Mojo Coffee is an iconic, beloved New Zealand coffee brand – which is saying something, since New Zealand is a country obsessed and very particular about their coffee. Mojo's first cafe opened in Wellington in 2003 – now they have 34 cafes across New Zealand, plus 4 more in Chicago. Each cafe offers a completely unique experience, all of them elegantly designed to suit the local community.
Pictured above, left to right: Victoria Cramer – Roastery Administrator; Katy Ellis – General Manager; Stephanie Archer – Head of Food
As Mojo has expanded, they’ve constantly been looking for ways to improve their operations. General manager Katy Ellis describes it this way, “When we had 5 or 10 cafes it was one thing, but then it gets much more complex. Our operation runs 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with a lot of moving parts. That’s why we automate where we can, to make the whole operation more manageable and resilient, but also to constantly find ways to improve our high level of service. So when we discovered Upstock, it was a real game changer.”
Stephanie Archer runs Mojo’s central production kitchen which produces and distributes fresh foods to all the cafes in Wellington, “Up until then, we had someone just processing orders, on a full time basis. At that point, our orders were all handled through spreadsheets and emails – along with lots of phone calls and texts. So there was a lot of scope for errors.
“For instance, we wouldn’t find out until the end of a packing service that we were short 40 scones, 5 ham rolls, and so on. Then you have to unravel the problem – it caused endless headaches.”
Katy points out, “That adds up to significant hard costs, in time and salary, plus enormous wastage – if you make 100 scones extra by mistake, they’re just going in the bin. Or, if we’re short on scones, then it’s lost revenue for food we could have otherwise sold.”
With Upstock, order processing times at the central kitchen alone dropped from over 4 hours a day down to less than 15 minutes per day. For Hannah – the woman who was processing all those orders every day – it meant she could go from doing data entry work to a role in HR that was far more valuable to the business, and a much better use of her talents.
Katy points out how, in the coffee roastery, Victoria also uses Upstock to manage the distribution of coffee beans, “We use Upstock in the roastery, the kitchen and at all the cafes, including the ones in Chicago. So when you add it all up, the time and cost savings have been exponential.”
Besides saving time, the operations team at Mojo HQ can allocate the exact products that each store can order, as well as update and remove products instantly, with the click of a button. That gives them precise control and visibility of everything that’s being ordered from all their stores. Plus, each cafe uses the app to order from external suppliers like Karma Cola, Chia Sisters, Molly Woppy and others.
“We control what’s available for them to order. If we’re out of stock, we can remove it from Upstock with a click and the cafes can’t order it. Whereas in the past, the stores would constantly order things that weren’t available, which would cause real problems.
“The staff can only order what we’ve approved, which stops people making mistakes. They’re not deliberately making mistakes, they just see ‘cheese’ but they don’t realise the other brand is twice the price!
“Our cafe managers have full visibility over what the staff have ordered and they can see when the orders have actually turned up. It’s so easy having it all in one place, instead of having to pick up the phone to call someone, send an email to someone else, text someone else.
“For an operation like Mojo, using software like Upstock has a huge impact on our ability to streamline – we gain massive efficiencies across the whole operation.”
Here’s more from our chat with Katy and Stephanie.
What do you love most about your job?
Katy: People. Our team. Our customers. We have a fantastic team who have been with us for a long time and love hospitality. It takes a certain type of person to be in hopso. It doesn’t suit everyone. The people in it are crazy, but good crazy!
Steph: No two days are the same. We’re a large company that acts like a small company, we’re nimble – it doesn’t take a lot to make changes.
Katy: My days are hilarious. This morning I was waiting for a furniture delivery, then I was doing our board strategy, next I’m doing health and safety. It’s such a broad range of everything.
Steph: I’m lucky I get to work with food. It’s my dream job, I get paid to eat!
Katy: In a normal world, we would travel overseas to do tastings of what’s happening around the world. Now we’re keeping it local, so we’ll probably go to Central Otago for our trip next.
How do you manage the stress and uncertainty of the current covid situation?
Katy: It’s been a real tough time in hospitality. We’ve done what we can to cut costs, but we were pretty lean and nimble to begin with, so there weren’t a lot of ways to cut costs. But that’s where software can help – like with Upstock, it can save us a full wage by reducing work, and it simplifies and automates processes across the whole operation, that helps us keep costs down on a large scale, so that makes a huge difference.
What do you find inspiring in hospo at the moment?
Katy: I’m always impressed by the ability for people to create new concepts and new ideas, especially in troubled times like these.
Steph: Hospo often thrives in adversity. It’s a very family orientated, communal, collaborative industry. We’re all very supportive of each other.
Katy: Our neighbourhood cafe is run by a young girl who switched to doing heat-and-eat meals, and it’s had massive demand, they’re doing really well. I love seeing that.
With Mojo, we’re also going back to behaving more like a startup. Things will emerge out of this that will be groundbreaking and transformational, so that’s very inspiring.