I came across Klick Kitchen last year and while the concept was intriguing, the price at the time was not. Since then they have apparently changed it to a free basic service to the consumer/back of the house end and also apparently a basic intro on the vendor end as well.
Greg from Tundra Specialties asked me what my take on KK was. As someone always on the lookout for things that can help my clients I wanted to find out a bit more about the system myself. I was going to write a comment on his recent blog post about it and it started to turn into a full fledged post. TMI
I called Klick Kitchen and Laurie, one of their account managers, was extremely helpful and gave me a demo of both the chefs ordering end and the vendor end.
The system is interesting, from a vendors perspective it offers quite a bit that’s appealing about it, from a chef’s perspective, it has some things to consider.
For vendors, particularly small ones that don’t have a web presence and as well for some that do, but do not have online ordering as an option, this system is a great offering. It does not have any broadliners on it and most broadliners already have online ordering, so offering it would be duplicating already in existence systems.
From a Chef’s perspective, the system seems like it would be good if you were ordering from a broad variety of small vendors, i.e. more 4-5, any less then that then the convenience factor would become a bit less.
While you can request quotes for items and vendors can set up specific pricing for specific accounts, it does take out some of the “beat up the price” factor. As a former chef I liked to hassle vendors when pricing was too high on orders and threaten to order elsewhere. Not everyone does this, but for chefs that like a haggle factor this takes out some of the fun (and potentially the bottom line on your food cost as well, if you are a good negotiator.)
It might take a bit of a steep learning curve to navigate around in the system at first. While I know many chefs are much more computer literate then they were 10 years ago, the time to do this and the availability of computers in the workplace may be an issue, as well as taking the time to learn how to get around in the program.. Many chefs (myself included) do some of their ordering from home, so if one has a home computer with fast net access this is great. Laurie says they are working on a video tutorial walk through, which I think would be extremely helpful.
Laurie had mentioned she thought the system would be convenient for many chefs, who while they may not have access to computers at work, they do have web friendly mobile devices. At the time of this post I had enquired after the fact by email, if there was a mobile friendly version of the site, and had not yet heard back. The current web version is navigate-able by Iphones and Blackberries but could be more user friendly, as there is a lot of touch drag on the page. If there is a mobile friendly version of the site, I will add an addendum to this.
I do think the system has a lot of potential, especially with many of the things it sounds like they are still working on and being implemented, the one major thing that I would be concerned about starting out using the system is out of stocks.
Currently its up to participating vendors to update their out of stocks. There is no date available as to when the last time a price/inventory list has been updated online as of yet (Laurie assured me that is something they will be implementing soon) As someone who orders and likes to know instantly whether something is out of stock, by phone or by live up to date access, until I knew which particular vendors I dealt with kept up to date on their online inventories, I would be reluctant to rely on the system especially for important items. Once you do know your vendor habits, I tend to think you would rely on the ones you knew kept the system up to date. Mispicks and returns still need to be handled the old fashioned way by phone and fax.
When I was cooking the only thing I might order late night, when the odds of getting a live person on the phone were slim, was some dairy and the occasional odd case of produce. The majority of my ordering was done during regular business hours. I know some chefs do all, or most of their ordering last minute and late night and leave voicemails for vendors. My personal feeling about this is if you don’t know what your pars are supposed to be and can’t some-what predict your restaurant’s traffic for the coming time period, then you have bigger things to worry about then having a case of pecans out of stock. For chefs that do have a good idea of their inventories and a good handle on internal trend tracking, the system would be a good time saver to use.
I think overall Klick Kitchen has a lot of potential, Laurie and I briefly touched on, but did not go into the preferred system for chefs and vendors (for which they do charge for) that has additional options available and apparently custom reports can be run. This is something I would suggest individuals investigating the system look into, for smaller restaurants that do not have POS systems, I suspect that many of the run reports would be advantageous for them to have access to.
I will be recommending it to clients in the NY metro area as something for their chefs to investigate. I look forward to seeing what future developments bring to the system.
addendum: There is a mobile site for Blackberry if you use your Blackberry browser to visit the Klick Kitchen site. The iPhone and other mobile devices run directly from the website.
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