From starting small as a baker-cum-chic cafe back in 2014 in Taman Tunku, Kenny Hills Bakers soon grew to additional branches and expanded to introduce sister outlets as well. The business is now home to close to 300 staff and serves Malaysians all over the city including Selangor.
Kenny Hills Bakers currently has presence in Ampang, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Bukit Tunku, Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) and Desa Park City. Another branch off from the parent company includes Nourish in Damansara Heights, and My Humble Bowl.
Formerly known as Kenny Hills Bistro, My Humble Bowl serves Asian favourites such as roast chicken rice as well as their signature roast duck.
Its other sister outlet Nourish is currently located in Bukit Damansara and serves healthy brunches, more plant-based offerings, and their take on some local favourites which includes chilli pan mee. This is in addition to a wide selection of gluten-free and refined sugar-free pastries and cakes.
“When we first started in Bukit Tunku, it was only a small shop selling a limited amount of pastries, cakes, coffees and sandwiches. As the demand and manpower grew, we started serving sourdough pizzas along with more lunch items, and eventually dinner as well,” says Tzi Hua Au, Operations Manager at Kenny Hills Bakers.
Tzi and her brother are currently shadowing their parents who first started the business in 2014. Having been primarily a traditional business, the consistent supply of demand from a loyal base of customers allowed the business to grow without a big digital implementation into their operations.
However, with the pandemic, Tzi and her team soon realised, the business had to pivot in order to survive.
“When the pandemic started, we did not know how long it would last and we were not on any of the delivery platforms. Kenny Hills Bakers has been traditional for as long as I can remember and initially there were no plans to divert,” Tzi says.
Up until the first Movement Control Order, dine-in proved to be sustainable for the business and having delivery services were a step that they were not yet comfortable venturing into unless necessary, mainly due to limited manpower.
Kenny Hills Bakers currently has one central kitchen and one central bakery, housed in their Ampang outlet.
As the pandemic went on, it became clear to the business that something had to be done. Tzi and her team first started using messaging apps to communicate with customers for pick-ups and arranged riders independently to carry out the deliveries.
But as demand grew, the business had to turn to digital services that would help to create a more seamless process for delivery and payment.
“Just two months ago, we signed up for a software to better enable the business to manage the increasing demand. Now customers can go directly to our website and place their orders for delivery or pick-up,” she shares.
Kenny Hills Bakers soon had an integrated Offline-to-Online (O2O) platform to better sell their products to their customers. The all-in-one platform integrated features that included an in-person with point-of-sale feature.
Having to opt for digital services was not easy either. For the longest time, Tzi’s concern centered around the costs and effectiveness of digital solutions.
“We were initially hesitant because with a lesser-known targeted platform, it meant that we would only be reaching out to customers who specifically wanted to order from us, as opposed to being featured on a general food delivery platform accessed by the masses. But upon going digital, the demand was there and it was satisfying,” Tzi says.
Tackling Traditional Problems With Digital Solutions
The digital solutions offered a more seamless process for Kenny Hills Bakers to manage online payments without having their staff to manually process payments. At the same time, it also allowed the business to focus on more important matters and to have the digital systems manage the sale processes with their customers.
Tzi says that having to pivot to digital solutions will help tackle traditional problems and lighten the burden faced by most entrepreneurs such as herself.
The business also has a strong social media presence with followers nearing 65,000 and the growth was purely organic, she says. While the plan to grow their online presence has always been around, Tzi says they will review continuing with delivery once restrictions are lifted, only if they are satisfied that they will be able to cope with both online and dine-in customers.
Digital marketing solutions for instance will help businesses to have extended customer reach and at the same time, businesses can save costs by investing in social media advertising rather than physical advertising.
As for Kenny Hills Bakers’ future plans, Tzi says the business plans to keep their head down and focus on getting through the pandemic for the time being. However, there are plans for expansion once the situation at hand settles.