Tradition is central to the brand of Ferris Coffee & Nut Co., which has been roasting and distributing its specialty coffees and gourmet nuts for more than nine decades.
When it comes to business operations, however, timeless traditions — even for a family-owned and –operated company — sometimes have to go by the wayside. Efficiency and leveraging information are more important to stay in business and grow.
“We were still doing things the old-fashioned way,” Cody Pike, Ferris’ chief operating officer, said of paper-based processes the company’s 560 truck drivers used to manage customer orders and deliveries.
The same could be said for many day-to-day processes and workflows for the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based business, which dates to 1924.
“We knew we had to look at every department to identify process pain points and see where we could introduce automation and transparency,” Pike said.
ADVANCED MOBILE CAPABILITIES
Building on the core SalesPad Mobile solution augmenting SalesPad Desktop already in place, Ferris partnered with the SalesPad Custom solution services team to build custom screens and capabilities that enabled their drivers to capture every step of the order process on mobile tablets.
For the 75 percent of customers with wireless access, route drivers now connect to Ferris’ server back at the office in real time. That allows them to place orders, access customer information, capture signatures, process orders on-site and print receipts via a Bluetooth printer.
For the other quarter of customers — those without wi-fi, SalesPad Custom developed off-line capabilities. The customization allows drivers to download customer information into their mobile tablets before leaving Ferris’ offices, entering orders in the field and pushing those back when returning at day’s end.
“Capturing signatures and proof of delivery in the field off a mobile device gives us a digital record available to anyone at any time,” Pike said. “And our drivers get back an hour or more sooner and perform more stops in a day.”
ESTABLISHING ‘A PATH FORWARD’
The groundwork for the mobile capabilities as well as for process and workflow transformation across Ferris was laid by a SalesPad Custom-led process review.
“SalesPad Custom came onsite for a day and spent time with each of our departments, from customer service to manufacturing,” Pike said. “They analyzed our document workflow and pain-points and also worked with us on our wish list.
“From that one-day review, they delivered a 25-page document detailing their findings and presenting their recommendations.”
The review’s results detailed process maps, increased process automation, and improved visibility into document workflows. Additionally, SalesPad Custom developed customized dashboards, providing employees and executives one-screen access to real-time data and analytics.
“For our customer services reps, knowledge is power,” Pike said. “The dashboards … developed give CSRs the ability to directly access up-to-the-minute inventory data straight from our system when they're on the phone with the customer.”
Other dashboards give the shipping department the immediate status of inbound and outbound shipments and provide decision-makers the ability to analyze and compare sales by year, month and week.
“We thought we knew what we wanted, but the process review opened our eyes to new value-added possibilities,” Pike said. “It put things in perspective and was invaluable in establishing our expectations and a path forward.”
— Michael Stuhlreyer