Kirjoittanut: Taru Jytilä - tiimistä SYNTRE.
“Project of summer 2022”
Summer and flies is a saying here in Finland. Summer went as rewinded, as always. I think that I actually forgot I am studying in English , as I started to write this in Finnish. That’s a recap of how busy I was in the summer. I was a sales manager for Saunaboat company, rented out jetskies and delivered culinary experiences for the same clients. My phone was ringing without a stop during the high peek months. But I love the job, selling what I believe in. Customer service is easy, when you are proud of the product.
When I lived abroad, I never waited for summer to come. It was almost always nice weather and never so dark. Here in the frozen wonderland half of the year we are just waiting for the light to come back and for the sun to warm up the air. We wait and we wait and then when the summer is here, we forget to enjoy it . Or at least I did, again.
How to find balance in life. How to not wait for anything but live in the moment? I guess that’s the endless question in life. Hopefully us who lives here in the darkness will learn that “hakuna matata” of life as they do somewhere in paradise islands somewhere far far away.
So my year 2022 started with a nice warm welcome from Thailand. We were lucky to have a real holiday and travelled to Phuket in the start of the year. It was truly amazing and since the covid regulations were still on , it was not crowded so to say. Spring semester I was the BL for Syntre. That was a nice breath of fresh air. I have been leading many different groups and nationalities, but this time was different. I learned a lot about this trend “ friend leading “. I think we did pretty good. We are a bunch of different people, all dragged here from different parts of the world and we are expected to work together. Of course there will be some challenges but I very much enjoy working in a multicultural team, I believe it gives you so much more, than the regular “finnish” way of working.
I had an already existing idea from the past summer and I found a partner from my team, who was willing to execute this idea. So our project for the summer was Culinary Sauna. I am the sales manager for our company Saunalauttaristeilyt, which is a company renting out sauna boats here in Tampere. We have several customers who are companies, who are celebrating a successful year with their partners or just enjoying time together with their teams and we knew there would be a market niche. We were providing the customers what they needed and had asked for. Marketing and selling was that way quite easy I would say. Of course what could have been done better was the timing. We were basically planning the menu one week before the start of sales and I think it was one day before we went to buy actual plates where to place the culinary experience.
What went well and what could have gone better.
We started with planning. I think it is good to realize that plans change along the way and so did ours. We mainly just made a mind map what could the people be interested in. Finnish people and summer include barbecuing and sauna. We had them both covered. My business partner had beautiful ideas of how to setup the food to look appealing. We figured out some packages and what would be profitable. Quickly lined up some prices and expectations of profit margins. Our calculations worked out pretty well and actually we made more profit than originally expected. We raised some of the package prices along the way as we noticed the effort was not equal for the price we got from it. All in all most of the bookings were satisfied along the summer. We also got some good feedback, how we can develop the service.
Our strategy was to sell the culinary experience as an add-on service for the cruises as well as the jet skies. Our main focus this summer was companies and we noticed that is the main audience to focus on. Companies are organizing team days and are willing to spend more money whilst doing that. They respect the fact that they can get everything easily organized. If we could somehow find a way to sell alcohol on some of the cruises , I think our clients would be amazed. Unfortunately the alcohol serving in Finland is so strictly limited and would be more of a pain in the ass than a business due to difficult storing conditions and laws. My responsibility was to handle the customer contacts , answer queries, schedule and bill the clients.
Our estimate for the summer was pretty reasonable and almost on point. Only estimate thought wrongly was the July sales. We did not foresee that most of the company people are on holiday during that month. We literally did not sell anything during July month. That was a pity. Maybe next season we should figure out a way to make sales in July for the normal consumers.
All in all I think it was a nice experience and most likely we will develop the idea for next summer and continue with the project.
It is harder than you think to figure out a schedule for organizing the bookings as our boats were so busy during the summer. If we would have had a kitchen location and just transferring the products to the boat it could have been easier. But everything involves money. Kitchen/housing in Tampere area is quite expensive so if you are thinking about trying out a business involved with food, try your best to figure out a inexpensive space where you could prepare the products.
Checklist for projects including food:
- How much food per x persons
- Income forecast
- Allergies ( glutenfree, lactosefree,vegan )
- Food waste
- Alcohol permits
Before the summer project , I literally did not have any clue about vegan/vegetarian dietary. Thank god my partner had been trying them out and had more insight for these areas. I read this interesting thesis about vegan eaters and I realized it is quite common now days. I learned more about being vegan and why do people start this ” diet “. During the summer we did not have so many vegans, i would say all in all maybe 10 people. Maybe in the next coming years we will see that the amount will double , maybe triple. Even with this dozen of people we were kind of struggeling to find out what we could offer. There are many superfoods growing in Finland such as blueberries, lingonberry and spinach. Maybe for next summer we could prepare more what to offer for our vegan/vegetarian friends. Next season we should also concentrate on making proper food cards, where customers can see where the food is coming from and what it contains. Maybe we could also put up a questionnaire for the clients to get their feedback from our products. In our household we have reduced the meat eating as I believe it will naturally happen, since the shops are not offering so many beef products anymore and of course the prices of meat have gone up as well. Just read an article yesterday about 3D- printed steaks being sold in the supermarkets already in Helsinki. Because of the over population in the world, I believe we all have to be adaptive when it comes to our eating habits.
Since all the vegetarian / vegan trends have started, normal catering foods we used to have in Finland, such as roasted beef, cream potatoes and different casseroles are not being ordered anymore. Catering customers want high quality, trendy food that represents their own values.(Baraka 2018.)”
Looking into next year 2023 we are thinking about expanding the project to other sauna spaces and events. There are still several factors that are impacting our decisions, example the price of electricity is a big concern. Our main goal for the winter was to run the business from the already existing space saunaboat , but if the electricity prices goes trough the roof there is the slight possibility of turning down the heating from the saunaboats and food prepping not being a possibility anymore.
Looking forward to expand our ideas and figure out more possible products for the upcoming summer. This project gave me many good insights of the industry and what to look out for. Good experience for future especially since I am possibly looking into starting a business within the area.
For me the project gave many new ideas and improved my selling skills.
I believe this is not something we are looking into creating a huge and successful business, but more for earning some money and new skills along the way.
When trying to find a business idea. Good tip is to look for something nobody else is not selling in the area. My plan from the beginning was to create something else than what is already existing. Whilst looking into the catering companies in the near area I noticed that they are all quite similar. Their product range was very limited to basic finnish food as sausages, meatballs and mashed potatoes.
I was looking into new trends around the world and found out these cold platter-based foods that would be great for cruises. People like to socialize and eat something that goes with wine. Not something to fill up their stomachs and then suffer two hours of how full they are. I was fortunate to meet my business partner as she had previous experience from catering. She used to run a family business together with her mom back in South Africa. She immediately had great ideas what to serve. Together we came up with a nice set of platters. Customers have enjoyed the food and the way of serving something fresh and new.
Looking forward of finding more fashion food to serve for our clients for next summer.
I am also very curious about the alcohol permits and if there would be a way to bend the rules a bit. Maybe I will look into this subject and write to you about it.
Kallas Emilia, Vegaanisen menun suunnittelu
ja hinnoittelu pitopalvelulle https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/509629/Kallas_Emilia.pdf?sequence=3&fbclid=IwAR3GuD2Jzt_Tq-oy6Ll4K_3Y52FCYJwt7LHILJrJvLFZ7iNz58inARCojq8
Love the insights you shared in this essay, especially about veganism! Cannot wait to continue this project with you 🙂