I had worked in retail since I was 14 and had always enjoyed interacting with different people, some of the stories and experiences you would hear were just brilliant. Retail is such a fast-paced business and I just liked getting my hands dirty and going home knowing I had worked hard that day. Halfords was the perfect destination for me because I had an interest in the products and used a lot of them myself but I also wanted some variety in what I was doing. I originally joined as a Fitter, so I not only did the generic shop duties but also got to go out into the car park and get under a bonnet or two! Since then, I’ve moved from working under the bonnet to leading teams, running shops and working with the Commercial teams on their offers and how they land in shops!
I currently work in Retail Support which is the action centre of any retailer. The Retail Support team oversee all shop workload, communications, deployment and processes...so not much to deal with! We are a relatively small team but we all work hard together and have a great spirit. My role specifically is working with the Friend of the Motorist team on all things motoring. From range changes, to promotions, to our We Fit services, I work with the teams to make sure their ideas and projects are fit for our shops. The great thing is I work with them from the early concept to the communication and execution in shops so Retail Support are at the heart of everything we do.
Different days pose different opportunities but the thing that remains constant is the interaction I will have with colleagues across the Support Centre. Whether it’s Buyers or Supply in Friend of the Motorist, our In-Store Marketing team or colleagues in Customer Services, I talk to them every day. The balance is ensuring I am staying involved with the strategic long-term projects and supporting the scope of these projects way out as well as supporting the day to day or imminent pieces that are happening now.
The best thing about working at Halfords is the services we offer. You can go to any other retailer and buy a product, but you can’t get it fitted, repaired or set up. Our business model is centred on service that cannot be beaten; a customer can walk into our shops and leave without having to do anything. I absolutely believe this makes Halfords the business it is and all our colleagues believe it too. In terms of the environment, we are a relatively big company but everyone knows each other so no face is a strange face. Having this kind of close-knit culture makes getting stuff done much easier!
I think the biggest challenge I have had is purely knowing who does what and how you best engage with them to get things done. We work with people who have different skill sets, some love numbers, some love being creative and drawing, some prefer negotiation and chatting but essentially we have to get things done so knowing how to work with different characters was and still is the biggest challenge.
In terms of dealing with them I like to think the support networks in the business are easily accessible and advice is never far away. What is clear is that no one is going to tell you off for trying so give it a go and if you don’t succeed at first, learn and try again.
I have done multiple training and development schemes in Halfords and all of them have been even better evolutions of their predecessors. I have absolute belief that our People team strive to improve and make the development experiences for all colleagues better every year and the management training programme has changed the outlook of our business. I was on the first management training cohort and we are now on cohort five or six so the great news is that the talent in Halfords isn’t dwindling and we are recruiting people who have a future as leaders in our business. We aren’t just recruiting potential but we are nurturing and in my experience, setting ourselves up to succeed for years to come.
My biggest achievement is probably being asked to be mentored by our former CEO, Matt Davies. The company conducted a search for colleagues across the business who had the potential to lead at a higher level in the future with the right exposure and after some tough interviews and assessments, myself and a colleague (also a good friend), who now works in the same department as me, were chosen. I spent six months working in different parts of the business, spending time with Matt and learning all about what happens outside of shops to make a retailer work. It was mind blowing and I knew I made the right decision. When Matt left, six months into the mentoring, I had made that much of an impression in the departments I spent time in that I was snapped up to work in Retail Support right away!
The colleagues I know who have been successful in Halfords are those who have ambition to do good in the business and have a drive to make things happen, but conduct themselves and their interactions in the right way. Halfords provides a platform to conduct change and improve the experience for customers and colleagues - you just have to be brave and aware enough to carry it out professionally.
For anyone applying for Halfords I would recommend they do their research on the business; it’s a unique business model and you really need to embrace what we are all about to truly appreciate what you’re applying for. Halfords recruits on attitude, behaviours and willingness to learn so I would say even if you don’t believe that you have the skillset, we are more interested in whether we can help you get there as opposed to if you already have it. If you fit in with the Halfords family, we will help you do the rest.