Ace Hardware has over 5,000 stores around the world with the majority of those stores independently owned and operated by local entrepreneurs. Ace changed the retail landscape by allowing small hardware stores to compete effectively despite larger stores in their market. Westlake Ace Hardware, over time, became one of Ace’s largest franchisees and today is a good neighbor to the residents of Mountain View, California.
As a caring member of the Mountain View community, Westlake Ace takes care to ensure that Associates and customers are safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Westlake Ace uses a single BlueFox sensor to measure the occupancy of their 43,000 square-foot store and to prevent overcrowding.
“BlueFox is essential to monitor the minute-by-minute flow of customers into the store,” explains Chris Guerriero, General Manager of Ace Hardware 147. “We use the mobile app on an iPad to keep customer service and store Associates aware of the total number of customers in the store. I run the mobile app on my phone to track occupancy and to get alerts if the customer count exceeds my pre-set limit. My manager does the same.”
On weekdays Westlake Ace keeps customer limits between 30 and 40 customers, based on staffing. On weekends, they generally raise customer limits to between 40 and 50. If the count spikes above the upper limit, Guerriero places staff at the door to restrict inbound flow in order to bring down the total number of Customers…at which point they re-establish a steady cadence of one-in, one-out. When the total number of Customers hits the lower limit, staff leaves the door unattended.
Before BlueFox, Chris would have to assign staff to track entries and exits of customers to manage overcrowding. This was expensive because that payroll thus spent didn’t serve customers or stock the shelves. And either the door counters were in place from opening to closing, or periodic counts of customers were necessary in addition to the entry-exit counts. And these periodic checks were difficult and rarely accurate.
“The BlueFox service saves us time and money and we love it,” concludes Guerriero. “It reduces our payroll costs by eliminating the need for staff at the door. It’s also a great tool to demonstrate that, historically, we are not exceeding the occupancy limits we’ve set for ourselves. It’s good for our staff, good for our customers, and good for our community.”
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