3663 First for Foodservice, the UK’s leading foodservice wholesale distributor, offers a range of services to the entire hospitality industry. With almost 6,000 employees and 42 nationwide depots we deliver quality frozen, fresh & chilled food along with grocery and non-food items to approximately 30,000 customers.
Distribution is a tough blue-collar industry where traditionally people management has not scored high on the agenda, but that’s what makes our stance all the more impressive.
We have fully embraced an ethos of trust and mutual respect for all our employees and customers. As a dynamic employer of choice, we empower our people to take ownership of situations, thus increasing role fulfilment. As a service focused organisation we are flexible to the needs of others and are determined to provide sustainable customer service.
First for Service
More than 10 years ago our management team agreed to adopt a radical new approach to the way we operate. A quality management programme called “First for Service” was embedded into the organisation and a key element was a new way of thinking about the role of the people employed in the business.
Everyone who joins 3663 takes part in an off-site “First for Service” induction, with further courses and refreshers as they progress in their jobs. “First for Service” encourages, and indeed requires, a mutual respect between frontline staff and those with management responsibility. Everyone works as part of a team and there are opportunities for people to take on additional roles, for example as environmental and/or communication champions.
It acts as a vehicle for ensuring that the company’s values are shared across the organisation and “First for Service” training reinforces the ethos of putting the customer first. Everyone is asked to put forward Opportunities for Improvement (OFI), but this doesn’t mean a handful of suggestion boxes. There are regular OFI days and incentives for ideas that can be put into practice and result in improvements to customer service or the smooth running of the business.
We are also strong on communication. New recruits start from a position of understanding what the company is trying to achieve and how they can be part of it. Notice boards, newsletters, listening groups and regular briefings ensure that people continue to feel connected with the business and share in its success.
First for Progression
We believe in growing our own ‘star’ performers of the future and we have created competency frameworks and management development programmes, building on the basic “First for Service” training and “First for People” philosophy.
We recognise that each employee has different needs and we provide a number of learning solutions to help all our people reach their full potential. These solutions include mentoring, coaching, secondments, work shadowing, cross divisional work, projects, focus groups, suggested reading and discussion.
We have also introduced a Driver Academy as the basis of developing a customer service and safety culture amongst our core group of front line employees. An NVQ Academy has also been established to enable employees to develop further in their job role and to gain a nationally recognised qualification.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. There are certain essential features of “First for Service”, but after that, teams and individuals are encouraged to come up with their own ideas, appropriate to local circumstances. It’s a good balance between shared understanding and freedom of expression.
3663 is the Best place to Work in Hospitality – in a diverse and challenging industry, our people are motivated, committed, involved, and it shows in our performance.