January 13, 2021
Samantha Johnston

High Road Craft Ice Cream churns up sales with better data

Part of our Customer Spotlight series, featuring brands in the Crisp network and their growth stories.

High Road Craft Ice Cream is a family-run business serving chef-inspired, ultra-indulgent frozen treats. While their focus is always on the product, the High Road team clearly has an eye for growth: the company has held a spot on Inc.’s list of 5,000 fastest-growing companies for five years running. We spoke with Senior Director of Sales Madison Schroeder about maintaining visibility during exponential growth, and how business insights inform everything at High Road from sales strategy to production schedules.

High demand for novelty

Since launching the business in 2010, demand for High Road’s novelty ice cream flavors quickly skyrocketed. The company started out selling to restaurants in the Atlanta metro area, but found that diners were constantly asking where they could find High Road’s artisanal ice creams in stores (with flavors like French Silk Pie and Bourbon Burnt Sugar, we’re not surprised). Today High Road is the fastest-growing ice cream manufacturer in the country, with five product lines (think brownie stuffed cookies and chocolate-covered ice cream bites), several private labels, and a food service arm. And after welcoming Ciao Bella gelato into their product family, the company’s presence expanded overnight to practically every distributor and cold storage facility across the country. High Road’s 50+ SKUs can now be found nationwide at Whole Foods, Walmart, and other major retailers.

Open road, limited visibility

To keep up with rapid growth year after year, Senior Director of Sales Madison Schroeder spent more than 90 minutes per day trying to track sales and get important information to her production team. She was downloading countless inventory and on-hand reports from retail partners, then comparing the numbers manually to past weeks for trend data. “I had 10 different spreadsheets up on three different monitors,” Madison said. “It was a disaster.”

Sitting in an executive meeting, Madison noticed that seemingly simple questions like “Where are our products being sold?” were nearly impossible to answer. And with category review season ahead, getting a handle on important numbers like velocity was an absolute must. After learning about Crisp, the decision was a no-brainer. “I immediately said, we’re signing up for this service. It needs to happen now, because I can’t spend any more time trying to answer these questions.” 

Using insights to drive sales

Madison was always savvy in her approach to retail growth — but it helps to have the right data at her fingertips. She checks Crisp almost every day to track internal velocities by banner, see how sales are doing, and find potential voids in the market. “Now I can just look and see it’s all pulled together in one spot,” she explains. Armed with this information, Madison can talk to buyers about opportunities to promote the product or expand shelf space. In category reviews, she can make a low-risk case to expand coverage for certain SKUs, using sales numbers by geography to call out a product that is already succeeding at nearby stores. “It gives the retailer the comfort to say, ‘Hey, you’re clearly selling well here…we’re going to bring you into more doors,’” Madison explained. 

“Where are we selling our products? Where do we need to market? Where do we need to stock inventory? I couldn’t spend any more time trying to answer these questions.” — Madison Schroeder, Senior Director of Sales

A clear view means greater efficiency

High Road has a broad omnichannel strategy — but in order to manage operations, the company needed one overarching view of sales. With Crisp, High Road’s demand planners can easily manage production schedules based on a single source of truth. They closely monitor trends for their three most popular SKUs to determine when, for instance, their lemon flavor should get another run before blood orange. 

This level of accuracy helps High Road stay lean and lower carrying costs, a must given the challenges of cold storage. “Cold chain logistics are super expensive,” Madison says, “So we need to ask, where does it make sense for us to ship product?” If High Road already has strong sales in California, for example, they can focus on building up trucks in the area. By taking this data-driven approach to resource planning, freight by unit costs have decreased since adopting Crisp.

Even High Road’s office administrator uses Crisp to answer customer inquiries. Pulling up the insights dashboard while on the phone, she can tell a customer where they can find the Bourbon Burnt Sugar flavor in Montana. Madison is thankful not to be the company’s only point-person for business insights anymore. “I can just say, ‘Go check Crisp, and you’ll get your answer there.’”

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