Reducing the ‘Un'-Reducable Cost

The latest financial news from Wall Street hasn't been very encouraging. S&P's downgrading of America's credit rating sent the stocks into a swan dive that seems to have stabilized, but given the current state of our economy, and Washington's attempt to balance our nation's budget, it appears bracing for more rough waters would not be alarmist.

As this is easily the third year of our down economy, you probably think you've cut costs from every conceivable column in your ledger. There couldn't possibly be a stone you left unturned because that would mean extra revenue and you've been over all the accounts with a fine-tooth comb and magnifying glass.

What if I told you DROSTE has been working with clients across the country to cut costs in that one area you think you can't—your workforce. And even better, DROSTE's Workforce Management suite of products doesn't hack at your workforce and labor hours with a machete; it's more a scalpel approach, surgical and precise.

Often organizations look to human resources and their employees as the first place to reduce hours and therefore increase revenue when the economy is tight. For most companies it is by far the largest expense on their books making it a giant target. However, simply loping hours off of your projections and providing your managers with a reduction in hours, but not a reduction in sales projections won't work. Despite the down economy, grocery stores are not necessarily less busy, but simply producing less revenue as customers opt for store brands and cheaper products to fill their carts.

So, if your number of customers remains steady, but your number of employees decreases, what does that do to your customer service standards? How about the look and feel of your store? What other corners are getting cut simply because you don't have the hours to devote to putting bodies in your stores?

This is where DROSTE's Workforce Management solution, a three-pronged approach that addresses Labor Forecasting, Scheduling and Time & Attendance, really shines. Using a proprietary model designed in conjunction with labor expert John F. Connolly, DROSTE works closely with clients to determine all of the tangible and intangible tasks and responsibilities their employees take on every day. Even five-minute jobs, like changing out register tape or straightening the customer service desk is included in this model, accounting for every minute that employees are on the clock.

Taking POS data into account, DROSTE builds a labor forecasting tool specific to your business that accurately projects not only the hours you absolutely need to meet your customer service standards and achieve your sales goals, but also when you need them. The art of correctly scheduling is not easily learned and can take a number of years to truly master. And often, overscheduling can be as simple as having two cashiers available to open your store as opposed to only one.

DROSTE's modeling tool also helps managers to reevaluate their preconceptions about how they schedule. Often times, managers write schedules because “that's the way it's always been done." It's faster and far easier to follow a formula even if, over time, that formula has become outdated or incompatible with your business. By surrendering control of forecasting and scheduling to the DROSTE programs, everyone gets an objective look at how their schedules should be written. It is quite an educational experience.

Now, depending on your organizational make-up, you might have labor experts already on staff who can work with these basic principles and help to design a more accurate labor model for you to forecast and schedule from, and that's great. However, DROSTE and John F. Connolly & Associates are ready and willing to walk you through this time-consuming process.

Clients who have implemented Workforce Management have found great success, seeing a significant decrease in their labor costs. It all comes down to ROI—Return on Investment! It's not just a catchphrase for our clients; it's a measurable value.

The second step in the DROSTE Workforce Management process is scheduling. Using a sophisticated Auto-Scheduling algorithm, our Labor Scheduler can automatically fill in the empty slots in your schedule keeping employee availability, time-off requests and minimum shift lengths in mind. Managers using this feature have told us they've cut the time it takes to write a schedule in half, freeing up those hours for the managers to be on the sales floor with customers and employees. With some upfront work and input of your store's specific parameters, you'll be amazed at how accurate the Auto-Scheduler can be.

Our third step is capturing Time & Attendance data to send to payroll using our DC Clock program. By interfacing directly with time clocks, DC Clock captures all of the clock in/out data in real-time, while also communicating with the Labor Scheduler to share schedules and ensure that employees are not working outside of their shifts. DC Clock really offers you and your payroll team a lot of flexibility with a robust reporting tool (many of them user-defined), as well as an easy-to-read and even easier-to-edit timecard interface.

Once you've seen these systems at work, it will be evident how they can positively impact your bottom line and do something that might seem impossible—save you money while maintaining your customer service standards.

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