The only constant is change, be flexible. You may think you have things figured out ahead of time, but often in the real world things will need to be adapted on the fly. Your wonderful ideas may not pan out as expected. Adapt, pivot, refine, and keep trucking.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Philip Gomez.
Philip Gomez is the co-owner of Patty’s Cakes & Desserts, an award-winning, family-owned bakery in Fullerton, California. After taking his previously company public, he joined his mother’s business in 2010 and helped her open her first brick-and-mortar location. Today, he is responsible for growing and scaling the family business.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in Fullerton, the same city where the bakery is located. I grew up with 2 brothers and we were always active, playing sports and riding bikes. In high school, I wrestled and worked as a car stereo and alarm installer in the same building that the bakery now resides. You might have seen my brother and me in a viral video a few years back riding a jet ski up a flooded street in Fullerton.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Do today what others don’t to have tomorrow what others won’t.” Out of high school, I was itching to make things happen and get ahead in life. A lot of people would talk about doing big things, but few would do them. I put my head down and went to work. While my high school friends partied in college, I worked seven days a week building a prior company. Years later, that company sold, and I was paid handsomely. I was able to buy and completely remodel a house and enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I am too sleepy or active to read so I gravitate towards audiobooks.The first personal development book I listened to was “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. The book is a classic and the narrator had a grandfatherly tone. The concepts and the examples are straightforward and easy to apply. I immediately used them in my daily life and saw instant results. It was exciting and hooked. I felt like I found a secret level in Super Mario. The book opened up my eyes to a whole new world of education that continues today.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Before COVID-19 hit, our business averaged 100 delivery orders each month. Delivery was nice to have, but not a huge driver of sales. We were using a third party delivery company and they were OK, but not great.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
Deliveries exploded when the pandemic hit. We starting averaging 350 deliveries a month. Right when we were at our peak, the third-party delivery company shuttered their operation. I knew I had to act quickly and create a direct-to-consumer solution to maintain this integral aspect of our business — one that became increasingly essential as we California was forced to cease indoor operations and large gatherings. So, I decided to launch our own delivery fleet and built a fully integrated ordering system, which provides our customers with up-to-the-minute notifications on the status of their deliveries. Streamlining the ordering process and bringing the delivery component in-house allowed us to double our delivery radius from 12 to 25 miles and increase revenue, all while passing along added savings and peace of mind to our Patty’s Cakes customers! This challenge was a blessing in disguise because it forced us to pivot and we created a solution that gave our customers top-notch service and peace of mind.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
The previous delivery company emailed me stating that they were ceasing operations. There was 10 seconds of “oh no!,” followed by a surge of energy to pivot and find a solution. It was my opportunity to take control and smooth out the many pain points I had with the previous company. Within a day, I was signed up for demo’s of platforms and started testing integrations.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Pivoting to a system that leverages technology has allowed us to reach new levels during the pandemic. Our delivery orders are now up 350–400% and our customer satisfaction is at an all time high. We are also able to reach a much broader audience which will snowball into more business over time.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have two longtime friends, a fellow entrepreneur, Liu, and Eddie, a web programmer. On a peer-to-peer business call two years ago Liu called me out on how my previous online store was terrible and was limiting my business. My rationale for keeping it was flawed, and I needed to find a better system. He was right. It was an ah-ha moment. After the late-night call, I immediately dove in and researched the plugins that would allow me to convert an e-commerce site to fit my business. Within 20 minutes, I had my answers. I was pumped, excited for the future. Now I needed to get to work. That is when I called Eddie. Eddie had already worked his magic building a custom reporting software for us that is a huge time saver. I ran my new ideas by him and he was confident we could pull it off. Between my ideas and his brilliance behind a keyboard, we built a custom integration into my POS and other software systems that streamline a massive amount of our workflow. Reducing staffing, eliminating errors, reducing operational friction, and allowing us to scale business at any time, which is exactly what happened when the pandemic hit. Orders pounded in and our systems handled it with ease.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I can’t think of an interesting story, and this may seem boring but from a business that started with myself and my Mom, it was a cool moment. During the pandemic, we bought a Ford Transit Connect van to handle our demand for deliveries. Since we bought one, I see them everywhere. While running errands one caught my attention. I took a double take and realized it was our van, in the wild, making rounds. That was cool!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Employees are great, treat them well, appreciate them, but don’t get stuck on them. There are plenty of other people out there that can replace them. We have had dozens of employees over the years. I am grateful for their time and work. Some were harder to see go than others. As bummed as I was to see some leave, we have new employees that have come in and exceeded their skills, abilities, and attitudes. Embrace the change of people.
- Be frugal, but pay for software that will make your life easier. Software runs 24×7. If it’s monthly cost is easily paid for with a few hours of work, buy it. I spend thousands of dollars a month in software but I also save thousands of dollars a month in labor. Labor calls out sick and chooses when to be productive. Software runs all time.
- Get software that links to other software. Aka, don’t buy an island, get a landlocked state. A state that can connect to the US highway system and can connect with you other cities and states. These connections will allow you to move data around and reduce manual labor by your staff, enable automation, and reduce errors.
- The only constant is change, be flexible. You may think you have things figured out ahead of time, but often in the real world things will need to be adapted on the fly. Your wonderful ideas may not pan out as expected. Adapt, pivot, refine, and keep trucking.
- Not all marketing is created equal. Sure Google, Facebook, and Instagram ads are popular, but will they work for your business? In my business, people socialize in social media and they buy in search. The numbers don’t lie. Be flexible and adapt, see #4.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
My main strategy: Ride my bike. I grab my road bike and hit the pavement every Sunday and some Mondays mornings. Two-six hours, 40–100 miles. Up the coast and down the coast or mountains. Exercise, sunshine, adventure, fresh air, conversation with friends, and the feeling of accomplishment. It’s the best reset button.
Aside from riding, I stay on a similar sleep cycle seven days a week to keep a rhythm. I nap on the weekends, eat healthy, find at least one night a week to catch up with friends and unwind.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Use empathy, from the business and consumer’s perspective. We cannot make everyone happy, and we are human; mistakes will happen. A business that understands the needs of their customers and a customer to understand what it takes for a business to provide that product and/or service will together flourish.
My staff and I screw up from time to time. It happens, we’re human. Those that feverishly hack at a keyboard writing a negative review, walk away with time and money lost and nothing to gain. However, the customers that understand and inquire with us about the issue with empathy, and give us the opportunity to make it right, end up with a positive experience. The same applies when customers screw up. Empathy is a win-win.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
After just listening to his new book, I would say Barack Obama. Outside of political views, his ability to break down a problem, understand it, tactfully communicate, and lead is astonishing. On top of that, his humility and drive to make the world a better place are a few traits we could all learn from.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can connect with us online at pattys-cakes.com and on Instagram at @pattys.cakes