Marnie Ives is the President and Owner of Krön Chocolatier in the Great Neck region of Long Island, NY. Krön is an established manufacturer and retailer of fine chocolates and various sweet treats.

Marnie has owned the business for the past 16 years and has a wealth of knowledge about retail, chocolates, and utilizing retail technology in the small business space. Marnie took some time to speak with us about her experience and to share some great advice for current and prospective small business owners.

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Why did you want to open a business and how did you get started?

I have a passion for the culinary arts and chocolates in particular, and worked in chocolate stores and pastry kitchens for many years before moving into retail. I worked at this store, for the original owner, before buying the business from her in 1998. It’s now been 16 years and counting and we’ve continued to grow the business and expand our offerings. After buying it, I decided to add an ecommerce website so that our customers could place orders online, and also added the social media presence and it’s worked out really well for us.

What do you enjoy most about being a small business owner?

It’s interesting that you ask because I get this question often from people that I interact with in the business and the answer lies right there – the relationships. Owning a small business presents a lot of challenges but getting to interact and spend time with people at all levels that you wouldn’t normally cross paths with is the most gratifying part for me. These people include everyone from our customers to my staff, the mailman, my plumbers, electricians, and all service people. I really just enjoy spending time with all of these different people, it makes it all worthwhile despite the challenges.

Owning a small business presents a lot of challenges but getting to interact and spend time with people at all levels that you wouldn’t normally cross paths with is the most gratifying part for me.

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Speaking of challenges, what is your biggest challenge with running the business?

I’m very hands on with almost every aspect of the business and it’s a good and bad thing. The biggest challenge for me is becoming more comfortable with letting my staff take lead on some things. I have a great team, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I want my vision and the presentation of the store to show in every single interaction with a customer. So, it’s always challenging to pass your vision down to your employees and allow them to make floor decisions without your oversight.

What do you look for when choosing technology for the business?

I want robust systems that provide good data, but are simple enough that multiple people can operate it. In the beginning I handled all of the reporting, programming, and transactions with ShopKeep, but have easily trained enough people to use the system – even part-timers and seasonal employees.

What are some best practices that you recommend other retailers do with their point of sale technology?

For a retail business like mine, there are many important things that our POS system helps us with. A best practice for me is knowing our top sellers on specific holidays and big shopping days. For example, on a day like Valentine’s Day or the week of Christmas, I pay close attention to the top sellers and use that information to advertise on Facebook or send email communications to customers with a promotion in advance of that holiday the following year. The right system will provide this information easily.

Another good practice for me in terms of using the reporting that ShopKeep has is keeping close track of our sales by hour. I’ve used it to schedule people on the register during the day, and on slow days, let people go home early and save money.

On a day like Valentine’s Day or the week of Christmas, I pay close attention to the top sellers and use that information to advertise on Facebook or send email communications to customers with a promotion in advance of that holiday the following year. The right system will provide this information easily.

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What advice can you give to someone looking to start a business like Krön?

You can have a lot of passion, read a ton of advice articles, and even speak to other business owners, but none of those will prepare you enough for the challenges of actually owning a business. There are just too many moving parts. My advice is to work for someone else in a similar business for some time and be a sponge first. Learn the technology that they use, observe what they do, and how they interact with everyone, including customers, staff, and suppliers just to name a few. Understand how the business works on the back-end with the things that you don’t normally see. That is the best preparation that you can have for running a business.

About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.