We are thrilled to announce that we have picked up the award for Best Staff Training at the Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards 2019, celebrating the best tourism businesses in our region.
Our success in making our guests happy is down to our wonderful team, and it is their contribution, attitude and five-star service delivery that really sets us apart from our competitors. So, we in turn believe in nurturing, supporting and investing in our teams learning and development across the business and equipping them with the tools they need to deliver customer service excellence to keep our guests and visitors happy, and returning to the Resort time after time.
We caught up with Sue Hannam, our Learning and Development manager, who said: “All of our amazing team, who are outgoing, friendly, have a can do attitude and ultimately embrace the Potters customer service culture and philosophy, work hard to deliver our five star standard to our guests across all areas of the business, and they truly are relentless in their success in making everyone they engage with and encounter happy. We are passionate about our team and are so proud of them all. As an employer it is our job to develop and deliver robust training programmes and ensure they have all the tools they need to deliver exceptional customer service. We really do have the best team, with our management team getting a buzz out of growing and developing their own teams. We know how key it is to retain good people and grow our team for the current and future success of the Resort.”
Here are just some of the ways we do this…
- Our two day company induction welcomes all new team members and gives them a detailed and clear overview of the business, so that they get to know the Resort and experience what the guest experiences. It focuses on an overview of the Resort and an essential part of this is the introduction to our customer service standards, so that they may understand and embrace our service delivery expectations from the outset. The team are also welcomed with lunch in our Garden Restaurant, given a full tour of the Resort and facilities, and an opportunity to try out one of our guest activities, along with a voucher to return for an evening meal and show with a member of their family on a date of their choice.
- This is followed by a robust induction in their own department, with a warm welcome to their team and quality time with their supervisory / management team, and a dedicated ‘new starter champion’, a colleague who is there to coach, mentor and support all the way through their one, two and three month review periods until they are fully confident and happy in their role.
- We regularly host training sessions for the whole team in our customer service standards, with topics including Costume & Getting into Character, Showtime, Centre Stage, Critics and our Top of the Bill standard to create a remarkable experience.
- Personal development underpins our learning and development strategy, and plays a prominent role in growth and evolving our team to meet changing business needs. We invest in apprenticeships and offer structured development to individuals, who are aged 16-plus, in key operational departments including restaurant, kitchen, housekeeping and web development. We are keen to develop these programmes further and into other areas of the business to grow the talent of the future and capture young individuals and nurture their aspirations to develop a future career within hospitality
- Focused Learning & Development meetings are held with managers to focus specifically on their teams progress and development on a six weekly basis
- We have a trainee manager programme to attract and encourage those with aspirations to develop a long term career in hospitality, in addition to welcoming applications from across all areas of the business to join an 18 month programme. The programme includes hands on delivery within a selection of departments in addition to exposing the individuals to Supervisory and Management responsibilities, accompanied with the opportunity to complete a hospitality qualification, bringing best practice and practical learning together.
- Empowering our team is critical to engaging and communicating with them at every opportunity, and at every level. Examples include a monthly ‘round table dinner’ bringing together some 20 plus team members from across the business, to enjoy a three-course meal to improve communication, and to get to know their peers across departments. Staff consultative committee meetings take place every six weeks, with a representative from every department joining us for a meeting chaired by the Resort Operations Director and is an opportunity to find out key business information, and there is an opportunity for every representative to give their team’s feedback, with minutes published to the whole Resort team. Plus there is a valuable feedback tool ‘We Welcome Your Ideas’, a team feedback initiative that enables any team member to put forward an idea that they think could benefit the business.
- In addition we also have various reward, recognition and thank you initiatives in place to thank our wonderful team and in just the last 12 months alone we have celebrated many team recognition days, with our teams having the opportunity to undertake fun competitive games and activities together, often with guest participation to!
And we never stand still! The Learning & Development team, supported by the Resort Operations Director and Management teams are always developing new ways to improve and enhance the programmes and structure we have in place to keep things up to date, relevant and ensure that we continue to support our teams with both their personal aspirations and our growth as an award winning Resort for the future.
Guests comment time and time again on our friendly and happy team, with some comments on TripAdvisor on our team including:
- “Felt like a queen! Lovely staff right across the Resort and plenty to do, highly recommended.”
- “Everyone at the Resort is so welcoming and friendly, cannot do enough for you: cleaners, bar staff, waiting staff, entertainers, receptionists, game hosts, security, shop staff, gardeners, salon staff…treat you like family. Can't wait to go back.”
- “Staff are very helpful and friendly seem to really enjoy working there, we have booked for a weekend next year. Would recommend to anyone.”
- “I would like to commend the staff who have first class customer service skills.”
- “Staff were excellent, very helpful, from booking in, to restaurant staff and bar staff.”
- “Everything about our holiday at Potters was wonderful, the hotel room, the food, the entertainment and last but not least all of the staff in every department.”
- “Love this place. Everyone is so friendly.”
- “This was our first time at the Resort & we got a lovely welcome, everyone very friendly & polite. We loved it.”
- “Been here before, and what can I say, this place just keeps getting better and better. Superb staff, very attentive. The food is absolutely fantastic, so much choice 4 times per day! This is truly a perfect Resort and it's based in the UK!”
Image caption: Sue Hannam (left) with John Potter and the sponsor of the category, Jess, training manager at McDonald's (middle)