Unlike many food suppliers we work with, rather than starting from a making product and figuring out the business later, Italpane owner Mark Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur, having purchased or run businesses across a number of sectors, including tourism, technology and now food and beverage.
Mark was on the lookout for just the right business to apply his expertise, and found it with Italpane. “It's good not being from the industry, because you do look at things with an outsider’s perspective.”
However, Mark knew right away that the business model needed to change. His goal? To totally transform the way Italpane did business. “I saw an opportunity to streamline the business with technology as well as better suppliers, better staff, better customers. The technology is the thing that ties it all together.”
Italpane runs differently to most bakers trading with us. Italpane is a wholesale distributor, purchasing from a network of bakeries (15, to be exact), which allows them to be a one-stop-shop and supply over 400 freshly baked gourmet products to their customers.
Mark has worked hard use technology to optimise the business, in order to provide exceptional customer service.Italpane provides next day delivery before 6am from a 3:30pm cutoff, which means processing orders as fast as possible to be able to fulfil with fresh goods from 15 different bakers in just a few hours.
Mark could straight away tell that the ‘old-school’ way of doing business wasn’t working, and wasn’t the way he wanted to run the company. “When I bought this business everything was done over the phone. That first year was just hell. 150 orders would come in over a three hour period in the afternoon. Sometimes you couldn’t hear them correctly. There were data entry mistakes every day. It was a nightmare.”
Changing the ordering process was the first port of call. “When I looked at buying the business, I thought ‘this is easy to fix with online ordering.’
However, Mark quickly learned that not everyone was ready to embrace technology with the same level of enthusiasm he has. “The second biggest challenge is trying to educate both staff and customers that this is the way forward, and the reasons why.” Some customers have been with Italpane for over 25 years, and were pretty resistant to change. “They are longstanding, loyal customers, but they are scared they won’t be able to do it.” Mark found that it was easy to overcome that fear once he spent time with his customers, in person, to educate them on how to use online ordering.
“After a few weeks, it’s all smooth sailing. If they have a problem, the biggest thing is that a lot of customers have my mobile. The technology part is great for the day to day, but for customers to feel comfortable we still need to keep in touch. They want to know that there’s still someone there outside of the technology. They know that they can call us and say ‘Hey can you check the order is in? Can you show us how to do this one more time?’ That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned as well.”
Once his customers have embraced Ordermentum, he’s found that all fear of ‘no-one on the other end of the line’ disappears, as his staff still prioritise communicating with their customers and can have much more productive conversations. “My staff have more time to go and see customers, and are able to say ‘Hi’ in a friendly way, rather than only communicating ‘Sorry we stuffed up.’”
His staff have embraced online ordering too. “Our operations manager used to spend hours doing data entry, now his job is really easy. He loves it. His job description has changed a bit, so now part of his role is to go and make sure people are ordering through Ordermentum and when they start leaving voice messages again, making sure they get back online again.”
And one surprise perk? The stress levels of his staff! “It’s really de-stressed our operations manager a lot. It was really stressful before, all the data entry and getting those orders in before 3:30 every day. He often felt responsible for mistakes, even though often it was a customer getting their own orders wrong."
“It just de-stresses your life and makes it easier.”
Want to learn more about Ordermentum and how you can transform your business with online ordering? You can book a free demo here.
In the meantime, if you’d like to read our other customer stories, just visit our blog.