2003 to date:
Wickes Home Improvements
1998 to 2003 :
Wickes Home Improvements
1993 to 1998 :
Wickes Home Improvements
1988 to 1993 :
Texas Homecare Ltd
- David Vernon
- Wickes Home Improvements
- Regional Controller
Q: What made you choose to join your current employer?
I started my career in DIY totally by accident and found that it was a job that I really enjoyed and wanted to keep. Through a recommendation from a friend, I learnt that Wickes were recruiting managers in training and although I had never heard of them at the time, it seemed a great business and one that I wanted to join. The move to a far heavier side of DIY was initially daunting (I remember looking at roof truss displays and thinking "I will never learn all this") but part of the interview was about how Wickes fully train their colleagues and that rubber stamped my decision to join them.
Q: What is the basic function/purpose of your current role?
In my role as regional controller I oversee a total of 14 stores through South Wales, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. My key aims are to ensure they maximise their sales and profit potential whilst operating in a very safe manner. Driving sales could range from maximising key strategic initiatives to maintaining great product availability to supporting the stores in developing working relationships with the tradesmen and serious DIYers. Ensuring we get every store as profitable as possible through controlling costs has always been a key aim and one that sees different challenges every year so it's always very high on the agenda. Development of colleagues is a key strength for Wickes and one that plays a major part in my day to day role as well as maintaining a great teamwork ethos.
Q: How relevant were your qualifications to you getting the job?
I joined Wickes with the usual clutch of school qualifications although it's never been a key driver in determining whether you joined or went on to the next level. Joining Wickes with DIY experience always helped but was never essential, it was the management experience that they were interested in as they could develop the product knowledge through training. Bringing colleagues into the business with an aptitude to progress further was always a main aim when recruiting new managers.
Q: Describe some of the key tasks involved in performing your current role and the frequency with which you have to perform them.
Getting out and spending time visiting stores is the highest priority and I like to make sure I see every store at least once a fortnight. This could either be a structured full store review or simply seeing how the store is keeping on track in regards to availability or specific key initiatives.
Key initiatives are communicated monthly and are cascaded through a regional meeting which is also a great opportunity for store managers to get together and share experiences and best practice. Project work plays a part in the weekly routine and usually involves meeting with colleagues from the support centre which is a great opportunity to forge relationships between stores and support colleagues. There are always a number of key activities that happen on a regular basis such as people meetings where colleague succession and manpower requirements are discussed and planned.
Finally, there are a number of tasks undertaken to ensure we are policy compliant but most of all, health and safety compliant - I want every colleague to return home safely after completing their shift.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work each day?
I will always review the sales figures for the previous day which normally drives some communication to either congratulate or understand sales performances. I like to be on the road early so I'm normally at the store as it opens which means I need to give the team some time to deal with the first duties of the day before I start a visit. I think it's important to start the day with a really positive message - there's always one to be found from the previous day.
Q: How big is the team in which you work?
I work alongside another four regional controllers in one of three divisions throughout the country. In all there are 15 regional controllers that cover the UK from Truro to Inverness and four divisional directors - one role is within central operations.
I have 14 store managers in my team and they have an average of 30 colleagues working within their stores. Wickes promotes cross functional working so you tend to view operations as one big team - we always aim to support each other whether we're located ten miles away or 200 miles away.
Q: Describe how your job interacts with the rest of your team.
This is what makes the job so great - you get to interact with a team on a daily basis. Every one of the 400+ colleagues that work in my region plays a part in making the team successful and I make sure I know every colleague and make sure they feel valued. Once a month I get the team together for a managers' regional meeting, which is a fantastic opportunity to both bond and develop the team, but also to share some of the successes and challenges from the previous month.
Q: How would you describe the working culture of your current employer?
Wickes has always had a great team culture and is really successful in ensuring you know how important you are to the business. It's got a great ability to embrace change even down to making new colleagues feel as though they have been with the business for years. The board goes out of its way to interact with store colleagues and that's what sets out the culture for the business.
Recently we supplied every store manager with their own signed banner to put outside their store. This was only done once the manager felt proud to put their name to their store and that's exactly what the banner said - there were lots of very proud managers that week.
Q: What career avenues do you hope to be able to pursue in the next: two years, five years & ten years?
Operations is an area that I have always specialised in and therefore has the career route that is right for me. I have always set personal goals for what I am looking to achieve in my career and Wickes has always been able to provide the opportunities as I have progressed. The natural progression from a regional controller is to develop to the next role as divisional director which is my key aim.
Q: What do you like most about your current role and why?
I thoroughly enjoy interacting with people and that's what makes the job great - you can spend a day interacting with colleagues and also getting involved with customers, whether that be offering advice or simply helping them find a product.
Leading a team gives a great deal of satisfaction but I always get much more satisfaction watching the results when they are inspired to lead.
Finally, Wickes is a business that you can influence whether you are a part time colleague or sit on the board - there are processes in place to ensure that ideas get through.
Q: What did you/do you find hardest about your current role?
I'm not sure I know the answer to this question as I've never had to think of it before! Getting things wrong or missing a target can always be tough but all part of the learning cycle so that's as close as I can get to the answer. There are always some hard days but that doesn't make them any less rewarding.
Q: How close do you think that the general public’s view of your employer is to the reality?
Winning the Verdict award two years running suggests that the general public's view is close to reality. The Verdict report is a DIY consumer satisfaction index leader and covers a whole host of measures. In the 2008 report, we saw a great leap in the quality category which is great for a retailer that has an almost own brand product offer. It was great to see that we also maintained our position as the highest ranking DIY retailer for customer service - an accolade that makes us all feel proud.
I don't think we often get it wrong when we recruit colleagues and in fact we get great feedback from colleagues in their first three months and make people feel part of the business very quickly.
Q: Would you recommend your employer to a friend and if so, why?
Without hesitation - it's a company that puts people at the heart of it's business and keeps them there.
If there's an employee you think epitomises your company ethos or you'd like to draw attention to a particular role, why not get in touch with our team right now? Just email: email@example.com.