It’s December 31st, 5:30pm pacific time and here I am, trying to write my Picky Bars CEO recap before the end of the year. There’s literally like 6 hours left in 2017. It’s the perfect “better late than never” micro analogy that resonates fairly well with Picky Bars results this year. Furthermore, I’m on my way to Maui for a last minute family vacation, literally chasing the sun, extending my year by another two hours, and ultimately, it won’t be enough. It’s a Sunday before a holiday, my staff is off obviously, and I’m sitting next to Jude who, God bless his little LEGO soul, is going to keep asking me for help every 75-90 seconds. But like a bunch of Picky projects this year, it’ll get done, and probably (IMHO) fairly well, if only a little late. So hopefully you enjoy!
I thought a good place to start 2017 recap was where I left you in my 2016 recap. I went back and re-read what I told you guys we’d do - and I’m actually really pleased at the results! Let’s jump into it:
So bam, we mostly did what we said we were going to do, which is probably the first time that’s ever happened in the history of the company! Gotta be stoked about that, and I am.
High - Amazon takes off. Amazon doesn’t account for a huge percentage of our sales, but over the year it became a significant channel, in large part due to the success of our “Whole Shebang Mixed Pack.” I have mixed feelings about Amazon, I think it provides unmatched convenience for the typical shopper but obviously has a negative impact on brick and mortar, and could become too big an influence in all commerce in general (if it hasn’t already). But I’m a realist and know we need to be there and support it as intelligently as we can, so we’ll continue to do so in 2018.
High - Kept Some Awesome Employees. Last year my recap said we started the year with 6 employees, and finished with 10, which included 8 new people! That’s a TON of new faces learning new stuff and made it hard to gain real momentum as a team. I am stoked to say that we only had one employee leave this year and added just one. I think this is due partly to more clearly defined roles and goals for each employee, better communication, but ultimately just having great people who are invested in a like-minded culture. This means that starting 2018 we will have our most experienced staff ever, and that is going to be huge for our results. For the first time we’re heading into a new year with a plan we’re fairly comfortable and confident in, with a team I genuinely believe can get it done.
High - International Sales. We saw continued growth in Canada mostly thanks to our friends/distributors there, Ryeka Sport. We launched successfully with Paula Radcliffe and Fit Brands to the UK as well - for those UK/Europe readers, we’re now available on Wiggle, so check us out and leave a review please! We also saw some success in Sweden, South Korea and Dubai! Way to go other countries!
COGS and Supply Chain Probs. Outside of delays to new products and our new website, and some struggle in the specialty channel, our biggest miss this year was on admittedly on the operational side. We saw a number of out of stock and shipment delays across all of our channels throughout the majority of the summer. While trying to “catch up” on inventory, we saw a significant increase in our cost of goods due to general manufacturing inefficiencies/overspending trying to make up for mistakes along our supply chain. So not only did it hurt our sales during the most critical time of the year, it also hurt our margin and overall profitability, and limited what we could do promotionally because of lack of funds for marketing, discounts, and general sales support. While it’s just one area of the business, it’s obviously an area that affects everyone, so the hurt was real. This will be one of our three main focuses for 2018.
If there’s one thing I’m bullish on this year, it’s our Performance Oatmeal. The success of our Kickstarter, coupled with the positive early feedback from its recipients has me believing we have a super strong product that we just need to get out there! I hope (and our plan is) by the time you read this Picky Oats are in stock and available to current and new Picky Club members as well as selected retailers who supported us with early orders. We will launch on our website, in Amazon, and all retailers beginning in February, ultimately in three form factors - a single serve pouch, a single serve cup, and a multi serve bag. Depending on early results, we’ll invest heavily in distribution and marketing. Once Oats is successfully launched, we have a couple of other irons in the fire for a new product or two we hope to launch this year. It is our goal to eventually have a full line of high performance, real food products for your active lifestyle, so here they come, one step at a time!
No pressure, Jude, but 2018's sorta riding on you and your dump truck
Phase One: COMPLETE. Picky Oats are available through the Picky Club!
While we saw solid growth on the bar business this year - both in current channels and expanded distribution in natural grocery - our sell through per door hasn’t reached the threshold I want it to achieve before we aggressively try to expand to more regions. Our buyers are happy/satisfied, but it’s become clear to me that something is limiting our potential among customers who first discover us on store shelves. My gut is it’s some combination of our price, our packaging, and our product (haha, what else is there, really?). So before continuing our expansion, we’re going to work a lot on those three areas in 2018:
Those are the main things we’re going to focus on for next year. There’s a LOT of other stuff going on as well as our staff of ten hits the ground running on January 2nd (or so…) - new content from Lauren and I (stay tuned for an announcement), improvement of the Club, and way more support for our retailers will all be part of it. I’m super psyched for the challenges ahead and like I said, more confident in our team than ever before. Thank you all so much for your support throughout this year and the 7 years prior. Can’t believe we’re turning 8. Here’s to 2018!
PS - if you have questions, feedback, or ideas, let me know -firstname.lastname@example.org. I promise I’ll do my best to respond, if a little late…
Picky Oats - Available through the Picky Club now!
Picky Bars believes, at its core, in a healthy, positive relationship with food. That the best plan is the one that works for YOU, that you can stick to.