Craving some fried chicken? Enjoy some locally infused flavour Korean fried chicken from the cloud!
Founded by Tony Teh and Brian Chin, BokBok Korean Fried Chicken is a cloud kitchen that serves crispy and boneless fried chicken.
What is a cloud kitchen? A cloud kitchen is also known as a ghost kitchen. The concept of the cloud kitchen is basically a delivery-only restaurant. There is no physical space for patrons to dine in.
Join us to find out more as Tony shares how the business was able to ride with the tide during the pandemic, making the best out of it.
Nothing like a satisfying crunch of flavours in the comforts of home!
Could you start with a quick introduction? Share with us about your entrepreneurship journey.
BokBok offers crispy, delicious and yet affordable Korean fried chicken that is uniquely fused with local favourites. Our cloud kitchen is located in Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya.
Founded by Brian Chin and myself, we launched back in December 2019 exclusively on GrabFood as a full fledged cloud kitchen with no dine-in at all. Orders can only be made online via Grab at that time before we made ourselves available on FoodPanda as well. We are also open to onboard any other viable food delivery partners in the near future.
Please share with us the memorable challenges you have faced so far (source/ communicate with suppliers, market your products, employment etc), and how do you overcome them?
The toughest challenge in recent memory was definitely the rider shortage which started from early March until the end of May. Our delivery partners did not have a sufficient supply of riders to deliver orders and so our customers could not place their orders. The frequent rain made things even worse than it was as riders do not usually deliver in rain.
This caused a major drop in revenue which resulted in extremely tight cash flow for those 3 months. It almost killed the business off.
At the same time, two of my most senior employees of the operation team resigned and I had to find proper replacements quickly.
I had to pretty much beg our suppliers, landlord, delivery partners, etc. to allow us to delay our payments. Most of them did not allow it but thankfully, those that did were enough to help us keep the business alive as it loosened up our cash flow a little.
As for the staff replacement, I managed to train one of the remaining staff to be the next leader and also found good replacements via Facebook Jobs within the one-month notice period of those who resigned. This allowed time for the new hires to be trained by them before their last working day.
What does your typical workday look like? How do you keep yourself productive?
It was very hectic in the past as I had to do almost everything hands-on.
In the morning, I had to help my staff with the orders until after lunch time as there were fewer staff for the first shift. Then after that, I have to order stock, do the accounting, make payments, respond to customers online and sometimes offline, liaise with delivery partners, managing our menu on the platforms, quality checking our food, deal with unforeseen kitchen issues, plan and execute marketing (mostly social media), calculate the cost of our food and upcoming promos, manage my staff, salary and many more stuff.
Thankfully, in recent months, I managed to build a team to help me with more than half of all that.
What is/are the marketing strategies you are using right now? What do you look for in an online business?
We pretty much join every campaign that our delivery partners are doing to keep our brand competitive in that space and we use social media to extend our brand presence and to create awareness about our food and what we are offering. Of course, we hope the revenue of our cloud kitchen will grow and continue to grow even further when this pandemic is over.
Compared to promoting your foods on Facebook & Instagram, how do you think online delivery platforms can help your F&B business?
As mentioned above, we join every campaign that our delivery partners are doing and this keeps our brand competitive by giving us extra visibility in their platforms. It is almost like an ad because it costs us to be a part of these campaigns but we see it as a marketing cost.
Restaurants that do not participate would definitely find it difficult to compete or even to be seen on those platforms.
Check out BokBok Korean Fried Chicken Instagram here
What is/are the challenges you will think of hearing about the eCommerce website? Will you be creating your own eCommerce website someday?
I have had experience in creating my own eCommerce site in the past and the biggest challenge for me at that time was learning the basics of HTML, PHP and designing the art for the layout.
We may create an eCommerce website for BokBok in the future to offer catering services for events, gatherings, parties and corporate functions. The website would definitely provide convenience for people to place their large orders. It will also serve as the main place online for people to read about our story and products.
What did you learn from this pandemic? Does this affect your F&B business?
The pandemic actually helped boost our brand and business.
When the pandemic started, BokBok was only like 3 months old. During the first MCO lockdown, our daily orders were more than doubled as it really got people to start ordering on delivery platforms more and they probably did not want to order from the same few available restaurants over and over again. Thus, many of them within the area had given our new brand a try. But also, at that time, there were not as many competitors yet.
It is not as easy anymore in the recent lockdowns.
What are the materials/ support you feel traditional F&B business owners need in order to help them to go online? Knowledge and education? Or Money?
I personally feel that they need support from someone who is tech-savvy. Even the agreements I sign with Grab and FoodPanda now are all digital. I cannot imagine a non-tech savvy F&B owner to be able to do it themselves with ease. If I had zero knowledge with no one to go to, I would not even know where to start.
So if the account managers of the delivery platforms could guide them and at least point them in the right direction, I think it would help a lot.
What has been the most exciting part of the entrepreneurship journey so far?
It is really awesome to know that we have built a business and team from absolutely nothing that is strong enough to survive tough challenges and to provide jobs during this pandemic. It is also great to have received so much positive and supportive feedback from customers and to know that we have loyal customers that would order from us frequently. I find that particularly amazing as we have been serving food to people without actually ever seeing them face to face.
What are your plans for your F&B business? How do you plan to grow it?
We are hoping to expand with more branches after the pandemic and perhaps a dine-in flagship. That would allow us to serve our customers food, hot right out of the kitchen.
Trying to tide through the pandemic posts is a challenge for businesses, especially for new businesses. But BokBok Korean Fried Chicken showed us how we can ride the tide and make the most out of what we have.
Thank you BokBok Korean Fried Chicken for sharing such a motivating story with Exabytes. We wish BokBok Korean Fried Chicken all the best for their future endeavours. Looking forward to possibly enjoying some crispy satisfaction at a flagship store in the future!