How we deliver value via retail maintenance services – the CAPS Group way
Interview with Joanna Kozak, Product Manager, Maintenance at CAPS Group
Interviewer: Katarzyna Plewa, Marketing Specialist at CAPS Group
Retailers today face many challenges to survive in the era of omnichanel and changing customer behaviour and preferences. Old concepts don’t work anymore – customers demand novelty, excitement, convenience and value. Once you are able to deliver all that – you stay on top of the game.
So, you have your customers flocking into your brick and mortar store: now you need to make sure your customer service staff and the store itself functions without a hitch. Customer service standards are surely deep in your strategy and brand image development. But what about the technical condition of your store?
With your store network expanding in number and across international markets, providing proper store maintenance in-house is becoming quite an operation. This is when an experienced, ‘hands-on’ maintenance partner comes in handy. And, you might find it can save you time and money.
Introducing retail maintenance services – the CAPS Group way.
KP: How did it all start with CAPS taking on maintenance ?
JK: We at CAPS, having worked with retailers for over 15 years, continously challenge ourselves to provide better and relevant services to our customers. We understand that brands growing intensively want to focus on their core operations so we have decided, inspired by a customer, to introduce store maintenance services to our ‘one stop shop’ service portfolio. About 3 years later and a lot of hardwork here we are on the market with an efficient and competitive maintenance product.
KP: It’s been almost 2 years since CAPS provides retail maintenance services to one of the biggest sportswear retailers in Europe. Currently, we service 50+ stores in 5 countries throughout Europe for this customer, but how did it all start?
JK: Our goal from the very beginnning was to make this cooperation run like clockwork. Before agreeing the final co-operation model with the client, we paid a lot of attention to collecting relevant and good quality input data. To start with, we fully audited the stores to be serviced and discussed a lot of nitty-gritty with the store managers. This quite exhausting yet critical process enabled us to define goals, identify local differences and finally – propel our ‘operational machine’. We set up maintenance standards practically from scratch and were capitalising on experience case by case in order to enhance it. I think we did a pretty good job, since only 6 months from the kick off CAPS were servicing all the health and safety revisions required by law in Central Europe. This brought the client to the decision to hand us responsibility for maintenance services covering their stores in the next seven markets. Another 150+ stores !
I think we can be proud of such this dynamic partnership and cooperation we have developed with the client.
KP: From your experience, what do big retailers expect the most from retail maintenance services providers?
JK: Finding the best technical solutions and making necessary adjustments and repairs on time is a crucial and basic part of this service. We have to be very specific and concrete: diagnose problems and propose proven solutions very quickly, especially when it comes to reactive repairs and emergency situations. Fixing immediate problems is very important to retail clients as every hour of a store downtime costs them a lot of money.
Optimising ressources and costs is also much important. Not to mention the fact that for some retail managers, especially at the beginning of the cooperation, it can be the main factor of success. We understand that. Providing the most cost-effective solution requires not only outstanding operational and organisational skills, but also developing repeatable practices to standardise workflow. Plus, we need to have a great understanding of the market, available solutions and access to potential partners and contractors.
And about the money: retail chains are well aware that reactive and emergency visits are the most expensive ones. Prevention is always cheaper than cure. That’s why big retailers need our strong expertise and knowledge on preventive vistis and visits required by the law in the countries they have their stores.
Additionally, being pro-active is something that retailers expect. And we happen to have it in our company DNA. A worry-free service from the team of commited specialists, reflected in a hands-on, can-do attitude is something that we are determined to provide. Such an attitude is also a fuel for learning new things for all the stakeholders. Because yes, in this sector, even after solving hundreds of issues there is always some completely new situation that can pop up.
All in all – the maintenance service for retailers should be all about convenience and security. They should feel confident that no maintance issues come in the way of their core operations. These are the values that I think matter the most for our clients.
KP : What are main challenges in your job of overseeing maintanance services to CAPS clients ?
JK : This business requires a high level of hard skills, but what is equally important is good communication between maintenance managers or specialists and store managers. With the business growing in many countries it becomes even more challenging. This is why at CAPS we have a team of specialists with a solid customer service background coupled with strong foreign language skills. We believe that communicating in a local language is something that makes store managers feel comfortable and is a weight off their shoulders. My current challenge is to introduce quickly and efficiently my team members to oncoming projects in many european countries. And always finding time for sharing knowledge and best practice outcomes to make us grow. And this is quite exciting.
I take my job quite seriously. The pressure is really high sometimes, but when you like what you do and enjoy working with clients then it gives you a lot of satisfaction. And, the business itself will be developing further so there is still a lot to accomplish.
KP : What is the future of maintenance services in your opinion?
JK : I think we can observe a growing influence of digitalisation and automation in maintenance services. All the businesses and services must keep up with these global trends.
If something can be done easier and more precisely why wouldn’t we make use of it? Well customised analytical software support is a must-have already today. The system that highlighs important metrics so that both client and provider are on the same page and go in the same direction creates a common language. The system should also allow us to observe large scale changes that can’t be observed otherwise on a daily basis and prompt us to come up with new solutions. The support of tools that speed up our reaction, decison making and reporting helps to save time and money. Mobile tools should be developed accordingly so that reporting issues can be done in even more live, real time by store staff.
Relying more on systems and allocating saved time to deepen human relations is the second thing that I think will change and I’m really enthusiastic about this. Video conferences and comunicators are helpful in getting things done but reserving more time for face to face meetings can bring more durable and long term profits and get the very most of creativity and innovation to bring the business to a higer level.
Joanna works at CAPS Group as Product Manager, Maintenance.
Contact Joanna at: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the company: at CAPS Group we get it. We provide a ‘one stop shop’ service to retailers that care about their sales performance and the power of customer experience. Get in touch and challenge us!