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Talking Tech: Playing Chik’N

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The founders of new wave fried chicken joint Chick ‘n’ Sours are out to redefine the chicken shop with their QSR concept CHIK’N. Tevalis’s advanced kitchen management and stock management systems are helping them on their journey.

ChikN

Having run a series of successful pop-ups, followed by an equally successful restaurant, David Wolanski and Carl Clarke knew they were on to a winning formula with CHIK’N.

Serving premium-quality fried chicken – burgers, wings and tenders alongside chips, dips, beers and shakes – CHIK’N’s first QSR in London’s Baker Street has been a hit since day one in 2017.

But it’s not just the quality of the food that’s led CHIK’N to attract investors keen to grow the brand to 102 sites over five years – it’s the fact that CHIK’N is an extremely tightly run ship.

Thanks to CHIK’N’s technology partner Tevalis, Wolanski and Clarke are easily able to keep a keen eye on stock management and financial performance, which they believe has been fundamental to CHIK’N’s success (and that of sister brand Chick ‘n’ Sours). Wolanksi says: “Running restaurants is not rocket science but it’s extremely challenging, especially when you want to be in control of your business. Anyone can give amazing hospitality and serve amazing food but you have got to make a business out of it, which means keeping control of ordering, stock control and wastage.”

Chick n Sours_Carl Clarke

When Wolanski and Clarke opened CHIK’N in Baker Street they used a simple iPad app-based EPoS system, but they knew they needed a more intelligent technology solution if they were to take the business to the next level.

They were recommended Tevalis by friends in the industry, and recognised straight away that Tevalis’s technology offered the degree of business control they were looking for.

“Our decision was driven by Tevalis’s stock management system: what we liked about it was that we could really see what our theoretical GP was and how it matched up to our actual on a weekly basis. With the Tevalis system we could really have control of our business and understand how we were performing,” explains Wolanski.

Since introducing Tevalis’s Stock Management solution (a module within the Tevalis Enterprise Suite) along with the Kitchen Management System (part of Tevalis’s On-Premise solution), the business has made huge improvements to efficiency and significant cost savings.

“We place all our orders through Tevalis, so the orders go directly to our suppliers and then when they come in we can monitor them for discrepancies: whether it’s the amount that’s been received or the price, as soon as we put it into the system it flags it up and it works really well for us,” explains Wolanski.

“As much as the quality of our food and the hospitality we give is paramount to everything we do, we also need to have real understanding of the numbers in our business, and all the reports that we can pull out in Tevalis are magnificent for that.

“Now we’ve saved our favourites, we can pull those off on a weekly basis and our managers can really dig deep into them, so before they send the information over to us they have the opportunity to review them and see where their losses are.”

Since implementing the Tevalis Kitchen Management System (KMS) the job of CHIK’N’s chefs has been a whole lot more straightforward, while customers are getting the faster speed of service which is crucial to a brand like CHIK’N.

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“Before we had the KMS there was a lot of talking going on in the kitchen – calling for this, calling for that – but the KMS alleviates all of that because each section has its own screen and can see exactly what they need to prepare to send through to the QC who will then pack all the orders.

“Coming from a restaurant background we’ve never really had screens in our kitchens but this w as an evolution for us – it’s been quite an eye-opener, especially from the point of view of speed because you can see exactly how long it is since a customer has placed an order because of the different colours on the screen. When it goes to bright red, you know you really need to push on and get that order out.”

He adds: “The KMS really empowers our staff – they don’t need to wait for anyone to tell them what to do, they see the orders come in on their screens and they know what they need to prepare.”

And it’s not only in the Stock Management module that CHIK’N can generate some highly useful reports: Tevalis has developed a report for CHIK’N in the KMS which is really helping teams maintain speed of service.

“Monitoring the average order time – from when a customer ordered to when they received it – was very important to us, especially being a fast casual business,” says Wolanksi.

“So it was fantastic that Tevalis could build a report, bespoke for us, that monitors that. Now we use it on a daily basis to really keep track.”

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David Wolanski, CHIK’N

How clever technology has helped fast casual chicken concept CHIK’N take flight 

What piece of technology from Tevalis do you feel has changed the business most and why?

The integration with our loyalty app has helped us understand our customers and their buying habits, which is always beneficial. The use of KMS has also had a huge impact on our operations as it’s not something we have ever used before. It’s helped us become quicker, more efficient and created a calmer vibe in the kitchen.

Having great technology in place requires great planning. How has the process/relationship with Tevalis been to date from an implementation point of view?

We felt very supported throughout the whole process of getting set up. It was well structured and although we threw a few curveballs in there, Tevalis was actually very flexible and accommodating. The trickiest bit was the extensive range of products and ingredients that we have and getting them all onto the Stock Management system. Tevalis was great and helped us through that and it was a really seamless process.

What’s next for Chik’N and your technology? Will you continue to innovate with it?

We’re always innovating and constantly looking out for new innovative tech ideas. We will continue to embrace as much tech as possible to deliver a next-generation future fast food experience. We have lots of ideas up our sleeve that hopefully will soon come to fruition, whether in our next restaurant in Soho or the ones that follow.

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