Blueprint control centre in action

In an average month, the IMA Group unit handling the Take Home Blueprint scheme on behalf of FWD can receive anything up to 200 enquiries from independent retailers nationwide.

This can be in response to an article they have read about the scheme in the trade press, on advice from their wholesaler or a recommendation from a fellow retailer who has undergone a Blueprint makeover.

The enquiries vary from phone calls, emails or via the website and the requests range from new retailers wanting hands-on help and advice, to those requiring updated plans and help on other initiatives such as the PLOD (Putting Leaders On Display) scheme for spirits and wine tasting kits.

All calls are logged on the central database. They are then divided into categories to be acted on, for example those wishing to have a visit from a regional merchandiser, or retailers wanting information posted to them.

Operations manager Paul Adshead will contact all those retailers wanting an in-store visit from the team to explain the process and gather more details about the shop to pass on to the regional merchandiser prior to their visit.

IMA is responsible for a team of regional merchandisers which is located throughout the country, covering each area of the UK.

All these details are logged on the PRISM system, the bespoke software that has been created to log and monitor each and every retailer call and visit.

This is then sent to the relevant merchandiser who will log on to their laptop and receive this retailer information on a daily basis. They will in turn then contact the retailer and arrange a suitable time to visit the store to implement the Blueprint, be it across one category or the entire off licence.

STORE VISITS RECORDED

The regional merchandisers use PRISM as their tool to record their every visit. They can monitor what stock the retailer has pre-implementation of the Blueprint, record important details about the store demographics and geographic location, as well as information on influences on footfall such as lottery.

The merchandisers will take a full off licence audit, including the percentage of chilled versus ambient and what percentage the off licence is split between the beers, wines and spirits.

Digital pictures will be taken of each store pre and post the makeover with external shots of the store and of the owners for use in case studies, which will be uploaded to the store record on PRISM.

Finally the merchandisers will make a note of any recommendations they have made and schedule a follow-up phone call in a few weeks to monitor the impact that the Blueprint has had on their sales.

Since launch in 1994, not one retailer has recorded a decrease in sales after implementing the Blueprint.

This is all logged on the PRISM reporting forms, which are sent to the central hub, where all the data is recorded and collated. At a touch of a button, the central office can move info to and from merchandisers and know exactly where the team is and monitor their progress. The central office team also verify these calls, with 10% of all individual merchandiser’s visits checked via secret shoppers and follow-up calls.

By using this system the team can efficiently plan journey cycles, therefore saving on journey times and mileage costs.

STAND UNITS IN-DEPOT

Another aspect to the regional merchandisers’ day is manning a Take Home Blueprint stand in-depot at FWD-affiliated wholesalers. This is an important way of getting the Take Home Blueprint message directly to retailers and allowing the team to work with wholesalers to deliver the Blueprint to their customers.

At any one time, there are three stands in depots across the country. Increased demand for this in-depot work from wholesalers has resulted in more stands being ordered.

Back at IMA and the team work closely together on all aspects of the Blueprint. There is a dedicated office for the Blueprint team, who handle all the calls in, manage the field team, as well as the coordination of the Blueprint planograms.

On-site, the team have all the resources available for the production, construction, management and delivery of the Take Home Blueprint scheme.

The creative team of graphic designers work with scheme director Ross Shelley to put together the final literature, and there is also a web development team to oversee the Take Home Blueprint web site as well as being instrumental in creating the PRISM software.

An in-house PR department ensures that all case studies and latest news is communicated to the trade press.

Over 12 years of management, IMA Group has invested and developed the Take Home Blueprint into a standalone initiative defending the independent sector by this positive and unique educational scheme.

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=== sales increases guaranteed ===

l The Take Home Blueprint was launched in 1994 to educate independent sole traders and family business c-stores and newsagents into higher standards of off licence retailing.

l It was sponsored by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, in response to the first beer price wars by the giant superstores, which had dramatically reduced the wholesale/independent sector market share.

l Over 11,000 independents over the years have undergone a Blueprint makeover for beers, wines and spirits. In 2002, an ACNielsen drinks nbsp;market review said the Blueprint was working to help stabilise independent off licence sales.

l The Blueprint guarantee of increased sales for retailers implementing it has never been challenged or invoked since launch. Every makeover has succeeded.

l Uniquely, the Blueprint allocates ample space on shelf for products selected personally by the individual nbsp;store nbsp;owner-manager as local favourites or “retailer choice”. nbsp;These can be big brands, micro brewery products, wholesaler own labels, local favourites in the real sense.

l Blueprint merchandisers do not carry products or exert pressure on retailers to buy any particular product. nbsp;They merely educate, inform or remind the retailer of the major nbsp;brands which are in consumer demand as demonstrated by independent market data.

l For more contact the Blueprint Helpline on 0161 440 2770

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