Harwoods save 360 days of senior management time

Megan Thompson · March 18, 2021

Harwoods is a privately owned automotive retail group based on the south coast of England, serving customers from across Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Kent and beyond. An established family business founded in 1931, selling and servicing top end brands including Audi, Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover and McLaren, BMW Mini and MAN Truck, the group has a reputation for high standards.

Harwoods offer exceptional customer service as the group is dedicated to meeting every need of their customers whatever stage of the buying cycle they are in, they always go the extra mile. The group employ over 900 people from the South of England – from sales to service advisors and expert technicians.

Taking the temperature in multi-site organisations is key

In order to ensure such high standards are achieved in what is a predominantly customer facing environment, Harwoods recognise that for their customers to enjoy the best service, employees need to be as productive, motivated and happy as possible when they come to work. However, it can be difficult to keep track of how everyone is feeling in a multi-site organisation such as Harwoods. Harwoods’ CEO Archie Harwood comments:

“We recognise that our people are crucial and that creating a culture where they are engaged and happy is absolutely key to our business’ success, particularly in customer facing roles. However, building this type of culture can be difficult across multiple sites.”

Archie continues:

“We wanted to start by listening to what our employees had to say. Having just completed our first company wide WeThrive survey, the results were fascinating. As a management team we are seeing the benefits, but more importantly, so are the wider team.”

Saving time, headspace and creating a sense of connection

Following an initial survey of the senior management team, Harwoods surveyed all of their 900 staff. The survey uncovered some significant opportunities and, as a result of the WeThrive instant action plans, they were able to make a number of quick improvements across the business.

Saving time and resource

The survey identified that the Heads of Business (HoBs) felt that monthly manager meetings were too time heavy, the meetings required a lot of preparation and weren’t necessarily delivering the desired outputs. As a result of this feedback it was decided that HoBs no longer needed to attend these meetings. In total this has given them approximately two days a month back – each – freeing them up to spend more time with their teams and helping them deliver in their roles. Similarly, forecasting meetings have moved from weekly to a more accurate and detailed monthly process, freeing up even more of the HoBs and managers’ time.

A sense of connection and contribution

The survey also identified that some of the non-dealership businesses (Truck, Accident Repair Centres, Contact Centre) didn’t feel as connected to the company & customers as other parts of the business. As a result of this feedback Harwoods are now planning a number of ‘walking in the shoes of…’ visits to some of their internal customers.

Headspace and no emails after 4pm!

 Each month HoBs can play a headspace card if they feel they need some time out to think about their business and not be in it. Although to date few have taken up the offer, the thought of it being there seems to have people feeling they have more headspace as a result.

One of the Area Directors decided to take the results even further and implemented a no email after 4pm rule to his team.

Piers Bishop, WeThrive co-founder says:

“We think this is a great initiative; people are able to leave on time at the end of the day feeling clear headed and less frantic about what tomorrow may bring. No one wants to get hit with a request from their manager near the end of the day which either puts you into a spin of rushed activity or stays on your mind all night when the chances are there’s nothing you can do about it anyway.”

Harwoods have been delighted with the partnership with WeThrive so far.

Archie comments:

“We selected WeThrive because they offered us a refreshing new approach to the traditional employee survey…a way of taking the temperature of our employees in a creative and informed way. The data the survey provides us with will only strengthen how we can enhance our employees engagement further. We have definitely found a great partner to work with!”

Archie Harwood
CEO, Harwoods