WOW! Factor Desserts
It’s your choice. Chunky chocolate cheesecakes. Tiramisu tulips. Pecan flans. At WOW! Factor Desserts, you’re only limited by how much your stomach can hold. With over 60 high-quality dessert items on the list, there is nothing but delicious variety.
Lead by Bryan Yaakov, President, and his wife Joanne, Vice President, WOW! Factor Desserts began operations in 1982 out of a bakery built in the basement of a house in Alberta. Within the first six months, the Yaakov’s found themselves selling upwards of $20,000 of product every month. Today, WOW! is the leading supplier of frozen dessert products in Canada and is expanding throughout the United States.
A sticky business
Although the dessert industry is scrumptious, it’s also tricky. Few people order a dessert at the end of their meal, so restaurants question the value of having sweets on the menu. Desserts are rarely profitable to restaurants; in fact, after paying for ingredients and the pastry chef’s time, they can actually cost the restaurant money to serve them. Many restaurants have dessert menus for the sake of tradition and expectation, rather than wanting to showcase their pastry skills.
WOW! Factor Desserts is completely aware of this conundrum, which is why they say they’re more than just a bakery. Along with offering delectable desserts, WOW! offers value-added products to help market their desserts to make them highly profitable. The goal is, and always has been, to provide clients with the highest quality products that allow them to increase business profitability through increased sales and return visits.
The company’s emphasis on sourcing and selecting only premium ingredients means products cost a bit more. But the owners agree it’s worth the extra because they produce elegant, upscale desserts that are perfectly suited to the needs of their clients. They also work with clients to provide tools they can use to elevate their dessert sales.
Some of these tools include free dessert menus, printable tent cards for table-top displays, promotional materials and dessert tips for the kitchen staff to make the plating look as appetizing as possible. They way they see it, dessert is the last impression a customer will have of a restaurant, so WOW! Factor wants to provide a memorable experience so people will visit the restaurant again and again.
The decision to provide value-added services was an easy one for the Yaakovs. It was either that or become a low-cost provider. Because the company is a reflection of its owners, they didn’t feel comfortable producing desserts with mediocre ingredients. Both owners appreciate good value and top quality, so the company had to move towards the value-added philosophy. They wanted to continue servicing the dessert market’s upscale, niche. Over the years, WOW! Factor has developed successful marketing campaigns that are used across North America. These strategies have resulted in increased sales for 13 consecutive years.
Only the best
WOW! Factor is an all-from-scratch bakery, something the company is very committed to. “We do not work with premixes because they are loaded with chemicals,” Joanne says. “We use pure cream and butter. We aren’t totally preservative-free yet, but we are about 85 to 90 per cent there.”
The Yaakovs believe consumers deserve better products. For some time, Joanne has been fighting to get margarine off the shelf, so she was really happy when the trans-fat-free trend started.
“I am very health-conscious and incorporate that same philosophy into our business,” she says. “I have felt for many years that manufacturers need to be more responsible for the quality of the ingredients they put into their products. Corporately, we all have a great impact on the nation’s health, good or bad. I have been a voice saying “keep it pure” but the majority have been into quick and cheap instead.”
What’s the most popular ingredient?
When it comes to flavour trends, the dessert-eating population doesn’t seem to waver. “It’s always chocolate, chocolate, chocolate,” Joanne laughs. “We do bring out new things every year with a new twist on the flavour or exotic fruit, but people love chocolate.”
The brains of the outfit
As a husband and wife team, the Yaakovs have learned to capitalize off of each others’ strengths to guide the business in the right direction. As the creative force of the unit, Joanne Yaakov is the one behind the ideas for new products.
Her ability to conceptualize exciting and delicious flavour combinations has lead to the creation of some of the most wanted cakes in the restaurant industry! Joanne is also the head of quality standards—the biggest challenge in a small bakery where nothing is mass produced. Throughout dynamic growth cycles, Joanne has managed to maintain consistency in product quality. Thanks to her efforts, WOW! Factor has been able to secure and maintain contracts with many of the major players in the food service industry.
Bryan Yaakov, on the other hand, is the man behind WOW! Factor’s unique marketing strategies. Early in the game, Bryan knew there had to be another way to sell yummy desserts without sacrificing quality in the process. He realised that incredible cakes are only half the equation in a restaurant owner’s mind—the other half is making money from those cakes. With the right marketing tools, Bryan believes that selling desserts is not only viable but a lot more profitable.