The owners of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee wanted their online experience to be as smooth, warm and personal as their coffee shops.
What started as a single cafe in Wilmington, NC to employ people with disabilities has evolved into a small franchise business and ecommerce powerhouse focused on growing online business. There are companies that do good. And then there is Bitty & Beau’s Cafe, and it gained national attention for its goal-oriented model.
In 2016, knowing 80% of people with disabilities do not have a paid job in their own communities, Amy and Ben Wright decided to change that. The couple, who have four children – two with Down syndrome and one with autism – sought to create an inclusive business for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in order to have a place to make a living. The Wrights realized that once people with disabilities leave the public school system, nothing is planned for them to take the next step in life. Enter Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, inspired by Wright’s two youngest children named – what else? – Bitty and Beau.
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âWe just didn’t want that for our kids,â Ben said. “So, selfishly, we thought, ‘Let’s start a coffee. At least our children will have jobs. We quickly realized that while the jobs we were creating for people with disabilities were incredibly important, it was just as, if not more important, for people without disabilities to come and see them work and see them in a whole different light. ”
The business flourished. The Wrights opened three additional locations in Charleston, South Carolina, Annapolis, Maryland, and Savannah, Georgia. Their original workforce of 19 people with disabilities has grown to 120. Companies have inquired about adding Bitty & Beau’s cafes inside company buildings. CNN named Amy in 2017 its hero of the year and gave the company a prize of $ 100,000 to grow. And at Dreamforce 2019, Salesforce gave the Wrights their very first Equal Service Award. They started offering franchises to further develop the business. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Take advantage of a crisis to move forward
This pandemic has forced the Wrights, like so many other small businesses, to temporarily close their doors, lay off their 120 employees and change course. The couple were already using the one from Salesforce Cloud of services and Experience the cloud to support the business, primarily by populating the help center on its website and easily meeting customer support commitments. This enabled them to quickly pivot to an e-commerce template while adding more features to create a better overall customer service experience. Their thinking? The Wrights wanted the Bitty & Beau’s Coffee experience to be seamless, where the warmth of their staff could always be felt – no matter if people might visit a store for a cup of coffee or purchase coffee and merchandise online. Now every order would include a handwritten note from an employee.
We quickly realized that while the jobs we were creating for people with disabilities were incredibly important, it was just as, if not more important, for people without disabilities to come and see them work and see them in a whole different light.
Ben Wright, co-founder, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee
âWhen COVID hit, it hit us hard because we felt like the most conservative thing to do was close our doors,â Amy said. âWe did this for 60 days. During this time, we had to find a way to continue to connect with our customers because everything in our life is built on this business and its success. The same goes for our employees who rely on their work. ”
Since Bitty & Beau’s Coffee was already using the Salesforce platform, the Wrights were better prepared for ecommerce success. Using Service Cloud and Experience Cloud, they’ve already given customers access to FAQs and order tracking through an easy-to-use Help Center. they added Pardot engage customers through email newsletters and social campaigns and gain new subscribers. And Small bot, the company’s AI chatbot built through Einstein before the pandemic, added another layer of personalization to their website and helped them scale dramatically while the cafes are shutting down, Amy said.
âIt was about continuing to connect with our customers and having this wonderful experience as if they had walked into the store,â added Amy. âWe were getting a lot of orders online during that time. Thanks to the great tools we already had in place with Salesforce, we were able to send out the shipments the next day with a personalized note, so people always felt connected to Bitty & Beau’s Coffee. ”
[0:54] The founders of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee share inspiration for their business.
Growing Online Business Through Better Ecommerce Features
In September 2020, Bitty & Beau’s Cafes reopened and the Wrights safely welcomed their staff and customers to live the experience in person. During the shutdown, the company’s online sales increased, seeing higher year-over-year sales starting in September 2019. In 2020, they announced three franchises, showing continued growth. The Wrights say this happened in large part because they worked with Salesforce.
âHaving Salesforce as a strategic partner during this pandemic has been of almost indescribable importance,â said Ben. âWe really don’t have anyone to turn to for help. So having Salesforce and the platform and all the people stepping up and taking their time to really understand what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and really trying to figure that out was extremely important. It was and continues to be a very important strategic partnership for us. ”
When a customer comes in, we don’t just take their order and push it down the line. Each of our employees will take the time to get to know them. They want to have that human connection and get to know people. So why would it be any different when we do business online?
Amy Wright, co-founder, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee
In addition, having Client 360, all of Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) solution, in their stable, allowed the Bitty & Beau’s Coffee team to amplify what it had set itself: supporting people with disabilities while offering their customers a friendly, warm and welcoming experience when they come. have coffee.
âWhen a customer comes in, we don’t just take their order and pass it on to them,â Amy said. âEach of our employees will take the time to get to know them. They want to have that human connection and get to know people. So why would it be any different when we do business online? The 360 ââapproach is just like we do in the store. We want to get to know you. We want to know what makes you tick, what you like, what you don’t like, so that we can do our job better.
This is all important as the Wrights hope to continue expanding Bitty & Beau’s across the country. Having these tools in place, including a mobile app, will only make things easier.
âAs business owners of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, we are always trying to reinvent ways to do things better and improve the experience,â added Amy. âI can feel it from Salesforce too. Another wonderful quality of our partnership is that we are both trying to find ways to do things better. And I think we are getting there.â
It certainly looks like it – for their customers and, almost more importantly, for their staff.
Learn how to build an inclusive business
In this video, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee share their motivation and business strategy at the annual Dreamforce Live Event.