How Sage MAS 90 and SalesLogix changed operations at a specialty coffee company
When La Colombe Torrefaction opened the doors to its first café in 1994, it was a classic American small business story. Working from one location, the company specialized in selling its own beans, forming its own unique specialty coffee blends, and selling coffee—classic, European-style espressos, lattes and cappuccinos—from its shop on 19th Street in Center City Philadelphia. The café rode the wave of the city’s restaurant renaissance and the surge of interest in coffee. La Colombe Torrefaction became one of the nation’s leading suppliers to luxury restaurants and hotels. From Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia, to Ritz Carlton properties, La Colombe coffee has become synonymous with fine dining and luxury. Both Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure magazines have rated the original café in Philadelphia as best in the nation.
Outgrowing Small Business Solutions
These accolades and staggering growth left the company at a crossroads. Its operations had expanded to include satellite offices, cafés in multiple cities, and a large warehouse and roaster. Its coffees were being served in hotels and restaurants in 29 states and even internationally. Yet as recently as 2006, orders were still being hand-written on paper, shipping was a manual process, and there was no way to quickly determine if the company was effectively meeting customer needs.
While its original MYOB accounting software once met the company’s needs as a single-location small business, La Colombe had quickly outgrown the program’s capabilities. As the company shopped for a new solution, it quickly realized that it needed a new solution that could easily scale for growth.
A New Approach
CompuData provided that solution for La Colombe’s rapidly growing business. Sage MAS 90, coupled with Sage SalesLogix, provided an affordable yet scalable solution that would not only allow the business to grow, but would be able to grow with it.
“We wanted more than just accounting software,” says Tobin Bickley, Chief Operating Officer. “We wanted business-wide integration.” This meant that accounting, sales and shipping would be aligned, and everyone—from order entry to upper management, from the main office to satellite offices and the field—could access the same information. “We got that with Sage MAS 90 and SalesLogix.”
Much like La Colombe itself, the expertise provided by CompuData couldn’t be found on every street corner and strip mall. CompuData CEO, Steve Ciarciello states, “Sage MAS 90 and SalesLogix were specifically selected because of their unique abilities to provide comprehensive information. The seamless integration provides a custom blend that tracks core accounting numbers, controls the wholesale distribution cycle and handles customer relationship management.”
The system also helped La Colombe to uncover hidden costs. Frequently, chefs would call and place urgent orders that had to be shipped overnight. “With the old system, those overnight shipping charges weren’t properly tracked,” says Bickley. “With the Sage MAS system, we caught all those overnight charges and billed them correctly.” Sounds like a small difference, but for a company like La Colombe correctly tracking this information meant that the company recovered nearly $50,000 in shipping charges that had previously slipped through the cracks. That money went directly to the company’s bottom line.
Improved Customer Service
The company has also implemented an algorithm that helps to track customer consumption relative to the number of coffee and espresso machines that are on loan from La Colombe. This information isn’t just available to upper management or accounting. With Sage MAS 90 and SalesLogix, everyone from order entry, to sales, to the CEO can instantly generate a customer profitability model to see if a location has achieved proper alignment of machine to consumption. This helps La Colombe best meet the needs of its growing clients, ensuring that each has the right number and size machines for their location.
This sort of information visibility, formerly limited to specific functional departments, “has really gotten everyone more involved,” Bickley says. Every office and every salesperson can have this powerful information at their fingertips. “This means no more printing and sending reports to the San Francisco office when they need them.” The information that each office or each sales rep needs is immediately accessible at any time, even after the Philadelphia office has gone home for the evening.
The wealth of information captured by the system in the last year and a half has also enabled the company to become more proactive. The newly formed La Colombe call center reaches out to customers on a weekly basis, checking in to see how each business is doing, and if they need anything more or different in the coming weeks. SalesLogix helps record every single conversation with these clients; each person who speaks to that client will have insight into the details of every conversation and every order that came before. This has empowered employees at all levels of the business, giving them control over each interaction. Empowered and informed employees deliver higher-quality customer service, adding to the feeling of personalization that comes with the premier La Colombe package.
With all the business and customer information at its fingertips, it’s easy to see La Colombe Torrefaction growing to expand its café presence into major metropolitan areas nationwide, and expanding its international wholesale business. And with the implementation of scalable Sage solutions from CompuData, La Colombe sees no limitations to its growth.
La Colombe Torrefaction delivers a very particular high-quality experience. “We want people to feel like they’re part of it,” says Bickley. With the tools provided by CompuData, La Colombe can make each customer feel like they’re the only one.