Here at H&T we have a rather large workforce to look after – and with 250+ branches spread across the UK, as well as an administrative headquarters and a number of satellite support roles, it’s easy to see why. Of course, with so many people involved in the running of H&T Pawnbrokers, we put a lot of effort into ensuring that every single employee has all the support they need, is well-trained, and feels confident in their role.
H&T Branch Staff
As a H&T customer, you’re most likely to meet our branch employees in one of our nationwide stores. Our branch staff are, naturally, have a great rapport with the customers who use their store. We take care to employ people who are able to connect with customers from all walks of life; and in areas where second, third or even fourth languages are used frequently, we like to try and ensure there are speakers in-store.
Every store employee goes through an initial training process, with ongoing training being applied throughout their career. At first, this involves learning within a virtual branch, so that new staff members can get a real feel for how everything works together. To ensure that every customer gets only the best service possible we provide support, practical classes, online theory learning and one-to-one training on a range of subjects, including:
Sales, valuations & negotiation
An Introduction to Diamond Grading and Valuing
A Guide to Watches
Advanced Diamond Grading and Valuing
H&T Branch Management
Current branch employees are given plenty of opportunity to continue their learning and advance to managerial roles, for this reason our stores are often filled with staff who are enthusiastic about the industry and are making a career. Managers and other senior staff members within our branches get additional support and training so that all stores are consistent and run well, including:
Planning & organising
Coaching & feedback
We know that if our branches run smoothly and our customers are looked after, then H&T can only move onwards and upwards as a business. Our core policy is Treating Customers Fairly - as per Financial Conduct Authority best practice - and in order to achieve this, we ensure your first point of contact is always friendly, knowledgeable and professional. Equipping all branch staff with the skills, tools and technology they need to look after each and every customer is the key to H&T’s success – it’s an ethic that’s worked very well over the last 122 years and one that we continue to champion today.
Remote Training & Learning
As our core workforce is spread out all over the UK, it can be difficult to coordinate off-site lessons. While some of our initial training courses are performed like this, it’s not practical for more frequent ‘top-up’ learning. As our branch staff deal with a wide range of items, from fine jewellery to high-end watches and electronic gadgets, they have to remember a lot of information as well as learn about new techniques, tech developments and advances in design.
The easiest way to ensure this information reaches all branches and everyone is able to learn at their own pace and in their own time, is to deliver information and lessons via our ELearning platform. This is done via ‘How To’ and ‘Best Practice’ videos which are short and easy to digest, allowing our employees to brush up on their skills regularly, as well as through quick-read guides. These subjects can span anything from ‘till talk’ to how to change a watch bracelet, and branch staff can access additional training modules as well to support their role.
Being able to provide our branches with real-time information and training aides is paramount in such a fast-changing world. New smartphones are being released all the time, for instance, and it’s important that our staff know what to look for in terms of condition, authenticity and features for each new model for when one is brought to the store. It’s also a useful platform for informing other branches of potential scams, new counterfeit techniques, or fake items which have been flagged up by other pawnbrokers, other H&T branches or the police.
Ultimately, all of this helps us to protect our customers from fraud and ensures that everything for sale in our branches has been fully authenticated and valued accurately. All staff are highly vigilant in these particular areas, and we ensure that their new knowledge is put into practice regularly to keep things running as they should.
How we Track Progress
Of course, we can provide all the training opportunities, Elearning modules and support as we like, but none of it means anything if it doesn’t work in practice. Each of our branches is reviewed on a regular basis, as well as put through random auditing, mystery shops and management checks by both H&T and independent agencies. Our stores tend to pass these checks with flying colours, but we believe it’s important to continue ‘testing the water’ so that any mistakes or bad practices can be flagged up and resolved.
We also keep a close eye on how we incentivise our branch team members, as we know that – if employed in the wrong way – incentives and rewards can encourage the wrong behaviours. The last thing we want is for the chance of a bonus taking precedence over Treating Customers Fairly, so regular risk assessments are conducted and controls are put in place to ensure incentives work for everyone.
In addition, senior management who work in our corporate office environment are closely involved in the operation of the branches and visit regularly to ensure they have a real understanding of what they’re actually managing. When a business is as old and as large as H&T Pawnbrokers, it becomes very important to allow an open flow of information between head office and our high-street stores. Each must understand the other in order to everything to run properly, so we ensure no staff member is an island.