It’s time to celebrate the holidays once again! This time of year, our thoughts turn to giving gifts to our loved ones and helping those in need by donating to charities and supporting our favorite causes.
The winter holiday season is a time for us to shine light into the rainy, dreary darkness outside both with our thoughts and actions. Some people put up lights to cheer us up (thank you, thoughtful neighbors). Some volunteer to collect money for the Salvation Army or many other non-profit organizations. Some collect food or clothing for the needy. The holidays give us a chance to express some of our best core values: kindness, caring about others, being part of our community, gratitude and giving back.
Although this may sound trite, wouldn’t it be nice if we could practice these values every day of the year? That is certainly the foundation that The Secret Ingredient was built on. I have long believed that it’s possible to build a profitable company based on the principles of compassion and kindness. Now, my “opinion” is backed up by the Harvard Business Review in an article called: Making Kindness a Core Tenet of your Company. This article argues that kindness is contagious and if it becomes a core value that your company is built on, it will spread to all your employees and to all your clients as well! One of the great observations of this article is that: “You can’t order people to be kind, but you can spark a kindness contagion”. Therefore, you have to lead by example.
Kindness doesn’t just happen because you believe in it. You have to consciously include it in everything you do. Here are some of our core tenets here at The Secret Ingredient:
- Treat every client with respect and compassion. We work with a population of people who are often chronically sick. Sometimes people are hard to deal with. Often they’re not responding to our emails or are not providing us the information we need. On days like that, I just remind myself that maybe they’re not feeling well and having a bad day, or maybe they are going through something difficult in their lives. It’s easy to get upset and assume that the person is a “flake” or doesn’t care. It’s harder to have compassion and patience for their situation. We have learned to be persistent and keep reaching out and reminding them that we are here to help.
- Hire kind and caring people. This is the best and easiest way to ensure that our chefs will represent our values. We hire people who care about our clients and always go above and beyond, because they are good people. I find that people who are attracted to job ads for a “therapeutic chef” are people who have often been through serious health problems themselves and understand the link between health and diet. They want to pass their knowledge and skills on to others to help them get better, and in the process, they pour their caring into what they do.
- Provide exceptional customer service. I believe in treating every client like family. That is why we offer our “good food guarantee”, which states that if there’s a problem with anything we’ve prepared, we will fix it. And we are very serious about that offer, which is reflected by our great yelp reviews.
- Give opportunities to stay-at-home moms to re-enter the workforce. As a woman, I know that it can be very hard to go back into the workplace after an extensive absence. Often employers don’t want to hire someone with a “hole” in their resume or those needing flexible hours. Here at The Secret Ingredient, stay-at-home moms are one of our greatest resources. Often they’ve had a lot of experience with therapeutic cooking for their children or other family members, which is a skill we need. Our schedule easily accommodates flexible hours and lets them be home by 3pm. Our experience with stay-at-home moms is that they are reliable, very organized, experts at multi-tasking and do great work!
- Help those in need. I started this company to help people heal though diet. I have always viewed the services we provide as a medical necessity as opposed to a luxury that only a few can afford. That is why I have kept our prices very moderate compared to many personal chef services. However, our services are by their very nature very personalized, because we customize all of our meals to each client and work with many specialized diets, food allergies and sensitivities. Not everyone can afford to pay our prices, and there are people who have real need in the community. This year, we started a scholarship to help a limited number of people who need our services but can’t afford them. Our goal is to provide cooking lessons and meal planning assistance to clients who need to learn how to cook for a therapeutic diet and to give them the tools to heal themselves. We send a chef to their house on a weekly basis at a greatly reduced cost to make meals together with the client until they are able to become self-sufficient. That is what therapeutic cooking is all about. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To all of our clients and friends here at The Secret Ingredient, wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year! Thank you for all of your kindness and appreciation for us as well!