Part of our Customer Spotlight series, featuring brands on the Crisp platform and their growth stories.
A tasty turn of events
Chef Hak’s CEO Sharone Hakman’s life changed when he was selected to appear on Gordon Ramsay’s hit TV show MasterChef. After hearing his burgers and barbecue get rave reviews from TV’s toughest judge, Sharone decided it was time to leave his finance career and bring his signature barbecue sauces to home cooks everywhere. Chef Hak’s launched as a family business in 2010 with a line of organic, ethically sourced sauces and dressings. Since then, the brand has grown steadily from small, independent retailers to nationwide distribution in Whole Foods and Sprouts. The chef-driven product line has grown as well, expanding into prepared foods last year and most recently launching a line of ready-to-cook marinated heirloom chickens.
Finding the next big flavor
Chef Hak’s Head of Marketing Monica Hakman (Sharone’s wife) has been with the company from the beginning, and attributes its steady growth to a relentless focus on the product. Chef Sharone develops each new item himself with the goal of putting restaurant-quality flavors into a bottle. But any new product has to pass the strictest taste-testers first: the Hakmans’ kids. Monica reflects that testing products with the family was especially important as Chef Hak’s launched its prepared meals: “As a mom, there are so many nights where it helps to have a prepared meal that I feel good about giving my kids. People don't think of ready-to-eat meals that way, but ours are freshly packed, and the flavor profiles feel more like a restaurant meal."
Once the product is dialed in, the next challenge is to apply Chef Sharone's creation on a massive scale. As Monica explains, “It’s managing how the product is being manufactured, making sure those chef-driven flavor profiles are still there, that nothing gets compromised, and that the idea is perfectly translated when it hits the shelves.” To get it right, the team closely monitors the process every step of the way.
Quality products need quality data
On the Chef Hak’s sales team, evaluating performance at every step is also key to successful retail growth. That’s why Sales & Operations Manager Kosta Vasiliou was spending two hours per day pulling performance reports from retail and distributor portals to get a signal on the business. It was information he needed, but he wanted to save time and view retail data all in one place -- which is when the team decided to get Crisp.
Now, the Chef Hak’s sales team relies on Crisp data to continuously refine their retail strategy. Kosta explains, “For a small team like ours, data plays a critical role in tracking our performance and keeps us honest in measuring our success.” In buyer meetings, the team weaves important data trends like product velocity into messages that highlight overall growth potential. They’re also prepared to provide analysis on lift from recent promotions and share projected margins for retailers from new opportunities.
In addition to sharing sales wins, Kosta drills into the details using Crisp to find areas for improvement. He first looks for distribution voids or stores that are underperforming, comparing them to what he’s seeing in more successful locations. He can then apply those lessons to underperforming stores, and make recommendations to retail partners to drive mutual success.
“You never know how well something is going to do until it goes to market, and Crisp helps us understand this in a very clear and concise way.” -- Kosta Vasiliou, Sales & Operations Manager, Chef Hak's
Hatching a new product in the market
The team will continue to use Crisp to evaluate performance as they launch a new product: a line of ready-to-cook chickens marinated in flavors like Tandoori and Chimichurri. The heirloom, pasture-raised, certified humane birds are all about extending Chef Hak’s commitment to ethical sourcing. While the product looks promising, data will ultimately help guide the launch process. As Kosta says, “You never know how well something is going to do until it goes to market, and Crisp helps us understand this in a very clear and concise way.”