Q&A: Dr Chris McCullough, Founder and CEO, Rotageek
As a former Emergency Care Doctor and current CEO of Rotageek, Chris brings a unique perspective to the workforce management world.
Having experienced the pressures of rostering firsthand, he understands the importance of efficient and effective scheduling in critical environments. In his current role as CEO of Rotageek, he leads the company in supporting some of the largest retail businesses to create better, more efficient, flexible and more productive staff work schedules.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I started my career as a Doctor specialising in Emergency medicine. I loved many things about practising but genuinely struggled with the way rotas were planned and delivered. Given the huge scope to improve, I pulled in another doctor and a technical guru. Together, we came up with the pioneering scheduling solution now known as Rotageek.
I’ve been leading the business since 2006 and am hugely proud to be part of a team of passionate, hard-working and knowledgeable geeks.
Outside of work I’m a dedicated dad to three boys and am teaching them how to love F1 and Tottenham as much as I do!
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
When the founding team put the finishing touches on our scheduling product, we were primed to revolutionise how rosters were done within the UK’s healthcare sector. But it was only after a few years, and a successful sidestep into the retail world, that Rotageek truly became a world-class scheduling company, that counts some of the world’s largest brands as customers.
We’re an award-winning, best-in-class employee scheduling solution that has re-invented how rosters are done. We’re UK owned and backed, and believe we can deliver any retailer over 200 employees a stronger ROI than any incumbent (and definitely over excel!) – and we don’t make that claim lightly.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
We’re disrupting traditional employee scheduling to optimise the experience for retailers, staff and customers. By digitising key tasks including rota creation, time and attendance, shift swaps and employee communications, we’re driving error-free workforce management and smarter labour alignment for better service, increased sales and higher NPS. Advanced auto scheduling and forecasting options use the power of AI to create truly optimised staff schedules that meet any fluctuations in customer demand.
What advantage does it add?
Broadly, we empower retail teams to reduce schedule related admin by up to 80% and give them more time for strategic tasks, driving satisfaction in their teams and getting stuff done.
What is really exciting is driving operational efficiency and revenue for our clients, whilst also improving the working lives of their teams.
We love it when our clients tell us things like:
‘Less time is being spent on scheduling and more time is being spent with their teams and customers.’
“Rotageek allows our General Managers in shops to plan their staff rotas more precisely, with greater insight into what skill sets they need on the floor during busy periods
“The truth is, we manage operational things like rotas, budget, stock etc.; people do not like to feel as though they are being managed’
How does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
We believe in creating a short time-to-value for client. When a customer joins us at Rotageek, we don’t leave it months before we start getting them implemented. We’ll be upfront about how long we think it will take based on our previous experience. Our implementation process is nimble, agile and dynamic so we aim to get our clients up and running in a number of weeks, from project kick-off through to location-wide go-live.
And it’s an ongoing partnership – we don’t just leave our customers to it! Our Customer Success Managers hold quarterly meetings with our customers to make sure they’re getting the most out of Rotageek. We look at how well they are using our solution and suggested areas for improvement. We’ll also compare metrics like labour spend, sales volume, workforce efficiency metrics, unplanned absences etc. in comparison to life before Rotageek, to make sure we’re delivering ROI.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
A goal of ours is for our customers to see the ROI in using Rotageek. And that includes making sure we’re contributing to their business goals.
Our AI driven, Autoscheduling solution allows businesses to optimise their workforce rotas to their customer demand in just 1 click. This creates a better customer experience as they walk onto a shop floor that has the right level of staff to help them. And ultimately this will drive more sales!
Our retail customer Lush uses both our Digital Scheduling and Autoscheduling solution and they saw:
- A decrease in their staff costs by 8% in one quarter alone, representing a saving of millions of pounds across the year
- A 16% increase in productivity, accounting for an extra £83K worth of sales in one month alone, representing nearly £1m in extra sales across a year
- Digital scheduling delivered within a month, meaning optimised rotas are created in 30 seconds vs 2-3 hours of manual process previously
Are there other companies you partner with?
We don’t believe in siloed data – our solution is even more powerful when data is exchanged with third-party solutions such as HCM, payroll, business intelligence and many others. We’re scheduling geeks so we love to create outstanding workforce management processes for organisations, and have the expertise, technology and flexibility to integrate with most solutions to make it happen. We will always work in partnership with clients and potential clients to maximise their integrations and deliver new ones.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2023?
Working closely with leading retailers in the UK, we have these conversations daily. These are the key ones that come up:
- Supply Chain Issues: Ongoing disruptions make it difficult to maintain inventory levels, affecting both in-store and online shopping.
- Inflation: Rising costs for goods and services can lead to higher retail prices, affecting consumer spending.
- Online Competition: E-commerce giants and Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) models pose significant competition.
- Labour Costs: With a focus on better wages and work conditions, retailers might see an increase in operational costs.
- Consumer Expectations: Modern consumers demand more than just a product; they want experiences, sustainability, and value for money.
- Technological Adaptability: The need for digital transformation puts pressure on retailers to adopt new tech solutions for inventory management, customer experience, etc.
- Data Security: With increased digitisation, safeguarding customer data becomes more challenging.
- Regulatory Environment: Compliance with updated rules and laws, including data protection and sustainability standards, requires continual attention.
- Brexit: The full impact of Brexit on trade agreements and labour availability remains uncertain.
- Omni-Channel Retailing: Combining online and in-store experiences can lead to more customer touchpoints and potentially higher sales.
- Sustainability: As customers become more eco-conscious, sustainable practices can be a strong selling point.
- Personalisation: Using AI and data analytics, retailers can offer personalised experiences, thereby increasing customer loyalty.
- Local Sourcing: To mitigate supply chain risks, focusing on local suppliers can be advantageous.
- Community Engagement: Building strong local community ties can help in brand building and customer retention.
- Niche Specialisation: Focusing on specialised product ranges can differentiate retailers from mass-market competitors.
- Collaborations and Partnerships: Retailers can collaborate with other brands or influencers to expand their customer base.
- Leveraging Data: Advanced analytics can offer insights into customer behaviour, inventory management, and other critical operational aspects.
- Technology Integration: Adoption of AR, VR, or blockchain for improved customer experience and operational efficiency.
- Employee Training: Investing in employee development can yield long-term benefits in customer service and operational efficiency.
In summary, 2023 presents a complex set of challenges but also offers diverse opportunities for innovation and growth. Retailers need to be agile and proactive in adapting to market dynamics to remain competitive.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We’ve been growing exponentially through 2023 as retailers feel the need for ever-more efficiency whilst maintaining and improving employee satisfaction. Into 2024 it’s more of the same for us: driving incredible service experiences for our customers, being at the forefront of technological innovation in scheduling, finding more clients who want to take advantage of the Rotageek solution and all of this on a background of a huge shift in the speed of technical innovation.
To find out how Rotageek can help your retail operation, click here.
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