Chatime uses Deputy to save 204 hours of admin every week ($1million+/year) across its network

  • Australia
  • hospitality
  • Enterprise

At a glance

Deputy helps meets Fair Work requirements
Cloud based system embraced by all franchisees
Saves 204 hours per week across franchise network

The Story

Iced tea is experiencing a massive revival thanks to innovative flavours giving the 150 year old trend a modern twist.

Alongside ever popular lemon and milky varieties you can now enjoy tea infused with fruits like honeydew, grapefruit and pomegranate. Or even chocolate milky iced tea, which is like a mocha that swaps coffee for tea to give it a pleasing kick.

And if you yearn for more, you can add delicious jelly-ish pearls for a bubble (or ‘boba’) tea, made famous in Taiwan during the early 1980s and now enjoyed worldwide.

Leading the iced/bubble tea trend in Australia is Taiwanese iced tea brand Chatime. Launched by Henry Wang Yao-Hinch in 2005 in Hsinchu northern Taiwan, the brand is enjoying phenomenal growth, with more than 1,000 outlets in 30 countries.

They all serve variations of Henry’s favourite teas brewed with the freshest ingredients, packed full of flavour and served over ice.

Given our diverse climate Australians also enjoy a flavoursome variety of hot Chatime drinks in colder months such as Coconut Milky Hot Tea and Chai Latte, plus plenty of iced tea recipes year round.

In less than a decade Chatime Australia has grown to 93 ‘T-breweries’ – making it the fastest growing iced tea brand in the country including 79 franchise venues and 14 corporate-owned stores. Combined, the franchise and corporate-owned stores employ more than 900 people.

We are constantly experimenting, innovating, tweaking and tasting to come up with our awesome new brews.
We want every franchise to be compliant with the fast food industry award. The calculation method is very complex for hours from 7am to 12 midnight weekdays, then weekends.

The Challenge

Lawrence Chen, CFO at Chatime, reports that franchisees would rather focus on their customers and employees than wrangle spreadsheets for the multiple records they need to keep to manage wages.

During his regular visits with franchisees in the capital cities, Lawrence found that many Chatime franchisees were relying on spreadsheets to create schedules and track each employee’s hours worked.

“I can tell you from an operator perspective, they used to do schedules in Excel and then email them out,” explains Lawrence. “A typical franchisee will have six to 10 staff working in a week, and creating a roster from scratch manually could take half an hour a week.”

At the end of each week, each franchisee then needed to calculate wages according to each employee’s various penalty rates.

While some of them made a reasonable job of it, knowledge of Australia’s complex workplace awards was understandably low, and Lawrence found a few franchisees had been given confusing advice by their local accountants.

So he pointed all franchisees to several high profile cases brought by Fair Work against fast food and convenience store chains when explaining the challenges of compliance with Fair Work rules – and the complexities of accurate pay calculations.

“It’s not possible to do the menial work [calculating award rates] because it’s very complex,” says Lawrence. “I gave the franchisees a test case of example questions and no-one got it right, including me. The closest was $1 out and I gave them a prize, but most of them were way, way out.”

The Solution

In early 2017 Chatime began looking for a unified system to help every franchisee improve day-to-day scheduling efficiency, and to properly address Fair Work compliance with all Award calculations overseen by head office.

After an assessment period Chatime selected Deputy in July 2017 and completed rollout to all locations by early 2018.

“The beauty of Deputy is it’s a very simple, easy-to-use cloud-based and data-based system that records the hours correctly,” explains Lawrence. “The benefit is really to have it systemised all in one place, not only for a franchisee perspective, but from us as a franchisor to monitor compliance. Above all we can demonstrate to Fair Work that the record keeping process and best practice is in place.”

Lawrence reports Chatime employees quickly adopted the Deputy app because it makes a lot of day-to-day communications simple and convenient, including:

  • Accessing rosters and confirming availability, or reporting unavailabilities on specific dates (e.g. for family or education)
  • Messaging managers and team members about tasks
  • Clocking-in and out of shifts to record time worked
  • Organising to swap shifts

Franchisees at Chatime’s T-breweries are also saving a lot of time using Deputy to streamline reports and other management activities that used to involve hours of data wrangling.

“My advice to franchisees is to use the system; it really helps to release you from cumbersome tasks like doing manual spreadsheets,” says Soon, a Chatime business partner in Carousel, WA. “Definitely Deputy has helped us lower our burdens and to use that time to plan ahead and do other things that add value to the business. I use Deputy for transferring timesheets to my accounting software to do my payroll, and also linking to my banking. It’s very integrated across three systems.”

Meanwhile at head office Lawrence and his team can analyse reports from each franchisee in Deputy to review performance and identify opportunities for improvement.

Simply having an accurate record of hours worked helps highlight variables in costs-per-shift which once identified can lead to more suitable staffing levels to meet sales demand.

Deputy also includes useful tools such as weather alerts and can integrate sales reports, helping franchisees plan ahead. For example if a cold change is coming, they’ll promote hot tea rather than frozen drinks; and optimised seasonal staff schedules can be copied and pasted to save time creating next week’s roster.

“When you know Deputy well, you just click the button and the roster will just copy and paste,” says Lawrence. “So from a rostering perspective, they’re each saving half an hour per week. We estimate the Award Library [in Deputy] saves 2-3 hours/week on average for each franchisee who previously used Excel. For those 68 franchisees, that’s 2.5 hours saved on calculating pay with Awards, plus half for rostering, so that’s 3 hours each – it adds up to 204 hours per week saved That’s a lot of money [on admin] to be saved: franchisees can make $50-100/hour, so that’s $20,000 a week or more than $1million saved across the network. And importantly, it ensures compliance.”

Lawrence explains that Deputy’s calculations of hours worked tracked to the built-in Awards Library certainly help Chatime stay on top of compliance with awards across the franchise network – there are also benefits for Chatime’s reputation as an employer of choice.

“If you look at Glassdoor (workplace rating website) for instance, there’s been amazing positiveness to say we pay correctly, we’ve got penalty rates. That makes the attractiveness working for Chatime a lot higher.”


Deputy supports our mandate for the franchisee to pay correctly according to the fast food award. That makes the attractiveness of working for Chatime a lot higher.

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