The Greater Manchester Regulatory Centre of Excellence has created a unique partnership offering regulatory support and advice to businesses, mainly through the provision of primary authority partnerships. However, the partnership had always wanted to offer more for businesses both to ensure greater compliance and generate additional income for the local authorities and fire service. This case study forms part of the productivity experts resource.
The productivity expert created a 3 point plan for our future, outlining ways in which we could create new products and services as well as improve on the current service provided to businesses. Central to the strategic plan produced was the creation of a new GMRCE customer service centre offering a reactive and proactive regulatory advice service.
The Greater Manchester Regulatory Centre of Excellence (GMRCE - consisting of the ten Greater Manchester local authorities and Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service) was first launched in 2017, with a full-time programme manager was appointed in March 2018. Our main priority was to secure primary authority partnerships, providing businesses with access to assured advice from the Greater Manchester local authorities and the fire service through a single point of contact.
Since its launch, the GMRCE has gone from strength to strength, securing primary authority partnerships with over 35 partners including Manchester United Football Club, NCP, Kellogg and Pret-a-Manger.
Whilst demand for primary authority partnerships through the GMRCE remained high, the constituent authorities had always expressed their desire to increase and branch out to provide a greater range of regulatory advice and support to businesses, both to ensure business compliance, but also to generate additional income. However, collectively we were unsure of the best way in which to reach new potential customers or which new compliance products to offer. We were also keen to stick to the principles of Better Business for All by providing some degree of free advice and support as well as a paid option for those businesses needing more detailed or complex help. This was the reason the GMRCE successfully applied for support through the LGA’s Productivity Expert Fund.
The productivity expert set to work immediately, carrying out a full review of the work of the GMRCE and talking to key stakeholders, including regulatory officers already providing business support through primary authority partnerships as well as those ordinarily carrying out inspections and enforcement and compliance visits. Senior regulatory managers across the ten Greater Manchester local authorities were also consulted.
The productivity expert put in place a thorough, but flexible, plan outlining what we wanted to achieve and how to reach the objectives we had set. This included a four-month timetable to complete the project – a deadline exceeded, ensuring that we had a comprehensive strategic plan for us to follow in time for the new financial year.
Having reviewed the options and following consultation with senior managers and the GMRCE programme manager, the productivity expert suggested three key areas of focus for the future:
- Financial and fees & charges – this included an outline of ambitious, but achievable income targets based on small improvements to our current regulatory support offerings and new compliance products. If achieved, this will generate an additional £142,000 of income in year one and £500,000 by year three. In addition, for the first time, we had access to a realistic measurement of cost-avoidance based on calculations provided by the productivity expert. Following the input with the productivity expert, we also ensured that there was an agreed, consistent pricing structure across the ten GM local authorities across all but one of our existing and new products and services.
- Regulatory support products – the productivity expert helped us explore new and existing regulatory products and support, including looking at the internal market and providing regulatory advice and support in-house. This approach has already generated interest from the local authorities who did not previously have agreements in place with other Council departments.
The productivity expert used his experience in helping us identify new regulatory products and services that would be most helpful for businesses and that would generate greatest income. He led workshops with compliance officers to explore the potential of new products in health & safety and environmental protection, with officers themselves identifying and resolving any potential problems that may arise from offering services in these regulatory areas.
In addition to internal markets and new products, the productivity expert helped us identify ways in which we could improve our current most popular and successful product – primary authority partnerships. He suggested an account management role to improve the productivity of a number of our primary authority partnerships, especially those that we may otherwise have lost. Early estimations indicate that following this model, we secured up to £12,000 of income in year one, that we may otherwise have lost.
- Administration & delivery – the productivity expert identified a way to bring together the three areas of focus through a centralised and coordinated customer service centre. The role will provide a reactive response to business requests and a proactive approach, contacting new and existing business to provide both free and chargeable regulatory support and advice. This role would be grounded in the Better Business for All principles ensuring that businesses are offered both free signposting advice as well as the option to pay for more detailed or complex advice should they need to. Central to this, and as a first step, is the recruitment of a customer service advisor to support the GMRCE programme manager in offering this reactive and proactive service.
The productivity expert held a day-long workshop with service managers from the ten GM local authorities and GMFRS to provide an overview of what this service would look like. The workshop also helped identify and resolve any potential problems in the customer service delivery model.
Most usefully, the productivity expert created a readable, thorough and simple-to-follow three-year strategic plan. He set out in simple terms the current picture, our aims for the future and the way in which these could be broken down to work through in manageable chunks.
Estimate of £12,000 cost retention following new account management approach to primary authority, plus additional income generation from future partnerships which has not yet been calculated.
If the financial targets identified by the productivity expert are achieved, this will generate an additional £142,000 of income in year one and a total of £500,000 by year three.
How is the new approach being sustained?
Before the coronavirus crisis, plans were immediately put in place to recruit a new customer service advisor to assist the GMRCE programme manager and ensure that the customer service centre approach recommended by the productivity expert could be implemented. Those plans are now on hold, however, it is hoped that they will be resurrected soon as this post is central to the implementation of the plans and the future of the GMRCE.
- The importance of an account management role in managing relationships with businesses. This has already benefitted the GMRCE in ensuring that our productivity has increased across most of our primary authority partnerships.
- The importance of the Better Business for All in ensuring businesses have trust in local authorities and our regulatory support and advice.
- The importance of involving businesses and officers in creating new products and offers for businesses.
- The importance of the internal as well as external market for regulatory support and advice.
Nick Reddrop – [email protected]