The UK division of a global brand urgently needed to turn hundreds of self-employed affiliates into employees. But that meant changing it's entire operating model if it was to stay financially viable.
The call came in:
The UK division of a global brand urgently needed to turn hundreds of self-employed affiliates into employees. But the initial analysis showed that the increased cost of simply transferring them, would be enormous, potentially threatening the viability of a large percentage of their locations. They asked us if we could help them find a new operating model that could deliver the same high quality of customer experience, but at a sustainable cost.
The critical insights:
Our initial work analysing the customer journey, staffing numbers and roles, and the service at each key point, showed a fair amount of inefficiency, so we worked with a group of team leaders from across the country to pilot and test new, more efficient formats and models. Two of the trial formats ultimately went on to be refined, developed and rolled out across the estate. But in the process, we made three suprising discoveries, which turned out to be critical to the project's success.
The first came from a series of customer interviews at a trial that was short-staffed on the day of the visit. One of the accepted guidelines was that only team leaders could do certain roles within the customer journey, or customers would complain. We saw no complaints, changed several trial sites as a result, and asked customers how they felt. They had no issues at all. That single piece of evidence unlocked a whole new level of flexibility in the staffing model.
The second insight was around the time spend setting up shop. The initial focus was on efficiency, specifically the packaging, equipment and guidance provided to the team, but when we analysed the buying patterns, we also found parts of the inventory were irrelevant to almost all the customers. Radically refining the range created savings not just in staff time, but in logistics and stockholding too.
The third insight was that, despite best practice guidance having been in place for several years, few of the team leaders actually followed it very closely, and most chose how their local operation worked, based on what they gleaned from more experienced colleagues. Once the final models had been properly defined through the trials, it gave team leaders welcome clarity about how they should actually be working, and as word spread, the resistance many had previously felt to becoming an employee was overcome by the enthusiasm for adopting the new format.
The trials successfully showed how an employed model could be delivered within the target cost envelope.
The new model, along with all the changes, was rolled out across the estate complete with fresh training for leaders and their teams.
97% of those previously self-employed as team leaders, agreed to their new contract as formal employees and transferred to the new model, against an initial forecast of less than 70%
Product sales actually increased when the range was reduced.
The UK division went on to beat both it's sales and profit targets for the year.