Cumberland Farms Achieves Operational Efficiency & Standardization Across Its Stores
WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — If the COVID-19 pandemic has proven anything, it is that communication and in-store operational efficiency are critical topline priorities for convenience store retailers in these unprecedented times.
In a recent Convenience Store News webinar, sponsored by Reflexis, Cumberland Farms' business director shared how the Massachusetts-based c-store chain improved store communication, labor scheduling and brand consistency across the organization.
Prior to being acquired by EG Group in 2019, Cumberland Farms was in search of operational solutions that could reduce the time spent by its store managers on scheduling; create more effective and accurate labor schedules; and improve operational efficiency by standardizing the communications sent to its stores and creating transparency across the company.
The retailer decided to enter into a partnership with Reflexis, a provider of AI-powered workforce management, execution and communication solutions, to tackle its labor, communication and operational challenges.
"Early on in our partnership, we realized that in order to make software work, you need to pair it to operational execution to ultimately become the standard for how our stores operate," explained Cumberland Farms Business Director Josh Bradstreet. "Reflexis tools enable us to communicate clear expectations and monitor those results."
Together, Cumberland Farms and Reflexis developed a "5-S" methodology: sort, shine, set, standardize and sustain. They then implemented these strategies through three Reflexis programs:
- Task Manager: Enables Cumberland Farms to send messages to team members and alerts the retailer when the message has been received.
- Q-Walk: A store walk audit confirms that stores received and acknowledged the message sent in Task Manager, and consequently the task was executed properly.
- Workforce Scheduler: Builds labor standards for each in-store activity and has allowed Cumberland Farms to transition from a transaction-based labor allocation methodology to an activity-based labor allocation methodology
"We feel like we have all three solutions working in harmony with each other," Bradstreet said.
TESTING & EXPANSION
As with any acquisition, when EG Group took ownership of Cumberland Farms, the acquiring party was looking to realize the synergies it had planned on. At the same time, Bradstreet and others across the Cumberland Farms organization wanted to see the Reflexis partnership stay in place.
"Reflexis jumped in to help us build a potential ROI and benefits package for EG and communicated to the company that Reflexis was a superior offering to some of the systems and programs that they had in place," he recalled.
United Kingdom-based EG Group is now rolling out Reflexis programs and platforms across its stores in Europe and Australia as well, with the overall goal being to standardize all EG banners with this suite of programs and offers. Currently, EG Group operates 5,300 sites across three continents, with roughly 1,700 locations in the United States across 31 states.
Cumberland Farms further solidified its partnership with Reflexis through the "Farm Up" initiative. While all Cumberland Farms locations are outfitted with Reflexis solutions, a subset of the stores are participants in Farm Up, which is a testing ground for complete store standardization and operational efficiency.
When Cumberland Farms and Reflexis tested the Farm Up stores compared to a controlled set of similar c-stores in a before and after study, the analysis not only found justification in the retailer's prior investment in the solutions, but also recognized additional opportunities. For example, Farm Up stores experienced a 2 percent lift in topline sales performance and a 0.50 percent increase in gross performance.
"When you're looking at a lot of convenience stores, that is a significant ROI for us," said Bradstreet.
In addition to Farm Up, Cumberland Farms is currently testing mobility with Reflexis' Q-Walk solution, which will allow team members to access task management via their mobile devices.
It is also slated to test cross-store scheduling with Reflexis' Employee Self-Service, essentially allowing Cumberland Farms to share labor between stores. This solution will address overtime issues; provide team members who are eager to work more hours the chance to pick up and select shifts; improve standardization across its stores; and allow team members to work with other leaders and teams across the organization.
"Reflexis anticipates needs. Training is big part of execution, and we test products all the time. Reflexis solutions relieve us of re-familiarizing team members or introducing a new user interface experience," said Bradstreet. "We invest a lot of time and effort into training, so anytime you can introduce functionality to someone who is already familiar with it or workstreams around it, it's a significant win for us."
Westborough-based Cumberland Farms operates approximately 600 c-stores in the Northeast and Florida. It is a member of the EG America family.
A replay of this webinar, "How Cumberland Farms Improved Store Communication, Labor Scheduling & Brand Consistency Across the Organization," is available here.