When running a business, particularly in a cluttered market like the hospitality industry, "daring to be different" can separate you from the competition.
Let’s take Ugly Drinks, a company that disrupted the sugary drinks market by launching a new range of ‘unsweetened’ fizzy drinks, or Dublin Cookies, a two man operation responsible for launching Dublin’s first ever Cookie Shop. Without the right digital tools, and the audacity to be different these companies would not be where they are today!
Tarek Malouf, founder of London’s famed Hummingbird Bakery, took a similar approach. Thirteen years ago, he opened his first cupcake store in Notting Hill and has since expanded into a further five branches across the city, and a franchise in the Middle East.
Tarek wanted his cakes made to order at each bakery and was insistent each cake taste the same, whether ordered from his Richmond, Notting Hill or Dubai branch. So how do you create perfection, time and time again, in different locations, with different people? Enter Dropbox.
You might not think a cloud collaboration tool has much to do with creating cupcakes, but Tarek had a vision: consistently good cakes.
He says, “My main challenge was staffing. Food retail isn’t seen as a career, but more of a step ladder, so staff turnover has always been extremely high. That’s a problem, so I started by creating perfectly consistent communication with staff, in order to end with a perfectly consistent product for customers.”
Tarek continued: “We put a desktop computer in each bakery, and connected it to Dropbox. Dropbox played, and continues to play, a big role in our expansion because I insist that everyone uses it, all the time. Each department has access to relevant folders, which means we can share everything from training and onboarding employee documents, to marketing, finance, recipes and PR collateral.”
According to Tarek the ease of sharing content across branches has became the core component of consistent communication and branding as the Hummingbird Bakery grows.
“Dropbox really comes into its own when we’re opening new stores. Our most recent venture has been three franchises in Dubai, and we’re looking to open more stores in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia sometime this month. We want the whole experience to be as close to Hummingbird in the UK as possible.”
“We give our franchises access to Dropbox on Day 1, meaning they are immediately plugged into the brand.”
This way of organising their business gives Hummingbird much greater protection too. Long gone are the days of one manager’s error meaning the loss of a file or recipe. For Tarek though it all comes back to customer service:
“I am happy when customers continue to be loyal because they’ve had the best experience possible. In this industry positive feedback is much rarer than negative feedback, but file sharing and real time collaboration helps us get things right the first time, and every time, for our customers.”