Quick WINs: Anna Maria Florio WINs by pivoting during a pandemic!
By Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting
Podcast Season 1, Episode 17 Guest: Anna Maria Florio, Founder and CEO, La Cucina at the Market
ANNA MARIA FLORIO, the owner of La Cucina (Coo-Chi-Nah) at the Market, is a Philadelphia native and the daughter of Italian-born parents from the Campania region of Italy. Her family brought rich traditions of la cucina with them when they emigrated to Philadelphia in the 1960s. Anna grew up speaking Italian in a family where the kitchen was the center of the house. When people came together in their home there was always something cooking. In 2000 she accepted an invitation to join Temple University Center City (“TUCC”) as an Italian language instructor and began to share her Italian heritage with the Philadelphia community. Anna wanted to recreate and share the experience of her own family kitchen directly with her students as teaching tool.
In 2004 Anna approached the Director of the Continuing Education Department at TUCC, about developing a series that combined food and language. TUCC’s first Italian cooking/language class, entitled “Mangiamo in Italiano” was a hit! Several years later with increased interest in all things food, it was the right time for the birth of La Cucina at the Market. Anna approached management at Reading Terminal Market, with the idea of having a space exclusively dedicated to cooking education and culinary demonstration. The enthusiasm was contagious, and the process began.
After 7 years at RTM, it seemed like time for a change. Anna found a wonderful new home in Market East. On July 17, 2016, 1206 Arch Street opened its doors to old and new friends and the tradition resumed. Each month brings new and interesting class options and a breadth of opportunities for culinary activities.
Our conversation was awesome and engaging, and focused on the topics of human capital, surviving and thriving through pandemics and shutdowns, and maximization of referrals from repeat customers. As always, I took notes on the conversations, and I have those notes here for your reference and use as you see fit.
- Human Capital: Anna functions in the food service space – there is always fierce competition in that industry that has been compounded by Covid-19 and governmental shutdown and mandates. Regardless of the politics of such measures, the business impact has been clear. Anna’s focus on making sure she stands out as an employer of choice is a solid core strategy for any business, regardless of industry. As Peter Drucker mentioned decades ago, human capital is the standout differentiator for western businesses now and into the future.
- Pandemic Strategies: Anna and her team had to get creative through the Covid-19 pandemic, alongside many other entrepreneurs. Her team shifted to doing take-away meal packages and virtual interaction sessions to keep the business steady through the worst of the pandemic and have pivoted back to their core offering now that the worst has passed. This nimbleness resonated with me – the ability to adapt to market forces is a strategic skillset that should be developed intentionally in calmer times so that when the next bump in the road comes our way, we can all be ready for it.
- Referral Marketing: A significant source of revenue growth for Anna and her team comes from repeat business. Anna has a strategy of going to those happy recurring customers and directly asking them for referrals to gain new market penetration. Having an intentional referral strategy (versus waiting for them to magically “show up”) is a smart business development technique. Avoiding the “feast/famine” nature of referrals through actions you can take and control only helps your business thrive.
I gain so much value from meeting with fellow entrepreneurs and leaders. Each and every person I speak with brings their own experiences, knowledge, and viewpoints to the table, and without fail, I walk away with a head full of ideas and motivation to do better in my own business. I so greatly appreciate Anna’s willingness to come onto W.I.N. and share her story.
If you’re interested in joining me on an episode of W.I.N., it would be my privilege to host you. You can book your spot by visiting https://randr.consulting/connect and selecting the Podcast Booking option from the services menu. You can find previous episodes of W.I.N. on our website and subscribe to it on whatever your platform of choice is.
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