How to Sell Homemade Salad Dressing

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Salad with vinagrette dressing in a small bowl.
Salad with vinagrette dressing in a small bowl. (Image: sal61/iStock/Getty Images)

If people rave about your homemade salad dressing, you may have considered bottling it and selling it. If you enjoy managing your own business and cooking, it may be a great business choice for you. You may want to engage in individual person-to-person sales or you may want to license it to a manufacturer and distributor. There are also many online sites through which you could sell your homemade salad dressing.

Selling at Craft Shows

Find craft shows that allow vendors to sell food items. Search online for craft show listings or subscribe to a state-wide craft listing.

Visit the craft show the year before you plan to sell there. Talk to the vendors of packaged food items. Find out what the traffic is like and ask them whether they recommend the show.

Purchase the display items you will need to present your homemade salad dressing in a creative manner. The majority of craft shows offer a 10-foot by 10-foot space, though some will rent smaller spaces than that. If you are going to do outdoor shows, buy a 10- by 10-foot tent. You may wish to order a sign with your company's name on it that can be printed on the tent itself. You will also need coverings for your table.

File the application on time. Take professional quality photos of your product. These will be necessary for any juried craft show, in part because they want assurances that you are selling a homemade product and not a purchased one. Send in the fee and meet all of the deadlines.

Attend the show. Arrive at least 90 minutes before the show starts to register and set up your booth. Have business cards with a website address on it to pass out to people who visit your booth. Set out samples of your salad dressing with carrots or croutons so that people can taste your salad dressings. Greet everyone who comes into your booth and be ready to tell the story of why you are selling salad dressing and what makes your product special. Stay for the entire length of the show unless you sell out of product. Show organizers will often bar someone from returning if they pack up and leave early.

Selling to Distributors

Secure any licenses you need. Many states require you to have a special license if you are a wholesale food distributor or sell to a wholesale food distributor.

Make a list of distributors near you that handle salad dressings and similar products. You may be able to get names from the Chamber of Commerce or by doing an internet search.

Research each distributor. Evaluate whether its policies are something that fits your needs. Some distributors will help you with packaging and advertising. Others may carry only organic foods. Make a chart listing the pros and cons of each distributor. Some distributors may have exclusivity agreements.

Narrow your list down to the three that you are most interested in. Then contact each of the ones on the list and arrange for a meeting to discuss financial arrangements and to propose your product to them.

Convince the distributor that your product is viable and profitable. Present your salad dressing in the best possible light and come prepared to make a strong business case for it.

Selling to Restaurants

Make a list of the privately-owned restaurants within a 50-mile radius. Find out who the owner is in each one of them. This information may be available on their website or you may be able to get it through your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau.

Set up an appointment to meet with the restaurant owners. You may wish to send a letter in the mail first and then follow up with a phone call. When possible, have someone introduce you before you make the call. Also, you should always have visited the restaurant and eaten there before you make the appointment. This way you can intelligently discuss the menu and how your salad dressing meets the restaurant's needs.

Meet with the owners. Take along several bottles of your homemade salad dressing. Discuss their needs and talk about how your salad dressing can help to meet their needs. Be prepared to present how your salad dressing can give them a competitive advantage.

Propose a contract for them to purchase your salad dressing. Be sure to spell out how much they will purchase each week and how it will be delivered.

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