Brothers Jeff and Gil Carlos grew up knowing they wanted to be entrepreneurs, and in 2015 they made that dream a reality with their restaurant The Bro’Kin Yolk. Even the name of the business tells a story: “Bro” for the brothers who run it, “Kin” for the family atmosphere they foster, and “Yolk”…well, they love eggs.
Fast forward six years, The Bro’Kin Yolk now has over 100 employees with three locations in Calgary and a new location in Edmonton. Like many small-medium business owners, Jeff and Gil were impacted by the pandemic, having to pivot with new restrictions and guidelines to keep their business running. “For us, it’s not just about the food, it’s about bringing people together, so when we had to close our doors and move to serving our customer online, it was definitely not something we felt prepared for,” says Gil.
Ready or not, The Bro’Kin Yolk’s online orders more than doubled in the early days of the pandemic, which required them to upgrade their internet connection, and invest in strong in-store WiFi and network security tools. And when doors opened again, managing capacity became their top priority. “Our waitlist system is probably one of the more trusted systems in our company,” says Gil. “We train our team on the actual accurate wait times, so if we tell you your wait time is 45 mins, you’re getting in at 45 minutes.”
Being able to use the Call Queue feature with Shaw Business’ SmartVoice changed everything for the team. “We use it for our waitlist system—we didn’t have a queue system before,” says Carly Mckenzie, the regional manager who’s been with the company since day one. “It allowed us to help more people in a shorter time span.”
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, The Bro’Kin Yolk, like all other restaurants, had to do away with their traditional menus in favour of a QR code that customers could scan on their mobile device to access the restaurant’s menu. For the brothers, this made offering reliable WiFi through Shaw Business’ SmartWiFi in the restaurant that much more important. “We’re asking our customers to use their phones and their data when they’re with us in our restaurant. Being able to provide them with WiFi means they don’t need to use their data to order from us,” says Gil.
Adapting new business technologies and practices to rebound from the pandemic is not unique to Jeff and Gil. According to a September 2021 Abacus survey of small business leaders commissioned by Shaw Business, 73% of businesses say that being connected and using technology tools has helped their business adapt their operations during the pandemic, and 80% said that they are now in a better position to compete and thrive because of those tools.
“The ingenuity shown by small businesses during the pandemic was incredible. We saw our customers across the country – from shops and restaurants to local charities – integrate new technologies to completely redefine how they interact with their customers,” said Katherine Emberly, President, Shaw Business. “Most importantly, we’re seeing these customers leverage the benefits of this technology to digitize their business, find efficiencies in their operations and help keep their data safe, which will help them stay competitive as our communities reopen.”
A trusted relationship like that gives Gil and Carly confidence when they embark on opening a new location. “We’re very happy with Shaw Business,” says Gil. “Whenever we go into a new location, one of the first questions we ask the landlord is what provider they use.” They’ve even asked properties they had their eye on to make the switch. “We couldn’t run without Shaw Business,” says Carly.
The Calgary Chamber is proud to partner with Shaw Business to feature stories of impact to Calgary’s small business community.