Cavender Stores, which specializes in western wear and cowboy boots for the entire family, has built an enviable reputation — and a loyal following — by delivering quality merchandise and top-notch customer service. Its sales associates are key to the success of Cavender’s in-store customer experience.
“The retail environment is so competitive that we need to make sure that we provide the best customer service,” said Jim Thompson, CFO, Cavender’s, Tyler, Texas, which operates 57 stores. “We achieve this by making sure we schedule knowledgeable associates at the right times, while still watching our labor costs. It is a delicate balance to be adequately staffed while managing operating costs.”
It is also a challenging task when a company is managing its work force manually. While Cavender’s scheduling was automated, submission to corporate was manual and disparate. For example, some store managers submitted their plans via email, while others still created schedules by hand.
“When the chain was smaller, a manual system was sufficient to control staffing and scheduling,” Thompson said. “As the chain grew to 57 stores operating in four states, however, it became difficult to distribute information.”
The process also took a toll on employee payments. For example, associates clock in to their shift through a time clock integrated to the store’s point-of-sale system. All employee hours are transferred to a spreadsheet, and data is applied to the company’s payroll system for payment.
Since everything is done manually, there is no surefire way to validate schedules with the hours employees actually worked. The manual system also does not protect the chain against “buddy punching,” a fraudulent practice whereby an employee clocks in for a friend who may be late or didn’t show up for their shift.
Realizing it needed an automated solution to optimize its work force and support its customer service, Cavender’s began searching for a workforce management suite in the first quarter of 2010. The company wanted an affordable solution and sought to work with a technology provider that would keep its corporate culture in mind, according to Thompson.
“We also needed to partner with a company that was familiar with the small-to-medium-sized market and that could work with a small IT group that was operational, as well as technically focused,” he added.
The chain selected Kronos, Chelmsford, Mass., and is currently integrating various pieces of the supplier’s browser-based workforce management suite. The first step in the multi-phase implementation was the integration of Kronos’ human resources and payroll applications, which are expected to go live in the summer and in October, respectively.
“We are linking the payroll solution with our time clock, which will automate the process and take the human steps out of the equation,” Thompson said. “It will also streamline our hiring process as new hires apply at store-level. All data will be input into the manager’s workstation, and it will be transferred into the HR system. Currently that has to be done manually at our corporate office.”
During the first quarter of 2012, Cavender’s will focus on the suite’s scheduling and forecasting modules, as well as workforce optimization. These three pieces will give the corporate office and district managers online access to store scheduling to ensure that all locations are adequately staffed. It will also provide suggested schedules to Cavender’s managers based on forecasts developed from historical sales data.
“Some stores do a great job at scheduling, but some are not as good,” Thompson said. “Now it will be easier to identify those stores that do well, and share their best practices with other locations. It will lead to scheduling consistency across the chain.”
Thompson expects the solution to deliver a “significant cost savings,” and he expects a return on its investment within two years.
“More importantly,” he added, “we are expecting to improve staffing in our stores so that we can impact our top-line growth, and comply with internal policies, as well as state and federal labor guidelines.”