Happy and motivated staff are a vital cog in the retail machine: they are the face of the business, the people who shape customers’ opinions of a store. Unmotivated, unhappy and uninterested staff can drive away customers. So how do you keep a workforce motivated week in, week out? We asked Patrick Sewell, MD of Sewell On The Go…
We’re very proud of our business and it’s definitely a team effort. We’ve won lots of external recognition, from The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for to Outstanding Investor in People, but it’s not about the badge – it’s about being a great place to work. By being a great place to work, only then can we set about being best placed to serve our customers in the best way.
“We make it our mission to get the right people in place from the start and have many ways of communicating both who and what we are as a business, but there are also several hurdles prospective recruits have to get past.” Patrick Sewell, MD, Sewell On The Go
For me, it starts with the culture of the business, which sets the tone and expected behaviour. We have a flat structure and we’re very hands on, which means, as a team, we are close and approachable. We really strive to be an open and honest employer, and one who engages and communicates what’s happened and is happening.
We achieve this through many different means, including weekly huddles, monthly meetings, our Sewell Times newsletter, annual convention, meet the boss days, team activities and training. We strip our whole business down and let the store teams know the entirety of our business plans and financial performance. It makes life so much easier when people understand where we’re heading.
Employing and retaining great staff is important for every business. Just as we trade on our reputation with our customers for sales, we do the same for recruitment. As a local independent business, we position ourselves in the heart of community activity because we want to do the right thing while also building our brand.
The ‘right people’
We make it our mission to get the right people in place from the start and have many ways of communicating both who and what we are as a business, but there are also several hurdles prospective recruits have to get past.
We have a great video on our website that gives first-hand experience of what it’s like working for Sewell - warts and all! There are several stages of recruiting and it can take a little more time, but it pays dividends in getting it right on so many occasions.
Once people are in the business, they tend to stay. Over 50% have stayed for more than four years and our staff retention figures have been at about 85% for many years. However, there is a slightly harder side to what we do. We regularly appraise our teams through the ‘vitality curve’ of the top 20% of A players, the middle 70% of B players and the bottom 10% of C players. So, we’re always tackling and challenging those C players.
This way, we manage the talent, commitment and engagement of our teams, and those who don’t meet the grade ultimately leave the business. It means we have a constant method of staff improvement, keeping and rewarding the best and replacing those who don’t share our vision and values.
The Sewell family have been retailing in the Hull and East Riding area for three generations. The chain currently operates at 12 locations, serving 4 million customers a year.
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