From Bub ‘n Mutha’s Start in 2018 until now, owner John Fuhrman has learned how to adapt and use consistency to stay successful and grow connections for his award winning dry rubs, even through a world-wide pandemic. Below he shares how he showed up in times that mattered, causing Bub ‘n Mutha’s to be poised to prosper.
2019 was Bub ‘n Mutha’s first full year as a business. Even though I was building it part-time, the goal was to see significant growth year over year. 2018 was a half year and we ended up being carried in 8 stores. 2019, we had some lofty goals.
I made it a point to do a minimum of one thing every day to draw attention to my business. I’d send out press releases, did radio interviews, posted all over social media and always carried bottles of our rubs in my truck. Any store that looked like a good candidate, I stopped in and gave a simple pitch. It went, and still goes, like this.
“Hi. I know you’re busy, so there will be no sales pitch today. I have a quick question and then I’m out of here. If I gave you a bottle of each of our flavors, would you take them home and try them?”
If the answer was no, I was out of there. If they answered yes, I would also be out but as I was leaving, I’d say, I would call them the following week. Part-time prospecting yielded us being in 40 stores by year end.
2020 was to be our breakout year. I was convinced that if we grew at the same pace as 2019, I would be able to turn this into a full-time business venture. I knew what was working and I just had to figure a way to multiply it without a major budget. I spent what money was available (Bub ‘n Mutha’s has still not taken any investment money) to purchase a tent/booth and buy a space at the upcoming New England Made show.
With the promise of having over 2,500 store buyers pass through, I had every confidence that if I got them to sample the rub at my booth, I could easily get 50 stores who could order just 2 cases per month. I was convinced that was a conservative estimate. But, we’ll never know. COVID killed all trade shows.
Not only did the trade show people keep the money, all of the stores that currently carried the rubs were closed (Many didn’t open again until mid-summer). So, I had no marketing, no stores to order from me, and barely enough product to handle individual customers. I had to pivot. Not shift the business but shift my thinking.
I knew that eventually; stores would reopen, and people loved barbecue. So, I went back to my original formula but without the travel. Every day I worked on two things. Finding contact email addresses and offering to send them samples. I rolled the dice and took the inventory I could have sold and gave it away to potential customers.
As we all know, the stores began opening again and people were out playing catch up to what they missed. Of our stores, 100% of them were still with us and ordered almost immediately which generated cash. In addition, the marketing and publicity paid off. Our Honey ‘n Heat Rub was awarded 1st place as best Dry Rub by the International Flavor Awards and we were on the news. Within 48 hours of that story being on a Maine news program, we sold almost $2,000 of rubs.
In addition, one of the companies that I sent samples to, The Grill Masters Club, signed a contact that is worth $60,000 in the next 12 months. (We did a total of $16,000 in 2020). We have added more stores and our Veterans program had us chasing a million-dollar valuation by Veterans Day this year. I have been full-time since April and our goal for the year is to be at least at $160,000 in sales.
The lesson here is that what works, works. Things (pandemics, etc.) beyond your control will happen from time to time. When something outside your control affects business, stick with your basics. It is not the time to reinvent your wheel. By showing up and sticking to what has always worked, keeps you sane, stable and when the crisis passes, you’ll not only be one of the few still standing, but you’ll probably be also poised to prosper.
Keep in mind, the only good thing in life that’s instant is pudding.
For more information on awards, and our Veterans’ Ownership Program, go to https://www.bubnmuthas.com/media-and-press-releases