Back in 2012, Tod Wilson, owner of Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory, plugged Square Reader into his phone so his business could start accepting credit cards. Fast-forward three years: Wilson uses Square to email his customers, keep track of business at his busiest locations, and finance new branding initiatives. He’s one of an increasing number of sellers who have ditched their slew of unintegrated systems to run their entire business with Square.
We know that like Tod Wilson, many of you start off using Square as a way to take payments at a single location or even on the go. And as you expand your business, we’re with you all the way. We’re building tools to support all phases of your growth — from detailed business analytics to marketing tools and small business financing.
Today, more than 70% of larger Square sellers engage daily with Square’s analytics tools. We have a substantial and growing small business financing program, Square Capital, that avoids the hassle of traditional financing. What’s more, sellers are using Square to deepen their relationships with their customers through tools like Square Customer Engagement and Feedback. Customers now send more than a million pieces of feedback to Square sellers every month. And during our marketing pilot, Square sellers generated nearly $1,000,000 in sales tied directly to promotion redemptions.
We caught up with Tod to learn how he’s using Square tools to grow his business.
Square: How did you get started?
Wilson: I started selling sweet potato pies on the streets of New York City in the mid ’80s. Now, we have a mobile bakery as well as two brick and mortar shops in New Jersey — and another one coming to Harlem this summer. I’ve always had big ambitions. I want to be the next Howard Schultz, except for pie, not coffee.
What’s been your growth strategy?
It’s all about building the brand. We don’t want someone to go out and say, “Get me an apple pie.” They should say, “Get me a Mr. Tod’s.” If people don’t recognize your brand, the pies aren’t going to sell.
How have you used Square to help you grow?
Nowadays, especially if you’re planning to grow, it would be crazy to pick a system that’s just payments. Square may have started with credit card acceptance, but it’s grown a lot since then. And luckily, so has my business! There is no way you can run multiple businesses without knowing what’s going on. Square Register is a simple one-stop shop that has made it easier to manage everything. In fact, I call it a “business management system for dummies.”
You recently received funding from Square Capital. How did you put it to work?
Access to capital is hard for entrepreneurs. I got an email offering me Square Capital and within 16 hours the money was in my account. I used the first round of money to create branded bags that we give to customers when we deliver our pies. It’s a great marketing tool — I like to think of them as the next Louis Vuitton. I also got a freezer for my mobile bakery, which means we can do pies à la mode!
Which tool do you have in heaviest rotation?
Analytics is one of the tools I use most. I check it constantly, maybe 10 times a day. Numbers don’t lie. I can see what I am selling and what time of day my items sell most. For example, I have a new store in lower Manhattan. With Square, I know what my busy times are, so I can best divide my time between locations. I love how you can download the Square Point of Sale app on your phone and just watch the transactions as they happen. Analytics help me stay organized.
What do you see as the most important aspect of running a successful business?
My customers. I have to wow them if I want them to come back. It’s not just about the pies, it’s about creating a sense of community. In my lower Manhattan store, I host Founder’s Friday and offer discounted wine and beer to entrepreneurs. I got the word out by using email marketing. I’m also planning to use email marketing to let my customers know where my mobile bakery will be on different days. My open rates so far are great, and I recently had customers come in for brunch. I think it’s because of the mimosa photo I included in the email.
What’s your approach to feedback from customers?
We get a lot of input through Square Feedback. We try to get right back to them. And 90 percent of the time their feedback is positive. We did have one person who was upset by the wait time so we got right back to them. It’s a huge advantage to have a POS system that sends out digital receipts and sets up an easy system for customers to send me their feedback.
What advice do you have for an entrepreneur just starting out who wants to expand?
Keep it simple. When you’re an entrepreneur, there is so much going on. I have to keep track of my money, my customers, and my staff. So I always look for ways to simplify. If you can have all your business info in one place — from your sales to your customer information to your data — it makes it that much easier. You want solutions that save you time. Time is the greatest commodity that we have. You only have so many hours in the day, and you need to use them efficiently.
Now for the most important question. What is your best seller?
The four-inch sweet potato pie. Definitely.