RBTE 2016: Costa Coffee overhauls labour scheduling system

With different demands on labour across peaks and troughs, the wide variety of formats operated by Costa Coffee  required a the company to implement a new solution to optimise its labour scheduling.

Speaking at RBTE 2016, Tony Sanders, senior project manager at Costa Coffee, said: “The number and type of stores was evolving so we needed to evolve [our systems] along with this, because our scheduling did not manage the footfall. We needed staffing levels to match peak times.”

With concessions, drive-thrus and tube station outlets, there is great variety and Costa has worked with Rethink Productivity Consultancy to “standardise the ways of working so they are consistent across the whole estate”. Sanders added: “We wanted: lower turnover; accurate forecasting; and new ways of reporting, which would improve productivity in-store.”

A study was undertaken to understand specific store activities and the time taken on individual tasks. This was done globally and across all store size, which involved a massive amount of detail.

One key metric was Standard Minute Values (SMVs) – of which 48,000 different measurements were taken. The making of one drink could potentially consist of six SMVs. “These are the bedrock of the new schedules,” and are very powerful when overlaid with the store data that helps differentiate the outlets even though they might look the same on paper, suggested Sanders.

“We’ve forecasted the workloads in the stores for every 15 minute and taken this as well as the store characteristics and matched this to the people profiles so we can now give employees the hours they want and allow them the work/life balance they want,” he explained.

This is also leading to greater revenues: “We now have the right number of people in the stores at busy times so the customer has a better experience, which leads to greater add-on sales.”

After piloting the solution in 20 stores it is now in 75 outlets and a rapid roll-out is taking place that will see it deployed into as many as 150 additional stores each week.