How Chatime Canada Conquered Spreadsheet Mountain: Case Study

How Chatime Canada Conquered Spreadsheet Mountain: Case Study
D. J. Costantino

By D. J. Costantino

Executive Summary

Region: Canada

Number of Locations: 75 and growing

Business Type: Bubble Tea

Problem: Team management was not consistently being handled across the business. Every location had their own version of the truth when it came to labor costs and productivity. A “spreadsheet mountain”.

Solution: Cloud-based scheduling software. It helped franchisees lower labor costs as much as 13%. And enabled better decision making across the company.

Chatime is a global bubble tea (aka boba) powerhouse. Founded in 2005, the company has grown substantially through franchising to 2500 locations across the globe. From its native Taiwan to the island of Mauritius, Chatime's signature teas are familiar no matter where you are in the world.

One of those franchises make up the 75 Chatime locations in Canada, stretching from Ontario to British Columbia. They've been up north since the 90s, and in 2019, they embarked on a digital transformation. The goal? Doubling their location count. We chatted with David Nehme, Business Systems Consultant to Chatime, to learn more.

Climbing Spreadsheet Mountain

When it came to scheduling staff and projects, Chatime's experience was all too familiar.

“It was just a spreadsheet mountain. Everyone had their own version of the truth,” says David Nehme.

Chatime's corporate team only had access to schedules from site visits or direct communication with franchise partners. Projections weren't done with any sort of consistency. Estimates were all rough. This made it hard for the team to get a clear picture into what was going on across the company.

“We took a lot of guesses to work out where we needed to be,” says Nehme.

Recognizing the need for a centralized team management tool, Nehme and his team set out to find the right tool. And after a few unsuccessful pilots with other scheduling platforms, Chatime found success with 7shifts.

Interior shot of Chatime Ajax

Improved forecasts = smarter schedules

The team started by importing about a year's worth of sales data from their Xilnex point-of-sale into 7shifts to get the ball rolling on projections.

“We were quite amazed at the trends that came out of it because not only did it measure the immediate history, it also measured the same time last year. And the results are absolutely stunning,” says Nehme.

The team got instant access to sales projections based on real, historical data. And those sales forecasts came within 10% accuracy. Store managers were able to make smarter, cost-saving decisions.

“It gave us the visibility and the confidence to say that we can actually make our schedules dynamic and a lot more reactive to the forecast that the system was producing,” says Nehme.

7shifts also freed up time for managers and franchisees to think critically about the business, with the monotonous tasks off their plate.

“We've given [managers] a super brain to tell you what the sales are going to be,“ says Nehme.

Managers are able to take that data and think critically about it—factoring in local variables like school breaks, weather, and events to get forecasts within ±5% accuracy.

And those combined insights have had positive ripples throughout the company.

Chatime bubble tea  1

Impressive results

Liberty Village

Only four months after opening, this new location was reporting heavy losses due to bloated payroll costs. After reviewing the profit and loss statements, Chatime coached the franchisee to track weekly labor vs. sales as well as sales per labor hour with 7shifts. With live access to labor and sales numbers, scheduling got smarter. In four months, they reduced their raw labor cost from 37% to 24%—a 13% improvement.

Graph 2  - Chatime  7shifts results
Before tracking labor vs. sales with 7shifts
Graph 3  - Chatime  7shifts results
After tracking labor vs. sales with 7shifts

Don Mills

This well established Chatime location in Toronto's North York neighborhood was the first to use 7shifts.

The franchisee uses the 7shifts mobile app to track live sales vs labor. Those insights help the store maintain a raw labor percentage in the 22% range. It's simplified the store's operations so much that the franchisee is contemplating adding a second store.

Graph 1 - Chatime   7shifts results

Throughout the company

And it's a similar story across the company, in different locations and with different franchisees. Their King George location is finding positive improvement in labor cost after using 7shifts. Burnaby (Hastings), newer to 7shifts, has seen labor cost percentage reduce week over week in the last three weeks by scheduling based on sales forecast. And the East Markham shop has maintained raw labor costs between 22% and 28% since implementing 7shifts in January.

Enabling great outcomes

WIth 7shifts as a technology partner, Chatime stores across Canada have more accurate labor data than ever before. This singular source of truth helps managers and franchisees keep labor costs and productivity consistent.

“The rewards are returning back time to the manager, giving them greater transparency, giving the head office greater transparency, and then if all goes well, the financial results are just an outcome,” says Nehme.

“[7shifts] itself is an enabler of a great outcome.”

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D. J. Costantino
D. J. Costantino

Hi! I'm D.J., 7shifts' resident Content Writer. I come from a family of chefs and a background in food journalism. I'm always looking for ways to help make the restaurant industry better!