Brett and Morenna expand to 4 full time kitchens by connecting with agents via Rezdy Marketplace.

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Taking bookings – a piece of cake with Rezdy

Here at Rezdy we’re very lucky to have some of Australia’s leading cooking schools as customers and partners. Last month, we visited Brett Deverell and Morenna Burn from Sydney Cooking School at their vibrant Neutral bay location. Sydney Cooking School is one of the first successful schools to emerge in Sydney following the outstanding success of Masterchef. They were also among the first to introduce a hands-on approach to cooking classes, making it more fun and engaging for everyone.

Recently Sydney Cooking School experienced a period of quick growth and expansion. They now operate 4 simultaneous cooking classrooms and have more than 30 different classes to choose from. They’ve also branched into the corporate arena, offering off-site team building events for business teams.

With this hyper growth it soon became logistically impossible to manually manage the growing number of resources and bookings.

Using Rezdy, Sydney Cooking School’s data is now centralised and all their processes beautifully automated. They no longer need to jump the hoops to notify students of a last minute change or update. Their Marketplace availability is also in sync with their main resellers such as Redballoon, so there’s no doubling up or booking mismatch.

We chat with Brett about what it’s like to run 4 cooking venues while also finding time to market and grow this unique business.

R: We’re impressed with your facilities – they look like a mini Masterchef set! Tell us a bit more about how you started. How did you get to where you are now?

B: Sydney Cooking School was born about 6 years ago, initially as a very small corporate catering operation and a cafe during the day, and occasionally teaching cooking classes at night. Our launch coincided with the airing of the first season of Masterchef. Suddenly, people wanted to learn things they were seeing on the show. We realised we had to change our whole perspective to satisfy this demand. So, within 12 months, we re-focused on solely running a cooking school. Now we have three kitchens, an alfresco BBQ area and 30 different classes to choose from.

R: Teaching cooking is extremely popular in Australia right now. How do you differentiate yourselves in a saturated market?

B: All of our kitchens are fitted with state of the art appliances: Fisher and Paykel, Breville, Anolon… We have the capability and the resources to offer more than just traditional cooking lessons. On top of teaching any sort of cuisine you could possibly imagine (French, Spanish, Asian, Mexican, Thai, Indian to name a few) we also do dinner parties, hens parties, kids parties, dessert and cake decorating workshops, chocolate making classes and much more!

R: It would be interesting to know what sort of operational challenges a business so elaborate as yours is facing.

B: We need to ensure we keep the classes interesting and the chefs motivated. We don’t want the classes to become a “chore” or just a “job” that they do. We really enjoy teaching people who want to be taught, and when they come to us, they really want to learn to cook, often for the healthy aspect of it. We empower them to go to the shops, buy all the ingredients, cook the food themselves and be able to say ‘You know, I cooked that, and it’s a lot healthier.’

Streamlining our operations is always a challenge too. A business like ours has several classrooms, multiple chefs, timetables and a website to manage on a daily basis. We used to run our administration manually through various systems but once we grew from one kitchen to four we simply weren’t able to keep up. That’s when we decided to implement an online booking system and Rezdy was an easy choice for us.

‘Once we grew from one kitchen to four we simply weren’t able to keep up. That’s when we decided to implement an online booking system and Rezdy was an easy choice for us.’

R: We’re really happy Rezdy’s working out so well for you! Can you share some of the biggest benefits of the implementation of Rezdy into your business or problems you no longer have to face?

B: Before we had Rezdy, both us and our customers had so many steps to go through to actually complete a booking. The experience just wasn’t seamless enough, which is something that’s paramount for a business like ours whose bookings are 99% online. Rezdy helped so much in that regard. It takes the booking, the payment and the confirmation all in one go – it’s the complete package. It centralises things too because everything is now in one place. If there’s any sort of change, one click is enough to notify everybody. It helps us maximise the spaces we have by giving us fantastic flexibility – we can set the exact amounts of people per class and determine simply and quickly how many have booked and how many spaces are left.

Thanks to Rezdy’s real-time availability, this is no longer the case because everything’s perfectly in sync.

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Another enormous advantage for us is that Rezdy’s platform communicates with some of the major agents we’re using to re-sell a selection of our products. Before we implemented Rezdy, people were trying to book the same spots through third parties and our website respectively, which opened up huge room for error. Thanks to Rezdy’s real-time availability, this is no longer the case because everything’s perfectly in sync.

Overall Rezdy does everything we need it to do in order to save us time in a cost-effective way. We did the research, consulted our resellers and found it was perfect for our system.

‘Rezdy does everything we need it to do in order to save us time in a cost-effective way. We did the research, consulted our resellers and found it was perfect for our system.’

R: And how are you finding working with Rezdy’s support team?

B: Rezdy sets the bar really high when it comes to outstanding customer service and this fact played a huge part in our decision making process. We’re really happy to be dealing with a company that’s so support-focused. The team helped us amalgamate all our bookings into one and set the system up properly in no time. I’m a chef and I don’t have time to even begin understanding platforms and putting everything together. Rezdy makes every problem simple to solve and help always comes fast.

But it’s not just the immediate help Rezdy’s renowned for. It’s also the innovation. We notice Rezdy’s constantly working on improving the platform and making it a better experience for users, which is something we really appreciate.

Rezdy makes every problem simple to solve and help always comes fast.

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R: As an expert in your field, what’s your vision of the future of the food industry? And where will Sydney Cooking School fit in all of that?

B: Technology has changed everything. We’ve come a long way from publishing newspaper articles and doing mail drops in the area. People search for almost everything online. Thanks to the Internet we are and will be seeing a huge influx of tourists from the Asian market and the industry as a whole will have to adapt some of its product to suit this incredible growth.

As for Sydney Cooking School, we’ve been approached to open up another cooking school at an overseas location, and this is something we would be looking into as a possible plan for the future. There’s a rise in demand for cooking classes overseas, especially with tourists looking to travel to destinations such as Thailand or Mexico. This is a project we’d be very excited to work on. We’ve got the infrastructure and the right booking system capable of handling such a complex expansion.

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