With the emphasis on continually improving the customer experience and growing the business, Squires has invested heavily in its people, stores and systems.
Despite investing heavily in some of the latest retail systems, many service activities have stayed the same for many years. Largely governed by paper-based routines, these activities are time consuming, expensive and distracting for the centre staff.
The operation of each garden centre is managed by a local store manager and performance of each centre can vary. The safe, legal and operational store activities are of paramount importance but are generally run on the same paper based forms that have been used for years, which gives the business no visibility of what has been done and when.
Andy Bunt, Group Operations Manager at Squires commented, “We currently have 14 stores and are expanding, so ensuring we are 100% compliant and are focused on delivering the best possible customer experience is a top priority for us. We constantly review the way that we operate to better engage with our customers. Ensuring the core store activities are completed and that staff were guided through their working day to optimise their time presented us with a real challenge.
Paper-based reporting prevented us from understanding what was going on in each centre on a daily basis. The only real measure of centre performance could be derived from fortnightly audit visits and trying to create the right culture within each centre was extremely time-consuming and demanding”.
Squires engaged with Retail Support Pro to review the way that they operated in their stores. It was quickly agreed that the Centre 360 mobile app would be a great fit to ensure the Squires operation would be 100% safe, legal and operationally compliant at all times.
The mobile app was deployed into a number of pilot stores almost immediately and within 48 hours, staff were able to start using app to create, complete and submit service forms for all sorts of business processes. The app was intuitive and simple to use which in-turn minimised training and resulted in a faster user uptake of the new processes.
All of the tasks and forms that were previously completed manually were now dynamically available to both centre and head office staff via the electronic forms output. Forms easily manage the following outputs:
> Photo & voice attachments (including annotations)
> GPS location details
> Date and time recorded data
Jeannette Coltman, Health & Safety Manager for Squires commented;
“We were impressed with Centre 360 from the start and couldn’t believe how quickly the team delivered the solution configured to our needs. Our initial focus was to ensure that our centres were completely safe and legally compliant. Within a very short period of time we then focused on business areas where the additional reporting made us more efficient and allowed us to provide higher quality services to our customers.
We now have a platform that’s scalable, cost effective and will shape the way we operate in our centres moving forward. The key operational benefit for me was that the system accurately recorded completion times rather than when staff would like you to think they were completed when using paper forms!”
Another key area of the solution is the 7-day planner which allows standard daily activities to be scheduled for staff to complete. A simple workflow engine allows alerts to be sent via SMS and email if certain activities are not completed. Completed activities are also really simple to interpret due to the ability to score and colour code activities.
Within 3 weeks of the pilot starting, Squires decided to rollout to its whole estate. The transition from pilot to live rollout to all stores was completed in a day. The cloud based solution really was that simple to roll out.
Centre 360 has made Squires 100% safe, legal and operationally compliant in less than 2 months. Paper usage has dropped significantly in the same period and it is estimated that print and stationary costs have reduced by up to 70%.
The 7-Day planner provides real-time information and this is expected to cut travel costs of the Management team by over 35%. Dynamic reporting from each centre has legitimately removed the need to periodically visit each centre by default and centre performance can now be analysed and Area Manager visits arranged as required.
“Staff response to the solution has been fantastic”, commented Andy Bunt. “Centre based staff love the simplicity of the App and the pre-populated forms has meant that staff complete compliance paper work more quickly. The Area Managers meanwhile love the fact that they can remotely check how a centre is performing without having to jump in the car.
We anticipate that as we open additional centres the App will allow us to manage these with the existing Area Management Team rather than recruiting further staff. Centre 360 is a new system for us but it’s already providing real-world cashable savings to our group.”
Centre 360 has allowed all centre staff to perform tasks more efficiently allowing them to focus more time and effort on their customers and in driving sales. Head Office staff also benefited from the solution and many on-site audits have been removed since the real-time reports arrived. Critical compliance reports such as Health & Safety, Trading Standards and Staff Welfare were available straight out of the box.”