Christie Hauck worked hard to establish a name with consumers for his $3-million company, Christie Cookie Co., in Nashville. So why is he slapping other companies' logos on his product? He hopes wholesale and corporate sales can take him national.
Wholesale now represents 50% of Hauck's sales. He prepares special versions of chocolate-chip cookies for restaurants and upscale grocers to sell as their own brands. Hauck also sells cookie-filled tins to corporate clients, who give them to customers and employees. Each tin bears the company's logo and includes a card signed by the CEO. Hauck's 300 corporate customers, which spend an average of $300 to $500 an order, account for 7% of his revenues and are the most profitable part of the business.
The gift-tin recipients constitute another healthy market for Hauck; mail-order sales make up about 3% of his business. Inside every tin, with the cookies, is a "We Ship Anywhere" note from Hauck that has an 800 number to call. Over the past eight years, he's built a list of 60,000 names, which generates response rates of about 35% on yearly mailings.
The cookies still sell well in Hauck's six stores (which contribute about 40% of sales), but it's too late to be the next Mrs. Fields. "Our strategy was the only way to get a foot in the door." Now it's his ticket to expanding nationwide.
-- Susan Greco and Tom Richman