Lean PDX Helps Streamline the RBC Shopping Experience

A streamlining process to improve the shopping experience at the ReBuilding Center (RBC) started with a band of “secret shoppers" made up of five Lean Portland volunteers and five RBC employees. The RBC Executive Director, Stephen Reichard, and Manager, Tom Patzkowski, were working the floor so the staff could work to improve the organization.  The “secret shoppers” were tasked to find materials for typical DIY projects, like building a dog house or replacing an exterior door. This allowed the staff and volunteers to gain a first-hand experience at what it is like to be a customer. 

The second workshop explored long term goals, identifying projects where Lean could consult with the RBC through 2017.  They also designed an experiment to improve customers’ first time shopping experience.  They promptly responded to the things they discovered in their studies and made a mockup kiosk with signage that identifies and explanes how to navigate the warehouses and make a purchases.

They summarized the results:

It was a lot of fun, and we saw about half the people pause and read the sign – some even taking tape measures (a key tool) with them as they went to go shopping. It was a great example of getting real-time feedback on something, without spending a lot of time planning to make it perfect. Our follow-up was that the team decided to continue to get feedback on the kiosk, and possibly create two additional kiosks for the additional entrances.
100_1304.JPG

The next step over the next few months will be to identify opportunities for improving RBC donation and checkout processes. For the long term they would like to develop plans to increase capacity of the center while creating a more satisfying environment for their employees and their guests.