Rob Klitsch joins UKG as the new Industry Marketing Director for Retail and Hospitality. Rob brings over twenty years of experience working in retail, mostly for large athletic brands. Most recently he spent 12 years as Senior Director of Global Store Operations, where he helped build and lead store operations teams all over the world – notably having implemented UKG (formerly Kronos) Workforce Central in 175 stores across the U.S. and Europe. At UKG, Rob will offer his extensive industry knowledge to lead UKG’s marketing strategy across the retail, hospitality, and food service verticals. He will provide thought leadership and valuable insights to internal teams and leverage his experience to nurture strategic relationships across the marketplace. Get to know more about Rob below:
Q: What led you to coming to work for UKG at this stage in your career?
Rob: After over 20 years in retail, I found myself ready for a new challenge and career path. During my search, I prioritized two things that led me to UKG:
1. A company that is consistently recognized for an amazing culture and workplace environment. One that promotes diversity and empowers people to leverage their strengths for the benefit of company and personal performance, as well as driving a culture of growth and development. And a company with meaningful purpose and a vision for helping organizations impact positive change as they do for their own team would be a point of differentiation.
2. A company and position that allowed me to leverage my experience and skill set, but also provided an opportunity to expand and grow. This was a perfect fit.
Q: How will your background help UKG with insights the most?
Rob: I hope I can leverage my experience to help connect the dots between UKG and our current customers and prospects. Our sales and supporting teams have amazing knowledge of the UKG product offerings and have a great understanding of their customer journeys related to workforce management and other tools. I’d like to use my understanding of challenges from a personal point of view, coupled with our customers, to create overarching knowledge about trends, shared challenges, and solutions that work well for many and turn that into useful content for our retail and hospitality customers and those exploring their options. In addition to further establishing myself as an expert in the industry that can be utilized for feedback, I hope to offer “insider insights” as a former customer of UKG and user of WFM/HCM solutions for 20 years. In my previous role as part of the selection process, I sat at the table when analyzing different solutions during an RFP process, or when trying to mitigate challenges with the UKG solutions - so I was a part of conversations behind a closed door that UKG wasn’t. I think it offers a different point of view that hopefully becomes helpful for everybody.
Q: What were some of the issues that UKG helped solve during your time in global store operations?
Rob: Both companies I worked for used UKG Workforce Central. When I started [with my last company] we only had 18 outlet stores in the U.S., and when I left the North America team to head Global, we had 140. I was essentially a one person show in the beginning, so I had the opportunity to build out an amazing team to support our rapid growth, from identifying new store locations, building and opening stores, and then putting all the tools and processes in place for store teams to be successful. With that, UKG helped solve issues such as demand driven forecasting, using peak hours scheduling to drive store productivity (ensuring the right people were scheduled at the right place at the right time), defining store staff availability requirements to ensure we could schedule effectively, and delivering a consistent scheduling methodology across our global fleet of stores. In the end, UKG Workforce Central helped make the lives of our store teams easier to better serve our customers.
Q: Why are optimization and efficiency in store labor so important?
Rob: Store labor is the largest controllable expense at the store and enterprise level, so it’s important to get it right. It helps drive a premium customer and employee experience, which is more important than ever in a highly competitive marketplace. If you're known for that through the customer’s eyes, it's going to continue to drive repeat traffic and develop deeper relationships with customers. Plus, if you’re known for a great employee experience, it's going to help you attract and retain talent. You would be amazed at how fast word gets out - good or bad. Efficiency and optimization in store labor drives not only bottom-line savings, but also top-line revenue. Both are important measurables throughout a retail portfolio. If you have the right people working in the right place at the right time, you’re ensuring that you're able to complete the tasks that are necessary to drive that premium customer experience. For example, making sure the trucks in your freight are processed, that goods are delivered to the sales floor in an effective manner, that you’re merchandizing it properly and have people at the cash desk to ring people up. The list goes on and on, but it all comes down to having a strong positive impact on store and company results as well providing the foundation for being an employer of choice with engaged and empowered employees.
Q: What do you see as some of the biggest industry trends driving retailers’ strategies over the next year or two?
Rob: Three areas stand out. Creating a seamless transition for consumers between the digital and physical store shopping experience has been and will continue to be prioritized to strengthen and expand consumer and brand relationships. Another focus is understanding customer data and analytics to better personalize shopping experiences. The ability to provide customer insights from all channels for in-store employees to leverage, offering a more informed and personal experience will become a key differentiator for retail brands. Lastly, but front of mind more than ever, is investing in their people to ensure they are valued, heard, and empowered to be successful in their quest for work/life balance. To be an employer of choice, companies will focus on being more flexible, extending new benefits and creating career paths that may not have existed in the recent past. UKG has been, and will be, a partner to help companies bring this vision to life.