Rays Ice Cream, Swindon’s independent ice cream maker celebrated 9 years in business on 12th August and founder, Hadi Brooks, is using it as a chance to reflect on the last few months’ trading.
Five things I have learned from trading in a global pandemic:
- You have to be prepared to adapt.
Of course, planning is important, but you’ve also got to be ready to throw your plans out the window and head off in a different direction – in this case at breakneck speed!
- You need the support of great people.
My team are fantastic and I am so grateful to have them. Of course, they were also concerned for their health, for their jobs. They were also trying to get to grips with doing some things for the very first time and in a hurry. We went from discussions about furlough, to working more hours than ever. But they’ve all done it outstandingly and with a smile on their faces.
- You need to keep your customers informed.
We have never seen so much interaction on our social media pages. We used those to communicate to our customers what we were doing and people were chipping in all the time with messages of support and encouragement which were invaluable to us.
- People were still happy to treat themselves.
In fact, for a time, treats were hard to come by and we had plenty of brand new customers seeking us out. We stuck to our principles of great product served with great service and it seemed to go down really well. The sound of children squealing “is it the ice cream?” as I knocked the front door was truly heart-warming.
- You have to support others.
Our wholesale customers were suffering obviously. They are mostly local restaurant and pub owners and their businesses were closed. Some of them also adapted very quickly – into farm shops, or to selling our ice cream for takeaway from their doorsteps. We lent out all the freezers we had that would have been used at events, gave away empty tubs so the chefs could decant the ice cream they already had in big tubs to sell in their farm shops, and generally stayed in touch with people as best we could. In many ways, this has pulled us, the local business community, closer together.
Rays Ice Cream was set up by Hadi. The shop in Swindon’s Old Town has now re-opened – albeit with social distancing measures in place. They are still taking orders for home delivery via their website. Sadly their Royal Wootton Bassett shop is permanently closed. The team can make up to 150 flavours of ice cream, including gluten free and vegan flavours. There’s even a dog friendly version!
For the wholesale market, they can offer up to 35 flavours. For more information on Rays Ice Cream, visit www.RaysIce Cream.co.uk.