Hawkins Watts

Family owned business Hawkins Watts is a food ingredient distribution firm that has been in business for 25 years. The company represents many of the world’s leading food ingredient manufacturers in New Zealand and Australia. Its broad portfolio boasts over 2,000 ingredients including Hydrocolloids, Emulsifiers, Flavourings, Colours, Minerals and more.


The company’s mission is simple: Provide knowledge, not just ingredients. In line with this goal, Hawkins Watts is transforming its business with one single, shared data source that will enable its employees to work collaboratively, share knowledge and expertise and help solve customer problems.


Hawkins Watts sees exceptional customer service as their path to growth. Cornerstone to delivering this is the productivity of its customer facing agents and food technologists.


In 2016, the team was faced with an all-too-common challenge. The disparate CRM systems that staff in Australia and New Zealand used to access product information were becoming cumbersome to navigate and routine tasks became difficult. The company needed a holistic enterprise CRM system that made it easier for staff to work collaboratively across the region, share information and deliver amazing customer experiences.


“The business of food ingredients is incredibly complex and requires expert knowledge. With one single source of truth, our application specialists will have access to the information they need for developing specialised products and our sales people can engage better and make valuable recommendations to our customers” says Natasha Sabatier, Marketing Manager at Hawkins Watts.


Sabatier, who has been with the business for over a decade recognises that the industry is going through a transformation. The business model is evolving from product portfolios; where sales people sold everything, to a cross-selling model, and capturing product information with all the details readily available to staff in a central location is crucial. “With our old systems, information was scattered across applications,” says Sabatier, forcing employees to hunt for the data they needed. This made both simple tasks – such as auto-generating addresses in quotes and samples customer cards; and complex ones – such as or understanding product lifecycles, difficult.


Hawkins Watts realised they needed an upgraded CRM system that would not only solve basic needs, but build business agility in the longer term. Sabatier says, “Our business has changed dramatically. Today, our New Zealand and Australian operations need to work more cohesively. We need to consolidate our learnings, ingredient information and even customer opportunities. We chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online because it would enable us to have a single system to support our teams on both sides of the Tasman and help us deliver a consistent experience to our customers, suppliers and business partners.”


Implementing Dynamics CRM Online puts all the information staff need in a single, intuitive interface. Information will not only be accessible faster; it’s available in a central location. Sabatier says, “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is easy to configure to meet the needs of our ever-changing world. We want to be innovative and help our customers solve problems and having a central database will enable our food technologists and sales team to serve customers better – whether it is recommending a different ingredient, or using an existing ingredient in a new way or even creating custom blends and flavours. With one single source of data, we will be able to access that data faster, and respond to our customers in a timely and effective manner.”


To build a system that meets the expectations of the business to grow, collaborate and have access to information, Hawkins Watts partnered with Microsoft Dynamics Partner Sable37, known internationally for their CRM expertise. “It has been a complete partnership where Sable37 has really understood what we want to achieve. Their team is excellent, with very strong communication and project management skills, guiding us each step of the way. They used their vast experience in the manufacturing sector to make recommendations that would enable us to get the maximum benefit from our investment in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online”, says Sabatier.


For businesses considering investing in technology, Sabatier recommends choosing a trusted and reliable implementation partner. “We found that we were more confident implementing systems with Sable37. With their practical approach and experienced team, we are set up to achieve our business goals effectively,” she adds.


She also advises that organisations must dedicate time and cross-functional resources to ensure that technology implementations have the best chance for success. “Strong executive support, a team of users and leaders involved in the design process, and a review of processes to find the best way forward for the business are key to user adoption and achieving business outcomes that the business set out to achieve,” Sabatier concludes.

“We're constantly innovating, and we have a culture of providing exceptional customer experience. As we see our business scale, we know that Microsoft Dynamics CRM will scale with us. The partnership with Sable37 has been critical to implementing the solution. Their product and industry knowledge is exceptional and the team has truly partnered with us to deliver the best solution to meet our business needs,`` Scott Hawkins, Managing Director, Hawkins Watts