Even if we say red and white gingham tablecloths or Magnolia, we think it will be enough. It has been able to make its customers feel comfortable as if they were at home for years, and from the staff to the food selection; We are at COOKSHOP., a very successful chain enterprise that does not compromise on education, hygiene, research and development. Deputy General Manager Selçuk Gengeç told about COOKSHOP. that we have been working with since its establishment and about us. We thank him and wish you a pleasant reading.
Could you briefly tell us about your business? When was it founded, what did you think when you started this business? What is the most important feature that makes your business different from other businesses?
COOKSHOP. A cafe & restaurant concept founded by Ayşe Kazancı on January 18, 2008 as a business in the tourism group of Kazancı Holding, which also incorporates Aksa Power Generation. As a person who loves to cook and even has a book on the subject, Ayşe decided to turn her hobby into a business, so they established COOKSHOP.
COOKSHOP. started its business by creating the pop art line that still continues from the day it was founded, the concept of red and white gingham cover, home cooking that creates serious value, and the environment where people can easily leave their homes and eat.
Not only that, she created a dessert called ‘Magnolia’. Magnolia is a brand in America. But we did it first in Turkey and got the trademark registration. Currently, no one other than us can make or sell it within the borders of Turkey. In this regard, we have lawyers who constantly follow the subject and they manage the legal process.
In early 2019 I am COOKSHOP. I joined his family. With the last two branches we opened towards the end of the year, we reached 19 branches before the pandemic. With my joining the body, we started some changes from suppliers to concept, architecture and operation. When I entered COOKSHOP. as someone who has been working in the food and beverage industry for years, I realized that the care taken by COOKSHOP. is not known enough. Here, vegetables, fruits, meat group, food and beverage group products that most of us do not buy are carefully selected and bought. This is a great value, it needs to be developed further. That’s what we did. In the cold chain, all products are delivered fresh and the meals are prepared in the same way as in our home. We prepare our drinks from fresh mint, lemon and fruit purees. In order to do all these meticulous and hard work; We provide serious and continuous training at every stage from production processes to operations, from sales-marketing to purchasing.
We also do a lot of work in terms of operation and software. We have a loyalty program; The one we run in partnership with Arkhe. We currently have 60 thousand members and we are targeting 150 thousand by the end of the year. We provide many advantages to our members. For example, this month; We sent 4,000 free items. Magnolia, Ice tea or even a pizza, buy a pizza… We saw that some of our guests had not come to us for the last 6 months. By sending them gifts, we wanted to remind ourselves and ensure their return. In order not to incur losses while doing these, we constantly consider the 3 things that I care about the most; guests, staff and turnover. Staff is important because if your staff is good, the customer will be happy and your turnover will be good. On the back side of all of these, there is the hygiene issue, which is even more prominent in these difficult days. We applied for all ministry-approved quality standard certificates and got most of them. We are audited every month and receive these documents. There are very few such businesses. Every month, we add a new audit standard to our organization. Anyone who says they bought all of them is not telling the truth, because there is no such thing. Businesses are audited first and then certificates are issued, a very long process. We manage all of these processes meticulously with all our department officials.
What is the secret of your success? What do you need to do well in this industry? What advice would you give to new entrepreneur candidates who want to enter the sector?
I think the team comes first. We work very collaboratively as a team. When I first came to COOKSHOP. there is a saying I said: the only thing an employer has to worry about is; low success in service and taste. If the leader at the beginning of the job has the knowledge of the subject and has the experience to take responsibility for the job, the rest of the work will already be done. If the leader works, everyone works. Of course, it’s not just that. As our software solution partner, you are very important. The software must be used properly and installed properly, and you are the one who will install it and you will be the one who will steer the business in the right direction. We can only follow our work instantly under these conditions.
There is also the human factor, of course. We watch businesses day and night. That’s why even when a guest complaint comes, we can catch it at the table and solve it instantly. When we catch and solve this at the table, guest satisfaction becomes 90%. Therefore, I recommend the following to my staff; usually eat your meals among your guests, listen to them, you can understand what they want only when you are in them, chatting with them, eating and drinking together.
We do good R&D, we work well. We are not bulky. Large groups often have trouble making quick decisions. When we encounter a problem, we can take action very quickly. We have an incredible training program. All of our staff attend trainings regularly and repeatedly. We have a good communication system. We are in instant communication with our team both via e-mail and dozens of Whatsapp groups. When there is a problem, we can take action instantly by texting on Whatsapp.
What do you think are the most fundamental problems of the food and beverage industry? Corona virus is already a problem. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the industry? Why?
In summary, the biggest problem of the sector; lack of qualified personnel. We organize continuous internal trainings for qualified personnel and carry out studies to increase performance with continuous feedback. This is not an easy thing at all, but only in this way is it possible to be successful.
One of his important problems is that people from different disciplines want to be entrepreneurs. They research, examine, decide to enter the sector and expect a return by putting a money in. But everyone in the industry knows that; there is no such thing. After a new business is established in this sector, the business needs to be financed for at least 6 months. However, after 6 months, it can start to turn on its own. It is necessary to start by thinking that it will work without any return during this time. We see what happened during the pandemic period. It is not possible to predict 6 months before and 6 months after. While we normally plan for a minimum 10% increase in each price increase period, we are currently trying to continue without a hike. So how does this happen? We expect sacrifices from our suppliers and companies. We are trying to strike a balance, be it rent or material supply. Suggestion for those who will do this job; they choose the ones at the head of the business from professional people, and they are very careful when making a purchase in terms of costs. The infrastructure system they have established; they need to be applied with great care from sales screens to stock. Sales screens should be used very well. Great attention should be paid to banderole and personnel costs. So does energy, costs of outsourced useful services, central storage costs. Of course, they should not plan and budget them at the beginning of the month and leave them to their fate at the end of the month… Because the business has come to such a point that you make a good turnover during the month, and you don’t have a satisfactory figure at the end of the month. Success comes from following these processes step by step. In the meantime, it is very important to ensure the appropriate turnover and the appropriate rent balance.
Why did you choose Arkhe? What did this choice bring to your business? Can you evaluate the before and after?
Arkhe was already here before me and was being used. Previously, I worked with many companies, mainly with imported products. As Arkhe is a local company, it is a great opportunity and very valuable for us to be a company where we can get many reporting systems we want, and that it is accessible when we express our demands and that we are praised. We have been working with Arkhe since the first Cookshop opened in 2008. We are currently a brand with 19 branches. At the beginning of 2021, we will open 5 more branches. We use Arkhe in all of our businesses. We are very pleased, especially in terms of sales screens. We do not have a problem in terms of central management. As we are a developing group, we constantly have new demands. Of course, Arkhe also has demands from us. We find the middle way and move forward. One of the most important points here; Arkhe shares the same excitement with us and we are watching the process together. Regarding the changing process, they adapt to our wishes. Apart from us, they transfer their predictions and other developing technologies to our current system. In summary, we move forward in dynamic and mutual communication, solving the obstacles we encounter as a team.
Do you suggest it? Yes, I recommend. Many brands pay maintenance fees in dollars and euros. I recommend businesses operating in this way to contact local companies. Today, as a serious brand, we work with Arkhe very efficiently in our 20-25 branches and we are satisfied.
What do you think is the biggest feature that distinguishes Arkhe from its competitors?
From a commercial point of view, I see Arkhe as my business partner in terms of technology. We have good communication, we can solve all our issues at the table. Sometimes there are problems, but some of them are caused by us in practice. We handled the operations both in our offices and in our businesses to fix application errors. We activate the features of the system. Sometimes all kinds of problems that occur in businesses are considered as related to pos systems. However, in many places, the problems arising from the system infrastructure and cabling are attributed to the company that provides the solution. This is something I have experienced in all my previous experiences. In such cases, the personnel should return by solving such problems on their own. The solution partner company should also determine which of these problems should be solved by the company and which should be solved on its own side, and make improvements by training the relevant personnel. At these points, the performance of the company that provides the solution is revealed.
I think the distinguishing feature of Arkhe is that we speak the same language. Since they only operate in the food and beverage sector, we speak the same language and have the same experience. Thanks to a dynamic and open communication, we can quickly overcome obstacles and move forward.