How Fireclay Tile Forges Strong Customer Bonds with Salesforce

Fireclay Tile has been changing the face of tile for over 35 years. A Certified B Corp, Fireclay is mission-bound to balance purpose with profit, and its focus on sustainability, local manufacturing, and engaging directly with customers has grown a following of loyal and satisfied clients. When the pandemic forced Fireclay to close its showroom and cancel onsite consultations, Salesforce helped the company adapt its workstreams and find new customers online.
 

33% Increase in Production Productivity
20% Increase in Client Order Timeliness

  • CEO Eric Edelson joined Fireclay Tile in 2009. The company has grown twentyfold since.
  • When Edelson joined, Fireclay was a “small tile studio” running on a legacy database and accounting system. The company initially adopted Salesforce to manage orders and customer relationships.
  • From day one, Fireclay has been committed to sustainable manufacturing, customer-friendly business practices, and delivering the highest quality products possible.
How did Fireclay do it? Here are some learnings your small business can take from Fireclay Tile’s success.
Table of Contents:

1. Unify your technology to support manufacturing and sales.

Fireclay first adopted Salesforce to help organize existing orders and manage customer relationships. In the 13 years since, the company has built virtually every aspect of their operations on the platform. “We run the company — from the first moment someone hits our website and submits an order all the way to when that order is delivered to them — on Salesforce,” Edelson said. In the CEO’s words, Salesforce has become one system to govern all of Fireclay’s needs, including:

  • Customer and order management system
  • ERP for production and inventory management
  • Workstream management at Fireclay’s manufacturing facilities
  • Managing a substantial part of Fireclay’s accounting needs
  • Inbound marketing strategies, including separate email journeys for commercial vs residential customers
  • Lead nurturing to attract new customers

Watch: Fireclay Tile CEO Eric Edelson talks about the power of technology for manufacturing businesses [4:51].

Salesforce has been the tried-and true-thing for the last 13 years that has allowed us to grow and scale.”

Eric Edelson | CEO, Fireclay Tile

2. Expand your customer base through marketing automation.

A self-described “customer first” company, Fireclay uses Salesforce Pardot to build relationships with both commercial and residential customers. Pardot’s flexibility helps Fireclay build and manage separate customer and email journeys for the two markets, which is important since commercial deals are often much longer and more complex than direct-to-consumer sales.

The results speak for themselves: Fireclay’s net promoter scores (NPS) are off the charts. On a scale where +50 is considered excellent, Fireclay has scored an NPS of +80 — a measure of how an overwhelming number of its customers would recommend Fireclay to friends or colleagues.

For a manufacturer to hide behind retailers and wholesalers is a huge miss. This is a big opportunity for us — we can do it really well with Salesforce.”

Eric Edelson | CEO, Fireclay Tile

3. Leverage digital sales to adapt to whatever’s next.

When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the spring of 2020, Fireclay had to adapt. The company’s primary showroom in San Francisco had to cancel all appointments and close its doors to comply with local safety regulations. Fireclay’s tile manufacturing facility in California’s Central Valley was also forced to temporarily halt operations.

Fireclay responded with a combination of executive leadership and strategic investments in technology aimed at keeping the business steady while riding out the pandemic. First, Fireclay executives took voluntary salary cuts to help reduce layoffs. The company also leaned into its distributed sales team and doubled down on its digital investment to meet clients where they were — at home.
 

On the technology side, Fireclay created a COVID-compliant protocol to invite leads back into its showrooms by appointment only. Fireclay integrated the scheduling app Calendly into its Salesforce install to automate the booking process online. The company then invested in Pardot to bolster its digital marketing efforts, and built new ecommerce functionality into its website, while creating a virtual experience to interact with new leads at a distance.

As a result, the majority of Fireclay’s customer transactions are now handled online. The Pardot integration led to a 400% increase in sales leads, while productivity and efficiency on the factory floor are both up, thanks in part to Fireclay’s custom Sales Cloud-based ERP system.

“We have every piece of customer data, product data, performance and financial data — everything is in Salesforce,” Edelson said.

It creates this incredibly seamless experience for us where we’re able to process a massive amount of transactions and complexity all in one place.”

Eric Edelson | CEO, Fireclay Tile
For a business like Fireclay, where virtually every customer, order, production run, and fiscal quarter is unique, being able to track it all top to bottom is priceless. “All of it can be managed through Salesforce,” Edelson said. “It’s really become our system — or platform — of record.”
 

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