Culinary Entrepreneur Calls Wild Apricot the Key Ingredient in Recipe for Success
Cooking With the Best ChefsSM is a 17-year-old organization and the largest culinary group in the United States.Founder Bill Lavery has produced more than 6,600 cooking and baking classes and culinary events for food lovers throughout northern Illinois.
As business grew, Lavery was devoting more and more time to boring administrative tasks. He'd spend hours every week on manual word processing-- updating the database of celebrity chefs,accepting class registrations, scheduling events such as wild mushroom forays and ethnic market trips - and then copy/paste content onto his website. He searched for a better way and found Wild Apricot's Membership Management Software.
In 2007, Lavery researched Wild Apricot's all-in-one technology platform to handle the content and administrative tasks involved in registering and communicating with new and existing members, scheduling classes and events and updating web site content. After conducting price comparisons, Lavery concluded that Wild Apricot offered the most robust system for the lowest price, with other systems priced 10 times higher than Wild Apricot's monthly fees, which start at $25. Lavery says Wild Apricot is so easy for a non-techie to use, that he enlisted as a Wild Apricot Partner, guiding other small businesses on how they can use and benefit from the membership management software.
Before finding Wild Apricot, Lavery relied on a homemade and cumbersome system of separate software programs to oversee Cooking with the Best Chefs. "I was a WordPerfect user, and I used it for everything, including updating www.bestchefs.com," said Lavery.
He built his email list in Outlook, managed membership through WordPerfect and Quattro Pro, and paid a monthly fee to a web hosting service. "Looking back, it really was a dizzying process and ate up too much of my time," said Lavery.
Wild Apricot's platform answered his demand for a coordinated,comprehensive member management program that he could also use to promote Best Chefs' products and services. "The beauty of Wild Apricot's technology is its simplicity," said Lavery. "Our application form for new members is very easy and quick to fill out. I believe that's why in July and August of this year, we had the largest number of new members, and this was in the depths of the recession, mind you!"
Implementing Wild Apricot has freed up at least two hours each day for Lavery to devote to serving members and creating a new business model. After using the Wild Apricot platform for just a few months, Lavery realized he could apply his experiences to his other business -consulting small- to-mid-size firms on their PR and marketing needs. He became a Wild Apricot reseller, and now helps local entrepreneurs such as chiropractors, restaurant owners, travel agents and realtors install and maintain the Wild Apricot platform to create and manage their own websites, data bases, email communications and other administrative client tasks.
"Currently, I'm working with about a dozen small PR clients. They juggle so many tasks and anything I can do for them is a blessing. By helping them using Wild Apricot's software package, I'm lifting a huge burden off their back, and getting an extra revenue stream," said Lavery.