Magazine Article | March 20, 2007

Monitor Store Profitability With Labor Management

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Gander Mountain streamlined HR processes, reduced overtime costs, and reallocated operations staff to better serve associates and customers.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, April 2007

Typically, your employees are one of your largest expenses. Therefore, retailers need to manage this valuable resource effectively. Gander Mountain is no exception. With sales near $1 billion, the hunting, fishing, camping, and outdoor lifestyle retailer modified its store labor management approach to correspond with the company's focus on customers and associates, as well as its overall growth plans. 

The retailer's Senior VP of Operations, Andy Carlin, and other company executives searched for a labor management solution. During the search, Gander Mountain moved from a 30,000-square-foot store to a 60,000- to 70,000-square-foot store model. Due to size, the new stores employed more people and added complexity to the retailer's manual management of labor. "We wanted a solution that fit with our overall company objectives [e.g. tracking profitability using metrics], while scheduling the right person for the right task at the right time to ensure proper customer service," says Carlin. "We also wanted the solution to evolve as we grew. We configured it to match our processes, but installed it vanilla [i.e. with no customization]. To reap the benefits of future enhancements, we also needed a scalable solution."

Company representatives spent six months screening workforce management proposals. "We involved employees from all facets of the organization, including store managers, IT, and operations," says Carlin. "It was important to receive input from all partners, especially store users. We graded the potential vendors/solutions and unanimously came to a decision." Gander Mountain selected Portfolio Workforce Management (PWM) software from JDA Software.

Prior to the deployment of PWM, Gander Mountain's store managers manually created schedules using Excel spreadsheets. Upstream at the corporate level, at any given time, the retailer used time and attendance, projection and forecasting, and scheduling systems, but they were never integrated, so their benefits were limited. PWM gave Gander Mountain the ability to have all HR systems under one umbrella, which facilitated streamlined HR processes.

Following pilot tests, Gander Mountain deployed PWM in phases. "We started with the Time and Attendance module in two stores," says Carlin. "A few months later, we installed the Web-based software in all stores. Each quarter, we add layers of functionality to PWM. Since the initial deployment, we've added the Scheduling, Projections and Forecasting, and Optimized Scheduling modules. We plan to add more modules, such as Task Management, in future deployments."

Measure Store, Corporate Profits 
By integrating Scheduling and Time and Attendance, the retailer reduced the risk of time abuse issues, such as early punch-ins, which increased overtime and reduced labor availability when it was needed. Manual reviews of timesheets were eliminated because PWM manages by predefined exceptions. Employees' time was reallocated to better serve customers and associates. PWM interfaces with iCIMS (the retailer's recruiting system) and ADP (its payroll system), which eliminates rekeyed data among HR systems. All three systems now share accurate and consistent information.

PWM provides executives with tools at the store and corporate levels to continually monitor profitability metrics. "Store schedules are created faster, administrative costs are reduced, and associates and supervisors communicate better using the employee portal," says Carlin. "We have the tools to more efficiently forecast, monitor, and track  labor/payroll costs [payroll divided by sales] and sales per hour [total hours a store is open divided by the total sales made from that store] in real time. Ultimately, the software helps provide the company and its shareholders with critical expense and profitability measurements."

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