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SaladStop! steps up to the plate

How does DesignSingapore Council’s Business Value of Design programme help companies? SaladStop! shares its experience.

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A consultation session conducted by McKinsey Design with the SaladStop! team.

Does your business need to differentiate and seize new opportunities to create a breakthrough in today’s climate?

The Business Value of Design (BVoD) programme, created by DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) — the national agency for design — in partnership with McKinsey Design, might just provide the booster shot that you are looking for.

SaladStop!, Singapore’s leading chain of salad bars, certainly found that to be the case when it participated in the programme that was launched recently.

"Given our stage of growth, and especially the brand pivots we made during this past critical year, we knew that embedding design into our organisational mindset and practices was fundamental to our trajectory moving forward," says Mr Adrien Desbaillets, managing director of SaladStop!.

The BVoD programme places design thinking, which is a human-centred approach to innovation and problem-solving, as the critical driver of business performance. In two phases that run over approximately 10 weeks, the programme enables companies to assess their design maturity and identify areas of improvement, before guiding them to formulate a tailored action plan to address a key business challenge or opportunity, or product or service enhancements.

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Design transformation crucial for next-stage growth

SaladStop! is a brand that has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2009 by father and son Daniel and Adrien Desbaillets. Today, it is still run by the family, has multiple outlets in Singapore and has expanded globally to the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Spain, Vietnam and Japan.

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Some of the staple salads for which the company has become known and loved on its new cloud kitchen concept, Good Food Hood. GOOD FOOD HOOD WEBSITE

Presently, in its 12th year of operations, the company’s management knew that it could not rest on its laurels, especially given the current business climate. "We have grown to four brands, with multiple touchpoints and channels. We used to prioritise our brick and mortar retail-store front, but in order to compete in today’s new landscape, every business has to take an omni-channel approach," says Mr Adrien Desbaillets.

"Our challenge was to provide a seamless experience, offline and online, to our customers that would compete with other food delivery platforms. We [also] wanted to take our newest cloud kitchen concept, Good Food Hood, and run it through the BVoD to stress-test it and refine it," he adds.

Fresh insights to organisational practices and the new business concept 

The first phase of the programme utilises the McKinsey Design Index (MDI), an online diagnostic tool that enables participants to assess and analyse their organisation’s design performance quickly and accurately. McKinsey Design formulated the MDI after conducting a study over a five-year period with 300 publicly listed companies in different countries and industries.

The key results of the study showed how improving design could increase revenues and total returns to shareholders (TRS) substantially — companies which did so exhibited 32 per cent higher revenue growth and 56 per cent higher TRS growth for the period as a whole compared to their industry counterparts.

For SaladStop!, taking the MDI assessment revealed "the divergence of views that we had within our team", says Mr Adrien Desbaillets. "It showed us that design thinking as a mindset and approach has to be actively promoted at every single level if the organisation is going to move in a cohesive way."

Other things came to light. "The assessment also gave us new insights into leadership and HR practices that we had not considered before, and gave us a broader understanding of how design could permeate our structures and processes," he adds. "It really influenced our notion of organisational design and development, which is critical because we are in a stage of growth."

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McKinsey Design experts worked closely with SaladStop! to improve and optimise business performance. MCKINSEY DESIGN

The second phase involved one-on-one consultations with McKinsey Design experts, where guidance was provided in a structured way to help SaladStop! tackle its key challenge of creating a seamless experience for its customers. "It definitely was successful in helping us address what short-term gaps we had, but also providing a long-term perspective in how we could possibly leapfrog to become a design-forward organisation," says Mr Adrien Desbaillets.

The BVoD programme also addressed key concerns surrounding Good Food Hood. "They [asked] some key questions around other parts of the business in order to assess whether this particular model was a relevant adjacency and how it would fit into our general ecosystem," says Mr Adrien Desbaillets. "It helped assess how much resources we really needed to put into this, and also project what kind of gaps we might see moving forward."

The BVoD experience for SaladStop! and next steps for the company

Overall, SaladStop! found the entire BVoD experience to be intense, immersive and effective. Its management and staff appreciated that the programme was structured yet customised and tailored to address an individual company’s unique challenges and opportunities.

In particular, SaladStop! found the guidance that Dsg and McKinsey Design provided to be extremely helpful. "[Dsg] was a wonderful facilitator in helping to keep us on track with programme milestones, as well as to ensure that our goals at the outset were met," says Mr Adrien Desbaillets.

He also felt that the expertise provided was unique to this programme, which was very valuable. "The quality of the advice was fantastic, but more importantly, the quality of their questions stayed with us and will continue to add value as we develop the Good Food Hood concept further," he adds.

Indeed, apart from helping companies work towards achieving specific goals, BVoD leaves its mark by cultivating new design mindsets and processes that are instrumental in boosting business performance.

"One key decision [we took] was that any future project would have clear operating and success metrics outlined at the outset of the brief. This will allow us to guide any iterations and decisions made along the way as we continue to prototype," he notes.

"Another was that we would start to value design thinking and design practices, as well as embed that into our brands. For example, we had never considered applying for design awards before, even though we embed the tenets of experience design in everything that we do."

New year, fresh start

So is it time for you to experience a turnaround in your business? McKinsey Design’s study has shown that companies that have implemented the key design actions consistently outperform their industry counterparts by increasing their revenues and returns to shareholders substantially faster. Hence, the BVoD programme might be just the thing to make all the difference to your company, like it did for SaladStop!. Don’t hesitate — join the companies that have signed up for this programme and jump-start your business transformation journey in the new year.

Due to popular demand, the deadline to complete the free online assessment has been extended till Jan 6, so sign up now. Completing this assessment will give you exclusive access to the BVoD Forum, which will further analyse your results and highlight key design practices that will result in improved business performance. Take the assessment here.

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