The name Haskins was first connected with Dorset horticulture back in 1882 when its first nursery opened in Poole. The business has grown significantly over the years and Haskins now operates four of the largest garden centres in the UK and is well known internationally for its innovative and inventive approach to garden retailing.
The four garden centres are located at Ferndown in Dorset, Roundstone in Angmering, West Sussex, Snowhill, also in West Sussex and West End, Southampton. Each centre provides a wide variety of products and services for the home and garden, and each has its own children’s play area, Plant Advice Centre and restaurant.
Fedden-USP was asked to undertake Lean training within the restaurant at the West End garden centre to:
- Identify value-adding and non-value-adding activities
- Introduce a new culture so that all employees constantly work to improve the quality and reliability of the restaurant service
- Free up staff time to allow them to spend more time influencing customers and less time apologising to them!
The three main areas of the restaurant that Lean focused on were:
- How to improve the customer experience and service at the deli/breads counter.
- How to keep the cake counter looking at its best all of the time and how to use it to increase ice cream sales.
- How to reduce queuing time to pay – for customers with hot food and hot drinks.
Fedden-USP used customer journey mapping’ to understand what customers experienced when visiting Haskins’ Restaurant, to identify and prioritise problem areas and re-design processes to eliminate any wasted activities being undertaken by restaurant staff.
Fedden-USP undertook a 5-day Lean Improvement Workshop at the West End restaurant, which was a pioneering approach to training within a UK restaurant. The training involved staff from all four Haskins’ restaurants, initially looking at how to improve the customer experience at the deli/breads counter. By process mapping all the stages involved from the time a customer placed an order to delivery of that order to the customer, helped to identify where activities could be combined, changed or eliminated to reduce the waiting time for customers.
A current state process map was also completed for the cake counter and soon discovered that customers were waiting for ice cream and cakes as there were no dedicated staff for this counter; staff from other sections served at this counter ‘when they could’ and so customers were often left waiting for service.
Finally, Fedden reviewed the area where hot drinks were prepared and a process map identified that it was taking 4 minutes 23 seconds to produce and deliver a coffee to a customer. Non-value adding activity was identified and the ‘journey’ taken by the member of staff to make the coffee highlighted that the area needed to be organised more efficiently. The training also highlighted that 25% of all customers were purchasing food without hot drinks so till operators have an opportunity to up-sell to customers. Opening an additional till would increase this opportunity and the increased profits generated through the extra sales would more than pay for an additional till operator.
By making the changes highlighted through Lean to the three areas that the training focused on, identified potential additional annual sales of over £54k at West End and if similar improvements are carried out at their restaurants in Dorset and West Sussex, then Haskins could benefit from increased sales of over £162k pa.
At the deli/breads counter, customer waiting times were significantly reduced leading to an overall improvement in customer service and increased sales through satisfied customers. At the cake counter, employing a permanent member of staff also reduced waiting times for customers and helped to drive up ice cream sales. Finally, by re-arranging the layout of the hot drinks area, reduced the time taken to produce and deliver a coffee to a customer to 1 minute 14 seconds. Across each area, the customer experience was greatly improved through more efficient service leading to reduced waiting times.
Ben Harrison, Interim Group Catering Manager at Haskins commented: “We’re delighted with the results of the Lean Training so far and will continue to look for ways to improve both the service our customers receive and their overall experience when visiting our restaurants.”
Neil Fedden, Principal Consultant at Fedden-USP added: “It was a great pleasure working with the team at Haskins as all those involved were keen to learn about Lean and the impact it could have on their business. It was a first for us to adapt the training to a restaurant environment, but it worked very well and produced some very good results. I wish all the team at Haskins well in continuing with the improvements at their outlets in Dorset and West Sussex.”