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27 January 2015

Local Knowledge: Udder Delights

Udder Delights has been operating as an artisan cheese factory in Lobethal since 1999. Today, their award winning range of cheeses are sold throughout Australia and their Hahndorf cheese cellar is one of the Hills most popular attractions.

So what can aspiring business owners learn from Udder Delights? The Adelaide Hills Business Centre spoke to owner Sheree Sullivan to find out her tips on growing a successful business.

Know the difference between a Business and a Job.

Sheree says those who are just starting must get clear on what they are setting out to do.

"People think they are going to get freedom when they start a business. An example would be someone who starts or buys a lawnmower round and thinks they now own a business, when they actually own a job. The reality is, a business will keep earning for you when you stop working and a lawn mowing round will not keep earning for you if you’re the one who has to mow the lawns."

She encourages business owners to get the right mindset from early on.

"Our business motto is we don’t want to own a job we want to own a business and lots of people go into business thinking it’s going to be easier than being employed, and it’s never easier, sometimes it’s just more fun”.

Know your numbers, from the very beginning.

The No 1 piece of advice is to spend time working on your numbers, Sheree says.

"About 14 years ago, I pulled out my maths brain left over from high school and spent a week analysing exactly how much milk, how much labour and how many overheads went into the cheese. I calculated that our biggest selling cheese was running at a 10 percent loss, which made it clear why we weren’t making any money at the time. I was really embarrassed”.

After making immediate changes based on the numbers, they were able to turn the business around quickly.

Sheree suggests business owners make time to understand their profit margins.

Udder Delights Cheese Cellar in Hahndorf
"I can’t emphasise it enough. A lot of people think that managing and understanding money is not fun; and that marketing,establishing a brand or a making a product is more fun. And you know it is at times, but if you disregard it and neglect your numbers the business won’t be around for very long."

“Even now at our cellar door in Hahndorf, every single menu item is costed on excel so I know what my profit percent is doing. It means when we run specials across either business, we are aware of the profit or loss we choose. We are never guessing."

"Being able to manage money doesn’t mean you are greedy or you're a shark, it means you are being responsible.”

Market your business the way you like to consume

Once or twice a year Udder Delights has their famous Cheese Giveaway that goes viral on Facebook. It builds up a strong email database yet Sheree says she hardly ever bothers them.

“I’ve got this database of customers that just sits there, but I only communicate with them if I think I’ve got news or an offer they would really want to hear - and only once or twice a year. Because of this approach we keep our database and they don’t unsubscribe. I’m definitely not keen on the ‘monthly newsletter’ just for the sake of fulfilling a business plan action item”

Udder Delights prefers to communicate with their customers via their Facebook page which now boasts close to 9000 likes.

King Saul - Raw Milk Blue Cheese
“I’m always thinking about the consumer, and my personal experience as a consumer, I hate getting unsolicited email and I don’t even have time to read newsletters”

Instead, she’s of the opinion that you should only email your database if you’ve got something “newsworthy and groundbreaking” to tell them.

Udder Delights customers can expect irregular emails about events and the release of new cheeses such as the recent launch of the first raw milk blue cheese made in Australia.

Get help

Sheree encourages business owners to do some reading or speak to a business mentor about key aspects of running a ‘business.'

“My mentor made me read, the ‘E-myth Revisited’ and ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ – funnily enough the first is all about owning a business not a job, and the second is about understanding money and making it work for you.

She understands that most business owners struggle to take time ‘away’ from their business to learn but says it must be a priority.

“Work in the evenings like me if you don’t have time."

Don’t sit still

Udder Delights continues to grow at 30 to 40% every year which has led to the expansion of their Lobethal Factory at the Old Woollen Mill. The aim is to completely maximise the productivity of that space, Sheree says.

"We are focusing on lean manufacturing, and that doesn’t mean not artisan or not handmade, it means buying in equipment that our staff can use to make their job safer and quicker”.


- King Saul - Australia’s First Raw Milk Blue Cheese
- Udder Delights on Facebook
- Udder Delights Cheese Cellar on TripAdvisor

Other Mentions

- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- The E-Myth Revisited