1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role is Business Admin at my depot. I complete calls during the day to existing account holders to promote our products and see if there is anything coming up they need. Also throughout the day, I ring other branches to check stock codes if a customer of mine needs something we haven't code in stock in our warehouse. I complete the banking at the end of the day and make sure all the money taken is correct and logged and completed exactly right. I have an on-going project for PCD's (Potential Customer Database). They are trades-people that do not already have an account here or at any other branch, so my job is to try and get them to open up a credit account at this branch.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
By the end of my apprenticeship I will have gained a BTEC and an NVQ in Trade business admin. I have also developed my confidence, my customer service skills and my knowledge of Howdens' products.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
My workload is great and I have always got something to do. My colleagues are very supportive if I come across something I haven't learnt yet and help me to every extent that they can. The atmosphere is great. It's always bubbly and happy and comfortable working environment, which obviously means better work it produced! The job exceeded my expectations. It was a little harder at the beginning than I originally thought. I struggled with remembering the codes and I still do now, but it's a lot easier than it was in the beginning. I really enjoy my job. I enjoy interacting with the customers over the phone and on the counter.
4. How valued do you feel by Howdens Joinery?
I feel appreciated by everyone in the depot. You always get internal and external recognition if you solve a problem by yourself for a customer or another depot. Thanks are always given. I feel appreciated by my manager. In the employee reviews he always praises me but always brings some constructive criticism so I have things to work on.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The programme is pretty well organized. My induction was done by my manager and I had all of the health and safety training and tests done. I had time after 4 to do a bit of studying but I preferred to do it at home. I had a bit of an issue with the apprenticeship company because I wasn't given work in 3 months because my Learner Manager kept changing and I was originally 30% in front but ended up 10% behind. Its been sorted now as I have a new learner manager and he has assigned enough work to get me back on track. My team here is great. I know who to go to about what and I understand where I fit in the team.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
As said above I had lots of change in my learner manager. I was seen in September and then I wasn't seen again till November due to our sale period. But I had a different tutor on the November visit and he didn't set me any work. I was then poorly the day he came in December but he didn't tell me when he was coming anyway. And then it got to the middle of January and I rang the company direct with my concerns. They sent the top lady out and I was then put back on track and now have a new learner manager. The lady I had in the beginning was great, but she left and then that's when it all went strange. But the support from the training provider has been great and when I addressed the issue they sorted it straight away. They are all very lovely people too.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I receive a lot of support from my employer. My manager is great at setting targets and helping me improve. If I have an issue it is sorted straight away.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
I live at home so rent isn't an issue. I get the bus too and from work which comes to about £50 a month. My salary covers everything fine as I am living at home.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
I have done the Three Counties show with Howdens, promoting products and trying to get new potential customers. I have also been to a few meetings with cluster depots which was extremely informative and I learnt new ways of approaching customers on the phone.
9. Would you recommend Howdens Joinery to a friend?
It's a great place to work, including employees and customers. There are so many opportunities to set personal targets.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Howdens Joinery?
If they're applying as an apprentice make sure that the CV is totally up to date and shows the manager that you are a willing applicant and open to learning new things. AS for assessment days, just make sure your work is completed and up to date and you have evidence available for the assessor.
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