Chicken & Blues is a chain of ‘posh chicken shops’ established and operated by co-owners Steve Crawford and Joshua Simons. After noting the rise in popularity of gourmet burgers in the London area in the early 2010s, the pair set out to elevate chicken in a similar way, opening Chicken & Blues in Boscombe, Bournemouth, in 2012.
Today, Chicken & Blues has three busy locations across Bournemouth and Poole, and has won several awards. Its owners have plans to open a number of other branches in the coming years, and are set to launch a spin-off burger joint called Brenda’s Burgers.
With operations at three bustling locations to oversee, co-owner Steve certainly has his hands full. One of the biggest challenges he faced before switching to RotaCloud, however, was the lack of visibility over wage budgets at each branch — a problem that arose mainly as a result of how rotas were planned and distributed.
“Each general manager is responsible for the rotas,” Steve told us. “They all have an assistant manager as well, so normally between the two of them they’d map it out.“
These rotas, Steve explained, would be written by hand before being typed up on a basic template, printed out, and posted on the wall in each shop. While this method worked to a degree, it meant that Steve would not be aware of how much his managers were spending on staffing until after their rotas had been distributed, making it difficult to implement changes.
In need of a more autonomous and visually orientated system that allowed him to monitor managers’ spending while they were still in the process of planning their rotas, Steve set about looking for a solution.
It was then that he spotted an ad on Facebook for RotaCloud...
RotaCloud allows me to be proactive with rotas instead of reactive. If one of our shops is over budget, I can log in from anywhere in the world and it’ll show me — I can make sure we’re actually hitting our targets.
Due to its web-based nature, RotaCloud allows Steve, his managers, and even their staff to access their rotas from anywhere. This has created an environment wherein staff are not only kept in the loop with regard to their shifts and holidays, but are able to be much more proactive when it comes to managing their own holiday.
“We use it across the three sites,” Steve told us. “The staff really like it — they all have their emails linked up to it, so they basically log in, and once [the rota is] published they’ll have full visibility of it, and the ability to comment or request holiday if there are any perceived issues.”
“That’s good because they might be at home — if they didn’t have that real-time view, then they’d potentially have to wait until their next shift or ring the shop, which a lot of them might not do. So I do think [RotaCloud] lets you be proactive with the staff, and for the staff to be proactive with the managers.”
Steve also commented on the positive effect that software such as RotaCloud can have on staff morale.
“We like to be viewed as a market leader in our industry,” he said. “If our staff see that we’re putting in systems that make their lives easier and are moving with the times, then that’s certainly a plus.” His store managers are also quite taken with RotaCloud.
“It’s really nice for the managers because we give them staff budgets to work for, and that’s pretty visual in the bottom-right of the screen — it shows you how much they’ve spent for that week.”
“We’re looking to try to get to a stage where the business works autonomously, with systems in place that make it easier for the staff, but also make everything transparent. RotaCloud is a good tool for the last element of that,” he added.
Finally, we asked Steve whether RotaCloud had solved his initial problem of being unable to monitor spending without having to be physically present in a shop.
“RotaCloud allows me to be proactive with rotas instead of reactive,” he told us. “If I see that one of our shops is over budget, then historically that would have been after they’d already spent the money. Whereas with RotaCloud, I can log in whenever I like, from anywhere in the world, and it’ll show me — I can make sure they’re actually hitting their targets.”
Sounds like Steve and his team will never have to fall fowl of overspending ever again!