Andrew Jeffers, Jeffers Bakery
“Now that we have gone through the first stage of MAP, I can honestly say that this is something we should have done years ago. I am confident that this process will pay dividends for everyone involved in the business – leaving us much more competitive and productive.”
|Size||70 full time employees|
|Location||Six bakeries in the Lisburn and Greater Belfast area|
|Status||Currently working through the MAP programme|
The family-run Jeffers home bakery was established in 1927, by William Jeffers, when he bought an old van for £50 and started delivering bread door to door. Today the business, led by William’s grandson, Andrew, consists of six bakeries and associated cafes employing more than 70 full and part time employees.
With a trading history of more than 80 years, Jeffers Home Bakery is one of Northern Ireland’s oldest family run businesses. With an increasingly competitive market alongside ambitious growth plans the business recognised it wasn’t yet match fit and needed to build from within.
“As the business expanded, we knew we had to look past our day-to-day operational needs e.g. baking the products and managing the deliveries and distribution. It became clear that the business lacked strong forward planning, internal communications and a clear strategic direction. The need for greater budgetary awareness and knowledge of running costs was also identified as critical in today’s climate.”
To help bring focus to these areas Richard Martin was employed as General Manager. An experienced ex-bakery owner and business man, Richard already experienced the benefits of management training and development. Shortly after his appointment he initiated a structured business development programme to help develop the company and its people. The main issues identified within the team were communication, wider business understanding and strategic awareness.
“Like many other family run businesses our main concern was finding the time to research, plan, implement and evaluate training programmes, alongside busy operational matters. We did however agree to the plans put forward by Richard and focused on the potential positives we saw at the other end” explains Andrew. Following a period of research, Richard identified the Department for Employment and Learning’s (DEL) Management Analysis and Planning (MAP) programme as the ideal starting point for the business.
From the outset the company embraced the MAP programme. A business adviser worked closely with Andrew and Richard, helping them to identify the bakery’s barriers to growth, gaps in skills development, inefficient business functions as well as helping to map out future business objectives.
“From the information provided,
MAP seemed like the perfect fit. We had discussed the need for change with our bakery managers and while a degree of buy-in was achieved, the real ‘light bulb’ moment came when the DEL business adviser reinforced our initial thoughts with the results of the organisational audit. Having an independent voice helped staff to raise concerns and allowed them get to grips with the rationale behind the changes” explains Richard.
Following the initial consultation a comprehensive business development plan was provided. The plan outlined a structured framework that provided for management training, internal communication exercises and business solution generation and implementation.
Proof is in the Pudding
Jeffers Bakery is already seeing some of the benefits of MAP. Richard explains;
“Our senior team including a number of the bakery managers have now completed stage one of the programme and I am delighted to say that things are starting to improve. We recently have introduced new weekly team briefs and the feedback from staff to date has been encouraging. We still have a long way to go but all of these small steps will, I have no doubt, add up to a huge and positive move forward for the bakery in the long term.”
Improved Communications and Buy-In
“The training has provided staff and senior team with the tools necessary to view the company in its entirety and not just to focus on daily tasks. Management is taking more time to listen to staff; their ideas for new product ranges and promotions as well as their concerns. Likewise, staff now have a greater appreciation for the pressures of the senior team and how they can play a part in the company’s success."
“One particular area where we are seeing clear results is a wider appreciation of cost control. Following recent training sessions and improved communications, the issue of stock waste was discussed. Everyone was amazed that as a company we were throwing away thousands of pounds of product waste annually. Our staff now know the importance of keeping a tighter control of materials ordering and product control and more importantly how they can make our company more competitive and efficient,” Richard added.
So, was the decision to engage with Management & Leadership development prudent ? In Andrew’s opinion the answer is firmly yes.
“Implementing a business focused management and leadership programme was something that we knew we needed to do but we fell into the trap of not looking beyond our daily operations. The result was that training and development was put on the backburner. Now that we have gone through the first stage of MAP, I can honestly say that this is something we should have done years ago. I am confident that this process will pay dividends for everyone involved in the business – leaving us much more competitive and productive."