CREATIVE OPERATIONS: WHEN CREATIVITY AND LOGISTICS MEET
Creativity is a trait that people feel they either have or they don’t. Often people either identify themself as a creative or an analytical person. So what happens when you attempt to turn your creativity into a career? Sometimes you see people refer to their creative endeavors as a hobby. Transforming your creativity into an analytical process can sometimes be quite a creative process. If you can harness your creative side and use this skill to create efficient processes, that is the magical intersection where standard operating procedures are born.
The team at Batch uses unfurnished new developments and vacant homes for sale throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as their blank canvases, transforming them into mini pop up shops where they not only turn them into spaces you can envision yourself living, but also creating a shopping experience for those who aren’t necessarily in the market to buy a new home but instead, happen to stumble upon a newly discovered, must-have piece of furniture or hot accessory.
But how does the Batch team accomplish all of this? How exactly is this creative process streamlined and executed? We sit down with Batch’s Senior Staging Operations Manager Danielle Nash, to find out how the magic happens and how she has carefully created operating procedures for a creative-focused business.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background prior to joining the team at Batch
Prior to working at Batch, I worked for several home staging companies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. During this time I held various roles including Designer, Inventory Manager and Project Manager. This definitely helped me in gaining a deep understanding of how the industry works, as I was able to gain experience directly working on the staging installations as well as “behind the scenes.”
2. Do you consider yourself to be a creative or analytical thinker?
I consider myself to be a little bit of both. I think often times there is this misbelief that you are either one or the other. I believe it takes a level of creativity to create successful standard operating procedures. You have to be able to look at things logistically, when taking a creative process and then forming standard operating procedures that are going to be successful. This requires a level of creativity and a willingness to look at things outside of the box.
3. Describe the typical life cycle of a Batch item, from receipt at warehouse to sale.
Regardless of source, our inventory management process is similar. First, we catalog all of our incoming items. Once an item is en route to Batch, it is added to our inventory tracker so our entire team has visibility for an ETA of when we can expect it to arrive at our warehouse. This is important, because often times, incoming inventory has already been assigned a home at an upcoming install and has been specifically sourced for a specific project. Next, the item (along with all of the related information including brand, care instructions, origin, dimensions and specs) is added into our inventory database which is cloud-based, and later added to our commerce page becoming visible and purchasable.
4. How do you sort inventory after it’s received at the Batch warehouse?
This is a fun part of the process, as it’s one thing to view products via photos online, but different than physically seeing it in person. Some of our deliveries can be quite big, and it often feels like Christmas morning, receiving and inspecting the items at our warehouse. Once we receive an item, it is inspected to ensure it hasn’t been damaged in transit, and then we add an RFID sticker that corresponds to a number in our inventory management system.
5. Explain the process of how items go from being housed at the warehouse to being displayed at installs
This is where the magic happens! We have a very detailed process in place for pulling for and then executing a staging install. The first step is always viewing the property in person. The designer who views the property then creates a google folder for the project and adds floor plan photos if available, measurements and photos of the property. Batch differs from your typical staging company, in that we do not provide cookie cutter, one size fits all staging. We take the time to research the neighborhood and put together a “potential home buyer profile.” We discuss and create as a team, a profile for who is going to be touring and then living at the specific property. This is a vital part of the process as we want to create not just a staged home, but a lifestyle for potential buyers to envision.
After we have created this profile, one of our designers does the first assortment pull from our inventory database. Every single piece of inventory housed at the Batch warehouse, from major furniture pieces such as sofas and beds, down to the to smallest accent pieces such as vases and towels is photographed and included in our database. Once the preliminary assortment is generated, this is when we have our team project launch meet to review the assortment with the install team. After a couple of rounds of adjustments, we generate a crew report, broken down by room. Every single item that will be placed in the install is included in this report and this later serves as a packing list for our warehouse crew.
Then comes the fun part… Install Day! We start bright and early at the warehouse where our moving crew loads everything up and brings it all onsite. Our install team comes together on-site and throughout the course of the day, Batch’s vision becomes reality!
6. How do you keep everything organized at the warehouse?
This is definitely one of the more challenging tasks since pieces are continuously coming in and going out. The goal is to have as much of our inventory possible being showcased throughout San Francisco in various homes with the goal of selling these items to homebuyers, or people browsing and shopping from our displays in these open houses. Because our inventory is rapidly changing and moving to various installs, housing the inventory in our warehouse is an extremely fluid process. This is where creativity is a must! At times it truly feels like playing a life sized version of Tetris, and it is a matter of finding new and creative ways to fit all the various sized pieces into one nicely organized box.