Bikedock Case Study
Trevor Annett, Sales manager, Bikedock.
“The training was very useful - it really focused on how to implement practical tools for development rather than just the theory. My skills as a leader have certainly been challenged and developed through this programme...And whilst I was initially sceptical, the practical learning tools have proved their worth and we can already see benefits in the organisation.”
At 10,000sq ft, the Bikedock retail store is Ireland’s largest cycle shop. Established in 1994, the independent company is based on Belfast’s Ravenhill Road and employs 21 staff. Sales manager Trevor Annett joined the business in 2009 and is responsible for the day-to-day sales team management, stock display and ordering.
In addition to its retail outlet, Bikedock also runs a successful online business, selling products worldwide.
Due to the success of its online business and as a provider for the government’s ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme, Bikedock’s business had grown dramatically since 2008. A general manager and sales manager were hired to oversee day to day operations, allowing the business owners more time to engage in policy issues and wider business development.
However, as the economic climate began to change and subsidised schemes such as ‘Cycle to Work’ became a smaller part of our overall sales, the management team was soon evaluating the strategic direction of the business and how its services could be built upon, so it remained competitive and successful.
Coming from a training background, the General Manager, Coleen Shanks, understood the importance of a joined up team led by strong managers in times of change. She therefore engaged Sales Manager, Trevor, to lead the senior team in management and leadership training.
“I had worked in the car trade for over 30 years and during this time had attended numerous leadership training courses,” said Trevor.
“However, I was always somewhat sceptical of their impact, as the theory seemed to whitewash the practicalities of day-to-day operations in a small business.
“As a company we had realised the need to identify our weaknesses and build on our unique selling points. This would subsequently result in change for the business, and it was important that this change was adopted and understood by the entire team.
“To achieve this, we needed an effective, achievable training plan which would deliver real results.”
Having contacted the Department for Employment and Learning, Trevor was introduced to its management and leadership programme ‘Made Not Born’.
After initial assessment, it was recommended that the Bikedock management team complete the First Line Management Course under the Management and Leadership Development Programme (MLDP).
The course - designed to increase leadership capacity, knowledge and competence with a strong focus on incorporating real work issues as a vehicle for learning and development - involved a number of training workshops and a residential team building exercise.
“The training was very useful - it really focused on how to implement practical tools for development rather than just the theory,” Trevor explained.
“For example we learnt how to evaluate each team member individually and how to determine the most appropriate management style to help each achieve their maximum potential.”
“The exercises also made us consider the weaknesses in our business and how the talents of the team could be used more effectively.”
Following the training several new processes were introduced to Bikedock, for example the implementation of a weekly team meeting to discuss priorities, issues and successes.
Additionally, the team was assessed individually on its strengths, and new responsibilities were assigned. For example, in a bid to refocus the company on the retail market rather than the corporate market, a new retail merchandising position was created and a dedicated training path was designed for the appointed staff member.
Marketing activities were also evaluated with team members now participating in a more focused programme including attending university roadshows, community events and schools to promote the brand.
ON THE ROAD TO SUCCESS
“My skills as a leader have certainly been challenged and developed through this programme,” said Trevor.
“And whilst I was initially sceptical, the practical learning tools have proved their worth and we can already see benefits in the organisation.”
“We are already investigating further training support through ‘Made Not Born’ and I’d urge any small business manager - even the cynics- to engage with this programme.
“And with support towards funding the training still available, now is the perfect time to get involved.”