FMBE has recently been able to catch up with the Logobrand team, putting the questions to a quartet from their field marketing leadership team. Here’s the group interview that delves into the people, the process and the technology that gives the team its sense of uniqueness and purpose.
Sally Abraham, Managing Director, Ali Robinson, Commercial Director, Neil Healy, Operations & IT Director, Claire Rigby, Senior HR Manager
Why has Logobrand focussed on its people in the last 12 months?
[Sally] Our growth plan for the next 3 years is aggressive, and we know that we won’t achieve this without the right people in place. It’s always been important to me that Logobrand has the best trained, motivated and valued people in the business.
Unlike many field marketing agencies, everyone working for us is protected by the benefits of being employed, not self-employed or a contractor, and this is in line with one of our core values – integrity; we make sure we’re doing the right thing. Having the best people both in the field and at head office is the foundation of all our strategic growth pillars. Without the right foundations, everything falls, so it makes sense to put so much focus on our people. This year we have focused investment on developing field team capability and expanding the expertise of our Senior Leadership and Technology team.
What are the challenges of fully employing 75 new full time field team members?
[Claire] It was always going to be a risk, transitioning from a largely tactical workforce to a permanent resource, offering contracts to a team which is not funded by specific client requirement. With Logobrand’s model of data-led call files, and without, unlike other agencies, the luxury of knowing weeks in advance which stores we need to support, the biggest challenge is to ensure the contracted team is fully occupied but we still deliver a great ROI for our clients, as we never call for the sake of calling. We are committed to a certain level of wage expenditure, and we need to make it work for us.
The size of the team means the management requirement has increased; to support the full time contract team (FTC), we’ve added more National Field Managers, and recently appointed a dedicated head office management team for the programme, and there’s naturally been growth in the need for HR support, which is one of the reasons I joined the Logobrand business in the last year!
What have been the rewards?
[Neil] As everyone knows, completion is always a challenge with a tactical workforce. The FTC programme has massively eased our concerns on that front. We can manage their hours and know they’ll contact us if there’s a problem, not just leave us in the lurch, so it’s reduced the burden of chasing results, restaffing any dropped visits and definitely helps me sleep better at night! Last minute activity is much easier to accommodate with a fixed resource too. When a client wants to accompany one of our team to store, it’s easy – we can allocate to the nearest team member and rearrange their schedule to accommodate without any fuss.
It’s also great when we’re looking to test new field software; the FTCs have the best experience to really put the apps through their paces. Then there are the added capability benefits; the FTCs are intensively trained and performance managed so the results that we deliver for our clients are enhanced. The FTCs also support our tactical team, whether that be new starter accompaniments, or support with training and development needs of the wider team so it has really driven overall field team capability.
What developments in technology are keeping Logobrand at the cutting edge currently?
[Sally] Having our own in-house team of developers and designers is a massive competitive advantage for Logobrand, and we’ve always been at the leading edge in this field.
We’ve been working on photo recognition, which has been on the FM agenda for a long while, but, frankly, with disappointing results. We believe we’ve cracked it with Snappy Decisions! We’re in the final phase of testing currently and are using the technology to measure share of space, compliance, price, competitor activity and build planograms, and we expect this to be very much in demand. It’s also using real-time EPOS data to prioritise live actions in store.
[Ali] Snappy Decisions is starting to give clients’ account and brand teams real insight into challenges and opportunities in store, which, as we know, is often very different to what retailer buying teams believe! They’re able to use that in conversation with their retailer customers to demonstrate compliance, or lack of it, negotiate distribution and space and drive strategic plans.
[Sally] Predictive call file modelling is also big on the Logobrand agenda. We are trialling AI systems looking into patterns and trends from 8 different data sources in the metrics we use to select our strategic calls, with a view to being able to predict which stores we will need to support further out than just EPOS data alone currently supports. Of course, we’re Logobrand and one of our core values is agility, so we’ll need to retain that flexibility. There’s always a curveball ready to deflect the best made plans!
We’re also about to roll out our new Lisa 2.0 field app for iPad and iPhone, which will mean the results of every strategic client activity will be reported at store/SKU level in every visit. This allows us to micro-monitor the impact of the team and improve on our already robust ROI model, as every single action taken by the team will be recorded and verifiable in EPOS, at store and SKU level.
[Neil] Our systems capabilities have allowed us to better understand where previous inefficiencies existed and create clear action plans to reduce or mitigate, so we are continually looking to ensure our, and our clients’, budgets are utilised as efficiently as possible.
[Ali] One of the reasons we build our own software – it means we can specify and build exactly what will deliver the best results for our clients, without compromise. If a client needs something, we can build it. No fuss, no extended development times, we find a way to do it!
If we catch up again 12 months from now what would be a good indicator that Logobrand’s investment in people, process and technology has paid off?
[Sally] I’m constantly reviewing progress on our strategic plan, so we’ll be consistently and regularly regrouping, course correcting and refining the plan. Of course, there will be the financials, have we hit our targets? However, it’s not just the numbers which are important, but also client and employee satisfaction. We monitor progress using NPS scoring with all stakeholders, from clients to employees, so returning the usual healthy scores will be the validation that we’re on the right track.