Webbs, Wychbold based in Droitwich, Worcestershire, is one of the largest garden centres in the UK and is a true destination centre with products ranging from plants, pets, gifts and food through to concession stores including Lakeland and HobbyCraft. In addition, there is a 400 seat restaurant and inspirational gardens arranged alongside a beautiful riverside walk.
The company differentiates itself on the high level of customer service that it provides, along with the knowledge and expertise of its staff being able to advise on all aspects of outdoor living. The key to success in business that thrive on customer excellence is to free-up time spent by members of staff in the back office and supporting activities so that they can spend more time at the front of house.
LEAN Workshops – Objectives & Results
The main focus of the LEAN Retail workshops was to ensure that the skills to deliver future business improvements were developed and maintained within the organisation. With this in mind the company put 10 of its employees through the Business Improvement Techniques (LEAN Retail) Level 2 qualification. This consisted of 5-days of intensive training followed by 14-days of on-site mentoring spread over a 12-month period. The candidates worked in improvement teams to implement at least three improvement projects and generate savings/increase in profit of over £50,000 p.a.
At the end of the training the candidates received the national recognised Level 2 qualification in Business Improvement Techniques mentioned above.
The course was heavily subsidised for Webbs through Government funding.
The types of projects undertaken at Webbs and the benefits delivered are outlined below:
• To simplify the data input required on certain till transactions resulting in a massive saving of 40 seconds per transaction, so reducing queuing times at peak periods.
• Process mapping of the webshop picking of customer orders to reduce the distance travelled and time lost. This resulted in a saving of 7.5 hours per day which allowed more products to be added to the website and improved customer service levels.
• Process mapping of the customer ordering process with the aim to reduce incorrect data input and lost orders. The improvements generated a saving of 9 minutes per order resulting in a total saving of 388 hours per year as well as improving the service levels provided to customers.
• Mini-improvement project to reduce the amount of time spent replenishing the top selling compost lines resulted in a saving of 109 seconds for every pallet moved. This equated to a yearly saving of 29 hours.
Fedden USP Training Consultant Colin Allaway, commented: “The team were excellent and totally engaged and committed from the very start of the programme. Being able to work as a cross-functional team and see how the lean tools and techniques could be applied to all areas of the business was highly beneficial. The core of the programme, using experiential learning, meant that real-time processes were evaluated, analysed and quantified improvements recommended and implemented – by the team themselves. This provided transferable and embedded knowledge and skills. The resulting improvement projects were significant, and represent a very good return on the time invested by the company in the training. As an added bonus, the food in the Restaurant was great as well!”
Jacqui Sheard, Webbs HR Manager, commented: “We’ve been delighted with the outputs from the LEAN training. As well as tangible savings, Webbs have benefited from employees who think beyond their department boundaries and apply a more analytical approach to their day-to-day roles. The course is at times challenging and has been great for stretching team members who want to progress. Neil and Colin have provided excellent mentoring and support throughout and the team have learnt to work together to overcome obstacles and deliver meaningful results. We look forward to rolling out more Lean training in future.”
Neil Fedden “ We are so pleased to be associated with such a well-known brand within the Garden Sector and are delighted that Webbs have requested to run another group of Level 2’s, as well as some of last year’s Level 2’s requesting to do the higher level 3 qualification which concentrates on leading improvement activity”.