The train arrived in Portsmouth and it was easy to spot those who were making the same journey - big suitcases, tentative glances and so easy to spot the Liz Earle devotees, glowing skin was clearly in evidence.
On arrival by hovercraft in Ryde, we were whisked away in Liz Earle vehicles to The Green House, the brand’s island HQ. With views of the sea en-route, I thought of relaxing walks along the beach but had to remind myself that I was not on a ‘jolly’.
On entering reception at The Green House, I was greeted by the familiar Liz Earle scent of Eucalyptus & Rosemary Botanical Candles followed by a real highlight – a visit to the Ladies, to find Liz Earle goodies of every kind including hand wash, hand cream and all the fragrances – bliss!
Teresa, the Lead Induction Trainer, introduced herself and helped us to break the ice. I was impressed when she told us she was always at the end of the phone if we needed anything at all. This set the tone for the week – we were treated with courtesy and respect, not like a commodity on an assembly line (no mean feat considering the number of induction sessions that take place all year round!). The Liz Earle team seemed to genuinely care about our wellbeing and were interested in knowing that we were okay. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble.
Next came lunch in the staff bistro, a relaxed conservatory-styled interior with lots of light and looking out towards open green space. There were some yummy choices for lunch with home-grown ingredients, and I tucked in enthusiastically. I had been advised to allow extra luggage space, and I realised later that this was to accommodate the products which were provided free of charge together with training materials. I was not, however, told that it was advisable to pack some loose-fitting clothes; I must have put on loads of weight by the end of the week with all the delicious food on offer. I remember thinking I should have ordered a bigger uniform!
We were then taken to Customer Services and Fulfilment. The Customer Services team were just as friendly and approachable in person as they are on the phone. I felt emotional seeing how the orders were fulfilled – and how can you get emotional about products being collected, carefully wrapped and dispatched to so many destinations!? I learned the logistics of how those beautifully packaged products are wrapped carefully in tissue paper with the familiar logo; with attention to the minutest of details, to ensure that the customer is not disappointed. It was to become evident throughout the week that it was all about the customer, and this may seem obvious, but it takes on a different meaning when it is interpreted in the Liz Earle way. I should not have been surprised – as a customer I had experienced the excellence of Liz Earle service first-hand.
The day continued with Geoff, the Environmental Advisor, in a real greenhouse! It was like putting faces to some of the ingredients which I had seen listed on products – Kalahari melon, Rosemary and Aloe Vera to name a few. I could have spent hours listening to Geoff talking about the environmentally friendly ethos of the brand which permeated throughout The Green House. It came as no surprise, but I still found it impressive.
The first day was ending as we were driven to the Ryde Castle Hotel and I was allocated a quality, comfortable room. I was relieved that nobody was expected to share so I could snore quite happily (not that I do, of course!).
The evening meal did not disappoint and there was no chance I was going to be hungry that week. They do say an army marches on its stomach, so perhaps this was all part of the strategy. I found it easy to replace my customary morning bowl of cereal with a full English breakfast, followed by mid-morning snacks, delicious home cooked lunches from The Green House bistro, afternoon refreshments, then back to the hotel for a generous meal allowance including a glass of something – in my case, a large white wine. It was not the amount of food that impressed me, rather it was what it said about the attitude of the company to their new recruits. To cite one example, it was somebody’s birthday, so the training team arranged for a birthday cake to be served in the tea break and we all sang happy birthday. It was so thoughtful and kind – ‘we care more’ and ‘we are one team’ came to mind. I began to understand and appreciate what is meant by the ‘Precious Recipe’ and what gives the brand its USP: in my opinion, it is all about the people.
I was looking forward to bedtime and playing with the products in the overflowing goody bag. Some of the products were new to me but they have since become firm favourites. So – the plan works, nothing sells a product like having the customer touch, feel and explore the item. It is only part of the story, but I have since learned that it is a very important part in securing the business and hence ‘please take a seat’.