BIZIMPLY TRANSFORMS WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT AT DOMINION
Dominion Hospitality owns 24 attractive inns and hotels across the south of England, of which eight are directly managed. They provide guests with convenient locations for exploring local attractions or as stopovers. Each of them has its own personality, with great customer service and comfortable rooms. “As a small group, we haven’t lost sight of the little things making a big difference” neatly sums up the company culture.
Delivering on that promise depends on effective workforce management. When Managing Director Drew Brown joined the company, he brought with him a wealth of experience of processes in the hospitality business that he acquired with independent hotels and large chains.
Working for Whitbread PLC, he ran large-scale projects and gained a strong awareness of the need for a digital solution to support staff management across multiple locations. But Whitbread’s headcount is close to 50,000 and has huge resources at its disposal: how could he cost-effectively provide the same level of transparency and communication at Dominion Hospitality?
“Dominion offers great value to customers by running a lean operation. We outsource a lot of the back-office functions such as HR and procurement to LT Management Services, and it was they who recommended that we invest in Bizimply to manage the over 200 staff we directly employ,” says Drew.
“One of the biggest challenges running a multi-location operation is the lack of visibility over what is going on in each location from day to day,” he adds. “And that was a major motivation for bringing in Bizimply.”
“Previously, our business development managers (BDMs) and I were working off a weekly snapshot of what had been going on in the business the previous week. We could often see where we had slipped up, but only when it was too late to do anything about it. That is simply not good enough in the highly dynamic and competitive environment that is today’s hospitality business. You need to be able to see what is happening now, and without a lot of back-and-forth with spreadsheets, emails and telephone calls,” says Drew.
Before Bizimply, employee rotas would typically be printed out late on a Sunday for shifts commencing first thing Monday morning, then pinned to a wall. They would often subsequently be altered by employees, leaving the site managers not knowing if they had the right staff in the right numbers.
On top of this, people often felt they were getting a raw deal: they could not plan their week ahead. Such lack of visibility consumes a lot of time and energy and it can be quite divisive between team members, and also between employees and management. It is not pleasant discussing ‘what went wrong’, ‘why didn’t you tell me about this earlier’, ‘why did you put me on this shift at such short notice’ and so on.
When it then came to attendance tracking, the payroll often differed from what BDMs had communicated to head office by email. There was a lot of scope for error, because everything depended on managers remembering what had actually happened over the past week, which wasted a lot of their time and inevitably resulted in many cases of overpaying or underpaying.
However, Drew emphasises that the objective was not to contain labour costs. “What matters is not reducing hours but the right level of staffing. Having too few staff is worse than having too many if it means you lose business because of poor service,” he says.
Dominion invests a lot of effort in forecasting upcoming demand (based on past trends and upcoming events, such as sports fixtures, and the weather), and matching the level and shape of staff resources accordingly. “Our BDMs’ forecasting has become really accurate,” says Drew, “and now, with Bizimply, we can act on that forecasting.”
First, however, Dominion had to get Bizimply up and running quickly with minimal demands on management’s time. “The support we received from Bizimply to implement their application was fantastic,” says Drew. And Emma Strong, one of the Business Development Managers who was closely involved with the project, adds: “They came in and set up the system and trained the staff very quickly. We were all impressed by how simple and intuitive the application is, so all in all, the transition was very smooth.”
The other advantage for the future is that new enterprises can be onboarded very quickly, as needed. Dominion Hospitality is owned by a private equity firm that has ambitious growth plans.
A big part of Drew Brown coming on board was to put processes, systems and structures in place that Dominion can lift and shift into the companies it acquires. Bizimply is now an important part of that.
Bizimply has been set up to allow seamless sharing of data between LT Management Services and Dominion. All new starters can be entered into the Bizimply system by either LT’s HR team enter or the managers themselves.
Staff members record the start and finish of their shifts, and when they take their breaks, on an iPad with the Bizimply software, so timecards are accurate to the second.
Then at the end of the week the timecards are transferred in an instant to LT, which pushes them to a payroll bureau. “Managers no longer have to worry about the timecards at all, so that saves them a lot of effort!” says Drew.
Since implementing Bizimply, those awkward and unpleasant “why was I not informed earlier?” and “why have I not been paid for all the hours I did?” conversations have become a thing of the past.
Scheduling is planned nine days before the start of a working week, checked and then sent directly to all employees a clear week in advance. “We found that this is optimal. Any earlier leaves you too much exposed to unexpected changes, and any later puts an unfair strain on employees’ work-life balance, especially as many have other sources of employment, or work part-time and have families. This is a major benefit of Bizimply, that it allows you to plan ahead based on the demands of the business and provide visibility to all concerned,” says Drew.
Finally, Drew Brown finds that the business intelligence tools that come with Bizimply provide great insight into how well the company and its individual hotels are performing.
The dashboard serves up all the relevant KPIs at the click of a button, enabling him to identify at a glance the areas that need attention. “Bizimply is ideal for any small to medium-sized and multi-location lean operation like ours that wants to manage staff as effectively as one of the giants in the sector,” Drew concludes.