Beechwood Doughnuts is a popular doughnut bakery in St Catharines, Ontario, which has been serving delectable doughnuts—from nanaimo to pumpkin cheesecake—to thousands of customers for six years. From paper schedules and lineups around the block, to 7shifts and delivery-only doughnuts, it’s safe to say that Beechwood has evolved a lot in recent years—mostly thanks to COVID.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how Tayler Book, co-founder of Beechwood Doughnuts, evolved her restaurant digitally and physically to get where they are today—making thousands of doughnuts a week for the Niagara region.
A match made in doughnut heaven 🍩
Tayler and her partner started Beechwood Doughnuts six years ago—Tayler, equipped with her business savvy, and her partner, equipped with a love of baking doughnuts.
“We opened the store when I was 22 years old. I was fresh out of university. My partner was really into baking. He baked for a living, and he eventually wanted to take doughnuts and start his own doughnut business, but he didn't really have the business knowledge to do so. I was working as an assistant manager at a small business for a few years at that point, so I had a lot of experience of doing a little bit of everything in a small business, and I really wanted to open a business, but I didn't have anything to sell, so it worked out well.”
Through Tayler’s last year of university, she dedicated all of her free time to figure out how to open a doughnut shop as a young entrepreneur with little money. Six years later, Beechwood Doughnuts sells thousands of hand-crafted doughnuts per day to customers lined up around the block (pre-COVID).
“We're the kind of place where people would just walk by and go, ‘Oh, what are you waiting in line for,’ and it would be a conversation starter, and people would just jump in the line, so like, ‘We want to see what this is all about.’ We've always been completely takeout, so it wasn't a situation where you could come and sit and eat, but I think people just waiting in line with other people and talking to other people and making conversation, making friends in the line, that was exciting for people. So many people would come from out of town specifically for us, and they'd be like, ‘I waited half an hour in the rain,’ or, ‘I drove four hours,’ or, ‘I had somebody send this to me on a flight.’ People treat it as an experience.”
A paper scheduling nightmare to a digital dream 📆
Beechwood Doughnuts, like many small restaurants, started out by scheduling with pen and paper. While a week’s schedule would start out as a clean new sheet posted in the back office, it would quickly become covered in scribbled notes and updates on who could and couldn’t work. Communicating the new schedules was another logistical nightmare. Book found herself texting pictures of the staff schedule to employees day-in and day-out.
“I basically just had a spreadsheet and I would just put in a start time, and then if somebody's shift changed or if somebody was running late or anything like that, it would just be crossing it out and rewriting it on the sheet...it was a pain. A lot of the staff would text me asking, "Can you take a picture of the schedule? I'm not in today. Is the schedule up? Can I see it?" I'd be constantly taking pictures of the schedule and seeing if anyone else has a picture and doing all that extra, and it's like it'd be easier if it was just digital.”
When one of her team members suggested taking a look at 7shifts, Book recognized right away how much time it would save her to make the transition to digital scheduling.
By transitioning to digital schedule-making and communication with 7shifts, Book only spends minutes per week creating and communicating schedules with her staff—saving 5 hours in total compared to life before 7shifts. From the simple schedule builder, to shifts published right to an employees’ mobile device, Book was able to save valuable time to get back into other aspects of shop management.
“[Now], I basically just copy over the schedule from the week prior, make whatever changes I need. It might take 15 minutes, unless I'm really tired. Honestly, between scheduling and changing shifts and all that kind of stuff, [we saved], at minimum, five hours a week. Your time is worth money, so the price is worth it for the amount that I've been able to save.”
Beechwood Doughnuts hand crafts over 10,000 doughnuts per week, so every minute Book can get back in her work week counts towards better managing her business and delighting customers with delicious doughnuts.
Saving time with templates
One of the features that Book and her team gravitated towards immediately was scheduling Templates, which are a blueprint schedule for your team to load up and tweak as necessary to make schedules in seconds. For example, Book would have a template of their holiday schedule which they could pull up as necessary to ensure their shop was properly staffed for different occasions.
In their time with 7shifts, they’ve made eight different templates that they use to cut down drastically on the time it takes to build schedules for different seasons and occasions. They have even created a COVID-19 template to help them schedule staff to match how their labor operations changed since the pandemic.
Streamlining team communication
Communication between teammates at a restaurant is something that can directly affect staff accountability and team culture. Before 7shifts, Beechwood Doughnuts relied on a Facebook group and text messages to keep in sync with their staff. Book relays that it was a hassle to ensure the staff all had their schedules and visibility on their shifts—she reports that, before 7shifts, she was receiving a minimum of three texts per day from staff about their schedule.
“Just having a central spot to communicate with the staff as well. We were using a Facebook group before. It's fine, but it's nice to have it all in the same place. It's also nice to have a separation...I don't want the staff to feel like they have to have social media to be able to do their work.
Now, Beechwood Doughnuts takes advantage of 7shifts’ announcements and built-in chats to communicate with their team—especially during the height of the COVID pandemic. Overall, Book and her management team make roughly seven announcements per month to keep their staff informed.
“Obviously, nobody really had information [on COVID-19]. Everything was kind of sparse coming in. So I was trying to inform them as much as I could. As a business owner, you're not funneled special information or anything. You get what everyone else gets, which not everyone realizes. But I was so tuned into it because my business and livelihood depended on it so much.
So [we were] watching for any piece of information coming through, any resources that me or any of the staff could use, and posting it through 7shifts. From government programs available to how the business is changing and evolving due to COVID-19.”
Simplifying scheduling & payroll with integrations
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Beechwood Doughnuts leveraged the 7shifts integration with their Micros POS to sync sales and labor data to better inform their scheduling.
“We were using MICROS pre-COVID. That was super helpful because then I was able to see the labor cost in relation to sales.”
Thanks to their Micros integration, they were able to keep their labor costs consistent even while optimizing staffing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another way Book saved herself admin time was by integrating 7shifts with Quickbooks to reduce payroll headaches and streamline their processes. Before the payroll integration, figuring out the payroll from their paper schedules was a major pain, but with 7shifts, they were able to reduce the time spent on payroll to just 10-15 minutes.
“[Before], I just had a gajillion spreadsheets and there was no record-keeping on it. I had paper copies of old schedules in a binder for reference and that was it.
The Quickbooks integration with 7shifts has made payroll a seamless process that I no longer dread doing. With just a few clicks, payroll is done with little room for human error. It saves me from having to manually enter info from one source to the other which in turn frees up a lot of time!”
Evolving the Beechwood Doughnuts concept in 2020 and beyond 🚀
2020 was a strange year for restaurants, and forced many businesses to reconsider their concepts and operations in order to survive (and thrive) a new global pandemic—and Beechwood Doughnuts was no exception. Before 2020, Beechwood Doughnuts had lineups of 30+ people around the block daily. Now, with COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing best practices, they’ve transformed their business model to be pre-ordered delivery & takeout only.
“At the beginning of 2020, I really liked the idea of incorporating delivery and one day advance pre-orders into what we were doing, but we were so ingrained into what we were already doing and the systems we had in place and the lineups we were having that it was going to be so difficult to get people to switch gears and take on this new type of business. So now that we're doing the delivery and pickups only, I think eventually when we do feel it is safe to get a little closer to normal, we're just going to slowly bring back walk-in service but continue to encourage pre-ordering. [COVID has] definitely changed the way that we're going to do business in the future.”
When asked about how the restaurant industry is evolving in 2021 and beyond, Tayler confirmed that she saw delivery and takeout on the rise, just like our study on third-party delivery found earlier this year.
“Delivery was already hot pre-COVID, but I feel like it will be an even larger part of the industry moving forward. Businesses are gaining the opportunity to really focus on optimizing their pickup and delivery options. I am curious to see whether or not businesses will begin distancing themselves from high commission third party delivery apps to seek out or develop better alternatives.”
When looking forward, Book sees a bright future ahead for Beechwood Doughnuts. And that future involves modern tech solutions like 7shifts, too.
“7shifts has streamlined my business and given me time back—more time to focus on the day-to-day operations, the future of the business, and make way too many doughnuts.”
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