September 21, 2017

Success Story:

What a great idea……But!

You know when you hear about a good idea but then you think of the hard work involved to be able to make the idea become a working concept, let alone a reality? This is what I thought eight years ago when I was sitting on a car ferry travelling across Port Phillip Bay listening to the very excited Michael Colless share his new idea with me. Michael, and to all that know him, is pretty boisterous and forward and when he wants to let you know something, the whole world will also know!

Michael and I had been business colleagues; worked on many projects on the marketing side of several famous café products that are still front of mind today. He told me about his idea of an online buying system for café owners who could not get certain café products, either because of their geographical location or needing to buy in quantities too small to qualify for an account with a big food service provider.

A few months later Good Food Warehouse was to become a reality through the passion of two dynamic people, Michael and Jane Colless. This duo made a great team in my eyes; Michael knew the food service game at all levels, including international, and Jane was a consultant in the IT industry designing global e-business strategies. It sounded an easy task but the pair also had a very young family in tow so the new business had to be flexible enough to work around the household duties of parenting. They also had the growing pains that most new businesses have, as in cash flow problems, so the pair still had to hold their day jobs until the business built momentum.

Step forward eight years and now Good Food Warehouse is an amazing e-commerce success story known to most café operators all over Australia. Customers can browse the Good Food Warehouse site and make a purchase expecting their orders to be sent to them within a few days.
Jane explained the concept to me and how it had motivated Michael and Jane to make Good Food Warehouse a real working model. “Buyers need information to make an accurate purchase decision. They don’t want to email you and ring you several times to get the information, they want it when they are ready to read it (whenever that is)! It’s our job to make sure the information is available for them 24/7; the days of 9 to 5 Monday to Friday are over”.


Jane and Michael’s success is attributed to combined sales experience and food service management skills. This led them to believe that first impressions are everything in the café supply chain. Jane tells us, “The Marketing 101 is imperative; the customer is captured by the first image (impression). If you capture the customer positively with this first impression, they’ll research further. They will look at more images, ingredients, nutritional info, shelf life and the like, to decide if the product is what they require. Your listed product(s) need to be in a ‘palatable format’, literally, you want them to love it, buy it and communicate to their customers how great the product is. The most trusted referral is word of mouth, and now with such powerful social platforms, word of mouth can make or break a brand”.

This seems very much a simple explanation of a process. But if you are not a marketing whiz and an IT genius, this task would have been an impossible one. This couple knows how to approach a complicated business, like a café, and get into the head space of the café owner.
Michael and Jane have invested in systems that make it simple for customers to manage wholesale orders from multiple suppliers across Australia. Jane explains “That’s why they buy from Good Food Warehouse, it’s easy. There is one point of contact for all purchases”.
The Team at Good Food Warehouse help engage and educate their suppliers about e-business marketing. Many now have gained larger marketing awareness via the Good Food Warehouse site, emails and chats, all at low or no marketing cost to them.

Good Food Warehouse has 5,000 plus visitors to the site monthly and have over 12,500 registered buyers. People who have registered want to know more and either have used the system or are ready to make a purchase.
The duo are big believers of their marketing philosophy for their suppliers. Michael explains, “Don’t be good at what you produce, be great! Keep producing innovative products, prove your brand as a market leader, show potential buyers the best you have and make as many buyers as possible aware of your product’s unique benefits”.

Michael in a past life worked with McDonalds across the Asia Pacific region. One of the senior regional managers said to him that there are three types of suppliers; the ones who get on the bus and help drive it, ones who sit up the back and go for the ride and others who are standing on the curve watching the bus go by. Remembering the internet is now the most powerful sales and marketing tool in the world, if you’re not heavily investing in the digital world to get awareness (marketing) and sales, then the next best thing is to work with someone who is!
Michael and Jane, I believe, were first to market with a complete café supply system that is totally web based. They have kept ahead of the technology curve and have embraced a combined social media presence. Good Food Warehouse is now a well recognised supplier to the Australian café industry and has simplified life for many café owners with this simple ordering process.

I am extremely proud of this couple and I personally know as a friend, the amount of sacrifice of valuable time and family life the pair had to forgo to make this business a reality today. I’ve wanted to showcase this business for a few years now as a real success story in our industry but Michael and Jane thought they were not ready. Believe me this is a great example of ‘if you want something great you have to work hard for it’. This couple really have.

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