Customer knowledge is the driving force behind Smit and Dorlas' growth

“Coffee is a people industry. We sell emotion.” Rob de Laat, CEO of Smit & Dorlas, knows what makes his customers happy. This knowledge is collected by everyone who has contact with the customers and stored in Archie. “When you’re a customer owner, the power is in your hands.”

Smit & Dorlas supplies a complete range of products including tea, coffee, accessories and machines to the upper echelons of the catering industry in the Netherlands and a number of holiday destinations popular with the Dutch public. The company is the market leader in espressos in the Netherlands. Smit & Dorlas has been experiencing tremendous growth in recent years. The reason? The knowledge about customers has been given to Archie instead of relying on our staff for this.

De Laat enjoys a fresh espresso as he tells us, “When I was asked to take on this role in 1999, our staff consisted of loyal workers who had a great deal of knowledge of the market and their customers, but this knowledge wasn’t shared in a structured manner. I came from Douwe Egberts and was used to working from a broad base of information.”

Henrike Alberti
Sharing customer information

He therefore soon decided that a CRM system needed to be introduced to allow customer information to be centrally stored in a structured way. A brief investigation led Smit & Dorlas to Archie, a system that was specially developed for companies with intensive contact requirements for their customers and associates. This CRM software was implemented throughout the entire organization and became a leading system. De Laat: “Everything here works through Archie – phone calls, e-mails, order intake, reporting, all the way up to the repairs the technical services division carries out on the coffee machines. Archie enables our sales staff to succeed in their work.”

"Customer knowledge is gathered by everyone who comes into contact with customers, and recorded in Archie."

No stone was left unturned during the implementation.De Laat: “Nine out of ten CRM systems are useless to us as they’re essentially just a database. That’s why the first thing we did was to ask for a commitment from our staff; after all, they’re the ones responsible for the system’s success. We brought in an external CRM manager to supervise the entire implementation, and who now – a few years later – is still on site for one day a week for fine-tuning, coaching staff and analyzing whether the system is being used correctly.” 

The longer Smit & Dorlas works with Archie, the more the system seems to deliver. Initially all they had to do was set it up, De Laat recalls. “But after three or so years it suddenly began to make us a lot of money.Our turnover has doubled and our profits are rising faster than ever.”

This increase in profits arises from both new customers and cross- and upselling to existing ones. This has given Smit & Dorlas a clear picture of the particular segment it wishes to focus on out of the 40,000 catering companies in the Netherlands, along with its chances of success. This is because the expiry date of all existing contracts its prospects currently have is recorded as well. “This means we can come along at exactly the right time, which of course greatly increases our chances of success.” De Laat can easily print out how many contracts are due to expire over the coming quarter and assign a probability of success to each, giving him an accurate forecast. This is handy for the company’s other departments as well.

Custom service

It’s not just the contract expiry date that’s stored in Archie, though, but an overview of the company’s operations as well. De Laat: “If a company works with powdered sugar, there’s obviously no point in offering them sugar sticks. But if they’re purchasing coffee milk and biscuits from another supplier, then the next time they place an order our staff at the office can ask if they’d rather buy their entire range from us and have us manage the whole thing. This way we can save them a lot of trouble.”

"The longer we work with Archie, the more the system benefits us."

And this is exactly what Smit & Dorlas does. The company provides high-quality products and services which capitalize on their customers’ needs.“Our knowledge of the customer allows us to make them an offer even before they knew they had a need for it, such as presenting preventative service contracts for their machines and helping to fine-tune them. But we also make small tabletop advertisements to make the customer more inclined towards upselling.”

All this leads to not only a huge increase in turnover, but the profits are rising even faster, mainly due to the improvements in efficiency. “The average sales rep is only effective about half the time, but we’ve managed to push that up to 80%. And not just because our sales teams are always turning up to customers or prospects at exactly the right moment, but also by moving the tasks around. For example, we’re now working with a telemarketing agency for acquisition. This agency works within our own system and can plan appointments with companies for the sales reps. All our marketing campaigns are targeted to the right audiences now too – or rather, to the appropriate contact lists – which applies to everything from mail shots advertising new products to invitations for promotional events for our contacts.”

Mangement information

It’s not just marketing and sales who are happy with the system either; Archie offers De Laat the ability to keep a close eye on events as they unfold. “Our two sales managers and I have a fantastic management tool at our disposal. We guide our staff based on various KPIs (key performance indicators). Our sales reps aren’t judged purely based on the returns they produce, but mainly on their ability to make full use of the customers’ sales potential. And that’s only possible if they’ve got enough information."

"Archie enables our sellers' success."

Mangement information

Smit & Dorlas is looking forward to a rosy future. “We’re in a growing market. Nowadays fresh beans are the norm in our segment, but anyone predicting that 15 years ago would’ve been considered a nutcase which means that more and more catering companies will be joining our target group. It’s a lively market as well – restaurants can change owners quite frequently. Archie provides us with the vital information we need to serve this market as best we can,” concludes De Laat.

About Smit & Dorlas Coffee Roasters

Smit & Dorlas supplies fresh coffee, coffee machines, tea and accessories such as sugar sticks, coffee cups and biscuits to the uper echelons of the catering industry in the Netherlands, Greece, Turkey and the Dutch Antilles. The company buys beans from various countries, creates its own blends, roasts the beans at the factory in Mijdrecht and then delivers within 24 hours. Smit & Dorlas is the market-leader in espressos in the Netherlands. For more information:


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