Doubling revenue by focusing on Community & Support

Lyla Wolfstein • 1 November 2020

Hello! My name is Lyla and I own Total Belly Fare - Handcrafted Dinners Delivered. Full Belly Fare hand delivers meals and snacks directly to homes and businesses at the Portland, Oregon metro region. I started Complete Belly Fare 7 decades back, planning to supply completely customizable foods, focused on natural, local ingredients, to anybody, but most especially to those fighting with particular dietary needs who were having a hard time locating healthful AND delicious food they can eat. Families with brand new infants, people recovering from surgery or undergoing treatment for cancer, active professionals, and seniors aging in place, all take advantage of their offerings.

Over time, my menu has expanded to include a wide array of"pantry" items as well as finish meals. The pantry items are made both in home and by other regional sellers, and signify the awesome food arena in Portland in addition to encouraging different micro-businesses and providing a much-needed service to families and individuals in the region. Until the end of 2019, the business was not making a gain, though it did use 11 people (mostly moms who had a part-time job at a living wage).

However, this quarter of 2020 is seeing huge growth! With a concentration on community over competitors, a restructuring into a collaborative management system (more on that below), and a transformation of the menu to offer many more options, including bundles, collaborative menu objects along with other local chefs, kid-focused meals, and goods from other regional businesses, Full Belly Fare has observed near doubling of revenue!

About my food delivery business


Tell us about what you've been around! Has the company been growing?

Due in part to transformation and growth of this menu and also in part to the rise in requirement for delivery and food service as a consequence of Covid, Full Belly Fare is doing quite well lately. Although we have stepped up the promotion and outreach a little, I attribute the growth more to a combo of the times where we find ourselves, combined with our emphatic focus on community service, not only sales.


Community over Competition in the Covid Era

Full Belly Fare has always been about community over rivalry, but in the wake of the pandemic, that focus is much more central. Forced to decrease crew size for the sake of safety and social distancing, we needed to come up with a few innovative ways to remain in business. At first, we decreased the tremendously labor-intensive menu complexity, and added a few"chef's surprise" things to the rotating weekly menu, as well as a couple of items to the"pantry menu" - products created both in house and from other local small companies. The consequences of the decision were many:


  1. First, the rest of the crew members could each work more hours per week, in a more secure, socially distanced environment.
  2. Secondly, Total Belly Fare customers, most with young children, elderly, or recovering from illness, and isolated and further challenged to securely get and prepare groceries (and remember many shops were cleared out of critical items for some time ), can stock their pantry and fridge using a larger array of easy to grab and eat, wholesome and tasty products.
  3. Third, Full Belly Fare was able to do its own small part in helping other community food companies which were struggling with the pandemic associated restrictions. In particular, having an eye toward the Black community in Portland, Full Belly Fare created a concerted effort to reach out to Black-owned companies, and the gains from the products we carry from these companies are contributed to the Dark Resilience Fund and other organizations supporting the Black community. Through this procedure, the Black-owned businesses earn the money they need from their merchandise, and the cash from the sale of these products is leveraged into an organization that is supporting the Black community.

Not everyone is able to afford delivered ready foods, especially in the wake of layoffs and earnings loss. With the outbreak, we increased visibility of that program, and perhaps most importantly, collected donations from clients, which Entire Belly Fare matched, in service of local families and healthcare employees in need who didn't have a community to support them.

Living Wages and Collaborative Management Restructuring

In a more concentrated attempt even closer to home, Total Belly Fare turned an eye toward the increased needs of our employees. While we've been a part-time occupation scenario, which couldn't change as a result of the once a week meal delivery program and also the scale of the business, I wanted to ensure I was doing everything possible to encourage my crew members. In the pursuit of fairness and also in gratitude for the incredibly talented and committed staff, we transformed the machine in many ways: We removed the direction and cover structure for your kitchen crew - everybody doing food prep makes the same, and everyone has a voice regarding procedures, menu items, processes, and much more. This led to a substantial pay raise for many of the team, along with a tight-knit sense of teamwork and camaraderie, in addition to a spike in imagination and enthusiasm! We are now offering a lot more wonderful in house products, inspired and created by team members!



As we have been able to enlarge the menus again, even adding fresh collaborations with local chefs, Total Belly Fare looks forward to a future of opportunities to increase community support and connection through great meals, made with love.



Nonnina Tuscan Meal of the Month Collaboration


What have been the biggest lessons learned in the previous year?

I don't believe any of us could have predicted what random impacts on company that 2020 would deliver! I am convinced that any decisions made by small business owners and definitely by myself that was helpful to the company this year were a combination of pure luck and also the long term inherent advantages of conclusions based on fundamental principles of caring, kindness, and community.


What's in the programs for the upcoming year, and 5 years?

We are taking a look at moving to a larger kitchen, in which we could stretch our wings further, both in terms of menu offerings and team size. I mean to seek further opportunities for collaborations with other local companies and chefs, as well as to explore the option of providing ready to eat products at local supermarkets and other venues. We are poised to launch a new website, which has been years in the making - a site which is going to be tremendously more user friendly for our customers and more effective for us. The new site will also make it feasible to supply more dietary customization with one click.

Long term goals for Full Belly Fare include consistent enough orders/revenue to increase wages even further, as well as, once Covid restrictions decrease, we hope to expand delivery chances beyond the Portland Metro Area to Seattle, Salem, and perhaps beyond.


Advice for other entrepreneurs that might be struggling to cultivate their company?

Advice for other entrepreneurs that might be struggling to cultivate their company?
One of the main things I have learned over 7 years of business is that to run a business with principles and ethics (crucial to long term goals of a thriving business), a company owner must be prepared to spend money and effort on what's important - primarily on anything that will cement client AND employee loyalty - grade goods, highly responsive customer support, living wages, and also a legitimate voice for stakeholders/employees.

To operate a business with ethics and principles (critical to long term goals of a thriving business), a business owner must be willing to spend money and effort on what is important.

This will, in turn, requires charging costs which will allow operations that follow these tenets. If a business functions at this high level, clients are willing to pay premium prices.

Result: Revenue: x2

Tags: Entrepreneurship Food Small business Startups