Bristol is the UK’s first cycling city. This is great news because locally we've seen a lot more investment in cycle lanes, reclaiming disused railway lines and clever routing. The even better news is that my youngest kids have just brought home their latest school reports and have surpassed the targets set by Mrs Tarrant and I. So, with smiles all round, we set off to the local bike shop to buy them the promised reward as a ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’.
We went into one of the well known national chains (!) - not the obvious one but you'll know who they are. We asked for some assistance and my heart sank as the intensely scruffy assistant shambled towards us, muttering something barely audible. My first impression couldn't have been more wrong. He listened intently and understood our needs, was brilliant in ensuring that the kids had the right bikes and helmets, suggested cheaper alternatives to the one I'd already decided on for my daughter and made the whole experience fully rewarding. On the one item where he wasn't sure, he asked a couple of colleagues who were equally engaging. Happy days!
I recounted this story yesterday to a friend who'd also been into the same chain to buy a bike in the same week. The branch he went into is only a few miles away, but his experience was diametrically opposed to mine. Uninterested staff, with little or no enthusiasm or product knowledge, and despite the fact that he 'really had to buy a bike that day', he walked out with no bike and steam coming out of his ears. How could our experiences be so different given this is a national chain in which the stores all look the same and the products are identical? Even the uniforms are uniform. The answer is simple of course: people.
We had a look at the company's website and careers pages as a starter to see where the problem might lie. There was no content describing the roles and opportunities, the application process looked haphazard and many of the links didn't work. Consistency and quality in front of the customer starts with consistency and quality at every stage of the employee life cycle. This starts with a clear employee value proposition (EVP) and investment in a compelling employer brand and effective careers site. There's a great deal more of course in terms of the candidate experience, onboarding and induction, through to ongoing effective employee engagement to reinforce the buying decision the candidate has made in applying in the first place and subsequently joining the organisation.
Store managers who are hiring have a tough job. Recruitment is an extra and often unwelcome, time consuming task on top of an overly long to do list at a time when they're already under resourced. So, giving them the right structure, tools and process to save them valuable time whilst ensuring quality and corporate consistency are an essential investment. This means that managers spend time with the quality candidates they should be spending time with - the right people who are on brand and will succeed and stay - and ultimately who we as a customer will spend time with too.