I have been a fan of Prêt-A-Manger for some time; their sandwiches and stuff are delicious, they have a genuine social conscience, their responsible attitude towards ingredients fills me with hope the way their team members behave is an inspiration.
I have always wondered how they engender such fantastic customer service behaviour. I have recently been lucky enough to spend some time with the Prêt Academy finding out how they do it and I think that we can all learn something from the positive consequences of their approach.
I have had conversations about maybe working as a consultant to the team at the Academy, and learnt that consultants, as well as senior managers in the organisation, go out to a retail branch and do a ‘buddy day’.
What a fantastic, creative approach; get right to the ‘coal-face’ and connect with what the business really does. I can almost hear the ivory towers crumbling.
I spent my ‘Buddy Day’ with a fantastic team of people in Guildford on the 11th October.
The morning involved learning what was important about preparing the food whilst making sandwiches and rolling wraps the Prêt way. After lunch I learnt what was important about the retail space whilst clearing and cleaning tables, sweeping the floor and talking to customers about their food.
I loved it!
There are a handful of simple principles in each environment, described in an easy to remember way and conveyed through examples. It provides enough detail for the team member to know if something is good enough or not, but at the same conveys the spirit of it; the intention of what they are doing, and requires the team member to constantly use their judgement; their initiative.
If I’m lucky enough to do some interesting work with Prêt, I’m no longer a detached consultant. I was already a frequent customer, and I now have a tacit feeling of what it’s like to work for prêt. They are an inspiration!