The Agile CFO > Harnessing Technology & Delivering Change

COVID shutdowns brought forward San Churro’s plans to establish its own home-delivery platform to claw back some of the profits the major delivery networks routinely take from food businesses. 

The Spanish dessert and chocolate specialist created its own delivery platform, in partnership with DoorDash, which was rolled out ahead of schedule in April 2020. This allowed the business to take advantage of pandemic-induced, heightened demand for home delivered food.

“It was an amazing achievement by our marketing and IT teams,” says CFO Jacqui Loveridge, during a CFO Magazine Lunchtime Live one-on-one chat, in partnership with Oracle NetSuite.

San Churro was founded 16 years ago by managing director Giro Maurici. His inspiration for the business came from a trip to Spain. Its first iteration was a pop-up store at the annual Fiesta de la Hispanidad or Hispanic-Latin American Festival that takes place in Melbourne’s Johnston Street each November.

Now, the privately-owned franchise businesses has over 50 stores across Australia, of which six are company stores.   

New horizons

The new delivery system provided an opportunity for San Churro to integrate core aspects of its technology. A new point-of-sale provider went live across all stores in February 2020, which has supported a more agile approach to the way the business is managed.

“Our new point-of-sale partner is highly focused on emerging technologies and providing a multi-faceted solution well beyond point of sale (POS). Its technology is flexible and it’s improving all the time. It means our POS system, delivery technology and loyalty program are all connected,” explained Loveridge, who says the business is rolling out order-at-table technology in the next few months.

San Churro has long been a cloud-based business, which helped when many staff transitioned to work-from-home at the start of the pandemic. 

“Staff just picked up their laptop – because we all have laptops; there are no desktops in our business – and start working from home. The POS also integrates with our franchise partners’ accounting systems and back into our NetSuite ERP business management suite. Our approach is the way of the future. We’re never going back to giant server rooms with technology requiring cabling in the office. Everything is mobile.”

San Churro’s NetSuite ERP Solutions runs its inventory and ordering, as well as the accounting platform for head office and the main business, although franchises use Xero for their own accounts. Other technology feeds into that, such as Power BI for product and sales reporting. Says Loveridge: “Everything is integrated.”

While at the moment franchises do their own accounting, over the coming 18 months Loveridge and her team are working towards standardising franchisees’ accounting systems.

Tech integrity is a perennial focus. “We have undertaken a number of cybersecurity reviews and changes over the last two years. More recently, we have embarked on an ongoing cybersecurity training schedule, to ensure staff understand their roles and responsibilities in this area,” she adds.

Meeting the market

Loveridge says the business had a huge emphasis on supporting its franchises through COVID’s upheaval of the retail and hospitality sectors through lockdowns and ongoing restrictions.

“We’ve had to be very flexible. The challenge we have today is not the challenge we will have tomorrow. The first four to six weeks were the toughest. But we weathered that and we have emerged stronger than before. We have not lost a single franchise store due to COVID, which is a really great achievement.”

She acknowledges one of the most difficult tasks has been maintaining motivation at every level of the business, from support staff to the franchise partners, who are effectively small business owners.

“It has certainly been a tough 18 months, and I am extremely proud of everyone in the business, and my team in particular.”

Looking ahead

Aside from updating and improving its tech stack and focusing on the future, San Churro is also expanding its suite of products to a more well-rounded, all-day offering.

“We launched Savoury by San Churro during the pandemic, which includes Spanish empanadas, croquettes and toasties,” says Loveridge. “It expands our menu to be more than the indulgences for which we’re known. A lot of people won’t choose chocolate and churros at 11:00 am. But they do want great coffee and we have great coffee. So we want to offer our customers options. While we have a limited savoury menu, we are exploring different customer experiences throughout day. We’re more than the after dinner dessert family fiesta our customers love.”

The business has also just appointed a new CEO and has plans to redefine its growth strategy over the next year.

It’s an exciting future for the Australian churros pioneer, given its dynamic growth strategy and moreish menu.