Portfolio & Case Studies

Case Studies

Want to know how Gray Cat can add value to your organization? Click on the case studies below for examples on how we have helped other organizations. 

The Body Shop indentified 37 key initiatives for the upcoming planning year – submitted by 9 different departments.  Gray Cat’s role was to guide the senior team by:  a) organizing their projects in a simple, one-page format by initiative; b) identifying the key steps to accomplishing their goal; c) mapping out the specific time table for each step; and d) assigning an owner for each key task.   The 9 departments involved are listed below:

  • Real Estate
  • E-Commerce, Marketing & Merchandising
  • Operations
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Canada & Mexico

Gray Cat and the departmental leader evaluated each key initiative with regard to the following key attributes:

  • Financial Impact – How this initiative will add both revenue and gross profit to the overall company, while minimizing expense.
  • Broken Pipes – Identifying all the challenges for success in advance of the initiative and mending the “broken pipes” before they occur.
  • Confidence Factor – Assigning a “confidence factor” from 1 to 10 for success of not only completing the project on-time, but on-budget as well.
  • Interdependencies – Identifying in advance the potential needs from other departments and/or duplicative initiatives that can be streamlined.
  • Time Lines and Resources – Map out the key steps with their respective time commitments and resource allocation.

Each of the key initiatives was condensed to a one-page summary and the departmental owners shared their plans with their peers in a series of senior leader meetings.  The initiatives were compiled in a master key initiative tracker that linked the financials, broken pipes and time lines in summary fashion for the executive team.

Strategic project lead for Global Partners 1,500-unit Gasoline Distribution & Station Operations (GDSO) developing and overseeing the Project Renaissance initiative. Project Renaissance is the overall strategic design, process and implementation for new store builds, raze-and-rebuilds and remodels. This initiative is a multi-department, multi-outsource cohesive endeavor that manages the following:

  • Overall streamlining of the Capital Expense Management (CAPEX) process
  • New Alltown-branded designs
  • Development of 5 prototypical layouts
  • Overall strategic sponsorship of an equipment purchasing program
  • New site selection and economic validation in the downtown Boston marketplace
  • Development of a store-by-store equipment and attributes database
  • Oversight to the brand standards and guidelines
  • Development of the store-by-store 2015 Capital Expense Management (CAPEX) budgets

Project Renaissance combines the contributions of operations, marketing, branding, merchandising and facilities management under one umbrella. With as many as 30 concurrent projects, the complexities of all of the “moving parts” are immense. Gray Cat serves as the “quarterback” for the Renaissance initiative providing the strategic leadership to ensure that all parties are cohesive in their strategic guidance as well as with their tactical execution.

Project Renaissance is the embodiment of Gray Cat — strategic oversight combined with tactical execution across multiple department areas of expertise.

White Hen Self-Service, Touchscreen Kiosk Rollout

Project lead for Chicago-based White Hen (300 convenience stores) to develop self-service, touch screen foodservice ordering kiosks and eventual rollout to the entire chain.

Gray Cat was engaged to lead the project from start-to-finish and oversee the design; development and implementation of foodservice touch screen kiosks in all of the White Hen stores working with a dotted line White Hen team.  Included were representatives from marketing, merchandising, operations, analysis and IT – as well as an outside technology vendor.

The benefits from the White Hen touch screen included improvement in speed of service, order accuracy, lift on up-sells/combos, as well as increased consumer satisfaction.  From a technology standpoint, each White Hen store was equipped with a Kitchen Production System, Food Service Back Office, Remote Content Management, Management Reporting, and Analytics Dashboard.

The main goals of this project were achieved and the rollout was successfully delivered on the following:

  • Authored the overall project plan, coordinated the installation effort and directly worked with vendor to design the entire kiosk screen and product ordering flow.
  • Created a new White Hen self service application for use in the White Hen pilot stores and then throughout the chain.
  • Coordinating with the vendor, installed the hosted portion of the self-service solution at our technology partners’ corporate headquarters.
  • Demonstrated to White Hen staff on how to maintain graphics and menus in the self-service application.
  • Working with the vendor, installed the self-service solution in three White Hen pilot sites and then throughout the system.
  • Contracted vendor to provide hardware and software support to White Hen for the pilot sites and ongoing rollout.
  • Ensured a smooth ownership transition of the self-service solution from the vendor to White Hen management.

The pilot effort was completed in 90 days and the store rollout was executed in over 250 stores throughout the White Hen chain over the next six months.

Potbelly Centralized Catering Kitchen

Project lead for Chicago-based Potbelly Sandwich Works (300-stores) to create, construct and open a centralized catering kitchen in Chicago, servicing 23 store trade areas. Gray Cat was the overall project lead and led the operations, marketing, design, analysis and IT teams to get the project completed.

“John is an “A” player. He brings a great deal of industry knowledge and experience to the equation and utilizes critical thinking and planning skills to organize and unify a team. He understands the importance of nuance in the effect of a project’s outcome and ensures the team is thinking robustly in each process and function. I hope to have the opportunity to work with John in the future and would recommend him highly to anyone looking to kick-start a stalled process, project or program that needs to be taken to the next level in your organization.” — Bob Gregg, Operations Manager, Potbelly Sandwich Works

Working with the Senior Management team at Potbelly, Gray Cat was assigned a dotted-line reporting team within the Potbelly organization to manage all of the steps to developing and constructing a centralized catering kitchen.   Included in the dotted-line report team were representatives of:

  • Operations
  • Marketing
  • Facilities
  • IT
  • Accounting
  • Financial Analysis
  • Human Resources
  • Training

Gray Cat developed a 23-page, 600-task project plan incorporating all departmental co-dependencies and task time lines.  Utilizing a weekly reporting structure, the team methodically worked its way through their respective tasks while identifying conflicting issues and resource allocation.  Each milestone was recorded and the project plan was developed to ensure an on-time, on-budget accomplishment.

Gray Cat was the functional overall project lead for the centralized catering kitchen managing both the process administration but also working with each departmental head to identify and assist in executing their respective content and deliverables.  Over the course of the project a series of meetings were administered by Gray Cat as well as quarterly report-outs to the senior team on progress to date.

The centralized catering kitchen successfully opened in 2011 in downtown Chicago.

InfoSec Company Sale to Computer Associates (CA)

Based in the Chicago area, InfoSec is a privately held firm that has created numerous advanced software products and services for large-scale information security, serving primarily Fortune 500 clients.

InfoSec’s TASA for ACF-2, CA-Top Secret Security and RACF, which CA named eTrust Cleanup for CA-ACF2; eTrust Cleanup for CA-Top Secret Security; and eTrust Cleanup for RACF protects enterprise IT environments by identifying and removing obsolete, unused and rogue user ID and access rights in mainframe computers.

Gray Cat was the lead negotiator and principal for InfoSec Inc. and completed its sale of its eTrust Cleanup for CA-ACF2 and eTrust Cleanup for CA-Top Secret Security to Computer Associates (CA).  Gray Cat completed a second agreement for InfoSec, with CA acquiring InfoSec’s automated security cleanup for IBM’s RACF mainframe platform.

Transaction 1: InfoSec, Inc.’s TASA for ACF2 and CA-Top Secret Security to Computer Associates

“I recently sold a portion of my high-tech company to Computer Associates, with Gray Cat Enterprises’ John Matthews as my lead negotiator and principal. In addition and as a result of working with Gray Cat, I now have an excellent strategic business plan for the remainder of my company.” — John Busse, President of InfoSec Inc.

Transaction 2: InfoSec, Inc.’s TASA for RACF and TSXCopy to Computer Associates

Gray Cat wrote a 40-page Offering Memorandum and represented InfoSec throughout both transactions managing the entire process.  The sale resolved a dicey distribution issue by positioning the company’s attributes and negotiated with IBM, Vanguard, BMC and Computer Associates, ultimately resulting in the sale of the IP in two separate agreements.

Sylvan Pilot Market Overview

Project lead for Baltimore-based Sylvan Learning Centers (1000-centers) managing a local marketing Pilot Market study (37 centers). This pilot study not only identifies and quantifies the best practices for local marketing, but then communicates to the 1,000+ centers throughout Sylvan, guidelines and targets that they could expect when they embark on their own local marketing campaign. The pilot center study yielded quantitative benchmarks for both Return to Active (RTA) and Referral marketing as well as best practices for longer-term relationship building with Schools, Seminars and Community activities.

More specifically, the objectives of the Pilot Markets were to:

  • Test & validate the impact of a concerted effort on Local Marketing (LM) – i.e., quantify what LM can bring to the Sylvan business
  • Define LM targets & benchmarks – i.e., conversion rates of Referrals, RTA re-enrollment rates, etc.
  • Define the LM business process for everyone to follow – i.e. the Sylvan LM Operationalization Plan, using best practices to develop activity set, tools, tracking, processes etc.

Each of the pilot centers was called every month for a 30-minute coaching session. Pilot centers reported their activities in each of the LM areas providing information and feedback that is both qualitative and quantitative by filling out the pilot tracking sheet for their center and submitting prior to the call. The tracking sheet captures all the pertinent data for each center and then combines with the other centers creating aggregate data.

High-level results of the pilot study were as follows:

  • With a concerted effort against the 5 areas of Local Marketing, centers saw the following results:
    • ~ $100,000 in annual center sales from the 5 LM areas
      • Of which, 94% of pilot to date revenue came from RTA and Referral
      • Based on the second pilot market study (FL & TX) and their early results, it was estimated that of this $100,000, roughly $50,000 to $60,000 can be incremental for the center if they employ a discipline and employee coaching practices.
    • ~ $2,000 in annual expense for the 5 LM areas
      • This equates to a local marketing expense of 2%
  • A LM marketing manual was created for all the centers that highlighted best practices, case studies, financial metrics and other key learning’s from the pilot study.
  • Pilot study was conducted for 13 months.

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