Work management is the driving force behind global franchise expansion and internal US operations.
On a corner of Bleecker Street in the West Village of New York City sits the quaint, original Magnolia Bakery. Opened in 1996, Magnolia Bakery is credited with launching the cupcake craze that swept the world over the last decade. Today, their desserts have gained a nationwide audience, thanks to many high-profile movie and television appearances including Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada, TODAY, 30 Rock, The Martha Stewart Show, and CNN.
Today, the bakery employs 450 staff and has eight stores in New York city, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dubai, with plans to open three more in Middle East (Doha, Kuwait, Lebanon) in the coming months.
In the next five years, Magnolia Bakery is planning to open stores everywhere from Tokyo to Sao Paulo to Qatar. Additionally, they also have an e-commerce fulfillment center in New York which ships desserts nationwide.
Needless to say, growth is the name of the game.
The Recipe for Expansion
As Magnolia CEO Bobbie Lloyd was working with its web design firm, Blue Fountain Media, she was introduced to Smartsheet as the online collaboration and project management tool. Lloyd instantly saw the value in the online collaboration tool, and brought it back to the rest of the team. Amy Tucker, Magnolia Bakery’s Project Manager was immediately on board.
“As soon as I started working with Smartsheet, I knew that it was an ideal tool to structure our daily operations as well as our franchise model to successfully open Magnolia locations anywhere in the world,” said Tucker. “The brilliance of Smartsheet is that it was easy for our team to jump right in, and it’s quickly transformed the way we work together.”
Franchise Plan Takes Shape
A highly detailed franchise plan is critical to ensuring that every Magnolia Bakery location that opens across the globe has the same homey, quintessential American bakery feel as the Bleecker Street store and that its baked goods look, and taste, up to par. Tucker and her team are able to precisely execute each step with Smartsheet.
The Magnolia Bakery Smartsheet franchise model includes:
- Location Scouting
Working with commercial property consultants around the world, location specifics – from building photographs, contracts, and more – are all tracked and shared with the team in NYC.
- Store Construction
Tucker and international teams use attachments to share construction plans and building specs. Timelines displayed in the Gantt view make it easy for anyone, regardless of location and timezone, to get a quick visual update of construction – if the location is on track or falling behind. <NOTE: here's a similar template for managing a construction timeline.
- Site Development
Tucker uses Smartsheet to lay out the specifics for every new store – from proper signage to exact floor plans, each detail is documented in Smartsheet. There’s no guesswork required to recreate the Magnolia Bakery brand and atmosphere anywhere in the world.
- Product Development
Just as critical as the feel of each new store is the taste of the baked goods. The team uses Smartsheet to attach, organize and collaborate on all of the many important documents - from detailed recipes, product photos, display photos, and policies and procedures that outline the company’s baking standards.
- Agency Coordination
With each new international location, Magnolia Bakery works with local PR agencies to organize everything from creative, promotional signage and ads, grand opening events, photo opportunities and more. Rather than battle time zone differences, email runaround and version control, Smartsheet is the hub for all activities and ensures that each new store opening goes off without a hitch.
Driving Efficient Internal Operations
Smartsheet isn’t just a driving force behind Magnolia Bakery’s franchise expansion plan, it’s having an impact across the US operations.
“Smartsheet helps us streamline many of our processes,” explained Tucker. “It’s the driving force behind how leadership at Magnolia Bakery manages their teams. In fact, we won’t start a project or go to meeting unless there’s a Smartsheet to track it.”
Here are a few examples of how Smartsheet is used across the company’s many departments.
- Product Launches
Magnolia Bakery is well known for its seasonal baked goods (think: Rockette’s cupcakes in NYC stores or Joffrey Ballet cupcakes in Chicago). For their many seasonal cupcakes, cookies and pies, a “store kit” is created in Smartsheet to be sent to each store for product rollout. Details about the recipe, appearance of the product, competitive research, pricing, product description, associated PR events, customer service training, and POS specifications are all included in the kit.
- PR & Marketing
Product placement and promotional events are carefully managed by the corporate office’s PR team. The team communicates their programs and efforts – and all associated documents and assets – with the bakery staff via Smartsheet.
- Cross-Store Communications
Clear communication between stores is vital for ensuring a unified Magnolia brand in any location. Smartsheet serves as an easy access repository for all of this information and lets the team use pictures to convey larger ideas easily. Use this template to similarly stay in touch with your team.
With operations protocol not only detailed in Smartsheet but project progress tracked towards completion, accountability has taken on a whole new meaning.
Smartsheet is used to plan, track, and organize the company’s financial goals.
- Human Resources
Onboarding new employees is simple and fast with checklists in Smartsheet ensuring that every step is completed. Training plans for new employees are also laid out in Smartsheet, so that each new staff member is brought up to speed quickly. Learn more about how companies of all sizes are using Smartsheet in HR.
“Without a tool like Smartsheet, I couldn’t do this job. It’s saved my life,” said Tucker. “And as a company – we couldn’t grow without it. That’s how important it is to us.”