Landing Retail Accounts Through LinkedIn

In our latest 21 Hats Podcast episode, Stephanie Stuckey explains her strategy for winning big retail accounts.

Good morning!

Here are today’s highlights:

  • Employees are looking for financial wellness programs.

  • Delta’s health insurance surcharge seems to be working.

  • Employers confronting the coming vaccine or testing mandate have questions for Joe Biden.

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

Episode 76: Our Best New Accounts Are Coming Through LinkedIn: This week, Stephanie Stuckey talks about how she’s been winning her biggest retail accounts for Stuckey’s candies without a sales pitch. She also explains her latest manufacturing snafu, which she calls, “the case of the squishy pecan log rolls.” Laura Zander, meanwhile, tells us about the supply chain challenges she’s faced getting products from China, Vietnam, and South Africa. Plus, she talks us through how her latest price increases have resulted in a doubling of orders.

THE COVID ECONOMY

The Norwich Inn, near Dartmouth college, struggled to survive when the students left last year, but owner Dave Burtonbush says the inn took the time to rethink its business model: “In small business, a lot of times people don’t necessarily deal with change so well. ‘Never waste a crisis’ is something we were saying throughout this whole process. So one of the first things we did after the restaurant reopened was scale back our menu and ensure that our food costs made sense. We had the opportunity to redo some of the floors and the painting in our public areas. We took one of our dining rooms and turned it into more of a lounge area. Outdoor dining became a huge thing during the pandemic; we redid the patio, and we have more outdoor seating now. We upgraded our technology so we can speak to our guests via text messaging through the front desk computer.” READ MORE

POLICY

A trade group representing some 2,000 consumer brands sent a letter to President Biden on Monday requesting answers to questions about his vaccine or testing mandate. Among the questions:

  • “What proof-of-vaccination documentation will the companies need to collect, and will booster shots also be required?”

  • “Must employees be fully vaccinated?”

  • “Will workers who have had the coronavirus still have to be vaccinated or get tested?”

  • “Will the requirements apply only to vaccines that are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration? (The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently the only shot with full approval.)”

  • Who is responsible for vaccination tracking — the government or the individual businesses?”

  • “What are the consequences of falsifying a vaccination status?” READ MORE

Delta’s $200-a-month health insurance surcharge for the unvaccinated seems to be working: “In the two weeks since Delta Air Lines announced a $200 monthly health insurance surcharge for unvaccinated employees, 20 percent of Delta’s unvaccinated employees have already gotten the jab, Dr. Henry Ting, Delta’s chief health officer, said in an Infectious Disease Society of America briefing Thursday. ‘I think [that’s] a huge number in terms of shifting that group that’s most reluctant,’ he said. Of the airline’s 80,000 employees, 20,000 still remain unvaccinated, added Ting, who is also an adjunct professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, and a professor emeritus at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.” READ MORE

Even back in August employees surveyed said they wanted a mandate: “Of 2,000 U.S. workers surveyed in August by Mercer, 65 percent said they want their employer to implement a vaccine mandate. Half the employees were hourly workers, and half were salaried, all working for companies with more than 500 people. A separate survey of 372 U.S. employers conducted in late July and early August by Mercer found that while more companies said they were considering a vaccine mandate, 71 percent weren’t currently requiring the shots. On mask wearing, the Mercer employer survey found 36 percent said unvaccinated employees had to mask in the workplace, while vaccinated workers could stay unmasked based on an honor system.”

  • “The honor system may be easier at small companies. ‘There are 10 of us. Five are family members, and the rest of us have worked there for many years, and we were all in agreement on getting vaccinated,’ said Elaine M. Savoldi, an associate broker at Town Center Associates LLC, a real-estate company in Beaver, Pa.” READ MORE

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AMAZON

In a pending antitrust suit, Amazon faces new allegations over its contracts with wholesalers: “The amended legal complaint was announced Monday by the office of Attorney General Karl Racine, and is dated Sept. 10. It calls out contracts with first-party sellers that guarantee Amazon a minimum profit and require the wholesalers to make a so-called true-up payment to Amazon—equaling the difference when that minimum isn’t met. The true-up payment can be triggered when Amazon lowers the price of a product to match a cheaper offering on another shopping site, the complaint says. As a result, it says, wholesalers have an incentive to ensure other online marketplaces don’t have lower prices than Amazon’s price.”

  • “Sometimes, wholesalers in this situation ‘raised their prices to competing online marketplaces to prompt the maintenance of higher prices on those marketplaces and even asked those marketplaces to raise prices to online consumers,’ the complaint says.”

  • “It alleges that these higher prices harm consumers and cement Amazon’s market power.” READ MORE

HUMAN RESOURCES

Amid the Great Resignation, financial wellness programs are the latest benefit employees are demanding: “That was a key finding from PwC's annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, which was conducted in January 2021 and released in April. Among those polled, 72 percent of workers who reported facing increased financial setbacks during the pandemic said they would be more attracted to another company that cared more about financial well-being than their current employer. About 57 percent of workers who hadn't yet faced increased financial stress said the same thing. Financial stress doesn't just affect worker retention; it also has an impact on productivity.”

  • * PwC's survey showed that 45 percent of workers experiencing financial setbacks have been distracted at work by their money problems.”

  • “The menu of financial wellness tools employers might elect include educational tools for personal finances, one-on-one financial coaching, and even access to rainy day funds.”

  • “HoneyBee, a B2B financial wellness startup, recently closed a round of funding with $5.7 million in equity, TechCrunch reported.” READ MORE

The reluctance of employees to resume big-city commutes is slowing the reopening of offices: “Many workers say they are reluctant to ride subways, trains, and buses into city centers, particularly when they could be in close quarters with unmasked or unvaccinated people. Several executives say their employees are citing Covid-19 fears related to their commutes as a key reason they want to continue working from home. Inside offices, safety protocols include widely distanced desks and masks worn in common areas. The White House’s order for most employers to mandate Covid-19 vaccines or weekly testing among workers aims to make vaccination a standard for most of the U.S. Yet despite the measures in place at work, the prospect of long rides in crowded subways, train cars and buses is still proving too much for some people, say many workers and executives.” READ MORE

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STARTUPS

An Australian startup, Who Gives a Crap, has raised $30 million to challenge the toilet paper industry: “The brand's products, which have expanded to include facial tissues and paper towels, use alternative pulps like bamboo and sugarcane. The company says these are more environmentally friendly than many materials traditionally used to make toilet paper. But the business model also differs from big brands like Charmin and Scott in another way. Who Gives a Crap donates half of its profits to charities that improve access to toilets and sanitation supplies for people around the world.”

  • “Who Gives a Crap looks a little different, too. Toilet-paper rolls are packaged in simply designed paper instead of the plastic that most rivals use. A pack of 24 rolls is sold for about $30 on the company's site.”

  • “‘Ten years ago, the idea of funding a company that was donating half of its profits was not something that was investable,’ Griffiths said.”

  • "’I think the capital markets have shifted,’ he added. ‘Now the world sees that there's real demand out there from consumers for companies that are like ours.’” READ MORE

Another startup has raised $15 million to resurrect the wooly mammoth: “The company, named Colossal, aims to place thousands of these magnificent beasts back on the Siberian tundra, thousands of years after they went extinct. ‘This is a major milestone for us,’ said George Church, a biologist at Harvard Medical School, who for eight years has been leading a small team of moonlighting researchers developing the tools for reviving mammoths. ‘It’s going to make all the difference in the world.’” READ MORE

If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren