Glory Hole Doughnuts also has their business listed on various sites, such as Google, Yelp and BlogTO, which allows for customers to post their reviews for potential customers to see.
In fact, according to iMPACT “62% of consumers search online for reviews and information before purchasing a product” – so it would be a good idea to get your business listed online if you haven’t already.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA
Glory Hole Doughnuts currently has well over 5,000 followers on Facebook and nearly 25,000 followers on Instagram – so I would say they are doing pretty well when it comes to their social media presence!
Heather finds that when it comes to Instagram specifically, “people like photos of food, what can I say? It’s the best platform for image-based businesses, although with the new algorithm it’s harder to get exposure without ‘paid boosts.’”
Heather admits that they do not engage in using paid boosts – but that doesn’t stop them for getting lots of doughnut love – and that probably has a lot to do with them producing authentic, quality content, and engaging with their online fanbase. They also use user-generated content. In fact they recently reposted one of my images when I used #gloryholedoughnuts, which I thought was pretty cool.
“Partnerships with other independent businesses is also a great way to outreach and network in the food industry. We have done partnerships with: Left Field Brewery, Bellwoods Brewery, Genuine Tea, Hale Coffee, Death in Venice gelato, Soul Chocolate, etc.” says Heather.
Strategic partnerships are a great way to bring value to your customer and increase accessibility. For instance, fans of Hale Coffee may head to Glory Hole Doughnuts, knowing that they are one of their exclusive dealers, and on the flip side, a Glory Hole Doughnut customer may be introduced to Hale Coffee and become a regular consumer of their coffee.
Check out this 2017 Inc article by Maria Haggerty called, The Best Way to Grow Your Business: Create These Partnerships for different partnerships that may help your business growth.
As a bonus, I think it would be remiss if I didn't mention their social responsibility. Glory Hole Doughnuts has made it a part of their mandate to give back to their city.
Since Glory Hole Doughnuts opened six years ago, all leftover doughnuts are donated to PARC (Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre), an organization that offers “2-3 hot meals every day of the year, along with other great programming and opportunities for disadvantaged people, or anyone going through a tough time in their life,” Heather says.
They are currently looking for a similar organization in the east end to collaborate with when they open up on Gerrard St. E.
But Glory Hole Doughnuts’s social responsibility doesn’t stop there. They also make in-kind donations and sponsor fundraising and charity events that are important to them, ones that specifically relate to food insecurity and access to food, as well as causes surrounding mental health and addiction, and empowering women.
They have participated in past charity events such as:
George Brown’s Food Court Social (supporting their Augmented Education program in partnership with CAMH)
Eva’s Taste Matters (raising funds for Eva’s Initiative, a youth-focused homeless shelter & nutritious meals)
SickKids (Milk & Cookies campaign)
PWA’s Friends for Life Bike Rally (Glory Hole Doughnuts’s owner Ashley Jacot De Boinod rode her bike from Toronto to Montreal and collectively raised over $13,000)
And most recently, they just added skateboard menus, which were created by Oasis Skateboard Factory – a TDSB program that helps students who don’t have all the credits they need to graduate from high school.
Glory Hole Doughnuts owner and founder Ashley explains that she has “personally always been passionate about social justice and helping those in need.”
“Food to me is a tool to connect and in large, is why I started my own shop. I wanted to be able to have conversations with my community over doughnuts and coffee. Over the years, I have come to recognize that my business is a vessel for helping people,” Ashley says. “Some businesses incorporate it in to their business strategy to grow their numbers. We here at the shop get involved strictly to increase our compassion towards others. Social responsibility shouldn't be a chore. It should be our duty as business owners.”
In today’s world, consumers are looking more and more to companies to contribute to making their communities (and the world) a better place. In some cases, consumers are more willing to make a purchase knowing that their purchase will benefit a cause that they believe in. Finding ways for your company to give back is not only a great way to create a positive public image for your company, but it’s just a great thing to do for the overall well-being of our society, and can help create great morale within your company.
Check out these articles on social responsibility and how it can impact your business:
Why is social responsibility important to a business? By Chris B. Murphy on Investopedia
Why Your Company Should Be More Socially Responsible By Wayne Elsey on Forbes
Of course there are many ways that a business can gain customers, sometimes it takes a little trial and error to figure out what works best for your company. However, I think many successful businesses would agree that word of mouth, social media engagement, strategic partnerships and social responsibility are great ways to get your business out there – and to take your business to the next level.