The SUPERSPAR Despatch continued its trend of excellence by being named the SUPERSPAR Store of the Year at the SPAR Eastern Cape Members Meeting last month.
Held at the Boardwalk Casino in Port Elizabeth on July 26 the occasion recognised the efforts that a wide range of SPAR retailers had made to ensure they maintained a high level of customer service.
This prestigious award was handed over to Paul Barnes, the owner of SUPERSPAR Despatch, who said their focus at all times was to be the best store in the Eastern Cape in any sphere in which they were involved.
“Whether it is the My SPAR Rewards Programme, Q PRO Food Safety Audits, GUEST Movement Scores or any other SPAR-related campaigns, we always strive to be the best,” said Barnes, who was proud of their achievement in the face of stiff competition from more than 100 stores across the province.
Previously under Barnes the Despatch outlet, located in Central, was named the SPAR Store of the Year award winner in 2011 before being transformed into a SUPERSPAR in 2013.
Barnes was also involved in SUPERSPAR Sunridge when it won the Store of the Year in 2007 and 2009.
He said he had had no great expectations of winning again this year.
“The recent slowdown in the country’s economy, the various competitors around us and the drought are some of the biggest challenges of any retail store nowadays,” added Barnes.
“However, the exposure that we gain from this award is absolutely invaluable.
“This shows the residents of Despatch and Uitenhage that they don’t have to drive all the way to Port Elizabeth to find a quality retail store for their grocery needs.”
Despite maintaining high customer levels, Barnes said SUPERSPAR Despatch established an in-store e-Learning Centre about two years ago, which was run by a permanently employed e-Learning coordinator.
The core modules include basic business principles, safety hazards, food safety, cold chain management, merchandising, customer service, engaging customers for sales and telephone conduct training.
The department-specific modules cover service modules for cashiers, till-packers and front-end supervisors, as well as product knowledge and equipment-operation modules for the counter and food production assistants in the bakery, butchery, deli, health management and fresh produce departments.
They are also evaluated according to the five GUEST principles that are prescribed by the SPAR Retailer Group on the shop floor as soon as they have completed all relevant e-Learning modules in order for them to obtain their certificates.
“This learning process is facilitated through a conversation at the end of every training session about what the staff have learned in a module, what they will do differently in the future and how we can help them to improve on certain aspects of customer excellence,” said Barnes.
“I also ensure that I have regular conversations with my staff from all the various departments to find out what their specific needs and problems are, as well as what they require from me in order to continue improving my customer service.”
He added that being named the SUPERSPAR Store of the Year was exciting not only for the outlet but also for the whole community of Despatch.
“I want to thank all my staff, as well as the customers, for their loyal and continuous support throughout the years.
“Without them it would definitely not have been possible to win this award twice.”