Together with the pandemic, James Jackson Leach had to close the doors to his family’s butcher shop

Together with the pandemic, James Jackson Leach had to close the doors to his family’s butcher shop. Next thing he knew, they had been getting more orders than they could manage. He turned to applications to remain afloat.

Longhorn Meat Market was in James Jackson Leach‘s family since 1892. After 128 years, the business isn’t merely a butcher shop but a longstanding part of the local community in Austin, Texas.

“We have clients who were shopping with us for 50 years in this place,” Leach said. “We enjoy that.”

The store has a reputation to keep and continues to hold itself to the criteria it had been founded on: great, old-fashioned customer support and hospitality.

When Leach took over the firm in 2017, it was running on a paper ledger system that functioned, with 70 percent of its earnings coming from wholesale and 30% from retail. Since Longhorn was well-established from the community and relied heavily on in-person customer support, it didn’t require technology. Clients entered and told the butcher what they needed, and the butcher filled the order.

Everything changed when the pandemic not only pushed Leach to shut Longhorn’s doors to stop the spread of this novel coronavirus but also triggered restaurant closures across the city, reducing wholesale orders.

Unexpectedly, Longhorn’s no-frills,”old school” business approach collapsed, and Leach knew he needed to pivot–and fast –if he wanted to survive the catastrophe.


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It required Leach 30 days to discover a solution that finally transformed his organization, allowing Longhorn to not only survive but grow 27 percent regardless of a catastrophe, while staying true to the century-old values.

Here is what Leach didn’t pivot his company to eCommerce and how applications can help transform your company too.

4 steps to transform your company in the face of disruption

1. Pivot and (if at first you do not succeed) pivot again

Leach explained that at the start of the pandemic, every day felt like a pivot. Clients were lined up outside the building and had to wait for two hours to receive their orders, which was unsuitable for him.

“We knew we needed to change how we operate to be able to provide the clients what they want more quickly so that they could get on with their lives and back home with their families,” Leach said.

He tried taking orders by telephone, but the phones rang nonstop, which makes it impossible for his team of 17 to answer every call. He then switched to email, but this proved to be worse than the telephone system.

“Email was a back and forth, and it turned into a nightmare of a conversation back and forth to meet a single customer,” Leach said.

Taking orders by telephone and email was not working, but Leach did not give up–his family’s company and heritage were at stake. He chose to pivot once more to eCommerce applications, which he says was the best decision he ever made and was the trick to Longhorn’s continuing success.

What you can do: To determine what works, sometimes you will need to work out what does not. Some companies may choose to adopt a telephone system while some select email or an eCommerce platform. Irrespective of which you choose, applications can help.

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2. Software is the friend–and so are peer reviews

Leach always thought about breaking into eCommerce, but never acted on it. The challenges posed by the pandemic, however, gave him the push he needed to go electronic.

He chose to investigate eCommerce solutions, relying heavily on peer reviews to notify his choice. These testimonials were his ally as he investigated and compared different tools before picking Shopify.

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“It was only when I awakened the next morning [I] realized that this could change everything for our firm,” Leach said.

Along with the decision to digitize Longhorn Meat Market did, in reality, change everything. Longhorn Meat Market has since managed to attract new clients, capture data that helps it better understand its customers, and increase its earnings by 27%.

Software can help you transform your company, too, but you will need to be sure you adopt the ideal solution that meets your business needs. Peer reviews can help.

What you can do: Researching software can be overwhelming with all of the choices out there. Peer reviews help you cut through all of the noise to get the solution appropriate for your company and build your ideal tech stack.

3. Take 1 step at a time

Dramatically changing your business might appear overwhelming, but you do not need to make all the changes at once.

While it’s true that Leach took his company online overnight, he did it slowly, starting with just four options for eCommerce clients to select from.

By starting small, Longhorn Meat Market was able to slowly acclimate to eCommerce. Now, Longhorn Meat Market provides over 100 items for clients to select from on its site.

Similarly, you can begin with a limited range of your bestsellers, and work your way up from there.

What you can do: Change might have to be fast but it may also be gradual. Pick the products and services most important to your clients, and begin from there.

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4. Reimagine your company offerings to maximize what is possible

Adopting eCommerce applications was something completely new for Longhorn Meat Market, but Leach also considered something else which could be readily implemented: supplying home deliveries.

Longhorn Meat Market has been supplying wholesale shipping for decades, therefore Leach thought: why not provide clients home deliveries in light of social distancing recommendations?

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They deliver to clients throughout the city, expanding access to their company to more neighborhoods in Austin.

What you can do: Some modifications can be adaptations of services you already provide, based on client requirements. By way of instance, if you provide food delivery to some customers, expand this service to more areas and customers. Should you sell a few products through eCommerce, consider adding more products for your clients to pick from.

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‘We are never going back’

Moving ahead, Leach forecasts his next challenge will be finding the balance between eCommerce and brick-and-mortar operations as constraints wane. Because of the influx of new clients, Leach says he is looking into CRM applications to better manage relationships with new clients and keep providing high-quality customer support.

Capterra can assist you in finding the ideal software tool that suits your business needs. Our directories are filled with peer reviews of different solutions and make it possible for you to compare various choices.

Whether you are trying to completely transform your company or improve a particular business process, recall: You have got this. And we have got you.

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