Betfred are one of the country’s largest and most successful betting shop groups, founded and led by the inimitable Fred Done – the Fred in Betfred. They maintain a large retail estate (1400+) of high street betting shops. Each with relatively low individual consumption, but collectively a large and increasing cost. The challenge was how to optimise consumption and at the same time empower and demonstrate how Betfred were actively pursuing their Net Zero carbon strategy, at a cost in money and effort that provided a good return on investment for the firm as well as the environment.
Betfred used Optimal Monitoring’s EMMA AI® platform to capture, curate and analyse their existing data to identify abnormal and anomalous use of energy. Using its AI knowledge base EMMA provided immediate and actionable advice, as work tickets on a day +1 basis, that were delivered directly to the individual shop teams creating an army of energy managers who were able to effect positive and immediate change at no incremental cost and with very low effort.
Len Hodges, Estates Manager Betfred said “We knew we had opportunities to reduce expense and show the world we were serious about our environmental responsibilities. EMMA gave us the tool and the knowledge to make best practise in one store the new target for all stores without adding layers of people and cost to do so”
Educating and informing end users was key as historically store managers didn’t really see energy management as part of their remit. Giving them relevant recommendations, based on yesterday’s data, that made sense to them, like identifying equipment which could be turned off overnight, or items operating in unused areas was critical as it has an immediate impact on operating results. EMMA AI was able to do this as its AI engine adopts a ‘no normal’ starting point and treats every site or estate as unique, important in Betfred’s case as they have few comparators in energy terms against which to benchmark. Energy and Carbon Management became a board sponsored initiative, well-advertised throughout the retail estate.
Using EMMA’s AI knowledge base to create fact based, exception reporting, in the form of simple recommendations sent daily and with a request for feedback; ‘Was my suggestion, right’? ‘What did you do’? ensured that action was taken, and shop teams felt engaged, and that the AI engine became ever more granular in its recommendations as feedback is how an AI platform learns. All of which combined to deliver real, quantifiable savings.
Len Hodges, Estates Manager commented “We’re a gambling business, our people are competitive by nature. EMMA gave us the means to be able to harness and exploit this. We knew we had opportunities due to the variances in consumption we saw across the estate, so using data and instructions that everyone quickly accepted as gospel we created a bit of competition.”
Initially all regions were informed of the need to better manage utility consumption but only the East region was provided instructions from EMMA AI allowing us to prove the additional impact of EMMA AI.
Unsurprisingly it was found that store management reacted positively to the instructions from EMMA and took swift action to improve their shops consumption.
The continuous and quantifiable nature of EMMA AI’s instructions was able to maintain the savings and improvements made, even as staff and roles changed, an issue that has plagued energy management over a long period.
Duncan Everett, Managing Director Optimal Monitoring said, “Betfred know their business inside out, they are instinctively good with numbers given what they do, and they were sceptical, in an OK way, that EMMA could deliver, given their previous experiences. We turned the huge pile of data they had into valuable, wealth creating information, we worked with HQ, regional and store teams to ensure that EMMA’s cutting edge technology was delivered in a simple English, easy to action way and we did it without any need for additional headcount or negative impact on the store teams already full workload.”
Focusing on overnight consumption and comparing Q1 of 2020 with Q1 2022 the savings are clear, showing an annualized reduction of 6.3% or £123,500pa in electricity spend, equal to 131 tonnes of CO2e.
Having proven the positive impact of EMMA AI on savings and emissions, the EMMA platform has now been rolled out to all stores nationwide and expected savings should increase to around £200,000pa with a Return on Expenditure (savings over licence fees) in the hundred’s of percentage points and with payback within a year. N.B. EMMA AI has no capital cost as it replaces invasive hardware with its AI engine, needing no additional infrastructure in most cases.
Recap and what we learned:
- Betfred had a mass of valuable data but no effective means to turn that into wealth creating activity. EMMA AI solved that.
- The size and shape of the estate; 1,400 locations many of them quite small meant that it was uneconomic to optimise performance using traditional means. Only an AI solution could work in this environment.
- Throwing technology at people and telling them to get on with it doesn’t work. They need to be properly introduced to the opportunity, this creates and helped to absorb it into their daily work practises.
- A board level champion is a necessity.
Fred Done, Owner, Betfred said, “When I heard about EMMA AI, I honestly thought it was another gimmick, but the team at Optimal Monitoring have proved to be honest and easy to work with, delivering on their promise to make us great savings. You have got to love a product that does that.”
- Only an AI solution that requires no capex for infrastructure and no army of analysts (the AI engine does that) can deliver these sort of results
- Initial instructions from management to ‘switch off’ delivered positive impact but continuous, exception-led, communication is needed to maintain this in the long term
- Only an AI solution can join the dots in an estate of so many small units to find the common threads of similar occurrences in different places and repetitive anomalies that otherwise go under the radar but when seen collectively are significant
- It would never have been viable to achieve this level of saving with staff led analysis and communication.
- Use of AI technology delivers a very high return on investment, with low operational impact enabling Energy management to become continuous and mainstream
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