My first business was selling ice-creams from kiosks on two sites in Cambridge, Lammas Land and Jesus Green. The Lammas Land site was close to a paddling pool and playground which was very well used, so when the sun shone it was busy. However, I was eager to increase sales and would put a sign out alongside the river Cam to attract punters (people in punts) to the kiosk which was not visible from the river. I was disappointed with the trickle of customers, then one day, when I was putting the sign out, a passing punter asked where the nearest toilets were. Light bulb moment, they are near my ice-cream kiosk – the next day there were two signs, the original one and another saying toilets. The trickle turned into a stream and, on sunny weekend days during the holidays, it was a flood.
The other kiosk was on Jesus Green with one side opening onto the open-air swimming pool and the other onto the green space. It did not turnover over as much as the Lammas Land site; however, in the height of summer when the pool was busy it made more profit because it sold more food, which had a better profit margin. On Sundays in July and August the Council organised concerts using the bandstand – normally brass bands. On those days I sent someone out on a tricycle with a fridge full of ice-creams and lollies to save people having to walk to my kiosk, which was some distance away, and to sell to those people who were too lazy to walk to the kiosk..
A chance conversation with a customer, who had come over for a coffee and a hot dog, led to another good business tactic. He loved the music on Sundays as it was a good reason to come out. He said it seemed strange to come to the park without a reason. A lot of other people must have felt the same because sales on Sundays from the green side of the kiosk were not good in other months. The next day I approached the Council to see if they would put concerts on in June and September as they were good weather months. They had no budget so I came up with a plan, if they would let me use the bandstand, I would put concerts on in June and September. I didn’t have the budget either, so I asked bands to play for free and they would be allowed to have a collection. We had some great concerts, Brass Bands, Jazz Bands and even a Jamaican Steel Drum Band. I sold a lot of ice-cream, the bands loved playing and the people of Cambridge were entertained. Win, win, win.
I’ve always found helping people pays dividends. More recently I was contacted by someone I know vaguely who wanted me to put her in touch with a mutual friend. She had been emailing him asking for some information about the Comrades marathon as she had been asked to write an article about it. She had the right email address; my friend had just not responded. I have run Comrades a few times, so I answered her questions. At the end of the conversation she suggested I contact the editor to see if I could write for him as her career was moving in a different direction. I did just that and when he needs a running article, he turns to me.
He recently recorded a video interview with me about running and in particular the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon in South Africa. Great for publicising the Trailrunningman business and the race in the South Africa. I wonder who the UK agent is? Oh, it’s me 😊