Operations Manager Bobby Simpson discusses how RotaCloud has helped to streamline staff scheduling and annual leave management at guitarguitar, the UK’s biggest guitar retailer.
Guitarguitar is the UK’s biggest retailer of guitars, guitar equipment, and musical paraphernalia. The company has six physical locations dotted across the UK, plus a rapidly expanding online store, and has been a RotaCloud customer since 2016.
We spoke to Bobby Simpson, Operations Manager at guitarguitar, about why they switched to RotaCloud, the benefits of doing so, and how RotaCloud helped the business adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Streamlining & visibility
Since moving into his current role, Bobby has been largely focused on standardising in-store procedures. He began with the management of staff rotas across the business’ various locations.
With the old Excel rota system, we basically just had spreadsheets marked with a ‘W’ for when staff were working, and an ‘O’ for their days off, Bobby told us via video call.
But with the company rapidly expanding, keeping a sense of cohesion between its branches was becoming a challenge.
There’s a tendency for businesses like ours — with stores all over the country — to become quite fractured, Bobby said.
RotaCloud has allowed us to prevent that from happening, and to be consistent with our rotas. It means that, if we have a rota that looks a certain way in Glasgow, then it’s also going to look the same way in Edinburgh or in Newcastle.
The cloud-based nature of RotaCloud has also made oversight far easier for Bobby and guitarguitar’s management team.
It allows us at head office level to see clearly what’s going on at each location, and what the rota patterns are like. We can see the pinch points or where there’s a squeeze on resources, [and] can adjust our staffing accordingly.
Organisationally, RotaCloud has helped us to be much more structured in the way that we do the rotas — it's helped us align the way that we've run the rotas across the different sites.
Adapting to Covid
Like so many UK businesses, guitarguitar were forced to close their physical stores at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. With RotaCloud in place, however, Bobby and his team were able to adapt quickly.
When we closed the stores last year, we ended up taking a bunch of people who worked in-store, setting them up with laptops and getting them working in online sales or support.
Being able to quickly adjust their shifts and roles in RotaCloud meant that we could easily gauge not just who was working where and who they reported to, but we could measure their effectiveness and productivity.
Having all that information on RotaCloud at a glance has been pretty cool. It's been very, very useful for us, he added.
RotaCloud even enabled guitarguitar to experiment with new shift patterns.
We trialled switching our online support teams from a static 10am–6pm shift to 8am–8pm, which has been a massive success. We couldn't really have done that without RotaCloud giving us the flexibility to do that so quickly and easily.
RotaCloud’s Shift Notes feature has also made life easier for guitarguitar’s location managers now that staff were working from different locations.
Our online sales and support team are in the process of doing a phased return. RotaCloud has been vital for that because it means that we can put notes on the days when staff are working from home or coming in.
It's great — if you ever need to get a hold of someone, you can always see at a glance where they’re gonna be.
If someone can do all of this in Excel, then I take my hat off to them.
Annual leave & reports
Whenever we talk to our customers about how RotaCloud has changed the way they work, we make sure to ask about the features they’ve found to be the most beneficial.
For Bobby and the guitarguitar team, there were two in particular that stood out.
The way people can request leave is really, really good, Bobby told us.
If you're a member of staff, sitting at home with your partner planning a holiday, you can request leave right there on the app.
You don't need to make a note, you don't need to text your manager, you don’t need to have a meeting with them the next day; you just put the request in there and then.
If [the request] needs to be discussed a little bit more, the manager can do that, or they can just go bang and approve it. It’s a really neat feature — it gets used constantly.
This streamlined approach to booking annual leave has also made life easier for guitarguitar’s managers.
The fact that the staff can monitor their own [leave] allowance is great. It makes their manager’s life really easy because they don't constantly have to be telling people how many days they’ve got left — staff can check their allowance on RotaCloud whenever they want.
The fact that everyone now requests leave in the exact same way also means we can have the exact same leave guidelines at every location, he added.
Finally, RotaCloud’s suite of one-click reports has also been of great benefit to the guitarguitar team.
We get a breakdown of hours worked or shifts worked by role by day, or over a custom period, Bobby told us.
These are all things that we use constantly to measure the effectiveness or efficiency and productivity of our different departments.
We use information from RotaCloud as an integral part of our reporting now, which allows us to make improvements and to flexibly drive the success of our business.
If someone can do all of this in Excel, then I take my hat off to them. But if, as either a manager or a leader, you just want access to really, really good, relevant information in one place, RotaCloud’s going to give you that.
Big thanks to Bobby Simpson for taking the time to talk to us about how RotaCloud has helped guitarguitar grow. To learn more about how RotaCloud can add value to your retail business, check out our Retail page.