Previously a consultant for the European institutions, David Garlot is an entrepreneur at heart. Together with Talina Sterneberg, in charge of food development, and Michel Vanavermaete, in charge of IT development, they founded Crowd Cooks. The concept: a subscription of prepared meals delivered to families every week for their entire week. Not tackling an easy sector, with large margins and a clear path, the concept was built around 2 pillars: outsourcing of logistics and cooking. The core business of the Crowd Cooks team is and will remain to be as close as possible to its customers and to ensure that the recipes are 100% adopted by young and old alike.
We met David Garlot, their CEO, to find out how they have experienced and are experiencing every week the complete outsourcing of their logistics.
Crowd Cooks customers have access to a subscription of meals for their week. These meals are cooked and put directly into cold storage by our catering partner, The Dark Kitchen. They are then delivered via our logistics partner Shippr. As we are also parents, we are very close to our customers and their problems, and we put our heart into developing new, healthy and varied recipes each week to delight the whole family.
Creating recipes and understanding families and children! This is our core business, and it's fundamental to what we do. Understanding families and children is the foundation of everything. Between those who only want to eat burgers or pasta, how do you get them to eat vegetables? How do you get the mother to delight her entire family by taking all tastes into account? The quality of the meals cooked is therefore essential.
We were in a shared kitchen, and we took care of the logistics and deliveries. We took coolers from Picard, and we found a tool to do our routing online. At the beginning, we had 15 people to deliver to, so we did the deliveries ourselves on Sundays. Fortunately, on Sundays, the traffic was still good, but we quickly realised that there were unforeseen circumstances: for example sometimes the customers were not at home, so we had to warn them in advance… All the communication and preparation is essential, but very time consuming.
Doing everything in-house really helped us to understand how it all worked. But very quickly we realised that we would never be able to develop our business if we kept managing all the activities. The food business is complex, it's small volumes and customers have high expectations for small margins. So we looked for two partners; one in production and one in delivery.
“I thought it was 4 euros, because Amazon makes us believe that everything is cheap. The problem is that we think that because Amazon has set a standard as easy and free. But that's Amazon. A lot of people underestimate the time that logistics takes. It's a complex business.”
From the start, we were certain that it was never going to be a one-to-one Uber Eats process. We always did multi-drop deliveries to be efficient in optimization. I thought we could do delivery without it being too expensive. I thought it was 4 euros, because Amazon makes us believe that everything is cheap. The problem is that we think that because Amazon has set a standard. But that's Amazon. A lot of people underestimate the time that logistics takes. It's a complex business.
Moreover, we were in the business of fresh produce. In addition to the logistical difficulty of managing the rounds, we need to respect the cold chain. This cold chain was a concern because we didn't have a refrigerated vehicle, and it was extremely expensive. We also have a time constraint to respect: a delivery within 30 minutes. Our customers are very organised by nature. They don't want to spend their Sunday or Monday waiting for their delivery. That's why they have a 4-hour window, but we tell them that they will be delivered at 4pm, plus or minus 30 minutes. Precision in terms of the delivery time and respecting it are therefore essential.
I started searching on the internet by typing in “delivery company Brussels” and I came across other results than Shippr at first. I found a few, contacted them and went to meet them, and I was amazed: I realised that the organisation was archaic. Everything was done on paper, nothing was online. In short, these companies were just going to provide delivery people, but you had to keep doing everything yourself. I was willing to do that, because it was better to have delivery people than me, but it still had to be managed and that was not the solution I was looking for.
It happened naturally and it was super simple. I've always been passionate about logistics. I've always found it amazing because I love optimization and processes, so Shippr's way of doing things really spoke to me. In addition, the relationship with the team went straight to work.
Shippr helped me with the cold chain issue. We switched from Picard's refrigerated boxes to professional refrigerated transport. We changed our procedures and started to have a real cold chain process. There were some points that I hadn't seen, because I didn't know that there was a solution that existed, and for the moment our system was working. But outsourcing has allowed us to see a real “improvement” thanks to the support of the Shippr team.
When it came to routing delivery rounds, we had to move from “I'll take care of it” to “I'll leave it to Shippr”. This was a bit more difficult, because we already had our own process with software that worked well. And I wanted the process to be really perfect, so I needed to be involved. But Shippr makes a point of not involving the client. So that took some adjustment, and gradually it was resolved.
Finally, we remained in charge of communication on Sundays between our customers and ourselves. We didn't want to outsource this, because it was really important to us. But this meant that we had to sacrifice our weekends. Today, this is no longer the case. We had more and more clients, and it was becoming too difficult to manage. To avoid burn-outs in our teams, we had to outsource this.
With a simple Excel sheet, Shippr makes the routing with the 7 Sunday and Monday deliverers. Everything is packed at our caterer's, put in cold storage and delivered. It's highly planned and organised. We make 5-hour rounds, and we are able to deliver to all our customers within ± 30 minutes, even the last one. And this has been the case since the beginning!
As far as cold chain management is concerned, a real process has been put in place thanks to Shippr. We have switched from Picard refrigerated boxes to refrigerated vehicles. The health safety of these ultra-fragile goods is respected during each delivery round. Shippr is a stickler for procedures and in logistics, this is mandatory. This has been a great strength. Having a modern, young, intelligent, efficient partner. That's a blessing.
Thanks to the outsourcing, we have drastically increased the time allocated to our core business. The time previously spent on preparing, managing, monitoring and communicating deliveries is now time that we can use for our customers. We have also increased our number of customers and consequently our delivery rounds. Shippr's flexibility means that we can handle the peaks in activity each week. If an extra delivery person is needed, Shippr takes care of that. If there is a shift in delivery times from one day to another, such as in times of health crisis with people teleworking, this change in consumer habits has no impact on our logistics management. And that's thanks to the Shippr solution. It makes management so much easier.
Schedules are always respected, and have been since the beginning of Crowd Cooks. We survey our customers every week and today, on average, we have a 4.9/5 stars rating for delivery. And it's been like that since the beginning. We have an almost perfect delivery service where the customer is extremely happy.
We continue to make multi-drop deliveries for more sustainable logistics. Shippr optimises our delivery routes with their routing software and allows us to contribute to putting fewer vehicles on the road and reducing fuel. Everyone wants to be delivered by bike nowadays, but delivering to multiple destinations by bike is still expensive or not feasible for longer distances. On the other hand, we have been making multi-drops deliveries in appropriate vehicles since the beginning, and that is ecological. The journeys are profitable.
"If we have a spike, it doesn't alter the process. Shippr increases the number of delivery people, and I didn't have to do anything. Without this outsourcing, I would have had to find the delivery people myself, brief them, and it becomes so difficult that you can't even sign off your customer.”
Delivery people are the last point of contact with our customers. Therefore, the quality of the service plays an essential role in customer satisfaction. At the beginning, we could deliver with 4 couriers. Now, we need 5 couriers for 4 hours on Sunday and 5 couriers for 4 hours on Monday. You can't internalize having 10 delivery drivers available. Of course, the hourly cost is higher than with an in-house delivery person, but I don't have to do any administration or management.
Also, if a courier is unavailable, it's a disaster to deal with internally, and it puts a strain on your entire business. With Shippr, we have dedicated, briefed and involved couriers. And if one of them is absent, he is replaced immediately. Now I don't communicate with them at all because if a customer has a problem with a delivery person or a delivery, Shippr handles it.
We survey our customers every week and on average we have a 4.9 star 5 rating for delivery. And it's been like that since the beginning. We have an almost perfect delivery service that the customer is very happy with. We have always been extremely close to our customers, and outsourcing logistics allows us to maintain this satisfaction. It's an outsourcing that makes a lot of sense strategically in the medium to long term.
“We have major food safety challenges. And if, in addition to the complexity of your business, you have delivery problems, that's it. But with Shippr, an absent delivery person is directly replaced. And I didn't even have to think about it. I think if you haven't outsourced your logistics, then that's when the issues start to build up. You can always fix one big problem, but two is already too many.”
Don't wait any longer to discover their superb range of ready-made meal boxes. Interested to know what Shippr can do to facilitate your logistics? Don't hesitate to make an appointment with one of our business experts.
Many thanks to David Garlot for sharing his Crowd Cooks experience with Shippr!