- Business: Chef in My Kitchen, Untamed Chef
- Location: Chesapeake, Virginia
- Interesting Fact about Mary Cook: She has five children.
- Interesting Fact about Untamed Chef: Mary’s maiden name is Tame, which is how she came up with the name for her second business.
Mary Cook started a culinary business after she was laid off during COVID. At first, Mary kept track of employees’ hours by writing them down or texting her employees, then inputting those into an Excel spreadsheet. But the process was time-consuming and prone to errors. After Mary found ezClocker, she saves hours each week that she can invest into her business so that she can reach her big goals.
A Courageous Move
When Mary Cook was laid off from her job teaching at Culinary Institute of Virginia because of COVID – with five kids to support – she had to get creative. Figuring that people still wanted restaurant-quality food while restaurants were closed, she started her first business, Chef in My Kitchen. She offers private catering in people’s own homes for anywhere from two to a few hundred people at a time. She had never wanted to start a business, but “the fear of not being able to support your family and feed your kids makes you do things that you’ve never thought you would do,” she says.
After the success of her first business, Mary started Untamed Chef, offering hands-on cooking classes as well as monthly chef table dinners where Mary demonstrates how to cook a multi-course meal, paired with wine or cocktails. As COVID has winded down, she’s also started offering corporate team-building events.
Employees would get their paychecks and alert Mary that there were hours missing. “It made me feel bad as an employer,” she says. “This is somebody’s livelihood.”
Time-Consuming and Error Prone
At first, Mary only had a couple of employees. To keep track of hours, she would either write down the employees’ clock-in and clock-out times or she would have them send her a text with the information. Then, she would input the hours into an Excel spreadsheet. But as her businesses grew, keeping track of the hours became more challenging. When employees ran work errands like stopping at the store, she wanted them to get paid for those hours. But keeping track of that was hard to do. She would have to send the times to her employees and ask if they were accurate. “It just became a lot harder than it needed to be,” she says.
Sometimes, when Mary had pop-up events that weren’t originally on the schedule, she would neglect to put those times into the spreadsheet. Employees would get their paychecks and alert Mary that there were hours missing. “It made me feel bad as an employer,” she says. “This is somebody’s livelihood.”
Her original time-tracking method was also time-consuming. Mary had to spend at least three to four hours on payroll each pay period looking at the schedule, going back through texts and emails, and asking employees what time they had arrived. “There were so many conversations that needed to be had in order to get the right information,” she says.
Mary also wanted employees to be able to check their own hours, check their schedules, and keep track of how much their paychecks would be each pay period. She knew that she needed a new solution.
Mary downloaded ezClocker and found that it was the most user friendly of all the apps she had tried.
A User-Friendly Solution
Mary went online and looked up payroll apps. She downloaded a couple of them and discovered that they were not easy to use. She wanted all of her employees to be able to use the app, even ones that weren’t technologically savvy. Then, she found ezClocker. She saw that the app had a 4.8-star rating. “That was impressive,” she says. She also read in reviews that it was easy and efficient. She downloaded it and found that it was the most user friendly of the apps she had tried.
Mary started with a free version of ezClocker and liked it immediately. She likes that the app doesn’t have too many tabs. When you open it, all you have to do is hit “Clock In.” She also likes the GPS feature because it allows her to see when employees ran errands for the company before work. Now, when an employee clocks in early, she knows why.
“I’ve found that ezClocker has been incredibly beneficial. It really helps me to stay organized and helps my employees to know what days they will be working so that they can plan accordingly.”
Staying Organized with Great Features
Eventually, Mary wanted more features – like inputting schedules and having employees’ request time off through the app. So, she signed up for the paid version. “I’ve found that it’s been incredibly beneficial,” she says. “It really helps me to stay organized and helps my employees to know what days they will be working so that they can plan accordingly.”
Plus, she’s able to operate both of her businesses under one ezClocker account. All she has to do is keep track of which events employees work using the notes feature.
Mary also likes that she can input a location for the shifts as well using notes. In notes, she can include things like required uniform for the event and any additional items that they need to bring. “It helps me make sure that I’m transmitting the information to the employees that they need,” she says.
When it comes time to do payroll, All she has to do is download the payroll sheets and send them to her accountant. “I love that it calculates everything,” she says.
Mary has even found a creative way to use ezClocker. She has a chef who rents out her kitchen and pays her by the hour. Using the app, she can keep track of the hours that he needs to pay her.
“ezClocker is absolutely a time saver. Time is money.”
Aiming for Big Goals
With ezClocker, Mary saves three to four hours each pay period that she used to spend on payroll, plus the countless time that she spent keeping track of hours throughout the week. Now, it takes her about fifteen minutes. “ezClocker is absolutely a time saver. I run the report, I check through the report,” she says. “It’s really easy to go in there and change hours and fix things.” Plus, “time is money,” she says.
The time and money that Mary saves she’s able to reinvest into the business. She wants both of her businesses to continue to grow. In five years, she hopes to have multiple locations of her cooking studio open. And one day, she’d love to see her business franchise. “There’s such a need and a want in the community for it,” she says.
With ezClocker, Mary is one step closer to that goal.