Interview – First Anniversary for Food Walks of Texas
Last Updated January 22, 2019
The first year of a new business offers a roller coaster of emotions. Events and activities are incredibly competitive sectors, with brands big and small competing for eyeballs.
There may be no silver bullet to having a successful debut year, tackling your new venture with a great attitude can certainly go a long way. That ingredient doesn’t seem in short supply for a couple in McKinney Texas, touring their guests through tasty brunches, cold beers, and maybe a hug or two.
Lali and Paul Miles are the passionate foodies behind Food Walks of Texas. We caught up with them basking in the glow of their company’s first anniversary.
Tell us what inspired you to start Food Walks of Texas in 2017.
The decision to start a food tour business was born from the love of food and of our adopted hometown of McKinney, Texas. Lali had always demonstrated a passion for things related to food. She’s often indulging herself (and her family and friends) with things like taking culinary classes, entering food-related contests, or starting a summer cupcake business. Paul is a person who generally likes people and instantly tries to connect with people. Throw those elements into the backdrop of a local city scene dating back to 1845 and now possessing a thriving culinary scene. Starting a Food Tour business in McKinney was extremely attractive to both of us.
That really is a perfect combo of passions for a food tour operator! So how was your first year, did you accomplish the goals you’d set?
The goals we had for our first year were simplistic primarily because we had never started a business/food tour before and pretty much knew that we didn’t know a lot of things. We knew there were some things we could control and we needed to do those exceptionally well. Year One goal was to launch and learn – and keep fine tuning.
Establishment of the Food Walks of Texas brand was key. Branding directly encompassed the look and feel of all things related to the business. That includes communications, attire, tour execution, and the interpersonal relationships and activities with both customers and partners. Additionally, we listened to our non-food tour related business instincts regarding networking. We took that as networking with everyone we could, with the goal being to have not only an awareness of, but also a positive association to that awareness. Also, when we started out, we had two basic objectives we believed were core to our success: 1) strongly representing McKinney’s historic downtown Square and 2) highlighting McKinney’s downtown small business owners in a unique way. We thought if we did those well good things would result.
Finally, we acted with a passionate commitment to the decision. We let our partners know how much they mean to us and that we truly care about their business. For our tour guests, we deliver each and every tour like it is a special event taking place, looking to deliver total customer satisfaction. Regardless of the weather, regardless of the tour size, our commitment was to deliver 100% on those goals.
We feel really fortunate at EzTix to work with new operators like yourselves. Everyone has a few things they wish they knew back on day one. Give us some advice to share with new operators.
The first piece of advice we would offer is to know why you are doing something. Have a desired result or outcome in mind. This extends from partner selection, to script and tour development, and on to marketing and ticketing processes. We didn’t take any decision lightly or for granted. Recognize and handle your food tour operation as entertainment and an experience being catered to people and through people. So many positive steps are taken and missteps avoided by simply understanding that human aspect. Each interaction we have with a person is seen as an opportunity to leave a lasting impression. Always remember it is not what happens to you, it is how you respond that matters most.
A critical component was utilizing the resources we had at our disposal and leveraging any and all expertise. For example: working with Food Tour Pros early on not only provided deep education but helped us fine tune our business plan. Partnering with EzSites and EzTix was a no brainer – affiliating with industry experts helped us launch quickly and the support team has been at our side every step of the way. We are members of the Global Food Tourism Association and have attended the last 2 conferences and look to benefit from the resources, best practices, and networking available from this extensive community.
We definitely support your choice of booking software and digital marketplace 😉
Looking back on the year, are there any moments that stand out for you?
One big moment for us was very early on we received our first 5-star review! It recounted why the experience was so pleasurable for the paying guest. Another was a paying customer on tour who then returned a second time bringing a crowd of friends. Additionally, based on online reviews, we were approached by individuals to conduct private tours, which provided us experience in that area sooner than expected. We love hearing from our partners that guests return because Food Walks of Texas introduced them to the restaurant. The final moment of many is our launching of a second product/tour offering because guests wanted more tours from us.
I’ll bet every one of your colleagues will get a spine tingle thinking about that first 5 star review!
So what’s next? What are you hoping to tackle in year two?
Year one exceeded our expectations! We visited with all our partners (over 25) to celebrate our first year anniversary to thank them for their support and commitment. So much was learned, we had a lot of fun, and we have a strong foundation to build on for 2019 and beyond. For year two, we’re aiming to double the number of guests and expand our offerings with enhanced marketing programs. As we both have full time day jobs, we are very selective in what and where we spend our time. In 2019, we’d like to do everything better, more efficiently, drive higher profitability. If possible, we’ll even have more fun! We look to the EzTiz Partner community to continue to help us learn, grow, and achieve success!
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