I’m often asked about our training and development at Crystal Clean Service, mostly by clients whose expectations have been exceeded by the quality of work and customer service our staff deliver. I always take this as a compliment to the company, but I’m surprised by businesses that don’t have a focus on training and development because it’s so intrinsic to commercial success.
I’m not a great believer in inspirational quotes from great business leaders, but when Richard Branson said “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to,” he summed up everything I believe about staff training and enabling career development.
Without investing time, and considerable expense, in training our staff and helping them with career development, we would not be where we are today with 70+ employees and a growing roster of happy customers. Staff retention isn’t something the cleaning and facilities management industry is renowned for, but at Crystal Clean I’m proud of our above-average retention figures, and even the staff that do leave often come back when their circumstances change for the better. Higher staff retention means we retain the experience our staff build when working for individual clients, enabling us to deliver great customer service.
As part of our training programme, we have developed a training manual to accommodate all levels of ability. We employed external companies and consultants to work with us and assess how to make further improvements, and we conduct regular staff reviews and appraisals to make sure everyone is comfortable with their role, and has access to the career development and training opportunities they need.
We look after our staff, and they look after our customers. By building a culture of support and positive attitudes, and providing the resources, time and encouragement to all our staff to realise their potential, we have created a supportive and constructive workplace that is instrumental to our success as a company.
This sort of attitude is well within the reach of any business, large or small. It does cost time and money, of course, but the advantages and benefits soon begin to pour in; strong staff morale, better customer service, higher standards of work quality and greater customer and employee retention are just a few of the effects we’ve noticed over the medium term.
When it comes to analysing and identifying your needs for training and development, consulting externally can be a great help as it’s always going to be difficult to dispassionately examine your own company. By talking confidentially to all staff, the external company can elicit more candid responses, and build a more accurate and meaningful picture of the company. We followed the recommendations given to us, and supported our staff in external training in career development as well as internal training in cleaning, finance and administration, and there’s no question that our efforts have paid off.
Your staff are your most valuable resource, and looking after their personal, professional and career development isn’t just a demonstration of your dedication to staff welfare, it’s an important part of building the culture of continuous improvement needed to succeed in any competitive industry.