Mobile Applications for Business Case Study
H.Bloom Hand Delivers Exceptional Client Service with AT&T Mobility Solutions (Cont'd)
We considered building our own application, but soon realized we could get what we needed from AT&T.”
– Brett Adams, Senior Product Manager, H.Bloom
About H. Bloom
H. Bloom Facts
Ability to streamline delivery process and monitor quality of arrangements
Mobile applications on smartphones help optimize delivery routes, record client confirmation signatures and capture photos of delivered arrangements; RingCentral Office@Hand from AT&T provides mobile employees with immediate communications
Efficient deliveries that meet client expectations; improved responsiveness; faster resolutions to issues; greater quality control; exceptional client experience
H.Bloom has become the fastest-growing floral and plant service in the world with locations in cities across the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. The company provides its corporate and residential clients with luxurious flowers and plants that are hand delivered based on customized timetables.
H.Bloom wanted to streamline its delivery process to ensure arrangements were arriving on time to client locations. The company wanted to monitor the quality of arrangements as well as confirm the right arrangement was delivered to the right person – a challenge particularly in corporate settings where multiple contacts can be involved. As H.Bloom quickly expanded, it needed reliable communications services for new start-up branches.
Fleet Complete® Fleet Tracker from AT&T helps H.Bloom respond to unexpected client situations with visibility of all vehicles making deliveries throughout the day. Using smartphones and ProntoForms™ from AT&T, drivers better manage deliveries to meet client expectations while managers monitor the quality of arrangements. RingCentral Office@Hand from AT&T gives H.Bloom flexible communications for highly mobile employees.
Bouquet to Business
What started as a simple search for flowers has turned into a multi-million dollar business for CEO Bryan Burkhart and COO Sonu Panda, founders of H.Bloom, the fastest growing floral and plant service in the world.
Our end goal is to ensure clients are happy with their delivery timeframes, and ProntoForms helps us do that."
– Mike Lenner, Vice President of Engineering, H.Bloom
Burkhart was tasked with picking up fresh flowers for the apartment he shared with his wife. Finding a high-quality, unique floral arrangement was harder than he thought it would be. After searching for and eventually finding flower shop owners who were “extraordinary artists,” he noticed they “didn’t have a background in technology and didn’t enjoy the business side of things.”
Burkhart believed the multi-billion dollar U.S. flower industry was ripe for innovative disruption. He teamed with Panda, his long-time friend and business associate in a software company, to launch H.Bloom in 2010.
The partners chose perhaps the most demanding market: New York City. The equation was straightforward yet challenging: combine incredible designs with world-class service to delight even the most discriminating corporate clients.
To do this, Burkhart and Panda applied lessons learned in the software industry to efficiently source flowers from around the world. They would also use technology to create a different type of flower business with an extraordinary client experience.
Mike Lenner, Vice President of Engineering, explained, “With our floral arrangements, we create custom works of art that transform the look and feel of spaces − in corporate offices, hotel lobbies and homes. Another core value is that ‘each delivery is the only delivery’ so it has to be at the right time in the right way. It’s something everyone thinks about every day, including our COO and CEO.”
Seedlings Grow the Business
To date, H.Bloom has opened operations in 10 cities with plans to expand to 30 by 2015. Like their attention to diverse designs, Burkhart and Panda have handpicked and assembled a team of talent to spur the company’s growth. Hundreds of top-notch floral designers along with 80 employees make H.Bloom’s day-to-day operations work – really well.
Lenner described what it’s like to be part of H.Bloom, “Bryan Burkhart brings new ideas and strategy while Sonu Panda focuses on execution and operations. They respect and listen to each other – it’s a kind of perfect balance that permeates throughout the business.
“Open discourse is encouraged, and everyone’s opinion is considered when it comes to serving clients better,” continued Lenner. “It’s a perfect environment for people who want to work hard and innovate.”
New hires in some departments are called SEEDs. H.Bloom invests in these future leaders by giving them on the job training and mentorship prior to them moving into the field and launching new H.Bloom branches.
“There is no hard-and-fast formula for what we look for in a ‘SEED,’” said Lenner. “We certainly favor someone who has an entrepreneurial spirit and truly embraces what we call the ‘rhino principle’ of working unbelievably hard in the face of adversity. Our people make our success possible and will continue to significantly contribute to our future growth.”
Cultivating with Technology
Another contributor to H.Bloom’s growth is its use of technology. “Much of the floral supply chain involves manual processes that are inefficient,” said Brett Adams, Senior Product Manager. “From day one, we spent a significant amount of time building a ton of automation into our business. As a result, we have been able to control our costs by effectively managing volume and lead time.”
Soon after, H.Bloom started looking for ways to streamline its delivery process. While arrangements were getting delivered on time, Adams noted employees were “scrambling and doing whatever it took” to make sure delivery timeframes were met based on clients’ expectations. “Corporate clients expect timeliness and responsiveness – to be there at a moment’s notice. Knowing where our drivers are at any point in time, allows us to re-route vehicles as needs arise.”
H.Bloom drivers have a full day of deliveries, so optimizing routes, especially in complex and busy cities like New York and Washington, D.C., is a must. The company also needs proof of delivery and confirmation that clients like their arrangements.
Deliveries to corporate clients can also be complicated with multiple people involved in each client location, customized arrangements for specific settings and the ongoing maintenance needs that go with them. “We considered building our own application, but soon realized we could get what we needed from AT&T,” said Adams.
Delivered with Predictability
H.Bloom now uses Fleet Complete Fleet Tracker from AT&T to track its drivers and trucks as they navigate hectic streets throughout the day. A rugged Fleet Complete device is mounted on each truck for tracking its every move.
“It’s not unusual to get a call from a client in need of another arrangement or with an emergency situation like a broken vase,” advised Adams. “Before, we called all drivers in the vicinity to determine which one was closer or had capacity. With Fleet Complete, we can now easily identify the best driver and quickly respond.”
Each driver is also equipped with a smartphone and ProntoForms from AT&T. Every morning, H.Bloom assigns daily delivery schedules that drivers pull up on their smartphones. Accessing the ProntoForms application, each driver gets detailed delivery information for each client: address, contacts and how to reach them, exactly which arrangements are to be delivered, precisely where to place each arrangement in the client’s setting and any special instructions.
As deliveries are made, the driver secures each contact’s signature for confirmation and takes a photo of the arrangement, storing the information in the ProntoForms software. The delivery confirmation gives H.Bloom assurance the arrangement was approved by the right person at the client’s location – something the company had issues with previously.
“We send all that data back to our internal applications to measure the efficiency of our deliveries,” said Adams. “We compare the time stamp of when the delivery was actually made to our delivery commitment. We can aggregate the results by client over time or look at results across all drivers in a particular market or in all markets.”
H.Bloom uses the ProntoForms-provided information in a variety of ways. “If we are falling short in meeting a client’s delivery expectations, we can re-optimize the driver’s route,” said Lenner. “We can also reach out to the client to re-define expectations that may be a bit more realistic; for example, increase the delivery window from one to two hours or deliver before 9:00 a.m. versus promptly at 8:00 a.m. Our end goal is to ensure clients are happy with their delivery timeframes, and ProntoForms helps us do that.”
While driver turnover can be challenging, H.Bloom finds the ProntoForms application is easy to download and use for new drivers. “It’s super important that every new driver uses ProntoForms for our business,” said Adams. “We’ve had no issues – it’s a seamless transition to ProntoForms for them.”
Picture Worth a Thousand Petals
ProntoForms from AT&T also helps H.Bloom measure the quality of its arrangements. By capturing photos of all delivered arrangements, ProntoForms has presented H.Bloom with multiple opportunities for improvements in design as well as deliveries.
“We can share photos with our designers as inspiration for other clients or for that client in the future,” said Lenner. “We can also spot trends in clients’ orders regarding certain flowers or types of arrangements. For example, if a client has ordered a significant number of exotic arrangements, we can continue with an exotic theme, yet make appropriate variations for interest.”
Quality control can also be proactive when H.Bloom account executives have near real-time access to photos. Utilizing data from the ProntoForms application, H.Bloom developers created a mobile application for its account executives’ smartphones. Throughout the day, they can now monitor their clients’ deliveries and review the photos of arrangements.
Adams explained, “If the account executive sees that a driver delivered the wrong arrangement or sees browning on some petals, he can immediately trigger a resolution for the issue before the client even calls.”
Many visits to client locations are to maintain the beauty of their arrangements. H.Bloom has included maintenance checklists in the ProntoForms application as reminders for maintenance personnel and verification that all steps have been taken.
“ProntoForms has helped us sharpen and standardize our maintenance process as well as how we deal with issues,” explained Lenner. “If there’s an issue, anyone can submit a simple form via ProntoForms that activates a workflow in our systems to alert and send out the right people. Our reaction time has vastly improved and our clients see the difference.”
Regarding plans for the future, Lenner and Adams emphasized the widespread use of mobile applications as H.Bloom expands its operations.
One of Lenner’s many responsibilities is securing reliable communications services for the company’s highly mobile employees in new branches. With the RingCentral Office@Hand from AT&T mobile phone system, he can establish a communications presence in a new market – in a matter of minutes.
“I can create new numbers and re-route calls to accommodate our employees’ needs in new locations,” advised Lenner. “And if someone leaves and a new person assumes that role, we keep the number without missing a beat. RingCentral Office@Hand is a reliable service for our on-the-go people and an easy-to-manage solution for me.”
Lenner concluded, “The AT&T mobile applications have met our needs quite well. From an ROI standpoint, I’m glad we decided to use these existing software tools, allowing our development team to focus on other pressing projects.”
Adams agreed, “We’ll continue to look for ways to better serve our clients and to explore how technology from companies like AT&T can help us do that.”