Recognized for excellence in customer service, Ben’s Brewing in Yankton, South Dakota provides a friendly and upbeat atmosphere where guests can enjoy their favorite drinks at great prices every night.
Owner Ben Hanten knows firsthand the importance of maintaining satisfied customers and staff members, and Ben’s Brewing is a breathing testament to his experience in this highly demanding industry.
Hanten demands excellence from his employees and has insisted on superior service for his customers since he opened the bar in 2005. His customer satisfaction rating reflects his commitment to excellence “Our customer satisfaction has always been really high, even the first year,” said Hanten. Perhaps the only people at Ben’s Brewing who are happier than the customers are the employees. Hanten considers his staff members to be his biggest asset and does his very best to maintain their satisfaction.
Since scheduling has such a dramatic impact on employee satisfaction, he and his management team used to spend countless hours making sure that his employees were satisfied with their schedules, building each schedule by hand using Google Calendars – one shift at a time. Hanten knew that he couldn’t continue, and that this process wouldn’t scale.
Challenges for Ben’s Brewing:
• Replace the home grown manual calendar system (Excel and Google Calendar), and collection of sticky notes with an efficient, Web-based scheduling system.
• Decrease costly turnover by keeping staff members happy, and always on the “same page” as senior management.
• Streamline efficiencies to provide profits for expansion of the core business.
The TimeForge Solution:
• TimeForge Scheduling
Scheduling the “Old Way” – Painful
By streamlining the bar’s labor scheduling practices, Hanten knew that he would be able to spend more time with customers and other more important demands of his business. He wanted a more streamlined approach so that he could continue to keep his employees happy without spending as many hours scheduling.
“Employees are always at the top of our list; finding good people and keeping them. We cannot pay benefits like other jobs. Our benefit is to be flexible in scheduling. We hire a lot of young people just out of college – they are optimistic, not jaded. They are happy to see customers, they want to do a lot of things, they are always on the go, and often want time off,” said Hanten.
Google Calendars had many shortcomings, as far as Hanten was concerned. Scheduling was done through endless hours of rearranging and guesswork, and Hanten was exhausted trying to keep his employees satisfied. He said, “I think they were happy, but I was not happy!” After posting a hard copy schedule at the bar, employees were notified through email that they needed to come check the schedule.
Prior to TimeForge, employees were often confused about their schedules. “There were confusions of, ‘I thought I was working this shift’ at least once or twice a week. We’d be on the cell phone, like, ‘Hey, you were supposed to be in at 7:15!’” Staff were showing up late at least once or twice per week.
At one point, Hanten even tried the basic scheduler contained within his point of sale system, but it was not the solution he needed. “The POS system does have a scheduling program, which is nice because it integrates with the time clock directly, but it did not take into account the realities of our business.”
Like any bar, turnover was also a pretty serious problem. Hanten described his bar’s turnover rate as, “Hiring people every 4 months, and for a place that has fewer than 10 employees, that’s a lot.”
Much of the turnover at Ben’s Brewing can be attributed to the industry. As Hanten said, “turnover in this business does create some morale problems in itself, because you’re expecting people to jump into situations where some people may not get as much training or instruction as they require.”
Quality and production obstacles were also getting in the way. “Before TimeForge, we were also a formative business. We thought that everything was pretty random. We blamed forces like the weather.” Hanten also described struggles with, “keeping up with inventory.” He stated, “I think we’ve got a very good handle on that now, with our TimeForge reports and graphs.”
It’s Time For The New Way – TimeForge
Facing these problems head on, Hanten started learning about his options for a staff scheduling solution that would work for Ben’s Brewing. The final catalyst for him was when his business experienced a level of growth that simply required action on his part. “My girlfriend was a manager at a bar, and they had made the switch. That was working with the technology of the day.”
Hanten felt inclined to incorporate a solution that would use technology that his employees felt comfortable using. Plus, he knew that a solution was necessary for Ben’s Brewing to thrive, without driving him crazy.
Hanten looked at his options, and found TimeForge to be promising. TimeForge offered more features than the competition, and it fit the budget.
Hanten ultimately decided to use TimeForge because, “it was cheap enough to give it a shot”. Hanten described his first reaction to the software as he was trying to figure out all of the reports. He stated, “I thought that it would tell me what could be improved at my business immediately. I was interested in trying to learn every detail of the system!”
Measurable Return on Investment
When asked about TimeForge’s affect on his bottom line, Hanten said, “well it’s definitely improved it. We just opened up another bar… It’s just a much more organized system. Its absolutely necessary that we have it.” Even customers can feel the impact of TimeForge. Hanten says his customer service has, “always been good. It’s even better now because we can focus more on the business instead of employee problems.”
Hanten says that the improvement in his employee turnover rate is dramatic. “It has improved turnover, because we’re not freaking out on somebody at the last minute, and they’re saying ‘I put this request in four weeks ago!’ Sometimes, they do actually need the time off, and if they can do it in a way that’s advanced enough for us to plan, that’s great!”
“All bars are different. We don’t have the same two regular bartenders. If you have a more dynamic situation and you’re events-driven, where you have a spike on different days, it’s very important to have a scheduling solution.”
Hanten summed up his experience with TimeForge as, “I’m very happy with it. I use it all the time. I think that they’ve made it very easy to approach them about support issues and improvements, and that’s what I look for in a company.”