Workforce Management Solution Helps Kum & Go Reduce Costs, Lower Employee Turnover
Kum & Go is a 24/7 convenience store chain that operates 400-plus locations in the Midwest. Like many convenience store businesses that are open around the clock, Kum & Go was challenged with staffing issues. In particular, store general managers were being forced to pick up uncovered shifts when employees called out and didn't have someone to cover for them — often during overnight hours — and were struggling to maintain healthy work-life balances. This situation was negatively impacting Kum & Go's business in multiple ways: cost overruns from paying overtime to its stores’ most expensive workers (general managers and assistant general managers); increased employee turnover from workers that were burned out from the long hours; lower employee satisfaction; and compromised customer service from understaffed stores and overworked employees.
To address its workforce management needs, Kum & Go looked at multiple solutions in the marketplace, ultimately opting to partner with Branch, a mobile-first technology that provides schedule flexibility for hourly employees. Kum & Go has rolled out Branch's app-based solution as a tool for employees to better communicate with each other, making it easy for them to trade and pick up open shifts. In addition to making it easier for employees to communicate with each other, Branch widens the net of potential employees to pick up shifts from the 8-10 employees at an individual store to hundreds of employees that are within a store's district. Kum & Go's store districts encompass a 25-mile wide radius, and when an open shift is posted to the Branch app, all employees within that district are notified and able to pick up the shift.
While use of the Branch app is voluntary for Kum & Go employees, the convenience store has seen high adoption rates among its workers. As of the end of 2018, 100 percent of Kum & Go's stores were using the app, and 91 percent of the company's 4,400 store-level employees were active users. In fact, more than half of those workers are logging into the platform on a daily basis.
"Supervisors can now communicate with their whole district in one place," says Jon Renaud, director of operations at Kum & Go. Renaud noted that Kum & Go has 29 store districts, with 12-15 stores per district, and roughly 180 employees per district. "Seventy percent of our workforce is back to full-time, but with a gig economy."
Successful Pilot Leads to Full Roll Out
Kum & Go ran a pilot program with the Branch app in May through August last year. The pilot was conducted in district 10, which comprises Little Rock, Ark., one of Kum & Go's busier markets. At the start of the pilot, Kum & Go's store managers in district 10 were covering, on average, 45 shifts per week (three per manager). At the end of the four-month pilot, that number had shrunk to an average of four shifts per week. The end result of the pilot was that Kum & Go realized a 25 percent reduction in overtime costs, while giving hourly associates 27 hours more. That equated to a more than $1 million cost savings that went directly to Kum & Go's bottom line. Following the successful pilot, Kum & Go rolled out Branch to all of its store districts in October 2018 following a quick training in each market.
With Branch, Kum & Go's store managers can now get their open shift requests out to a larger pool of employees much quicker than before, significantly increasing the chances that they they get picked up. As long as an employee is out of training and assigned to a full-time store, they're able to pick up open shifts.
Renaud notes that in addition to cost savings, Branch has helped Kum & Go to reduce employee turnover and better staff its stores, which he anticipates will lead to improved customer service and customer experiences, ultimately driving more sales.
"We've recently rebranded our purpose at Kum & Go to focus on making days better for our customers and employees," Renaud says. Branch is a prime example of how the convenience store plans on doing that.