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Top staff training at The Retreat in Leek

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: May 20, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

  • Customer Service student Clare Beswick putting her skills into practice at The Retreat Spa and Bistro in Leek.

  • Customer Service student Steph Beardmore.

  • Steph Beardmore and Clare Bestwick

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When your business is focused on rest and relaxation, customer service is top priority when it comes to staff training.

That is why Yvonne Barlow, proprietor of Leek's Retreat Spa and Bistro, in Mill Street, turned to Skillsbase, the workplace training division of Buxton and Leek College, to make sure she gets the best from her employees.

Four of The Retreat's 34 staff have just picked up their Level 2 NVQ qualification in Customer Service – and Yvonne is confident that her clients will be greeted with a cheery smile when they walk through the door and that they will be made to feel comfortable and "at home" before they escape the stresses and strains of everyday life with a pampering session.

Receptionist and beauty therapist Steph Beardmore, aged 23, and bistro and spa assistant Clare Beswick, aged 42, are the first to achieve the qualification.

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They have not had to leave their workplace to achieve it because trainer Chris Hopley from Skillsbase has visited The Retreat on a regular basis to make sure they do on their learning on the job.

Yvonne said: "Like all our staff, Steph and Clare are naturally gifted in working with people and they help us to create the right welcoming and uplifting atmosphere here at The Retreat but, even when you have a natural talent, you can still gain from the right training.

"I feel that they have both progressed a lot and gained in confidence since they started their Skillsbase training courses."

Steph said: "As I am often on reception I am the first point of contact for clients, and I will check them in for their appointments and show them to the beauty rooms.

"I think Chris from Skillsbase gave me a better understanding of my role and I have definitely learned how to handle difficult situations in a more professional way, and feel much more confident in my work now.

"Chris would come in and observe me at work but was so unobtrusive that I didn't realise she was there half the time, and I enjoyed the fact that I could learn here at work without having to go into lecture rooms in college."

Clare, who has worked at the spa and bistro for the past nine years, said: "Even though I have been doing my job for so long, I still think that I have learned a lot and the course has made me much more aware of my customer service skills.

"It's a really nice environment to work in at The Retreat because people come here to enjoy themselves, to relax and have a good time.

"We do our best to create that relaxing experience and I like the fact that I now have a qualification to back up my experience and I have earned it while working. I think the hardest part of the course, for me, was having to put things down on paper because it's so long since I've done any kind of written work, but I would definitely recommend the NVQ course to anyone working in a customer facing role."

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