Mud Bay saved 30-90 hours a week on scheduling and reduced store closures due to staffing issues by 85%

United States
retail industry Retail

At a glance

  • Cut their time writing schedules by 25%-50% across 60 locations
  • Simplified compliance with complex scheduling laws
  • Reduced store closures due to callouts and missed shifts by 85%

The Story

Inspired by the name of the road where they acquired their first store, Mud Bay was founded in 1988 in Olympia, Washington. Their first location sold everything from oysters to pig feed. Over time, their pet supplies and products evolved to focus on dog and cat health and nutrition. 

Mud Bay’s mission is all about contributing to the health of dogs and cats and the happiness of those who care for them. They live and breathe key values like being customer service-focused and bringing value to the communities they work in. 

In the last three decades, Mud Bay has evolved to become an employee-owned company. Within the past few years, they’ve grown to over 60 store locations, introduced services like grooming and home delivery, and recently acquired a pet waste composting business. 

As they’ve expanded to new stores and services, they’ve doubled — and almost tripled — in staffing size. Currently, there are 600 staff members, also known as “Muddies,” who have gone through extensive training on dog and cat health and nutrition from day one. The company also supports continued education throughout their careers with Mud Bay.

Some veteran Muddies on the team include IT Program Manager Maggie Crawford, District Manager Catherine Knowles, and Support Admin Cody Clarke.

The Challenge

Before adopting Deputy, each Mud Bay store used Excel for employee scheduling, which drove the team crazy. It was extremely cumbersome, especially when it came to making edits and changes. 

Each store manager across 60 locations would spend an average of 2-3 hours drafting and publishing schedules – cumulating in upwards of 120-180 hours working on schedules alone. 

“It was the worst, it was terrible. In Excel, it was like ‘Oh, that change might break a formula that’s going to calculate the labor hours.’ Then you’re looking and your budget is for 180 hours, and you’re thinking, ‘How am I only at 100?’ Then you realize all your formulas are broken and you have to undo it,” Cody explains. 

“It was pretty painstaking. [With Excel], you can’t just copy the schedule week to week,” Catherine recalls. And their team would have to make a note of all changes on paper, then manually keep track and highlight the date of every edit.

On top of that, Mud Bay was using a separate system to track employee time, but it wasn’t integrated with their scheduling and caused some major headaches. Among those headaches was monitoring compliance with secure scheduling laws, which call for advance notice of schedules among numerous other requirements.

“It was mostly about not having that integration…then really looking at Oregon or Seattle in specific with secure scheduling laws, being able to have timekeeping records and the right key strokes of that. Like, when was the schedule actually generated? When was it published?” 

“Another really big thing was being able to know that breaks were actually being taken, rather than anecdotally being taken,” Catherine says.

There also wasn’t an efficient process for tracking call outs, available staff that could cover shifts, and discrepancies between the schedule and what was actually worked. This had a huge impact on stores being able to stay open and operate. In November 2020 alone, there were 72 incidents of stores opening late, closing early, or not opening for the day due to staffing issues. 

Catherine shares: “The biggest challenge on the operations end was really knowing where our Muddies were supposed to work versus where they did work, and really being able to report on that.”

The hurdles of scheduling and timekeeping also impacted the Muddies themselves. “There wasn’t a robust system they could use. They had to be in the store to be able to access their schedules and see what their upcoming shifts were. They couldn’t do any of the cool, robust things – being able to swap shifts, offer shifts up, ask for time off,” says Catherine. 

“Muddies had to be in the store to be able to access their schedules and see what their upcoming shifts were. They couldn’t do any of the cool, robust things – being able to swap shifts, offer shifts up, ask for time off.”

The Solution

In 2019, Mud Bay began using Deputy. One of the features Muddies were excited about from the get go was having up-to-date schedules in the palm of their hand.

Up-to-date mobile scheduling

“We did hear a lot of excitement from staff at the time when we were going through training about the concept that the schedules were current,” Maggie recalls.

Having up-to-date scheduling and a mobile app that’s easy to use has been huge for the team – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maggie shares:

Prior to Deputy, staff would have to call their store location to get the schedule and take a picture of the schedule. But the schedule might get updated and reprinted. So with social distancing during the pandemic, it was very convenient for staff to say, ‘I can look at a current up-to-date schedule right here from this app.’”

Time saved on writing schedules and compliance

Mud Bay’s schedule writers have saved 25% to 50% of their time, thanks in part to Deputy’s easy-to-use schedule templates. Catherine says, “It does make scheduling really quick, really easy. You can actually make one or two changes on a template and resave it, which is much simpler than in the past.”

On top of that, Catherine emphasizes the value of using Deputy to simplify compliance with secure scheduling laws. The clear visibility over when schedules were published and breaks were taken has been a relief.

“The biggest goal it’s helped us meet is being able to track the secure scheduling rules. That’s probably our biggest win business-wise.”

Keeping more stores open 

Managers use Deputy the most to look at schedules and see where they can move staff around so they can keep most of their stores open — which has been critical with more call outs during the pandemic. 

“We look at scheduling every day to see who’s working, who’s actually on a shift, who might have an extra person. We look at who’s on shift at our nearby stores to see if there are individuals we can move around from store A to store B so that we can keep both stores open,” says Catherine. 

With real-time visibility over call outs, available staff, and any discrepancies between schedules and timesheets, Mud Bay has drastically reduced store closures due to staffing issues. 

In fact, between November 2020 and March 2021, the rate of stores opening late, shutting early, or being unable to open dropped from 72 incidents to 11.

A better experience for managers and staff 

Since adopting Deputy, managers, schedule writers, and Muddies have all seen improvements and benefits with scheduling and timekeeping operations. 

“The biggest benefits for managers are looking at scheduling at a more macro level. With the reporting features, they can look at it and see things like absences or people working a portion of their shift,” says Catherine.

Mud Bay’s team shared that Muddies have really enjoyed Deputy’s features and it’s been really easy for them to use. In addition, it helps their staff know exactly which stores they’re reporting to, especially as their business is quickly scaling.  

“Ease of use, transparency, expediency for our users, and Muddies being able to see their shifts and their schedules, that’s been a big win for us,” says Catherine and Maggie.

“Ease of use, transparency, expediency for our users, and Muddies being able to see their shifts and their schedules, that’s been a big win for us.”

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