Crew Stories: How communications changed the game at Little Caesars
by Sean Oliver, on December 4, 2019
We recently had a great discussion with Julie Dobson, a general manager at LAMM Inc., about how Crew’s communications and scheduling solution helped the Little Caesars franchisee group slash manager effort when it came to getting shifts covered. By shortening that cycle by 88%, Crew freed up 25% of managers’ overall time to focus on more strategic tasks. Crew also helped increase shift coverage to 95%, keeping frontline teams fully staffed so they can do their best work.
Here are a few of the highlights from our chat with Julie:
Crew: As GM of three Little Caesars locations in Canada, what does your role entail?
Julie: My role changes on a day-to-day basis, and that's what I love about it -- nothing remains the same. I manage everything from our inventory, to sales, to keeping our labor as a percentage of sales in check, to making sure we provide a quality pizza for a value price, and do it all within our corporate limitations.
When I started at my position, my goal was to be the best first boss a kid had. I was making the transition from mom to manager, so I approached my role as more of a momager. I show our 16-22-year-old crew members that this is their business and they need to take their jobs seriously, but they need to have fun at their jobs, too. Going into the stores is the best part of my day because I love to show people how to do new things. I can just see them thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can't ever get this,” and then a week later, they're doing it without effort.
Crew: What led you to adopt a solution like Crew?
Julie: Scheduling and labor is one of the biggest challenges I face. I need to ensure we have people that can open the store, run a busy lunch, and also then prepare for our Hot-N-Ready® time in the evening. Each store has different customer demographics and other things that influence our labor needs, like when nearby workers’ paychecks come out or the weather. About three years ago, I was having issues because my frontline teams were not always checking their email so they wouldn’t see the schedules or messages I sent out via our When I Work app.
We started with just one store on Crew, and I used it nonstop. Then I was given two more stores to manage, which came with more challenges, and I put them on the app as well. Now, it's an app I require when I do new hire orientations, and we have 99% adoption. I let everyone know that they have to use When I Work and Crew, and I have them use the store Wi-Fi to download both right then. It's really important for me to know that they're able and willing to be communicated with -- one of my mottos is "communication is your key to freedom."
Crew: How has Crew helped you manage labor and staffing?
Julie: Managers use Crew to let people know when it's busy at the store. They can just send a blast out over Crew. The way I set it up is that we've got one group chat that goes out to everyone, one for my opener-closers, one just for assistant managers, and I also have groups that link all three stores. That way we can ask folks from another location to come in when we need extra help, or when it's really slow in January during the middle of a snowstorm, it's helpful to know where people are and what we can expect for a shift.
It also helps me get a better hold on the availability of my team so I can place them in the spots where they're available instead of people telling me later, "Oh, I can't work this day," and them leading the way on the scheduling. Communicating with Crew gives me a leg up so I’m able to schedule around what I need for the store. In terms of shift coverage, Crew has absolutely been a game-changer for us. It gets us instant coverage instead of sending out a bunch of texts, and waiting 2-4 hours for someone to come home from school and respond. Before, we’d get between 85-90% of those shifts covered, but it would take a while. Now, we’re at 95% coverage, and I’m saving 10 hours a week that I can now spend on training at the store level.
Crew: What features do you and your team use on a daily basis?
Julie: We use Crew’s Gold Stars all the time, where someone will say, “That was a great close" or, “I went into the store and you guys were doing really well." I really like that I can show my support by putting an emoji, thumbs up, or other reaction on the message. I don't want to overdo it by always giving everybody a pat on the back, but they do need to know that I'm there and rooting for them, because I don't see everyone every single day.
I also like that our Crew group for store leaders allows them to reach out to each other and solve problems, and I can still see that, but I don't have to be involved in each conversation. It's a great way for me or one of my assistants to say, "Hey, this worked really well in the store today. This was our best practice, but this was a downfall." It gets out so that the other managers can have successes as well.
Crew: How does Crew impact customer service?
Julie: We can't do our job properly if all the shifts aren't covered. If people have to wait more than six minutes for a pizza, then I know that we need to get more crew in to make sure our customers are happy. That also aligns with talking amongst the team more. For instance, yesterday, we had two school orders in one of the stores and then we had a mad lunch rush. Somebody had told me, “Oh, the buses are running late, and I'm going to be 15 minutes late for my shift,” so I sent that out over Crew, and everyone on the floor knew they needed to step it up a little bit so that we wouldn’t behind.
When a limited time offer comes up or something changes in the store, I can send it out on Crew and say, "Listen, the old limited time offer is done on Sunday, and the new one's coming out on Monday. If you don't have training yet, please let your manager know. Let's be aware that the dress station has to change." It's a huge asset to be able to tell every single person at the same time, because one of the most important things in a store is communication.
Thanks to Julie for sharing how Crew helps the LAMM team stay informed, get shifts covered, and keep customers coming back. Learn more in their full customer story here.