Behind Bars is a company dealing with all facets of events management. Basing it's competitive edge on an entrepreneurial structure in which clients always have a direct link to upper management whilst still being provided with a unique hands on service with the owners themselves- however this poses many difficulties and the company was forced to raise the bar and find a way to innovate management in an inexpensive fashion.
Juricma events management cc T/A was legally incorporated in 2008. Registering to trade in 'events management and all aspects encompassing events management' it's focal core business subsequently become event staffing as well as mobile bar services. Priding itself on the fact that the entity could provide an intimate customer experience in which upper management would tend to customers event needs and be present at all functions it provided optimal customer experiences and satisfaction as the two owners ( or at least one ) would be physically present through the entire eventing process which included:
- client and site meetings were it would be made sure that the event was tailor made despite it's size
- client correspondence as to idea generation, approval, floor plans, quoting and any meeting requests up until the event itself
- Attendance of setup to ensure that customer is satisfied and that everything is according to specification
- running and co-ordinating of event at actual function - breakdown and strike following the event
- post event meetings and dealings Being a saturated and competitive market this was very important for the companies competitive edge that it maintained this degree of client services.
Even though the company was small with a minimum staff base of full time employees, the organization employed approximately one hundred casual staff and rented a storage warehouse as well as a truck. It was therefore necessary to keep overheads as low as possible due to the fact the particular industry was erratic and seasonal at times aside from the necessary clients that utilized the company on a weekly basis.
A big management problem began to rise when the company began to take on larger scale contracts as it soon became very difficult for the owners to assume the above commitments with such a high volume of business which introduced the constant overlapping of functions on a daily basis. As it was a priority to maintain the desired level of customer service in which the clients cherished it soon became apparent that the main members would need to devise a cost effective and innovative way to deal with this issue which required the deconstruction of management orthodoxies as wll as careful planning.
There had to be a big change and Behind Bars faced the challenge of proving to itself, it's industry as well as competitors that there were affordable means of innovation for such a company that would in essence ensure it's survival.
Proving to be virtually impossible for both owners to be at all functions at all times while still maintaining high levels of customer service management began the quest to search the market, internal capabilites as well as internal structure implementation to assess possible solutions in line with the limited budget restraints to assess feasible options.
The essential conclusion reached was that the same service had to be provided without the actual owners of the company being present at the events, site meetings etc.
A combination of wht could be purchased, implemented internally and externally as well as placing more autonomy on the staff base became apparently necessary.
As any person who is charged with the task of managing their own small business will tell you, it is extremely daunting and nerve racking to place decision making power on middle managers and in the case, function managers, is extremely difficult from an emotionall and functional point of view.
After assessing the general retail environment (as it would be impossible to by in bulk various solutions for our company) we discovered various technological solutions that could benefit us in our incremental innovation as well as various free services that would enable us to accomplish our goal.
Staff members were interviewed and client suggestion and recommendation emails were sent out in order to assess which staff would be key in this new approace to conducting business and how would we go about this exactly in lign with the budget and ensuring that our clients events had not seemingly now been prostituted to middle management.
After careful assessment and planning the following was implemented on a trial run basis as we probed in the dark to see if our changes were substantial.
As everybody in advertising knows- you will never fully understand the impact of a campaign until it has actually reached the end consumer and tested in the field- so was true in this instance as we got granted permission to attempt our new management style in a trial REAL TIME event.
The challenge began as we implemented the following solutions at event conseption, actual event and post event to see via trial and error if the following would work:
- 5 employees were selected and mage 'event champions' they would now be more ingrained in the actual process and deal directly with client's and have a degree of autonomy. (created incentives for other staff on a client ranking sheet submitted monthly granting them the ability to become 'event champions' based on there ratings and previous months performance'
- A simple dropbox account was pened in which 'event champions' and management could peer into the cloud to assess were exactly they have been assigned, what was required, calander for meetings etc and were they could also upload there thoughts and ideas for review of upper management'
- Event champions were assigned to site meetings were they would go individually (dependent on what they were assigned to, too meet the clients and after the meeting would have to produce minutes on the dropbox.
- At actual events 2 managers were sent, each with their own headsets to communicate with each other,, an extra set was given to the client themselves so that they could voice their needs at all times. An hourly message had to be uploaded to dropbox on the progress of the function as well as a check sheet.
From these simple implementations as well as as some employee autonomy it became clear that as a small organisation you do not need to have a massive budget in order to rethink and implement a new management style.
This new way of managin and executing functions was implemented as a huge success from the word go with client feedback at each event to carefully monitor the flow of work.
By using the simple free technologies that are available to individuals and organisations the structure of the business changed over night and allowed for upper management to remain actively involved while not being present at each meeting and function.
As small and insignificant as this may sound the organisation was able to triple it's function capacity and remain competitive in learning the valuable lesson that you need not be a massive organisation to innovate your management and all the tools are out there both internally and externally.