Ship, Ship Hooray: Shipping Advances Mean Just About Anything Goes

Today you can ship almost anything anywhere.

Today you can ship almost anything anywhere. But that wasn’t always the case.

We’ve all heard the famous story of how FedEx once shipped a killer whale. Times sure have changed since the days of stagecoach and even the traditional postal carrier – we’re heading into the era of drones dropping packages at your front door in a matter of hours. In honor of those bygone days, decided to explore a slice of U.S. postal and shipping regulations history.

The Pony Express

One of the first great strides in shipping history in the U.S. was the Pony Express, started in 1860. California became a state in 1850, and mail traveled from New York to the west coast via ship, which took about a month to arrive, or via stagecoach, which could take even longer. The Pony Express Company established more than 150 relay stations between Missouri and California, and mail arrived to the west coast in record time, 12 days or less. Legendary as it is, the Pony Express was short-lived. The transcontinental telegraph put it out of business little more than a year and a half later.

Parcel Post

In the early 1900s, the post office could only handle packages weighing four pounds or less. Heavier packages were handled by private companies. In 1910, more than half of the U.S. population lived in rural areas, and they increasingly wanted goods shipped right to them instead having to travel to faraway post offices to pick up packages or paying expensive private carriers for delivery. In response to this need, the post office created Parcel Post, which was a huge success. The service debuted New Year’s Day 1913, and the shipment weight limit was 11 pounds. In the first five days of service in 1913, more than four million packages were sent via Parcel Post. Because of Parcel Post, mail order businesses such as Sears, Roebuck and Company and Montgomery Ward thrived. Over the years, weight limits and sizes increased.

The Sky’s the Limit

Now there is almost no limit to what you can ship and where you can ship it. Planes and the plethora of packaging options available mean that items of even great weight or that need special handling such as sub-zero temperatures, can be shipped long distances and arrive overnight if need be. Whether you’re sending flowers, cakes, whales, or pandas, there’s an option to get your cargo delivered safe and sound.

Anything Ships, Including Cake

Since customers often marvel at our ability to ship something as perishable as cake, we often get asked, “How do you ship cake?” Our answer? “With great care!”

We use 2-day FedEx and pack our cakes in specially made boxes with dry ice as needed to keep them frozen without impacting flavor, so they’re as fresh when they arrive as when we pulled them out of the oven. Due to the nature of the cake, our Bundts are simply shrink-wrapped and shipped without dry ice or a cooler.

This lets our customers send gifts to anyone and everyone on their list, no matter where they live. No need to figure out what local bakery is nearest to Grandma, or whether they deliver (or are any good). The process we’ve perfected over the years lets us focus on making fresh, high-quality cakes and send them anywhere in the continental U.S. without impacting the quality or the beauty of our creations.

Because everyone deserves gourmet cake shipped straight to your door!


Onboarding Best Practices

Onboarding Best Practices

Why the onboarding process is so important.

It’s a match! You’ve found the perfect person to fill an open position, and they’ve accepted your offer. Time for celebration and a sigh of relief, but also time to plan to make the new hire orientation process as positive as possible.

Your new hire is excited about working with you, and a little nervous too. Will the job meet expectations? Will co-workers be welcoming? What’s the day-to-day culture really like?

The onboarding process says a lot about your company. Keep in mind, the new hire orientation process isn’t a single day, it’s a months-long process. Done well, it improves productivity, increases engagement, and helps employees become successful contributors. Done well, it improves productivity, increases engagement, and helps employees become successful contributors. Done poorly, it increases turnover, and like in the movie Groundhog Day, you’ll be onboarding over and over and over for the same position.

Here’s how to get it right, right from the start

  • Keep the fires burning. Your new hire is stoked to begin the job. Don’t go cold between their acceptance and the start date. Send them the necessary paperwork online to read (company manual, info about parking passes, badges, etc.) or fill out (tax forms, benefits enrollment) before they start instead of them having to spend time the first day or week slogging through them. Human Resources or their new supervisor should send a welcome email with a schedule for the first day.
  • Send your new hire a gift welcoming them even before they start. The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that you create an “unboxing” experience for them. “Unboxing is a YouTube phenomenon in which enthusiasts unwrap products… We think onboarding can provide a similar opportunity for employers to create excitement around the company and the new hire’s role.” What should you send? We think a fresh-made cake is a perfect way to make the new hire and their family feel instantly at home.
  • Day 1 on the job. Be ready for your new hire. Have their desk set up, email accounts created, ID badge ready, have someone assigned to show them around (where’s coffee, where are the restrooms, where is the supply closet), and have a schedule prepared. Have a peer take them to lunch paid for by the company, and towards the end of the day, have the new hire’s supervisor ask how the day went. You don’t want the new hire to be here today, gone tomorrow. (It happens! According to SHRM, nearly 4 percent of employees quit after a disastrous first day.)
  • Make introductions. In the first week or two, schedule meetings with employees from other departments so the new hire understands the organization better, and how his role fits into the larger picture. An org chart or photo directory can also help your new employee connect the slew of new names with positions and faces.
  • Set realistic short-term goals for the new hire. On average, it takes a new hire eight months to become fully productive, so pace your expectations. And in that time period, check in every couple of months by scheduling a feedback session that goes both ways. A new employee who provides honest feedback might present fresh insights that improve the new hire orientation process. And when an employee feels heard, they feel engaged. It’s a win/win.

Great onboarding means a bright future for all

Finding the perfect fit for your business is hard work. Don’t ruin all that effort with an onboarding experience that makes your new hire head right back out the door. If you can ensure you’re welcoming that new talent and showing respect from the start by upholding new employee orientation best practices, you’ll find you have more engaged employees, a more talented staff, and word will spread so that the next time you’re searching for new team members, they’ll be eager to sign right up.


4 Ways to Provide Amazing Customer Service

4 Ways to Provide Amazing Customer Service

Good customer service requires focus on your customers and employees.

Times are changing rapidly, but the fundamentals of delivering exemplary customer service have remained the same. The customer is still always right, and amazing customer service is the lifeline of each and every business, regardless of the industry. So, what does providing good customer service look like? It starts with creating a culture that your employees can get behind, and rely on, to deliver a unique experience for each and every customer. The following are a few other customer service best practices to focus on in order to deliver the ultimate customer experience.

1. Be accessible

And not just during “hours of operation.” In today’s technology-driven world, customers want to be able to reach a business regardless of the day or time of day. Have a system set up where there is always someone available to answer questions or concerns – whether it’s through email, social media, or over the phone. And above all, if you’re going to have these communication channels available, be sure you have people on staff at all times to respond to customers in a timely manner. If you provide several different contact points but don’t have the staff in place to maintain these channels, you could inadvertently cause your customer service to decline.

2. Ask their opinion

Outside of the ownership and employees, nobody knows your business more than your customers. Request their feedback from time to time to find out how you’re doing, what makes them stay customers, and what they’d like to see improvements on. This creates open lines of communication with your customers, and lets them know you are always looking for ways to improve their customer experience. This extends beyond a “Contact Us” button on your website. Include surveys in your email communications, or reward them with coupons for providing feedback. Even if the responses are negative, you will be strengthening the relationship with the customer and improving your business at the same time.

3. Say “thank you”

It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked. With every “thank you,” you are letting your customer know that you appreciate their business and don’t take it for granted. These thank yous can be conveyed with a follow-up email after a purchase, a handwritten card in the mail, or even on an advertisement. But be sure each “thank you” is genuine and sincere, rather than feeling forced or mandated. This stems from every employee having as much buy-in for growing your business as you do. Which leads us to our next tip –

4. Treat your employees like customers

If you want your employees to treat your customers well, you must treat your employees the same way. Employees are happier when they feel appreciated and part of the team. Of course, not every business is able to reward their employees with competitive salaries and benefits, but they don’t always have to. Genuine interest in your employees and extending small tokens of appreciation can sometimes be more effective than a raise (though a raise never hurts). Decorating their office on a birthday or work anniversary, remembering their child’s birthday, or throwing an office party to celebrate a productive month are all ways to show your employees that you care about them as much as you care about your customers. Delivering an excellent customer experience starts with motivated and engaged employees. You should think about your employees as much (if not more) as you think about improving your customer experience.

We all know customers have more choices than ever before for just about every product or service they want. Amazing customer service is at the heart of distinguishing your brand from others, so don’t make it an afterthought. You’ll be rewarded by customers who don’t just buy your product, but who are fierce advocates that will help you grow your business.


Brand Loyalty Demystified

Brand loyaltyHow to make your customers love you as much as you love them.

Apple, Nike, Polo – these brands have accumulated customers so loyal they’ll actually pay them to advertise their brand. Fan-sumers buy t-shirts with logos on them, follow them all over social media, and even put “free” stickers with that same logo onto their cars, laptops, skateboards, and more. So, how do you harness that energy and apply it to your brand?

4 tips on improving brand loyalty

Customer loyalty starts with a great product – that much should be obvious. But beyond that, it’s all about your relationship with your customers. How you treat them has a direct impact on their loyalty, especially when things go wrong.Here’s how to create brand loyalty and keep them on your team.

1. Knock their socks off. A 2011 survey conducted by American Express reported that 59% of Americans would discontinue doing business with a company in exchange for one offering a superior customer service experience – that’s just the stats. Considering the ease of access your customers have to your competition via the web, if you don’t dazzle them with service beyond the product, you’re probably not going earn their fandom. So, take exceptionally good care of your customers – make sure they know you’re on their side.

2. Keep your finger on the pulse. The Universe is a dynamic place, what drives and attracts your customer base is destine to change. Encourage customer feedback, respond to it, and let your customer base know you hear them. Just like any other relationship, when your customers recognize your listening talents, they’re going to know you care, and that translates directly into loyalty.

3. Be generous. Lagniappe is a Louisiana French expression meaning a little something extra and it’s a great brand loyalty strategy. Whether it’s via liberal return policies, or promotional campaigns, when businesses overextend themselves to their customers, it makes them feel valued and loyal. We encourage our clients to send branded cakes to new and repeat customers as a token of appreciation and to keep their product top of mind. Birthday, holiday, and ‘thank you’ gifts are a welcome surprise that shows you view your customers as more than just dollar signs.

4. Deploy customer loyalty programs. In most cases your customers have other options. If all things are equal, offering a reward to repeat customers not only gives them an immediate reason to choose your product, it’s also a great way to show your gratitude for their patronage. Once again, this is the perfect opportunity to set your business apart – a number of our clients use our Cake of the Month Club to send their loyal customers an appreciation gift on a recurring schedule.

Remember the golden rule

Don’t forget: you’re a consumer too. That means you know how you like to be treated when you make a purchase. Therefore, if you’re not handling your customer relations in a way that would garner your own loyalty, it’s pretty unlikely you’re going to earn your customers’.

The bottom line is you have to love your customers as much as your product to stay competitive. You can’t expect them to shower you with praise on their social channels or tell all their friends about you if they don’t feel you’re any different from the next guy with the same product. So remember to think like a consumer and treat your customers just as well as if it was you in their shoes.


Who Said Cake’s Only for Birthdays?! Shame! Shame!

Company morale matters

Company morale matters more than you might think.

Somewhere along the road of life, the word “work” began collecting some rather unfortunate baggage. As a kid it basically meant, “not playing,” and as grown-ups it got, well…a little more complicated. 

Work can be a passion or a punishment, and finally, science has started paying attention to what we’ve known for years – your work environment matters! One study suggested a direct relationship between happiness in the workplace and increased productivity. So, now all you need is some happiness! 

Easier said than done, especially for more challenging vocations and intrinsically stressful industries.  Luckily, there are always ways to lighten the mood: you just need to think like a kid again! Read on to learn how to boost morale at work.

3 cake worthy celebrations for your corporation

A  pretend study conducted on imaginary kids ages 4 through 12 decisively asserted that cake makes just about any event better. So, here are some perfect occasions to bring some of that youthful sunshine back into the hearts of your crew.

1. Cake day!!! Then again, maybe everyday should be cake day – for the sake of productivity, how about one day a month designated to celebrate your staff, one employee at a time? As an added bonus, they can even decide on the flavor and design – but, all cake and icing aside, the real value is the positive impact on morale individual attention creates.

2. Onboarding. More and more recruiters are emphasizing the importance of a solid onboarding process – and research backs them up. For example, the Academy of Management Journal published a study suggesting that the effects of a positive onboarding experience lasted for at least 90 days. To really make it special? Send a welcome cake to the new hire’s home so the whole family can feel included.

3. Launching a new endeavor. Whether it be a new product, expanded services, or, maybe landing a coveted account –- starting off with a brilliant cake in the room sets the stage for success, and of course, an abundance of smiles! After all, if you’re going to send a ‘thank you’ cake or gift to a new customer, wouldn’t you want to do the same for the team who worked so hard to get you there?

What your cake says about your company

While the gesture of a supermarket cake is sure to endear, a cake that’s customized for the occasion or the employee really goes the extra mile to make your team feel appreciated and a vital part of the business. That inclusiveness means everyone pulls a bit harder for success, which in turn means more occasions to celebrate with cake! If you’re looking for the perfect employee appreciation gift, look no further than our selection of freshly-baked, gourmet cakes!


How to Keep Your Workforce at Their Best

engaged employees

Employee engagement is frighteningly low: here’s what you can do about it.

A recent Gallup report revealed only 31.5% of U.S. employees felt engaged with their job. Sounds bad right? It gets worse – a Harvard Business Review study that included interviews with “12 best-practice company leaders” cited employee engagement as one of the three most important factors in their company’s success.

So, what’s a company gotta do to inspire a little spring in the steps of its workforce?

4 tips for keeping your staff engaged and happy

Check out these ideas on how to keep employees engaged and inspire a deeper investment from your staff – and show them you care!

1. Recognition. Awards and company wide attention not only add incentive, they establish and reinforce how each employee fits in with the goals of the entire company. How you choose to celebrate really depends on the atmosphere of your company – the idea is to have fun so the happiness and motivation spreads.

2. Set them up to succeed. Gumption is a key ingredient in engagement – when your staff doesn’t have the proper tools, or policies bog down their performance, frustration rises, resentment boils, and care atrophies. Savvy managers make sure their staff has everything they need to do their work properly – and just as importantly, they’re not shy about asking for suggestions.

3. Identify your goals. A recent Leadership IQ study revealed that setting motivational goals increases fulfillment by 75%. So, what’s a “motivational goal”? Think of them as being long-term goals with built-in motivational factors, such as breaking a sales record, or finishing a landmark project. Clear communication of your company ambitions, and how each teammate fits into those plans, expands outlook beyond individual roles – that can help a person understand how they’re contributing, so they know how important their job is.

4. Demonstrate your faith. Have you ever had someone constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure you were doing it right? No matter how humble you might be, after a while, being micro-managed can make you feel incompetent even when dealing with your expertise, which can evolve into something rather miserable: burning, itching resentment! You hired your staff for their competence, so, let them do their jobs! 

How to celebrate your crew

Yes, you worked hard to get where you are. Even if you’ve built your business from the ground up, you certainly didn’t do it completely alone. Your employees are what keep your company not just functioning, but thriving, so keeping employees motivated is essential. So don’t assume they know you’re grateful. Invest in their satisfaction with these employee engagement tips and they’ll surely return the favor a thousand times over.