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Where do you Draw the line on Delivery?

CookieText Delivery Car

Having a gift delivery business is a bit of a challenge. Where do we draw the lines? Are they set in stone?

Our Southside delivery doesn’t always make sense to people. That’s because the website had to be set up by zip code. Either the zip code was in or out. For instance there’s a zip code in Chesapeake that stretches from near the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel all the way to the North Carolina border, so that’s one of them that got the boot.

That’s why I often tell people that before they accept no as an answer, email us the exact address, we will take a peek at the map, and then let them know if we can make it happen.

The Ask.

On Friday someone sent a message asking about delivering to Portsmouth.

I sent back the cookietext.com delivery zone link for them to check via their zip code if we cover that area.

They soon responded that according to the website we don’t deliver there, but they’d really like a CookieText for their spouse’s birthday.

Mind you these messages were happening during prime cookie decorating time, so forgive me, but as I actively considered my Saturday agenda and wrote at the same time, my email response was this:

Would you please provide the actual physical address so I can peek at it? Heck. Never mind. Just put it through. I’ll run it over personally.  ~Jeanne

I applied the work-around to get the site to accept the order, and they placed it right away. I was delighted to see it was a larger order, so that made going the distance a little sweeter.

The Task.

On Saturday morning, off I went to make the delivery. As I got further and further and saw it wasn’t a case of a huge zip code, this place was really far away. As I finally pulled off 664, I saw two of my favorite signs: 7-11 and Speedway. Both fantastic places to stop for a giant fountain soda on the ride home, it would be my karmic reward for going that far.

The location wasn’t far off the highway, I wound through a neighborhood of one-story homes and found theirs on a cul-de-sac. House numbers are funny, so I was thrilled that the initial on the garden flag matched the first initial of the last name on the order.

The Delivery.

I knocked on the storm door and could see a bed set up in the living room: someone was sick, maybe they are taking care of a grandparent?

The sender answered the door, smiled and said a thank you. What I heard his eyes say was, “I know you went out of your way, I appreciate it.”

As they turned to go in the house,  I noticed the pajama pants. I saw signs of past medical procedures. I knew in that moment that the sender was the sick one.

It occurred to me that this person likely could not have driven to pick up a birthday cookie cake for their spouse. It kind of looked like there was a chance they might not be around to celebrate many more family birthdays. Little do I know for sure, but that was certainly the impression that I got.

I walked back to my car and my eyes welled a bit. What if I had stuck to the webite’s determination that the delivery location was too far? What if I’d said no? I felt so relieved that I had said yes, that I would deliver it myself.

The Why.

At CookieText.com, we can’t always say yes to going out of the structure of the business. We do try to remember that we are servicing people and needs vary, so we bend the rules if we are able. We also follow our instincts. In the midst of Friday morning mayhem, I oddly agreed to spend part of my Saturday delivering to an unknown destination. I had the time, and it just felt right.

It seems that we always reap some sort of reward for our yes’s. This one was absolutely the case. Though my eyes had welled up, I felt good as I climbed in my car. I felt good about my business, good about my product, and good that I’d gone out of my way for a customer who clearly could benefit from a yes, from something being easy and stress free. It was incredibly rewarding.

But don’t get carried away, I still stopped and got that giant fountain soda for the ride home;)

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Coloring and Character

Colored Pencils and Character

Can I please be excused? I have a lot of homework,” Eddie, my 15-year old, said at the dinner table.

Sure. Do you need any help with anything?” I replied.

Maybe some coloring…cutting.”

Okay,” I said, “I like coloring.”

I don’t do my children’s homework. I’ve never filled in a blank, done a math problem, or written an essay for one of them. Long ago I would help with Science projects in elementary school, but I still drew a line and would only help so much.

Feeling overwhelmed is awful though, so I try to prevent that sensation for my boys. If they have a lot of homework or a big project I might simply sit at the same table, doing my own thing, just so they don’t feel like they are in it alone. I will also freely do clerical tasks. I’ll type for them, or color, or staple…the types of things that take time but don’t have to do with the knowledge or aptitude of a subject.

Eddie got up from the table and I heard him tell his brothers he’d probably get around to playing the computer game they all play together in about an hour or so. He got right to doing his homework while I cleaned up the kitchen and did some other evening chores. As soon as I exhaled and sat down in my comfy chair, Eddie came over to me with two pieces of cardstock paper. He showed me on each page what had to be colored, and frankly, it was quite a bit.

Do I have to use coloring pencils, or can I use crayons,” I asked, thinking it would be faster with crayons.

It has to be colored pencils.”

Okay, I thought. Eddie was up and moving, and I suddenly thought, ‘dang, did I offer to do his work for him and he’s going to go off and play computer games with his brothers’? So I sat in my comfy seat a minute, thinking of what I might have inadvertantly signed myself up for and taking a breather. Then I looked over my shoulder and saw that Eddie had repositioned himself at the table and was doing work. He had not gone off to play games.

I got up and sat across from him with the colored pencils in the middle of the table. He had headphones in, and was coloring away, so I got busy. When he finished all of his coloring he began to cut the items out. When my coloring was complete, I followed his lead, asking a question for clarification. He answered with a clear instruction.

By the time I finished cutting my papers, Eddie was well into gluing the others where they needed to be. I set my stack in the queue to be glued and started cleaning up. By the time all the paper scraps were thrown away and the colored pencils were back in their box, Eddie’s assignment was complete. He packed up his backpack, thanked me, and went off to play with his brothers.

I was blown away. Completely.

Eddie never planned on my doing his work. He recognized that he could use some help and he divided the work fairly: he took two papers to color and gave me two.

He didn’t want me to do his work for him, but he would accept my doing his work with him. He also clearly wasn’t going to ask anything of me that he was unwilling to do for himself. At no point was he going to leave me to do his work for him, as I had briefly feared. When I needed clarity on a task, Eddie gave good and clear instructions so he was able to get the outcome he desired from the person assisting in the task.

I felt like the entire event told me great things about Eddie’s character.

  • He hasn’t got an ego so big that he is afraid to need or ask for help.
  • He isn’t going to pawn his work off on someone else.
  • He works diligently to complete a task.
  • He is able to guide others without being critical or condescending.
  • He’s goal oriented.
  • He’s fair.
  • He’s grateful.

And here is the part of the blog post where I so cleverly tie this in to CookieText, but this time I’m not going to. This time I am just going to be incredibly thankful for the fine young man Eddie has become. At a later date I will be very glad that I wrote this experience down, because I would hate to forget it. I will look back and be grateful that I had a business that alloted me enough time to enjoy my most favorite job of all: mothering.

 

 

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An inside look at Valentine’s day…

Cookie Text Tweet Hearts Balloon

Things went remarkably smoothly on Valentine’s Day. There were a few minor hiccups, and one driver racing to get some CookieTexts to a school before the final bell (my fault, not hers, I should have sent that order on another route), but considering the volume of orders we put out, it went smooth like…butter.

Tuesday night around 7:30 pm we reached the number of orders we thought we could deliver with pride. At that point I went in the back end of the website and turned off February 14th as an option for delivery date. That was a first.

Liz was here with me that night as we got a head start on the next day’s orders. She’s awesome. She can sprinkle, box, and ribbon a CookieText faster than you can say Oklahoma Sooners (she proudly is one). Typically when she walks in the door I turn on the 60’s Pandora station and we get into a groove, and that’s exactly what we did. We share a couple of laughs and I bounce some ideas off of her, but we actually work pretty quietly together.  Liz is the perfect example of when the student surpasses the master. She can work circles around me.

At one point in the evening my friend Carlyn popped in with a survival kit. The paleo-beef stick I looked sideways at in the moment was a Godsend at 2am when I needed some sort of nutrition to keep going. It was either nutrition I needed or something to soak up all the liquid caffeine I’d ingested, either way, it hit the spot at the exact right moment.

Liz and Monica were both at work about 7am, and we got our hustle on. We had 6 routes going out, one of those with two people in the vehicle because it was the biggest one and deliveries go more quickly with two people. Our biggest delivery was to CNU, that driver put a rolling cart in her van so she could wheel everything to the mailroom in one trip (pretty brilliant). You know how we ended up with so many at CNU? ….I asked.

I wrote a Facebook post and asked that if there were any CNU parents that followed our page, I’d love it if they would let the other parents know we’d be happy to help them send a Valentine to their student. It only takes one person to say yes. It didn’t happen right away. The post had been up a few days when a mom commented that she had shared my post with the CNU parent’s pages she had access to. Not only that, she also fielded questions from them that they asked on the post. How awesome is that? I’m not sure if the lesson is sometimes ask for what you want or that it only takes one person to make a difference. I think it’s both.

Wednesday afternoon I went immediately to my friend John over at Healthy Touch Massages  He blissfully worked out the multiple kinks in my back and right arm from piping so many CookieTexts. The thing about John and Healthy Touch is that it’s convenient (I can book online), the prices are fair, the place is welcoming, clean, and classy, and he always does a great job. Once I found them, I never looked elsewhere. That’s how I want CookieText to be for our customers: reliable, efficient, and effective, so I can see why Healthy Touch’s business model speaks to me. Once I left there I hit my couch and didn’t get up until Thursday morning.

This was the first Valentine’s I can remember that we didn’t forget something: either some sprinkles, a balloon, an extra frosting, or something like that. That makes me so happy. I can’t stand messing up. We didn’t get a single complaint. In fact, quite the opposite:

“I ordered 3 cookie texts yesterday and one was going to a high school that told me they would turn it away. I contacted you all and you were so awesome! You called me almost instantly and I was able to change the delivery address. Also, the products are SO delicious!! Thank you so much!!! I’m a previous customer and will keep ordering!!!”

“Super easy to order! Love that there’s no shipping cost! Hubby loved getting his on Valentine’s Day! I will definitely order again!”

“This is our second year sending CookieText to our daughter for Valentine’s Day. This year’s was more beautiful than last, and she absolutely loves receiving them. Thank you so much for making her day while she’s away at school.”

How awesome is that!?

I’ve said it a million times, I love my job. I am grateful. We have a fantastic team on board and we had some phenomenal extra helpers as well, they all amazed me. Thanks to all of you for your support, for ordering from us, for cheering us on, and for telling your friends. Valentine’s Day is our Black Friday times 10 (but lucky for you there’s no standing in line at 4 am). It’s a lot of work, a lot of fun, and we get a ton of joy out of knowing people are getting showered with some cookie love. It’s a blessing to be able to do what you love for a living, and it’s something I do not take for granted.

All that said, as a true entreprenuer, I’m compelled to remind you: we’re here all year…you can order 24 hours a day at www.cookietext.com. 😉

I hope you had a LOVEly week,

Jeanne

Happy to help, Cupid!

 

 

 

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Can You Keep a Secret?

A friend and customer called the other day to tell me how it occured to her that at Cookie Text we likely have lots of local gossip. I laughed…because it’s actually kind of true. There is a bit of secret-keeping that happens in our cookie kitchen, and I have to admit, it’s often fun to be among the first to know.

I know your first question, have we ever sent a married person a CookieText® from someone who wasn’t their spouse? Well just slow your roll…we’ll address that later.

The good…

We are often among the first to know who got engaged, who is expecting or had their baby, who got into the college of their choice, or who got a promotion. These are fun ones. I always think it’s a special thing to share in someone’s joy, to celebrate with and congratulate them.  The mayday calls often come from Moms who recognize the thick collegiate acceptance envelope and hope to get a CookieText® to celebrate with that day.

The bad…

We often find out about new diagnoses, injuries, and the passing of loved ones via orders that come through the site.

One that sticks in my mind is a local grade-schooler who was sustained a bad injury to his face years ago.  What stood out for me most with this one was the delivery itself. For some reason I delivered that one, and I remember seeing the father’s face as he answered the door. The man just looked like he had been through the ringer, his shoulders were a bit slumped, and his face almost expressionless. I guess he looked like many fathers would when their child had been through something traumatic, like he was still trying to wrap his head around the experience and aftermath. The boy was another story. He walked up behind his dad and saw the CookieText® with the balloon attached and there was an immediate smile. God bless children and their resilience.

We try to treat the delicate orders and deliveries with the respect they deserve, and consider it a privilege to be called on during difficult times.

Those in the cookie kitchen know who orders for themselves, who ate the one they ordered for their loved one and has to order again to make amends, and who let their friend down and is ordering to try to mend fences.

The ugly…

Now back to the big question: Have we ever sent a romantic CookieText® to a married person that wasn’t from their spouse?

Yes.

More than once, but fewer than 5 times.

Usually these are sent anonymously. So while we can see the sender’s information, they request that no information about them appears on the label sticker on the box. All the ones we’ve ever sent out were delivered to workplaces not homes.

Now mind you, we were surmising this wasn’t the spouse and something a little sketchy was going on, we didn’t have proof.  As they say, when it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it’s usually a duck.

The information we get when someone places an order is not our news to share. I don’t think any of us find it particularly hard to keep things to ourselves, plus usually the information becomes common knowledge soon enough.  We do post CookieText® pictures on our social media accounts, we do our best not to use any kind of identifiers unless we have permission.

We need our employees to be team players, friendly, and hard-working. But don’t be surprised if you come for an interview and the first question is: Can you keep a secret?

 

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A Remarkable Year?

I liken our 6th birthday to being awarded 2nd runner up.

Sure it’s something, it’s just not…remarkable.

I mean, 5 years in business felt like a landmark, but six? Six is just…six.

My husband of 18 years and I split this past year. Now, that’s something remarkable.

Significant. Life-changing.

Personally, my year was remarkable. Professionally, honestly, it was a bit of a blur.

I remember on several occasions lying flat on my back in the middle of the cookie kitchen floor, just to feel grounded. I did it so I could feel that I was on this earth and breathing. I did it to start with what I knew for sure, because there was so much that was in transition this year, so much I didn’t know.

By now, I do know Cookie Text. It was just what I needed: consistent, steady, and distracting.  When I’m doing my thing in the kitchen, I get to think about all sorts of good stuff, like who is getting the cookie I am decorating, the funny messages, a nice review we got on the website, or how good cookie dough tastes…all great things. Especially when I’d  thought so much about hard stuff that I was weary.

One thing was tricky: I am so used to the growth mindset with Cookie Text, I had to coach myself a few times this year that holding steady was okay. This year just needed to be consistent and stable. My true focus had  to be on the boys and me, and I just needed to not lose ground with the business.

It was a hard thing to accept that I couldn’t do it all at once. It wasn’t hard to figure out what was most important.

One day this summer, despite my self-coaching, I felt like I was failing at Cookie Text. That afternoon the two younger boys and their friends asked me to take them on an outing. We were out and about for several hours and the boys and I had a great time.

It was just the reminder I needed:

Cookie Text has always allowed me to be the mom I want to be. Any time over the past six years that the boys wanted or needed me to be available or I wanted to be present, I could be. That will always be way more valuable to me than our sales figures or web traffic stats.

While it was a rocky year personally, I look back and think we still had an awesome year of Cookie-texting:

  • Even though the cookie kitchen moved, we never missed a day of deliveries.
  • Even though the kitchen was not set up ideally, we still had a record-setting Valentine’s Day.
  • Even though I was very sad at times, Cookie Text consistently brought me great joy.
  • Even though I might have neglected to send a newsletter reminder, you all still ordered.

Cookie Text was a companion on this journey. And a fun and reliable companion at that.

Now it’s time for me to get back in the driver’s seat and lead this business to it’s full potential.

In the coming year the oldest will be off to college, the middle son driving,  and the youngest will be in high school. I don’t believe this timing is an accident.  As my active-mom role shrinks, my cookie-lady role will grow. Just as I need to dedicate more time to the business, the universe seems to be handing it to me.

I find great joy in Cookie-texting, in mothering, and in just being me. The year’s personal journey was tough, but I have reached the clearing where I can feel the sun on my face and see the beautiful view.

I’m excited about the coming year, and look forward to having more attention to pay to the business. I’m grateful for all that this company is and has been for me. I am grateful for all of you.

By some unexplainable internal process I translate your affection for this company into love, and that love helped see me through.

You are all a very good kind of remarkable.

So cheers to six years, what-daya say we make us a national franchise by 10;)?!

Let’s do this!

 

 

 

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