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Why Should I Just Give It Away?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

With months of research, recipe testing and development, personal monetary investment, guts, hard-learned mistakes and lots of very, very hard and continuing work, my partner and I launched a concept business somewhat ahead of a now popular food trend. 

We asked for and got some helpful advice here at ChefTalk. Thanks a million, guys.

 

Now, we find every that Johnny-come-lately wanting to jump on this bandwagon is contacting us through emails and incessant phone calls asking for free and detailed advice on how to start-up and run a similar business. While it's tempting to just write up an info package about it and sell the information, we really like our business concept and despite the pitfalls, really enjoy running it. 

 

My question if any of you have had a similar experience, and how best to handle all these incessant requests that keep filling up my email box. If we don't respond to emails, people call us up expecting us to reveal everything to them for free. Sometimes they come into our place of business and ask all kinds of leading questions in thinly veiled fishing expeditions. Sometimes they offer a little money, but certainly no where near the value of our expertise and experience, then get nasty if we politely refuse to give them what they want. This is intellectual property we're talking about. 

 

I understand why places with clearly defined concepts ask you not to take pictures when you come in (Fuddruckers comes to mind.) But I'm a nice person. I'm gratified that people want to do what I do. But I also am not keen on the idea assisting every Tom, Dick, and Harry to be  a competitor, despite how far away they claim to live. We believe we'll go national very soon anyway.

 

Any thoughts?

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #2 of 14

This is why a lot of successful entrepreneurs become successful jerks, they have very little choice.  You are absolutely right in your belief that you should not be "Giving it away".  Tell them if they are interested in a franchise where you get some percentage or being an apprentice or some such, you can talk about it. If it didn't work that way I would have gone to Bill Gates or Eric Ripert a long long time ago and you would be working for me. Seriously, you might want to contact a business or corporate lawyer type and see what you can do. otherwise may I suggest a "buffer" person, someone who smiles nicely and no matter the insults keeps smiling nicely and saying "No, Mr. Foodnfoto is not available for questions at this time "

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #3 of 14

Hi Foodnfoto,

I'm interested to know what you do and you just wrote 4 paragraphs explaining that you weren't telling me!...but a few things, if you do it better than the rest you will be the leader anyway. People are desperate to be successful, and their moral lines become some what blurred in the pursuit of it. When people become insistent they have no patience and so ignore them and they will eventually go away, or just tell them some bad advice. 

 

Cousin Elisabeth is an IP lawyer and the stories some times amaze me. People just don't respect IP, yet others are fearful of it. At the end of the day business and rules rely on most people doing the "right thing" and those that step outside of the legal and moral boundaries dont know or care. 

I love my job
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I love my job
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post #4 of 14

Consultants charge $150+/hr for mediocre advice. Have Gunnar's smiling buffer person offer to schedule consultation meetings or some such. Most will likely turn away. Those who don't--$$$.

post #5 of 14

Franchise the concept, Do not sell it. For the time being put the whole idea on paper and send it to yourself certified mail.. I once contacted a patent company and they told me before  they see it or any one else does send it to myself . This as was explained proves  the date that I came up with  the original concept.Turn off your E mail so it lets approved only contacts thru. As far as the phone use an answering machine stating on the phone the franchise fee. The freeloaders will stop calling.  As far as the statement "you  were first and do it better''   Let me clue you in the one with most $ backing is the winner.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Franchise the concept, Do not sell it. For the time being put the whole idea on paper and send it to yourself certified mail.. I once contacted a patent company and they told me before  they see it or any one else does send it to myself . This as was explained proves  the date that I came up with  the original concept.Turn off your E mail so it lets approved only contacts thru. As far as the phone use an answering machine stating on the phone the franchise fee. The freeloaders will stop calling.  As far as the statement "you  were first and do it better''   Let me clue you in the one with most $ backing is the winner.

The so-called poor mans copyright doesn't hold any weight in actual disputes. It's easy enough to send yourself an empty unsealed envelope to seal later when full of stolen ideas.  Terribly easy to falsify.
 

post #7 of 14

If your taking your business to another level your comments should be " NO COMMENT" don't tell anyone anything about your business. If people want to take pictures of the finished product, so be it. It's up to you to safe guard your operation and not be a "nice guy give away the house" kind of guy. I would also make sure the employees don't have all the answers to the finish product, they could cause problems with knowing to much...........................ChefBillyB 

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

 

 

Quote:
I'm interested to know what you do and you just wrote 4 paragraphs explaining that you weren't telling me!.

Ha Ha! I'm cagey that way, huh?

If you really want to know, check out our websites. They are linked at the bottom of my posts.

Thanks for the advice fellow CTers. 

 

Thankfully, we have registered our images, logos, catch phrases and such and are LLC. So we do have some protection and specialty equipment must be imported (it's not manufactured in the US.)

But really, we're fun, happy people who work very hard at a fun, happy business and it's not in our nature to be jerkified to anyone-especially if they do us the compliment of wanting to emulate us.

 

Still, I'm just sayin'....... 

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
post #9 of 14

Foodnfoto,

   might want to think aboutRegistering all names locally.  Usually your LLC will not

cover names locally. Use the curious to build a mailing list. Just direct all questions and emails to a different address and.

require thier email. add.

I'm sure you have a good business attorney.

I am very excited to hear you may have a great concept.!

Everybody and thier brothers think they can get into the Wedd business after finishing a Wilton class. They will blatenly come into the shop

and take pics and ask about ingredients.

I gave up on worrying about those things years ago.

Just try to protect your concept.

I wish you all the luck and prayers for a sucessful concept..

Where I am, there are many independant vendors that represents what your doing. I'm sure it's not close to your quality.

Might want to look into that.

I'm always ready to invest in new concepts  :>D

I'd see about getting an exclusive on the specialty equipment. Persons can get it in the US but may have to go through you.

There is a company that makes fudge ingredients that are cooked in a Groen kettle you can only get through them.

 Let the manufacture know you might be going national.

pan

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #10 of 14

Talking from a business management point of view... You need to maintain an info@ email address, or better yet - a form-based page that you can redirect people to.

 

This has several advantages - first, your spam will drop to zero, because you don't publish the inboind email that the form sends mail to.

Second - you add a verification code (those pesky numbers or wierd letters "captcha" - that will keep bots and crawlers out.

Third; You can format the input form to ask specific questions and get some category control on what the email is about. Like a drop-down combo box that a user can select:

1. general Info

2. support

3. franchise information

4. complaint

5. ordering gogo pops

6. whatever

 

The form also collects a valid email, a telephone number if they want callback, their industry if you want that, and a memo field you can limit to 512, 1024 or 65k characters if you like.

 

Part of having a business is maintaining your registered agent (business mail address) and your virtual contact portal - being this proposed form strategy or a general info@ email.

 

I charge $185-260/hr for consulting, depending on what the contract scope is. You can have this one for free - But I would like some of your product to sample as well.  ; )

 

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #11 of 14

Hi food,

 

No, I don't operate an IP concept, but a small "artisan" chocolate and pastry business.  Whether it's good or bad, I have a "bricks and  mortar" shop where customers can come in, have coffee and buy chocolates.

 

So at least once a week I see "them", people who come in, eyes on the display shelves and cases, and a zillion questions.

 

"How much is that?" Sorry dude, I have price tags and menu boards for that question.

"Where did you buy this/that?" From suppliers

"Do you supply clubs or Hotels?  Which ones? "  Today's feature praline is hot cinnamon hearts in a 70% dark shell, would you care to purchase a box?

"Where did you train? Oh...Switzerland?  Do you take on any apprentices?" Not at the moment.

 

And finally.......

"Do you own this place?  How much is rent?  How's business?  Today's feature praline is.....

 

In short, be polite but don't even give 'em the steam off of your uh... "beverage by-products".... 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #12 of 14

It goes by date

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #13 of 14

Hi again Foodnfoto,

I had a look at your website, simple, creative looks nice, keep up the good work.

 

I love my job
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I love my job
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post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to say thanks a million to all the posters who responded to this thread.

I had an especially nasty repeat of the original problem I posted about today and came back to read all the encouraging and wise thoughts you all offered.

I feel much better now.

You're the best 

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
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