With over 600 employees and 166 stores across the UK, bathstore is the country’s largest bathroom specialist retailer. With the showrooms being one of the most integral elements to the company as they are the point of call for the customers, the management and maintenance of the property portfolio is vital. bathstore’s Property Manager, Sonia Cooney, explains: “My team and I manage everything to do with the running of the stores from acquisition, maintenance and compliance, to insurance and reactionary maintenance. Our stores are a valuable part of our company; they’re how our customers view us and our products. It’s therefore essential that as well as being fully compliant and free of any safety hazards, they are also in the very best condition; even something as tiny as a faulty light can have a massive impact on a customer’s perception of the brand.”
Addressing the challenges of managing a large retail portfolio
With the upkeep and compliance of stores being essential to managing such a large property portfolio, the bathstore were in need of a software solution that could centralise all of their property information and enable them to effectively manage the workflow that comes from the day to day management in a streamlined and consistent manner.
Prior to implementing Info Exchange in 2012, their previous in-house system created a heavy workload for the property management team, with information recorded and stored by management, store managers and third party contractors on different systems and in different formats. For Sonia and the maintenance team this meant accessibility and visibility to key information such as lease information, reactive and planned maintenance works for both upkeep and compliance, was time consuming, prone to errors and often resulted in prolonged resolution timescales.
Commenting on their requirements, Sonia said: “With any job that entails managing a large portfolio, a place where important information can be stored, that’s accessible to all team members is vital to a smooth running operation. We didn’t have this in place before 2012, so it was important that a piece of software was implemented.”
To create a centralised property portfolio database, the retailer called upon the UK’s leading compliance and risk management business, Alcumus, in 2012 to implement its renowned compliance software, Info Exchange.
The Info Exchange project management team worked with Sonia and the property management team to consolidate all of their property management data onto a single platform, simplifying their processes and enabling the retailer to store lease and property information, record and manage reactive maintenance issues within stores and proactively manage their compliance obligations such as electrical testing and fire alarms.
More importantly, the workflow functionality that Info Exchange provides as part of their solution, enabled the property maintenance team to automatically receive email notifications when a maintenance issue had been raised by a store. “This functionality is really fantastic”, says Sonia: “The new system sends us a warning signal if an issue has been raised, again, reducing the risk of human error. Additionally the new form provides us with all the necessary details including contact numbers, the store’s details and the issue at hand. What’s more it records the details onto the dashboard, meaning we won’t need to resubmit all the information if another issue should occur in the future. In addition, the form has also increased store manager’s confidence in the support they receive from head office; they feel assured that any issues are being dealt with and will be resolved within a few days. This positively impacts morale. ”
As Alcumus’ Info Exchange is a fully integrated system, each piece of software created needs to be bespoke to the client in order for it to be successfully implemented. This was one of the main reasons why bathstore decided to adopt Info Exchange. Sonia added: “The bespoke element on the package was the initial benefit and swayed our overall decision. It’s refreshing to be able to work with a company that encourages us to have an input into what the dashboard was going to show, how it was going to work and the functionalities, rather than us trying to fit and adjust to an ‘off-the-self’ system. The flexibility was key and is the reason why it has worked so well with the wider team.”
The main benefits of Info Exchange is the accessibility and visibility it provides an organisation; bathstore has certainly felt these benefits, with Sonia confirming: “The accessibility element had a positive effect on our time management. It was a solution to eliminate going back and forth, as the team could simply update their task so I could easily see what’s been completed and what still required our attention.”
Concluding, Sonia commented: “Info Exchange has completely renovated our internal systems and made my working life far more streamlined and effective. It’s fantastic to have a fully integrated system that’s inclusive of the entire team, including those in the stores themselves. We have saved an unquantifiable amount of time, reduced error and unnecessary workload; I truly couldn’t recommend this software enough!”
Alan Neill, Senior Vice President of software Solutions at Alcumus, commented: “Our software has helped numerous companies across the UK with a number of issues including data sharing, streamlining processes and generating reports from analysed data. It’s always rewarding to hear from clients who have experienced such positive effects from our software, and that it has improved internal processes, particularly when these improvements extend to increasing staff morale.”
For more information on Alcumus’ Info Exchange, please visit: https://www.alcumusgroup.com/software-solutions/info-exchange
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