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From suits to scoops: How a big career change created Piccoli Lotti

Staff smiling behind counter of gelato shop

Photo Credit: Piccoli Lotti Facebook

Like many businesses, it always starts with a dream and that was no different when it came to Brian and Chong, co-owners of Piccoli Lotti. 

A homegrown gelato brand now loved by many, Piccoli Lotti has introduced itself to Malaysian gelato enthusiasts since 2017 by serving flavours from the classic pistachio to their famous pulut tai tai.

Their entrepreneurship journey of selling gelato wasn’t easy coming from the corporate world but that didn’t stop them. 

The journey to entrepreneurship

Having spent over 10 years in the corporate world, Chong stumbled upon an opportunity where he saw a huge potential in artisanal ice cream in the Malaysian market. 

And because of his lifelong dream of opening a gelato shop, it didn’t take long for him to quit his corporate job and fly to Italy to become a gelato chef.  

Obviously dessert is something I love from the beginning
but never would I ever thought that I’d go into an F&B industry.

Brian, Co-Owner of Piccoli Lotti

However, it wasn’t the same for Brian, a project engineer who travels around the world wondering if this is the right job for when he wants to start a family. 

This led him to the idea of venturing into the F&B industry, specifically when it comes to making gelato.

And after multiple attempts at learning how to make gelato on his own, he quickly realised that this was something he could take seriously. 

So, what’s next?

Having the right support

How can I tell my dad, ‘Oh dad, can I scoop gelato for a living?’

– Brian, Co-Owner of Piccoli Lotti

Who doesn’t get scared telling their parents that they want to quit their job and do something completely different for a living?

That’s exactly what Brian and Chong felt.

And that’s why they wanted their parents’ support and blessing to ensure that both their decisions were not made on a whim. “Basically have to convince them (the parents) as if I’m going to convince any investor.” Chong shares.

Because having the right support means having the right people cheering you on every step of that way.

That’s what will keep you going.  

From competitors to business partners

Although Piccoli Lotti opened in 2017, Brian didn’t join until about a year and a half later. 

That’s because Brian and Chong were initially competitors in the market but would always have friendly chats about their businesses, whether that was visiting each other at their store or dropping a simple text.

So when Brian left his business, Chong decided to take the opportunity and approached him to become his business partner at Piccoli Lotti. 

The rest was history.

Standing out in a saturated dessert market

Photo Credit: Piccoli Lotti Facebook

There’re over a hundred dessert places in Malaysia, let alone in the Klang Valley.

How do you think all of them stand out against each other?

The answer? It’s their understanding of who their customers are.

The average Piccoli Lotti customer ranges from kids to the older generation. And because of that, Brian and Chong created a huge variety of flavours from Arabica Brasil, Chrysanthemum with Cacao Nibs to even classic flavours like Salted Caramel and Pistachio.

Because they believe that there’s a gelato for everyone and that it’s an important part of every customer’s experience from the moment they walk into the store.

Knowing your customers

However, customer experience doesn’t just stop there.

Chong believes it’s important for any successful business to use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that helps identify their customers and their purchase behaviour to retain them. 

And one of the many ways to do that is by communicating with them outside of the store through an automated SMS marketing tool like StoreHub Engage.

With StoreHub Engage, you can easily send out SMSes to keep customers coming back to your store.

And the best part? It takes less than a minute for you to set up the following campaigns:

  • Cashback Reminders: remind customers to claim their cashback.
  • Birthday Promotions: show your customers some love on their special day with a voucher.
  • Win Back Lost Customers: automatically send SMSes to customers who haven’t visited your store in a while.
  • Custom Campaigns: got a new product or launch soon? Let your customers know by sending them a personalized SMS.

To know more about StoreHub Engage, you may watch this quick video below:

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Scaling any business is not easy, even when you have the perfect business partner.

Piccoli Lotti always strives to ensure that their quality and customer trust are maintained when expanding their business. 

And there were many times when Brian and Chong felt like giving up so they asked themselves, “When did we get into this? How did we end up here?” 

What always brings them back is reminding themselves of the values behind starting Piccoli Lotti and the difference they want to make in the F&B industry. 

Want to get the inside scoop on Piccoli Lotti’s journey? Check out the full video below:

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