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Award for Pets at Home after Harper Adams training

Posted 23 March 2009

Animal medicines are strictly regulated

Pets at Home has won a national customer service award after teaming up with Harper Adams for a staff training programme.

The chain won The BT Customer Service Initiative of the Year accolade at the Oracle Retail Week Awards as a result of its work with the University College to ensure employees have a thorough understanding of the animal medicines supply process in order to become Animal Medicines Training and Regulatory Authority (AMTRA) Suitably Qualified Persons (SQPs).

The re-classification of some of the most popular medicines for pets in 2007 represented a huge opportunity for Pets at Home, but also a huge challenge.

While they could now be prescribed and/or supplied in retail premises such as Pets At Home stores by qualified SQPs, very strict rules were placed on their sale so there was a big challenge as the retailer sought to ensure it offered the best customer service, and grew sales as a result.

The solution was to send more than 500 staff on a residential short course at Harper Adams, developed to prepare them for work as a SQP. The result was that a category with no sales in late 2007 is now set to take £5 million.

The judges said this example reflected Pets at Home’s genuine commitment to what it calls Positively Outrageous Service. “It was a huge investment to do something quite complex,” said one, adding that the retailer “takes big box retailing and makes it very personal”

Ryan Cheyne, Head of HR at Pets at Home, comments: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won this award. It’s gratifying to know that the industry recognises how much we appreciate our employees and support them in growing with the business, allowing us to deliver positively outrageous customer service that sets an example for the sector."

Ryan continues: “We go to great lengths to allow our colleagues to develop their expertise in areas they are passionate about and this award really is for them.”

Harper Adams has worked with AMTRA in various roles for about 20 years, but in recent years the organisations have co-developed a qualification pathway for individuals (other than vets or pharmacists) employed within the animal health industry to become SQPs for the prescribing and/or supplying of regulated medicines.

The University College was therefore ideally placed to develop training to suit Pets at Home’s needs.

“We are delighted that Pets at Home has received this honour,” said Emily Chapman, Business Development Manager for the Animals Department at Harper Adams. “It is testament to a company-wide commitment to customer service and the best possible animal care. The employees have been a pleasure to work with, showing a real interest in the ‘science’ side of their work.

“With the recent launch of the Rural Employer Engagement Development Network (REEDNet), Harper Adams hopes to help more businesses and their employees become the best that they can be, through the delivery of made-to-measure, accredited training.”

For more information, contact Emily on 01952 815485 or e-mail echapman@harper-adams.ac.uk

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