Finding and training your future stars

Gearing up for success

Starting Off were introduced to Croyland Car Megastore almost 10 years ago when Mark Swindells, General Manager contacted them. Croyland were interested to explore how the business could support the local community through employing apprentices and fast forward 10 years it is abundantly clear that apprentices have become an integral part of the company’s recruitment strategy and have contributed significantly to the growth and success of the sales force.

Croyland have recruited apprentices in departments spanning sales, accounts, customer service and administration. Following the high levels of success experienced at Croyland, Starting Off were able to develop relationships with other businesses in the group and have gone on to successfully recruit and train apprentices in these companies.

During National Apprenticeship week, Starting Off’s Sales and Operations Manager, Katie Goodall, visited Croyland to catch up with the team and to interview Mark about his experience.

Starting Off: How has employing apprentices changed/ added to your business?

Mark: Employing apprentices is a very important part of our business and at Croyland around 70% of our award-winning sales team staff started their Croyland careers as apprentices.

Our day to day accountant also joined us as an apprentice and we have administrative staff who were also appointed as apprentices, so they are highly valuable members of the Croyland team. Now that the majority of them are all fully trained our business relies on them to a significant degree.

Starting Off: Have you received reviews on particular apprentices?

Mark: Jamie Burton joined us as our first apprentice in 2011, Jamie joined our sales team and he was responsible for selling just under 400 cars last year on his own, which equates to achieving 21% of our business by himself.

Jamie features regularly in extremely positive customer reviews on Facebook and Trustpilot. There are numerous reviews which have been posted praising him for his excellent customer service, which is fantastic and demonstrates how he has thrived here by being provided with the right training and support.

The most recent reviews include the following customer comments:

‘Jamie Burton made us feel welcome from when we walked through the door, quick and easy process and brilliant customer service, friendly happy faces which are always good, highly recommended’

‘Thank you, Jamie Burton, for making this experience of buying a car stress free. No hassle, prompt service, great advice.’

‘Thank you, Jamie Burton, for making this experience of buying a car stress free. No hassle, prompt service, great advice. I went in on Sunday morning to look at buying a new car and picked my new car up this afternoon. I absolutely love it. With Jamie (and my daughters) help I found the perfect car.’

‘Love my new car! This was the easiest purchase I have made with a car, all the communication from pre and post sale is 5 star, there is no pressure, no sales force hovering around you and the cars are in pristine condition. I dealt with Jamie and he was excellent, he kept me informed every step of the process and made sure that the car was perfect for me... These guys are professional …I would not hesitate to purchase from them again in the future and would recommend them to all my friends and family. Thanks Jamie and the Croyland car megastore team.’

Starting Off: What advice would you give to employers considering employing an apprentice for the first time?

My advice to employers considering taking on apprentices would be give it a try. It is great to get some young blood into a business and the key to making appointing apprentices a success is the training that you help provide.

There are numerous benefits to employing apprentices because they join your team with no preconceived ideas or perceptions about how the job should be done. Obviously they are not able to do the job from day one, however with the right training and support they will succeed and the rewards at the end far outweigh the option of only considering someone who may have more previous experience for a particular role. Our apprentices play an invaluable part within the Croyland team and add to the ongoing success of the business.

Starting Off: How has your experience been working with Starting Off (Be honest! We can take it!)

Mark: Croyland Car Megastore has a long established, positive relationship with Starting Off. This relationship spans almost 10 years and during our time working with them we have provided opportunities for many apprentices in all sectors of the business. Our latest apprentice placed with Starting Off joined the team a week ago and our ongoing collaboration with them is important.

Our ongoing sales success is heavily reliant on the abilities of the apprentices we have taken on and trained via Starting Off, who, in our experience, help introduce us to the very best candidates who join Croyland to establish successful careers within the industry.

Starting Off help us select our shining stars!

We caught up with one of those Shining Stars to gain his perspective on the apprenticeship route:

Starting Off: Jamie – what benefits did you gain from going down the apprenticeship route?

Jamie: I learnt some invaluable life skills that have gained me a career.

Starting Off: What advice would you give to anyone considering starting an apprenticeship

Jamie: Just go for it!

Jamie is now part of an awarding winning sales team predominantly made up of ex- apprentices that continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive market.

It was clear to me from the first experience of visiting Croyland that they would be an ideal environment for apprentices to thrive – a company that supports local charities and youth projects and puts people at the heart of their business - but what is also incredibly encouraging to witness is how important the apprenticeship model has become to Croyland in a commercial sense and how that impact has spread throughout all the companies in the group.