A Specialty Food Provider is Thriving with Virtual Cooking Classes
How did a farm-to-table food provider in California adapt and create entirely new services and technology to deliver restaurant-level dining right to customers’ kitchens? The short answer: a trio of culinary masters diversified their business model, built customers into loyalists, and mapped out simple, scalable digital business processes.
Originally, it started with an idea for an honest truffle company. As alums of Michelin-starred restaurant The French Laundry, Jason McKinney, Sarah McKinney and Tyler Vorce have long appreciated the truffle. Earthy yet luxurious, it’s an ingredient that can elevate a dish and make it unforgettable. That’s why the trio founded Truffle Shuffle, a company with a mission to provide customers with fresh, consciously-sourced and traceable truffles, and quality small-batch truffle products. Since its founding, Truffle Shuffle has imported and sold truffles directly to restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the country.
Shifting to virtual experiences
When COVID-19 forced restaurants (80% of Truffle Shuffle’s clientele) to close, the team at Truffle Shuffle decided to pivot. They launched an ongoing series of “Live Cook-Along-Experiences” with pre-portioned ingredients sent to guests (including truffles of course), which culminated in a live class focusing on classic technique in a fun, relaxed, virtual setting.
The team leaned on technology to make this shift. They knew they couldn’t work without electronic signature technology, accounting software and, of course, truffles. While Truffle Shuffle was already using QuickBooks for restaurant invoices and DocuSign eSignature for new hire paperwork and supplier contracts, the tools became instrumental in a different way at the height of the pandemic, digitizing its business and supporting its new virtual model.
Investing in digital tools to drive core business processes
Behind this new digital business model was a slew of paperwork. Leah Williams, Director of Events and Experiences at Truffle Shuffle, had to establish and maintain supplier contracts with hundreds of Whole Foods locations, and create virtual event agreements for organizations that hired Truffle Shuffle to host their corporate events. As chefs with little contract and accounting experience, DocuSign eSignature and QuickBooks made these processes simple, straightforward, and scalable.
DocuSign and QuickBooks’ ease of use also ensured Williams didn’t have to spend a lot of time learning a new technology. To manage agreements with organizations interested in hosting cooking classes, Williams creates and individualizes contracts within DocuSign eSignature. She then sends them over to customers and receives a digital signature quickly, often within minutes. Williams also uses QuickBooks to deliver contracts, finalize invoices, and process event deposits. Last year, Truffle Shuffle hosted over 80,000 customers across the United States.
Truffle Shuffle’s use of DocuSign grew exponentially in the last year. Even as we emerge from the pandemic, they won’t be going back to paper contracts and manual processes. Supporting more than 20 private events per week, Truffle Shuffle uses DocuSign eSignature to streamline the event booking process while on-the-go. Creating, sending, and signing contracts quickly is critical for these busy chefs.
With its business booming, Truffle Shuffle has grown its team from 3 to 26 employees, using DocuSign eSignature to onboard them. The company relies on DocuSign to streamline manual processes and let the chefs focus on creating the best experience possible for their customers.
Even as restaurants reopen, Truffle Shuffle plans to keep its virtual classes going, and will continue scaling its business thanks to key digital tools like DocuSign eSignature. Their biggest takeaway? Always be prepared to work dynamically, and embrace change.
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