Schratter Foods, Inc Case Study
Mitel VoIP offers crème de la crème communications to French cheese importer Schratter Foods
Legacy PBX couldn’t accommodate growth
As international specialties have appealed to more taste buds in recent years, Schratter’s growth exposed new and pressing telecommunications needs that the company’s legacy PBX system simply couldn’t meet.
Automated call handling and lowcost routing
Schratter Foods, which sells the Ile De France brand along with many others, is owned by French cheese exporter Bongrain SA, and operates a New Jersey headquarters and five regional office and warehouse locations in New Jersey, Miami, Houston, and Los Angeles.
Without a central call center, and full-time receptionists available only at the Florida and New Jersey locations, some calls never reached their destinations—potentially losing customers and threatening to sour the company’s time-sensitive distribution network.
Further, every change and addition required complex and time-consuming programming. And because the company’s PBX was not IP-based, it couldn’t be integrated into Bongrain’s global WAN to take advantage of voice over IP (VoIP) low-cost calling and unified communications (UC) features.
“Our previous system was already costly to maintain, and we were concerned that extending the system’s footprint would similarly multiply costs,” says Jude Hennessey, Schratter’s IT operations manager. “It was clear that a fresh approach was needed so we could quickly add new locations and extensions, automate call handling and routing, and integrate seamlessly with Bongrain’s WAN, all without significant cost and effort.”
Schratter evaluated the costs and capabilities of three different systems before selecting the Mitel UC system. “The closer we looked at Mitel, the more we liked what we saw,” explains Hennessey. “One vendor wanted to replace our network switches and hardware to put in their equipment; they did not want to run with other vendors’ switches. Another vendor’s system had a large footprint and its expansion capabilities were limited by the equipment.”
Hennessey and his team were also impressed with the scalability of the Mitel UC system. “You can see that it was built from the ground up for growth and change,” he says. “The system’s distributed architecture makes expansion easy—you just add another switch to the network. There’s no complex reprogramming or downtime.”
A communications culture that grows on demand
The Mitel UC system was installed first at the new corporate headquarters, followed by deployments in the Miami, Los Angeles, and New Jersey warehouses, and another in the Texas facility.
Mitel’s ease of implementation was important to Schratter to avoid disrupting its time-sensitive distribution network. “The most time-consuming task in setting up a new office is waiting for the phone company,” says Hennessey. “As it turned out, in our new 20-phone Katy, Texas office, the Mitel phones were up and running way before the data connections were ready.”
Shortly after the Mitel UC system was installed, Schratter staff noticed immediate operational improvements as a result of streamlined communications. “It’s now easier for callers to find people through the directory, during or after hours.
Customers can direct the main operator to transfer them to any site in the company,” explains Hennessey Mitel’s flexibility is one reason. “The system adapts to the way each staff member interacts with a phone—not the other way around, and it was very easy for users to learn,” says Hennessey.
“IT WAS CLEAR THAT A FRESH APPROACH WAS NEEDED SO WE COULD QUICKLY ADD NEW LOCATIONS AND EXTENSIONS, AUTOMATE CALL HANDLING AND ROUTING, AND INTEGRATE SEAMLESSLY WITH BONGRAIN’S WAN, ALL WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT COST AND EFFORT.”
Jude Hennessey, IT Operations Manager
Schratter Foods, Inc.
“Mitel Communicator lets users set up all their call-handling preferences right there, in one place,” says Hennessey. “Everything is basically ‘point and click’ —dialing from an online address book, creating conference calls, transferring people to voicemail. All of these features have helped our staff improve customer service and work more efficiently.”
Benefits that add up to a cash cow
Hennessey has been able to free up precious IT staff time because of Mitel’s ease of management and configuration. “The Mitel Director interface is very simple to use, and it only takes a few seconds to add new users,” he says.
The Mitel UC system targets another Schratter mission: efficient, responsive service for customers and vendors. It’s easy for Hennessey’s staff to tailor call handling to meet specific requirements for every user. For instance, one employee wanted to be able to monitor the reception hunt group so he could answer the phone if no one else picked up.
Hennessey and his team have also set up a helpdesk call group to improve responsiveness to employees throughout the company. Calls to the IT department ring multiple phones to ensure each call is answered quickly, something the legacy
phone system couldn’t do.
In addition to magnifying service and efficiency, the Mitel UC system also delivers measurable benefits to Schratter’s bottom line. Savings on long-distance calls alone is significant. “We’re saving between $200 and $300 a month just on interoffice calls between New Jersey and Miami,” says Hennessey.
A reliable recipe for growth
Schratter also saves on maintenance and outside services—both costly and time-consuming tasks. “We no longer need a third-party vendor to come out to each site to make changes,” Hennessey explains. “I can handle changes for all locations from a single screen, through any Web browser— even if I’m working from home. It’s much faster. The phone is set up by the time a new employee starts, and since the system is so easy to learn, they can be productive almost immediately.”
“SHORETEL HAS GIVEN US A PLATFORM FOR GROWTH THAT ENABLES US TO EXPAND TO MEET OUR INTERNAL AND MARKET NEEDS. WITH A GEOGRAPHICALLY DISPERSED TEAM AND WAREHOUSES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, IT’S IMPORTANT WE HAVE A SYSTEM THAT CAN SUPPORT OUR OPERATIONAL NEEDS 24/7.”
Looking ahead, Hennessey would like to integrate the Mitel UC system with the company’s helpdesk call monitoring application TrackIT, to improve efficiency and call monitoring. “Mitel has given us a platform for growth that enables us to expand to meet our internal and market needs,” Hennessey says. “With a geographically dispersed team and warehouses all over the country, it’s important we have a system that can support our operational needs 24/7.”
A move to a new corporate office facility and the need for better communications with the French parent company’s global WAN underscored the shortcomings of the company’s legacy PBX system.
A Mitel unified communications (UC) system with Mitel T1 switches, Mitel Voice Switches, plus Mitel IP Phones distributed across multiple locations
- Robust functionality at a lower upfront investment
- Scalability to accommodate future growth
- 99.999 percent availability
- Cost savings on long-distance calls