Kwik Fit provides extensive automotive parts and repairs including tyres, brakes, exhausts, MOT testing, car servicing and air conditioning recharges. The first Kwik Fit centre opened in 1971 and they quickly grew their network of centres across the UK to provide an alternative to main dealerships.
Kwik Fit has always been innovative when it comes to staff training and customer service. The company launched its own Kwik Fit code of practice, in 1981, to standardise and enhance customer care throughout their centres. Kwik Fit was one of the first retailers to introduce an integrated stock and sales system. In 1990, Kwik Fit achieved a National Training Award. This was followed in 1991 with the launch of the Kwik Fit apprenticeship programme. Further training modules were added ensuring that trainees could achieve City and Guilds qualifications in vehicle maintenance and repair.
In June 2011, ITOCHU, one of Japan’s leading trading companies, acquired Kwik Fit. ITOCHU has grown its business by putting its philosophy of Sampo-yoshi at the heart of all its business. Sampo-yoshi is a Japanese management theory that roughly translates as ‘good for the buyer, good for the seller, good for society’.
Although Kwik Fit had always been dedicated to training and customer care, the philosophy of Sampo-yoshi required a change in approach. ITOCHU invested heavily in new training programmes which sought to focus more on employee behaviour and attitudes than business process. They looked to bring the current customer-focused culture to a whole new level, working with staff to show how behaviour and attitudes have impact for both other employees and customers.
Although it was a difficult transition, the results and feedback from the initial leadership training were so positive that Kwik Fit decided to roll out a nationwide training programme –with a particular focus on its new Premier Centres. However, to do this they needed to recruit a new management and commercial training team of experienced and high-level trainers who could deliver this programme – and ensure, importantly, its ongoing success.
Without the right team, the initial cultural changes and positive gains made would fall by the wayside. Kwik Fit contacted Blue Eskimo and outlined the recruitment challenge they were facing. Blue Eskimo director Nick Jones visited the Birmingham Premier Centre to see the training in action on the ground, and to gain insights into what was needed.
The L&D recruitment experts
“I came away from those couple of days knowing that to find the people Kwik Fit needed we were going to need a personal approach to recruitment that focused on face-to-face interviews and really got answers about the candidates’ own attitudes, behaviours and emotional intelligence, as well as their practical skills and experience for the role. We developed an insights discovery tool which was a series of questions we asked alongside the usual CV. Kwik Fit conducted 32 face-to-face interviews with candidates we had selected, they also involved the existing team in the decision-making for the final selection, which really helped with integrating the new members.” – Nick Jones, Blue Eskimo
The eight roles required were recruited successfully – and it is a testament to the recruitment strategy that all eight of those candidates are still working at Kwik Fit today, prospering in their careers and contributing to the business. Alongside this, in 2015, Kwik Fit received Ofsted’s highest possible ranking for its apprenticeship scheme and was graded Level 1 (outstanding).
Paul Banks, head of learning and development at Kwik Fit, sums things up: “Now we just need to keep this standard up! That means the training of staff will stay a high priority for the group. Needless to say, we will continue to use Blue Eskimo for the key recruitment aspect in the training or learning sector, along with any future learning or development programmes.”