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Deputy is sweet music for industry leading string specialist, Simply for Strings

Queensland, Australia
retail industryRetail

At a glance

  • Simply Strings utilizes Deputy for a seamless integration with payroll provider Xero
  • Switching shifts and finding suitable staff members to step in is now a stress-free process
  • Rostering time has been reduced by half with Deputy

The Story

Established in 2005 in Brisbane, Queensland, Simply for Strings is a specialist violin shop and online store renowned for delivering outstanding service and providing string players of all levels with quality musical instruments, bows, and accessories. Housed inside a refurbished Presbyterian church, Simply for Strings is a destination in itself providing a performance and workshop space in the retail store.

While the premises provide a unique setting to purchase violins, violas, cellos, basses, and bows, customers are also won over by the knowledge and experience of its staff.

"Many of our staff members are professionals, some teach privately, and others are currently studying at university. This means our staff members can be quite hard to pin down."


The Challenge

As talented musicians, Simply for Strings staff members have string skills and their own experience with the various makes of instruments. This allows them to provide an optimal customer experience and educate customers with their extensive product and performance knowledge. To run its business and provide this level of customer service, Toby Cumpstay, Director of Simply for Strings, relies on a large casual workforce of skilled string musicians. “This means our staff members can be quite hard to pin down. As a casual workforce, it can be difficult to communicate shifts, accommodate shift changes, and set and manage tasks when their availability could change week to week. It’s incredibly time-consuming to keep up with and respond to their availability – or lack of – when creating our work schedules.”

When we first opened the business, we just used pen and paper to plan our staff rosters and work schedules. We’d then key in the information into the computer, print out calendars and assign staff hours, says Toby, “But as our business grew and our needs increased, we realized we needed something a little more robust. So we moved to Google Calendars and published a staff roster calendar.”

However Cumpstay, found that this solution was limiting. “Of course, we didn’t get any data from Google Calendars to track time and attendance to help us run the business and plan better around busy or quiet times. And all our communication and task setting was done ad hoc via email or post-it notes.

"it was impossible to track who was doing what and where. And as we had to use email to set individual employee tasks, or leave a post-it note on the desk, it was far from an efficient way of assigning specific tasks to specific employees."


The Solution

Cumpstay was in the process of working with integrators to move Simply for Strings onto the Xero accounting platform when he discovered Deputy. “I was interested in ways I could streamline rostering, and time and attendance management with payroll. Our Xero integrators recommended we take a look at Deputy because it interfaces directly with Xero. So we evaluated Deputy, and compared it with other solutions on the market, and liked the fact that Deputy had everything in one complete package.”

Cumpstay had concerns that that Deputy might be too high tech for his team, so for a few weeks he kept the old system running but this concern soon vanished. “The old system turned out to be redundant pretty much straight away as everyone took to Deputy very quickly. Most staff members had downloaded the app onto their phones within the first couple of hours and were uploading their profile pictures and exploring the system and completing their availability details. Any hesitation we had regarding the system being too sophisticated was quickly diminished as everyone found it easy and fun to use. With Deputy onboard, rostering is a completely different exercise for us. Putting rosters together is now so much easier and enjoyable too” says Cumpstay. .

Simply having our employees set their availability has reduced the amount of time I spend on rostering by half. I no longer need to await communication from staff members regarding availability. We can see it live in the system and simply assign a shift to the most appropriate and available staff member. If anyone needs to change anything, it can happen on the fly. Switching shifts and finding suitable staff members to step in whenever someone has a last minute change of plans is now stress-free. Plus, our staff members can see the tasks that are assigned to them on their phones, and once actioned, they can notify their manager that it’s been done, again from their devices.”

"Simply having our employees set their availability has reduced the amount of time I spend on rostering by half. I no longer need to await communication from staff members regarding availability."

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