Little Hearts Catering - A Case Study for Custom Software

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In 2017, the owners of Little Hearts Catering in Northeast Ohio found themselves at a financial crossroad. A catering service dedicated to supplying meals to daycares in the area, Little Hearts kept falling behind – struggling to meet their orders efficiently and on-time, losing track of orders as their clients’ needs changed, and constantly pitching hundreds of dollars of prepared food as waste.

Their system for processing their orders was unwieldy and ineffective. Little Hearts had been using an enormous spreadsheet that simultaneously tracked their clients’ orders, and their processes in the kitchen – including inventory management and actual meal prep plans. Multiple employees would edit the spreadsheet and often would accidentally delete formulas thus altering the client orders.

Their clients in the area didn’t need anything terribly fancy – after all, toddlers much prefer chicken nuggets and pizza to beef bourguignon. However, their clients had special requests that changed often – popcorn balls for movie days, pizza on Fridays (sometimes), special meals for children with allergies, and more. But when it was time to prep the food, the spreadsheets (which were often printed the day before) sometimes did not include the changes – and furthermore, the food prep area was not close to the computer meaning additional change time was required as new reports had to be hand delivered to the prep areas.

This resulted in an immense amount of food waste and decreasing customer satisfaction. Some of their clients began to consider moving to a different catering service because their orders were often not filled to their standards. In addition to the threat of losing clients, Little Hearts was hemorrhaging money with all of their food waste, and their employees began to become frustrated as well – seeing as they were often working for hours to prep food for their clients, only to have to throw it away and start over again.

Another small business owner in the area – the owner of a consignment boutique – recommended that Little Hearts contact Tornado Technologies for help with changing their processes and updating the technology that they use. Tornado Technologies worked with Little Hearts to identify their weaknesses and provided tailored solutions for their problems.

The first thing to go? The spreadsheets! Tornado Tech created custom programming that tracked their orders for each client in an easy-to-use database that everyone from the top chef to the secretary could easily view and modify. This custom software design allowed for the day’s orders (updated and 100% correct!) to be viewed on monitors in the kitchen by the whole staff instantly so that the chefs did not have to resort to running new reports to the prep areas to figure out the day’s duties. In addition to the order screen that showed them what to prepare and how much, Tornado Technologies connected video feeds to the kitchen so that the owners and the chefs were able to track their progress, monitor their productivity, and maximize the efficiency of their workflow.

Thanks to collaborating with Tornado Tech, Little Hearts was able to increase their revenue and significantly decrease their expenses associated with food waste and time mismanagement. They also were able to retain their clients that were on the fence about continuing service with them. The owner of Little Hearts is absolutely ecstatic about the renewal and growth of the business and was amazed that productivity management software and custom software development could be used to better their business in these unexpected ways. Though initially concerned about the investment associated with custom software development, Little Hearts found that partnering with Tornado Technologies to improve their business paid off, big time!