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Engineers on the go

Jason O’Neill, National Maintenance Operations Manager for Greggs, explains how the food-on-the-go retailer has created a state-of-the-art, technology-led, shop maintenance service with impressive results

I joined Greggs 20 years ago as a shop maintenance engineer. Having worked through various roles within the team, I now head up shop maintenance operations. In today’s fiercely competitive market, the facilities service management operation is a vital backbone for all food service chains. It can impact so many areas of a business, including costs, margins, revenue, health and safety and customer experience.

Any inefficiency has the potential to affect margins through higher costs and reduce revenue through lost sales and negative customer experience. Equipment breakdown, such as a hot food unit or coffee machine with a fault, needs to be fixed as fast as possible to avoid lost sales, customer frustration and, potentially, money in a competitor’s pocket.

Unfortunately, when it comes to setting the strategic agenda, many organisations don’t give the facilities service management operation the business-critical focus it should have. But as pressure continues to increase on the cost and revenue front, particularly with Brexit looming, this is likely to change.

By innovating and introducing new technology in facilities service management, the productivity improvements and cost savings gained can offset rising and less controllable costs in other areas of the business. Processes can be streamlined, operational efficiency optimised, touchpoints minimised, and administration reduced – not just across facilities management, but in back office administration, sales order processing and invoicing. It’s important for all food service businesses to recognise that new technologies can help them to remain competitive.

Automation and digital processes can remove millions of administration touchpoints and a great deal of paperwork each year, as well as providing visibility, control and an important digital audit trail. For organisations and food service chains with field service teams, routes, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions can be monitored and minimised through a service management system to reduce both costs and environmental impact.

At Greggs, serving millions of customers each week depends on our service operations team maintaining our equipment and premises in optimum condition, from fridges and freezers, hot food units and coffee machines to the speedy repair of shop fittings. Our shop maintenance team performs a key role in the overall customer experience and smooth running of our shops.

We have a team of 52 in-house engineers as well as subcontractors that maintain 1,800 company-managed shops and catering equipment nationwide. Despite growing our company-managed estate, we haven’t needed to increase the number of engineers required to maintain them. We’ve used our existing resources more effectively by investing in the best technology and continually optimising our processes.

SKILLS AND TECH
All our engineers are multi-skilled. This is important because the service and maintenance requirements of our shops are so varied. Engineers are able to carry out work ranging from equipment repairs to changing light fittings and general maintenance.

Our service management platform simplifies the management of complex processes in our fast-paced business. It was essential for us to have real-time visibility and control of our shop maintenance operation for planned and preventative maintenance – including engineer activity, every asset at every shop, asset history, and the status of jobs – at any point in time.

The scale and growth ambitions of Greggs and our desire to continuously improve efficiency and customer experience meant we also required a future-proof system able to take on more processes over time. We chose Aeromark’s real-time service management platform because, as well as its comprehensive core function set, it is exceptionally configurable both to our current and future needs. The platform can be customised to suit the way we want to operate, rather than limit our performance or processes to fit the constraints of a vendor’s system.

Our shop maintenance operations team now has a single centralised platform for asset management, dynamic real-time scheduling of planned maintenance and reactive work, integrated mobile workflows, vehicle tracking and seamless integration with subcontractors.

This has increased the efficiency of our shop maintenance service supply chain, reduced our subcontractor costs and enabled us to use our in-house multi-skilled engineers more effectively. As a result, we have driven up productivity by 146 per cent, and the number of service or repair jobs each of our in-house engineers can complete in a day has increased from three to more than seven, on average. That’s a huge gain in efficiency.

We’ve also made it simpler and more efficient for shop staff to report issues and request engineer callouts. We wanted to empower our shops to take ownership of their requirements and enable them to track the progress of their job requests through to completion. Previously, shops had to ring a busy central contact centre which handles thousands of calls each week. Even relatively minor maintenance, such as a broken door handle, is important to report in order to maintain good-looking shops and an exceptional customer experience.

About Sarah OBeirne

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