Anyone that has spent a day with me knows that the idea of waiting in line to purchase something, anything, is enough to make me want to run for the hills. You will never find me waiting in line to be the first to own the latest gadget, or purchase tickets to a sporting grand final. But it’s a different story when one of your best friends says “It’s on my bucket list!”
Flashback to October 2015, when Michelle Zamora convinced me we couldn’t leave Las Vegas without trying one of Buddy Valastro’s, aka The Cake Boss, world famous cannoli. If felt like only yesterday when I was addicted to watching his show on Foxtel – fascinated by the world of baking and the incredible masterpieces made by Buddy and his team at Carlo’s Bakery. None of which, mind you, I was able to recreate for my kids on their birthdays – not that I didn’t try!
Their story always fascinated me – how a hundred year old bakery could go from serving loyal locals to an international business, sensational enough to outshine the lights of Vegas and draw people off the strip – thousands of miles from where it all began.
And it all began in Hoboken New Jersey in a small family run bakery shop. Where orders were taken and tracked with pen and paper, and Buddy and his brothers worked frantically out the back of the store to serve their local community. A family run business, serving customers who were considered more like friends. Where a personalised service was the status quo, and every customer had a one-to-one connection with Buddy and his family.
Enter that flashpoint moment, when Buddy and his family become the stars of the hit show “The Cake Boss”, exposing their bakery to audiences around the world and an international fan base that all wanted a piece of Carlo’s Bakery (or at least some of their delicious baked goods).
Rapid growth is every small business owner’s dream, but with growth at over 1000%, the old pen and paper ordering system simply couldn’t keep up with the flood of orders that came with international stardom.
Making cakes is a lot more complicated than it looks on the show, explains Buddy. “It’s the person who takes the order; it’s the person who makes the sponge, the person who fills it. The person who decorates it. The person who delivers it. It’s a lot of people who have to interact with this cake.” And that means a lot of room for error.
Of greatest concern, was how they could scale the business, but still maintain the level of intimacy and customer connection they were so famous for – whether you are a little old lady in Hoboken picking up her weekly cannoli, or a large corporation ordering a baked masterpiece for a major event, the team at Carlo’s Bakery wanted everyone to feel special and experience that personal connection.
That’s when the Cake Boss put in his order for Salesforce.
With the help from the Customer Success Platform, Carlo’s continues to maintain the feel of a neighborhood business as it chases global cannoli domination. Individual stores and corporate headquarters can see information and customer details – retail managers, area managers and the executive team all have the same understanding of orders that are coming into the business and their ability to serve. Retail sales and average wait times are tracked to make sure they are achieving key targets, and with the Salesforce1 Mobile App, they can access the information they need anywhere and everywhere – even when they’re up to their arms in icing sugar.
For those budding bakers at home – you know exactly what I mean when I say no one likes to be turning pages in a book, covered from head to toe in flour and icing sugar, looking for that minute (but soooo important) piece of information you need to continue – like what flavour icing they wanted, or what colour sprinkles were requested. Carlo’s extended the Salesforce platform using App Cloud and created a custom app, aptly called “Cakeforce” – employees take new orders on iPads, and instantly share information with kitchen staff. With Salesforce, bakers and decorators can now spend more time working with frosting and fondant, not sorting through stacks of paper.
But it’s so much more than that – Salesforce allows them to provide personalised service to each and every customer. They can track important dates such as wedding anniversaries and birthdays, and create personalised marketing campaigns to keep customers coming back for more. Customer comments and inquiries are automatically routed to individual stores so front-line staff can address them personally and nurture local relationships. “Bringing together sales and service is helping us drive new levels of efficiency”, says Leo Minervini, CIO. “On a scale of 1-10 it’s a 12.”
Carlo’s even uses Salesforce to monitor social channels, see trends, and communicates with over 366,000 fans and followers to develop and encourage brand advocacy.
Most importantly, as the business grows, so does the Customer Success Platform. Native to cloud, Carlo’s need not worry about the complications of building IT infrastructure – they can simply focus on building fantastic wedding cakes.
Today, Carlo’s Bakery sells more than 24,000 cupcakes each week, has nine retail stores, a mail order shop, and a cooking school – generating over 20 million dollars annually. Even Norwegian Cruise Lines have Carlo’s branded bake shops on board their ships!
In the words of Buddy Valastro, CEO and world-famous Cake Boss, “We’re nothing without our customers. As we continue to grow, we want to make sure very experience with our cakes, pastries, stores, and school – even our online classes – is outstanding.” Salesforce allowed them do just that.
But more importantly – Michelle is in Vegas this week. I’m expecting my Carlo’s Bakery cannoli delivery any minute!