Test Kitchen been operating as a dining room and catering business in Port Augusta since July 28 2015 and we have established a steady regular patronage and are seeing new faces in our dining room all the time. Our activity can be viewed on facebook \TestKitchenSocEnt.
We had a very successful Tasting Showcase event across October 7th and 8th as part of COTA SA’s Every Generation Festival. We truly had a blend of generations and it was our liveliest dining event yet. At the event, in addition to our showcase lunch, we tested our messaging, branding and Host@Home concepts through prototype product cards, aprons and host support kits. We learned much, not least of all that our messaging to our primary customers is the biggest challenge for us now, whilst we appear to have the messages right for supporting customers.
On October 14th and 21st we conducted the first of the Host@Home events which appeared very successful with both hosts and guests having rated experiences extremely highly. We have identified a potential harm in Host@Home during the current stage of our project; the potential for creating a sense of exclusion or being left out. The dining room has been so successful in achieving return patronage that it has created a perception or feel of a tight group or ‘club’. The Host@Home models are viewed by one customer to potentially threaten this social dynamic by producing cliques resulting in people being left out. This is something that had not been anticipated as we saw the dining room and the Host@Home as two distinct products – however at this early stage, on the scale we are currently operating, they are very closely connected. This is indeed an interesting challenge.
We have been working with marketing firm Algo Mas on our messaging and communication products including a products/services video which we will be testing out at the upcoming Australian Association of Gerontology Conference in Alice Springs (November 4-6) as we tell the story of our involvement in the Ageing Innovation Challenge.
Our attendance at this conference has been funded by the Maggie Beer Foundation (https://www.maggiebeerfoundation.org.au/blog/matt-haren-test-kitchen) for which we are grateful and look forward to facilitating change with the Foundation into the future.
In addition we are very excited to announce that Test Kitchen was nominated, and awarded the ‘Excellence in services to aged care– organisation’ award, in the Port Augusta Awards for Services to Aged Care (http://www.portaugusta.sa.gov.au/agedcarenominationform). We are very grateful to our customers and supporters for their nominations and we acknowledge the work and support of the local Meals on Wheels branch and Meals on Wheels SA Inc. which has been so vital in helping the Test Kitchen project to have achieved what it has so far.
It will be a busy time through to the end of the year as we continue to tie up our remaining experiments with messaging, conduct further meal events in our dining room and through Host@Home, begin to consider and test the potential online market for our Host@Home concept and find ways to implement our dining room/catering business more consistently in Port Augusta. We have developed a strategic business plan to guide these goals and actions.