7 Lakes Country Park has been selling holiday homes in its idyllic woodland holiday park in Crowle, North Lincolnshire, for over 20 years. Selling caravans has always been the main business objective and income stream for the business, however over the years the business has expanded and diversified.
As well as accommodation, the park has started to offer water sports and fishing on the lake, established a popular bar and restaurant, and also hosts a range of seasonal family events.
In the last few years the site reached capacity with all of its 700 homes sold. This meant that the focus of the business has changed to look at growing the sports, leisure and events offering.
As the business shifted to a more customer service led approach, rather than sales driven, it highlighted a number of areas where staff, from office through to grounds maintenance, could benefit from additional skills training.
Rohdri Marlow, manager at 7 Lakes Country Park, explained: “We needed staff to have a greater understanding of customer service and the importance of this within the business to help us look after our current customers and caravan owners and grow the business in a different way. It was also important to develop our managers with HR and management training to ensure we can continue to invest and support our team long-term, as well as attract the right people.
“We also realised our sales team could benefit from training in digital marketing to help grow our reputation and increase awareness of our water sports, fishing and leisure packages.”
The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project offers fully-funded training courses to employees of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As well as helping businesses to plug any skills gaps they may have, training also boosts productivity and fuels growth. Co-financed through the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the project is open to SMEs seeking non-compulsory, work-based training to support their business growth plan.
After a skills analysis session with the team at North Lindsey College, they identified a full set of training needs for staff across the business to support their growth ambitions.
As a seasonal business, time was set aside at the beginning of the 2017 season for staff to undertake the training programmes, which continued throughout the year in line with development plans for the business and also meant the team could implement their training straight away.
It was also important that these customer service skills could benefit the business on a long term basis. Therefore, the head of management and personnel training was trained on customer service skills and how to train future staff with these skills.
Fully Funded Training
Employees underwent WorldHost training, which has been adopted as the UK customer service standard for the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industries since the London 2012 Olympics.
Rod said: “Receiving fully funded training has allowed us to start realigning the business as well as enabling our employees to adapt with this change.
“The communications skills training has led to a huge improvement in customer service, developing assertiveness and self-confidence with the team. Staff are really engaged and motivated and we’ve even promoted a few staff members as a result of the training.
“The social media and marketing training has really helped the marketing team promote our new areas of sport and leisure, attracting corporate team building events and day visitors.
“The main outcome is that we now have a successful team and, because staff are multi-skilled, we have seen a reduction in downtime, making us a much more productive business all round. “
Ebrahim Dockrat, External Funding Director of Calderdale College, the main contractor for Skills Support for the Workforce, highlighted the benefits of the project: “There is a wide range of flexible, bespoke training plans designed to help businesses grow. By training your staff, you can improve your ability to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment, nurture a leadership team for the future and make you an employer of choice for emerging talent.
“As this training is funded with European money, this is the last project of its kind. This funding is only available until July 2018, so it’s a case of get it whilst you still can.”
For more information on the Skills Support for the Workforce project and to see if your business is eligible for fully-funded training, click here