Store Manager Amelia shares her experience working with ‘One Best Way’

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I’m Amelia – I’ve worked for the co-op as a store manager for 10 months in the Bristol area, and I recently completed a secondment with the One Best Way programme.

The main goal was to get out to visit stores to understand the complexity in our back and middle office processes, and how we can make them leaner.

During my secondment I visited 15 stores, and I loved engaging with store managers. It was great gaining insight on how we could better support our stores with simplified processes to better serve our customers. The reaction from colleagues to the work we were completing was fantastic! I couldn’t have asked for more openness and honesty to aid myself and the team in gathering the data.

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Discussing back office processes in store

I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of the secondment, engaging with key stakeholders, working with store colleagues and experts in the business and challenging the norm by being constantly curious. At times I surprised myself- I even participated in a One Best Way Podcast – I wouldn’t have put myself forward to take part in a podcast before! I also particularly enjoyed looking into the stream surrounding fuel, as this is in area I have never worked with before.

Although I found it intense at times – seeing the outputs made it all the more worthwhile. We’ve now mapped the theoretical and actual processes and identified some key opportunities and recommendations for the business to focus on.

One of the most important things the secondment taught me was the need for change and how I could play a part in co-creating it. I worked with a fantastic team of people across the country and have further built my own personal network. I was made to feel so welcome by all at the Retail Support Centre at 1AS and can honestly say it felt like home for the 4 weeks I was there.

I would definitely recommend secondment opportunities as a great experience to anyone. I now feel like I’ve walked back into my store re-energised with my eyes wide open, and have already been looking at the way we complete tasks in a different light.

Amelia-Jane Statham

Store Manager, Henleaze

Operational Assessments – A Catalyst for Change

Over the past 3 months our Field Risk Support Officers (FRSO’s) have been out across the estate visiting stores and connecting with colleagues, embarking on a huge programme of Store Operational Assessments.

These assessments are critical to our achieving one clear objective – to make our stores safe and legal for colleagues and customers. They are key to helping us identify where our risks are, identifying improvements and opportunities in store, and to help us gain insight on how our operating model is being executed. Through the course of Q1 the team has now completed 270 operational assessments, each one measuring over 200 standards in stores, covering all elements of operations and compliance.

Understanding what is and isn’t working

The assessments have brought a more collaborative approach than the previous audits, and our FRSO’s have been spending hundreds of hours in stores, talking to our colleagues to really understand how we can improve. It’s a new approach for us because we aren’t just looking at Health & safety, but at our entire operating model.

Learning from colleagues

As well as aiming to understand how our operating model is landing, and how we are meeting our legal requirements, the key element is ensuring that we learn from colleagues on what is working and what isn’t. It’s been a huge success and we’ve gained some fantastic insight from our colleagues. Colleagues are helping us to understand how complex our processes are for them, and whilst we need to protect our stores, we need to do this in a way that removes complexity for our colleagues. The assessments also help us to validate and check that the changes we make as a business are working and continuing to make our co-op great.

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Our Chalfont store team with FRSO Ragesh

Coaching for performance

Its important that this activity isn’t just an information gathering exercise. The SOAR report is also a great tool to help store teams create their own action plan to improve standards. And our FRSOs are making the time to coach and upskill store teams based on their findings and using How Do I as a reference guide.

What’s next?

It is important to remember that the assessments are not a change but they can be the catalyst for change. The Retail Risk health & Safety Team are now engaging with key stakeholders across the business to review these insights and understand what activity is in progress to protect against risks and make things easier for stores whilst agreeing next steps and commitments. As we move in to Q2 the second Operational Assessment cycle has already started and will see our FRSO’s complete a further 400 SOARs in Q2.

 

 

How we’re simplifying crime reporting

In their recently published annual crime survey, The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that retail crime is at an all-time high having risen by 6% against 2016 to a staggering £700m.  The number of violent incidents has also seen a huge increase and reflects a growing concern in society around the challenges facing the retail industry in the UK.

When crime and security incidents occur in our stores it’s really important that every incident is logged. This enables our Retail Support Centre teams to monitor and analyse crime data and ultimately drive the actions and changes that help to keep our colleagues safe. The safety of our colleagues is always a priority, and we’ve listened to store colleague’s feedback on the existing reporting process – one of the biggest concerns our colleagues have raised is how time consuming it is for stores to report security incidents. Unfortunately this often leads to only a small number of incidents being reported, especially if it is relatively low value theft.

A Mobile Solution

Kingdom 1We’ve listened hard and based on this feedback we have been working with Kingdom to develop an app that will make this much easier for store teams to log minor security incidents. It’s stressful enough for our colleagues when they have to deal with incidents in store, so anything that can simplify the crime reporting process for our colleagues is hugely beneficial for our coop.

We recently released Kingdom Konnect – an app that give stores an easy and simple way to log incidents on their mobile devices. So after an incident, instead of having to go back into the office and log on to the PC, colleagues can now complete security incident reports on the go – whether it’s on the shop floor, at the kiosk, or in the warehouse. The app gives our colleagues a quick and easy way to log minor shoplifting and anti-social behaviour incidents – and it takes less than a minute to do. Many colleagues are already using the app, and we’ve heard some great feedback so far

“This is amazing! It’s easy to use and no excuse not to report crime….”

Liam, Cambridge

“It’s really brilliant to use – Everyone is using it. Logging incidents is much quicker than before. The ease of it is that it’s in your pocket so you can use it as soon as an incident happens”

Ian, Dunscroft

“It’s so much easier than logging it on the back office”

Hannah, Somerton

The information logged via the app is vital, as it allows us to gather greater insight and understanding of crime in our stores. Having access to this information in turn helps support centre teams make the right decisions for colleague safety and allows us to react with resource where needed.

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Jamaal, our Guard at Butcher Hill has been using the new App

All stores will be given access when store tablets launch later this year, however we know from listening to colleagues that they welcome the opportunity to use their own devices in the meantime. So, if colleagues choose to, they can download and access from personal devices (Colleagues should see week 9’s Bulletin for info) . We’ve seen a fantastic number of colleagues starting to use it already. This is a great step forward in simplifying crime reporting for our stores, but we haven’t finished yet. Later in 2018, we have plans to introduce an all-encompassing Health and Safety system that will be accessible from our store mobile devices which will bring further improvements to help us support the safety of our colleagues in store.

Simplifying Fresh Reductions

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Removing complexity is one of the most important ways the Retail Support Centre can help our store colleagues. One of the most common issues we’ve heard from colleagues is that our fresh reduction process wasn’t working.

Colleagues told us our reductions matrix was too complicated and the timing was not right. Having different processes for long life and short life products adds complexity and can lead to products being missed and ‘out of code’ products being left. We were reducing too many products which is time consuming and damages customer perception about the quality of our food.

We’ve listened to colleagues, and to enable stores to focus on serving our customers at our busy times, we’ve made fresh reductions process a lot simpler. We’ve changed the frequency of the checks, and the exceptions. We’ve also empowered colleagues to choose the best time to complete first reductions for their store, and to override the iRTC system where they may have store-specific challenges which need to be taken into account.

When we trialed the new process, we had some really positive feedback from colleagues. But we also learnt a lot too. We’ve learned that following the new process exactly (as it’s written) is the key to saving time and reducing waste. But how have our colleague found the new process? We spoke to a few of our store colleagues to find out how the new process has impacted their stores….

“The new process is much better as it give us more time to get it right. Because we have until 10am on the product date it allows us to be more flexible.  If something unexpected happens like a late delivery, it means we can pick up the process the following morning. It’s helped eased pressure on the late jobs which has really reduced stress in store”

Gina, Petrol Harrogate Rd

“The new process is really much simpler and easier for us”

Ifte, Southwark Mill street

“It’s working really well, I didn’t think it would as our store previously had high level of waste, but since the new system was introduced our waste has been much better, our split has improved to 80/20…….Its so much simpler now that we use the same rule for both long and short life products, and we’ve found the system is giving a much better price on the first reduction”

Tammy, Alnwick Bondgate

But we aren’t taking our foot off the gas – We’ll continue too look at how the process can be improved – We’ll be using data from the new process to improve the suggested prices generated by iRTC which will help products sell through at the first reduction.  We’ll soon have simpler reporting to help us improve our range and waste, and we’ll be looking at introducing improvements to our ambient reduction process later in 2018.

Approaching Risk Collaboratively

Risk Team

For the Food Risk Team, keeping our stores safe for our colleagues and customers is our number one priority, and through 2018 we will be taking a more collaborative approach to look at how we can improve store operations.

A New Approach

The food business has invested a great deal to re-invigorate our approach to risk, and key to this is establishing a dedicated Food Risk team within the Retail Support Centre. For a long time Risk has been a Group function, but we believe that stores deserve a front line risk support team who are in touch and engaged with our food stores, and can act as a first-line support.

Bringing in Experience

The new team brings together experienced risk colleagues into the Food support centre to support stores. Our team of 24 Food Risk Support Officers (FRSOs) will bring with them a huge amount of experience and working within food they will be closely aligned to our stores with one clear objective – to make our stores safer for colleagues and customers.

What Stores will see

From 4th February the FRSOs will be embarking on a series of operational assessments which will run through 2018. But where previous audits have been focused on spot-checks and reactively supporting stores after incidents, our new approach will be more collaborative. For each assessment, the team will be spending around 6 hours in your store – looking at all elements of store operations and operational compliance. We’ll be looking at processes that we have never reviewed before, and by spending more time in stores and speaking first-hand to colleagues and store teams we will have a great opportunity to identify where processes aren’t working, and to speak to colleagues on the front line to get their insight on how things can be improved and simplified.

Benefits for stores

This is also a great opportunity for our store colleagues to speak to the team and give your feedback and insight on how we can improve things. We will be using the data and insight we gather during the assessments to feed in to the Retail Support Centre to drive the changes, improvements and opportunities that will make your stores simpler and safer for colleagues, customers and members.  The Team are really excited about this can’t wait to get out to meet you.

How we improved service in 2017

In 2017, the Retail Support Centre re-launched with a clear aim of improving service by simplifying the work we do – to bring the Co-op difference to life. Since then teams across the Retail Support Centre have been listening to stores more than ever, to get to the heart of how we can improve the service we give to stores. More than ever, in the past 12 months the feedback of our store colleagues has been essential in shaping the improvements we have made.

Supporting Store Services

Across store services we have seen some great improvements. We allocated over 5,700 additional hours for Hermes over Christmas – helping stores handle the 250,000 parcels that came through during the festive period. This earned just under £200k in income in December alone. We also got better at communicating this, by sending weekly updates which as a result of feedback from stores will now become a permanent monthly cascade.

We have supported in promoting the benefits of having great availability in scratchcards and stores have responded seeing an increase of 4% across the estate.

In response to great demand from stores & the communities we serve, we installed Costa machines in to 12 stores in December – outside of the acquisition and refit programme – so far generating over £11k in sales, with more stores planned in 2018.

We’ve had some great feedback about improved ATM availability over Christmas, and have supported 12 stores in introducing an ATM to support the community where there has been local bank closures – leading to £12k in commission in Q4!

Simplifying Communications

At the heart of improving service to stores is reducing complexity. Communications is a key area where we have been working hard to simplify. We have reviewed how we communicate, and the Food Internal Comms team and the RSC have been working more closely together to simplify messages to stores as well as stopping ‘Illegal’ messaging. We’ve created a new comms process and shared it with the business to ensure all messages are either planned of agreed before they’re sent to stores.

We have reduced comms messaging to stores by 10%, with an additional 40% reduction in messages sent on Fridays and Saturdays. We have also challenged back to the business around incorrect messages which has helped us reduce the number of ‘apology’ messages by 75%.

We have additional work to do in ensuring quality of submissions from the business to the Comms team and activity is already underway to coach and support colleagues across the business to improve how we communicate. Going in to 2018, the comms team will be collaborating with Colleague Insight team to carry out a full review of a store inbox to see what they receive in a week and from who, to look at more ways we can reduce the volume of comms stores receive.

Better Operational Service

On the OSS desk, call volumes have decreased by a massive 20% in 2017 from 208,000 to 166,000,  with the launch of ‘How Do I’ playing an important role in ensuring colleagues have the information they need when they need it. Additionally we are getting better at answering the phone quickly, with 70 % of calls now being answered in under 30 seconds, and we’ve had some great feedback from stores:

“I love the email function to OSS”

“The improvement in OSS in the past 12 months has been unbelievable, from the speed they answer calls to the knowledge of the operators, which has seen massive improvements”

We’re Listening more than ever

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We’ve been listening more, and the Colleague Insight team is building on the work done previously by Listen Act and Fix to develop more ways for us to listen to the colleague voice. We held the first RSC ‘Hackathon’ in October, as well as co-ordinating Store Manager Listening groups. To help give colleagues a forum to share ideas we’ve rebuilt our Intranet page and set up the colleagueinsight@coop.co.uk email address, where colleagues can send us ideas on how we can simplify store operations.

We know we have a lot more to do in 2018, and colelague insight and feedback will be at the centre of the way we support stores, improve service and deliver change in 2018. The Colleague Insight team will be building on the groundwork set by Listen, Act and Fix to provide more detailed insights into what matters most to our colleagues, and will be collaborating closely with teams from throughout the Retail Support Centre to ensure colleagues feel supported and that their voice is listened to.

Reducing paperwork when we’re cashing up

Remember that new cash paperwork that came out the other week? That’s one cool thing that came from Leading the Way (LTW). We know how much paperwork you have to deal with and we want to remove as much as we can.

How I ended up on Leading the Way

LTW aims to make life easier for colleagues in stores. It’s really important that the programme includes field colleagues who know the reality and challenges of working in a store day-to-day. Having people in the team with first-hand experience of that means we can focus on what store colleagues actually need, not what we reckon they need.

That’s why myself and the other workstream leads are here – we all have experience out in shops and know them inside and out.

I started as a CTM at the Co-op over 10 years ago. I became a team manager while I was studying and then took on my first store manager role. I looked after a number of stores including one that was less than 500 square feet (a shoe box!) and one that went through a Gen2 re-fit. Then I successfully applied for the Shining Stars programme and got seconded to an area manager role, eventually looking after Leeds.

Our mission

It’s simple really.

We want to help store colleagues with the things they need to do, in the time they have, and give them the freedom to be great Co-op shopkeepers.

How do we do that though? We’ve started with 7 different projects or ‘workstreams’, with the intention that each one will tackle a different instore area. My workstream is called Simple Stores and focuses on how we make admin, paperwork, back office systems simpler in the day to day running of a shop.

This year we’re looking at what we can simplify quickly, and we’ll also to begin to think about how we transform entire parts of our operation over the next few years.

Simplifying cash paperwork

Our Simple Stores workstream is looking at how we can simplify cashing up. I’ve been cashing up since I was a CTM and one of the things that really bugged me was the number of bits of paper.

photo of 5 forms that used to be used during cashing up

They add unnecessary complexity. If we just had everything on one document, we wouldn’t have to print all the bits of paper off every week – better for the environment and cheaper for the store. Plus it’d just be much neater being able to complete all tasks needed to cash up on one page.

The central cash team, Helen Holland and Pauline Wilton, were really keen on helping out and we worked together to create the simplified document.

photo of Dave Tyas holding one sheet of paper. this is the new condensed version of the cashing up forms.We tested the new document in our Green Quarter store – thanks guys! We listened to feedback and changed the document based on recommendations. After we had it right, we rolled it out to 2 areas for final feedback before we rolled it out further.

This was the first piece of work that we sent to our ‘stores of excellence.’ These are stores that try out new things first and then help the other stores in the area if we roll out the new thing out further.

It’s gone down well. Here’s some of the feedback:

“I now find that in terms of recording, the paperwork is much simpler to use and easier to follow.” – Mike, SM

“Better visibility for colleagues. Easier to chase discrepancies. Welcome the change!” – Kath, TM

“The new cash document is great and easy to use, which results in less of a paper trail.” – Carole, TL

What’s next?

Simplifying cashing up is just the start for the Simple Stores workstream. Here’s what we’re looking next:

  • How can we completely revolutionise how we cash up using technology and digital tools?
  • Do headsets make life easier for store colleagues?
  • How can we get rid of all paper from the office and make it digital?
  • Can we make the back office systems mobile so we can access them wherever we are?

We want to hear from you

We’re running ‘Listen Act and Fix’ sessions in 26 locations across the country. The aim is to bring colleagues together to talk about how we can make things simpler.We’ll keep you posted about the details.

We’re already hearing some brilliant suggestions, ranging from how we can sign up members more easily at the checkout, to how we make our store processes simpler. If you have ideas on things that could make life instore simpler, let us know by emailing listenactandfix@coop.co.uk

We are listening!

Dave Tyas
Workstream lead