Management & Finance

TheGroceryGame.com Scores With Coupons

Owner: Teri Gault
URL:Thegrocerygame.com
Established: 1999
Products: Weekly list of grocery coupons; system for saving on groceries.
Shopping Cart: Custom
Payment Gateway: Authorize.Net
Quote: “I calculated that I made 80 cents per hour my first year.”

When Teri Gault and her family were struggling to make ends meet in 1999, she decided to see if selling her bargain-hunting knowledge and coupon-clipping skills could generate her family some income.

Even though she had no computer, no computer knowledge and no website development ability, her husband suggested she launch her business idea on the Internet. Gault scraped together the pennies to launch Thegrocerygame.com in February 2000. Six years later, her novel idea has produced a dynamic business concept with more than 100,000 members, 26 employees and franchises in 49 states.

“I didn’t even know how to do email,” Gault said of when she began with the idea. “Our family was in such a difficult financial spot that I had to roll coins just to scrape up enough money to buy my business license. We were flat broke.”

She bought a computer that included free Internet access, wrote her shopping-game rules and used a template service to build her own website.

“Once I figured out how to get the most out of the coupons I had clipped, I was saving hundreds of dollars each month on my grocery bills,” said Gault. “I realized that I could help others save money too, and so I launched Thegrocerygame.com

She pulled together $15 to advertise in a small, local newspaper and it wasn’t long before others interested in saving money on their groceries started contacting Gault.

Though some money was starting to come in, the hours were long – very long.

“I was so spent, so scared and so broken down working so hard those first years,” Gault said. “The first year I was chained to the computer. I calculated that I made 80 cents per hour my first year. I was so discouraged because of all the work that it took.”

However, within about six months, Thegrocerygame.com had people all over the country wanting Teri’s List. That’s when she started looking into franchising beyond her West Coast beginnings.

Gault transformed her personal hobby from humble beginnings to a successful company generating about $6 million annually. As CEO, Gault oversees the company’s quality control, message board and customer service department. Gault has developed a proprietary system, based on cyclical categorical sales trends, which allows her to calculate when each grocery item will become available at its optimum sale price. By coordinating this system with the use of coupons, Thegrocerygame.com compiles a weekly list of which items shoppers should buy to maximize their savings.

The average savings for a family of four is $482 a month by shopping with Teri’s List.

Gault has long given up designing the company’s website and has turned to the team at Sonik Newmedia, LLC, to help manage Thegrocerygame.com’s current and future platform.

Justin Schier, managing director for the Irvine, CA-based web design and development firm, said Thegrocerygame.com’s site and goals were so complex that most of the functions used on the site had to be custom built, including the shopping cart. The site was built using Coldfusion and the membership database is managed with Microsoft SQL.

Gault’s web-based business has become so successful that it now ranks as one of the most active customers of Authorize.Net, the payment gateway company.

“Our business model is so unique, we’re really our own category,” Gault said. “We’re very complex. When we need to make a change to our site or have new developments we want to pursue, they are so good to enlighten us to what we can do now as well as help us prepare our platform for future expansion.”

The company has a full-time attorney who specializes in franchises to help Gault manage that part of the business. They began offering franchises in 2003.

She also sees a new opportunity for Thegrocerygame.com to begin offering special money-saving coupons to its members. As Internet coupon printing technology has advanced, many large grocery chains are becoming more open to accepting coupons printed from your desktop.

In addition to serving as both CEO and key expert for The Grocery Game, Inc, in her free time, Gault enjoys the outdoors. She walks daily with her husband, and loves to go boating with her family. She is a sports fan, and also enjoys watching her sons playing baseball, football and basketball. Gault also had a successful singing and acting career. She has appeared on numerous television shows, including “Happy Days” and “Good Morning America,” in addition to several network pilots and feature films.

Teri currently resides outside Los Angeles with her husband Greg and their two sons.

Sign-up for Teri’s List!

Thegrocerygame.com provides shoppers with a fun way to achieve substantial savings on grocery bills. The site sells memberships to “Teri’s List,” which is published weekly and helps the shopper reduce shopping time and money by using coupons at precisely the right time for optimum savings. She color-codes her list to help shoppers – items printed in blue are the best deals for stockpiling, those printed in green are free and items printed in black are luxury or convenience items with a good price.

Teri selects stores to provide customers with the most substantial savings in their area. Supermarket chains are selected for a variety of factors, including sale prices and double-couponing, if available. Members simply log on to Thegrocerygame.com and enter their ZIP code to find the list of stores in their area.

The site offers a four-week trial period for $1. On the 28th day of the trial, should members choose to continue their membership, they will be charged $10 for eight weeks. Membership is renewed automatically every eight weeks thereafter.

Teri’s List indicates which grocery items members should stockpile, or purchase in quantity, while the price is at its lowest. This saves the customer from having to later re-purchase the items at a higher price. “Most items work on a 12-week sales cycle,” explains Teri.

“Every 12 weeks, an item hits its lowest price, which is what I call a Rock Bottom Sale price. So if members purchase enough of an item while it’s on sale to last them until the next Rock Bottom Sale, they’ll never have to pay a higher price for that item.” After 12 weeks of stockpiling, members should have most items they need already in their cupboards and pantries, eliminating quick trips to the supermarket to buy items at full price.

By purchasing only select items on the list, shoppers can save more than 60 percent on their grocery bills.

The average savings for a family of four is $482 a month by shopping with Teri’s List. Members often visit the Message Board on the site, where they exchange shopping tips and share their most recent “winnings” at The Grocery Game.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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