11 August 2009

WOM Slam 4 - The Student Becomes The Master

Back in July, the night before Buzz 2009, I had the opportunity to attend WOM Slam 3 and was privileged to provide the case study. Turn about being fair play, it seemed only fitting that I would participate in WOM Slam 4, benefiting the amazing DC Central Kitchen.

DCCK, founded in 1989 by Robert Egger, exists to provide job training and placement opportunities for the homeless and people on public assistance, while also feeding the homeless and recycling more than 2000 pounds of donated food from local restaurants and other food service businesses every day.

The WOM Slammers gathered at 8 am (a first for this mostly night-person group) to tour the facilities and hear a little more about the mission and business needs from DCCKers Michael, Allison, and Ama.

Right now, DCCK generates about 15% of its own revenue through 3 main programs:
  1. Fresh Start catering company
  2. Contract catering
  3. Spy City Cafe food cart
Over a DCCK-provided gourmet breakfast, the Slammers brainstormed ways to use Word of Mouth to increase that incoming revenue (DCCK's goal is to generate 50% of their revenue in time).

Sadly, even though our team ("Peter and 3 People Who Hope To Win") included 3 time WOM Slam champion Peter LaMotte, we did not win (although I did manage to score a sweet DCCK t-shirt!).

Apparently, the contract catering is where the money is, and DCCK's extremely small sales staff (aka, Ama) has been heavily focused on getting into the DC schools. The thing about schools, though, is that you sell now to get the contract for next year. So we decided to focus on short-->medium-->long term.
  • Short term: focus on the Spy City Food Cart, blatantly stealing the ideas pioneered by the Fojol Brothers - a great menu, an identifiable look, changing times & locations, and making heavy use of Twitter to create buzz.
  • Medium term: focus on expanding Fresh Start catering's reach into the DC business community by scheduling free breakfast or lunch delivery to the schedulers at business event venues like the Greater Washington Board of Trade and ASAE's Marriott Learning Complex with the goal of getting on their short lists of recommended caterers for functions.
  • Long term: reach out to DC charter schools with gardening programs (demonstrating their existing commitment to sustainability, nutrition education, and local food) via providing food for teacher in-service days, school board meetings, PTA meetings, etc. to generate a ground swell of support for bringing in DCCK.
How can you help?
  • If you were there this morning, record your team's ideas somewhere online. I noticed the DCCK folks didn't have paper & pen to record all the ideas being thrown at them, so I'll bet they'd appreciate an online cheat sheet for later reference.
  • Catering an event? Consider hiring Fresh Start.
  • Spread the word about the good things DCCK is doing in the community.
  • Make a donation.
  • Plan to attend WOM Slam 5 (details, according to Jeremy Epstein, coming soon).




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