The Bayford Foundation is giving second chances to people who wouldn’t normally get an interview for a sales job. I recently visited and spoke to June Forsyth, the enthusiastic leader of the foundation.
BE Fuel Cards operates out an anonymous office unit on an industrial park close to the river in Hunslet. Within the building you’ll find call centre operations with staff busy on phones and computers, but walk round the corner and there’s a full size pool table. The table was bought when a high sales target was achieved. This sums up the company’s ethos of mixing hard work and fun.
In another room you’ll find something else unconventional – a classroom. This is where the Bayford Foundation runs tailored training courses for people with no sales experience to help them take up a job selling fuel cards. Since last summer 14 people (out of 39) have been given full time jobs in the business.
The process starts with an ‘audition’, these are sales jobs after all and you need to be able to engage with customers. The difference June explains is that they don’t go on first appearances, she tells me of a young woman who seemed very shy until she started talking about knitting enthusiastically. A series of interviews, games and a presentation follow until both the foundation and the candidate are sure this is the right fit.
“It’s all about changing people’s lives” explains June, “the ethos is very much give it a go and maybe you’ll learn something about yourself.
“We are taking a longer look at people and offering training to people who wouldn’t otherwise even get an interview for a sales job.”
What follows is an eight week course and the offer of full time employment. The intake is mostly young people, but also includes some people in their thirties, the oldest student so far was 55. Students are paid minimum wage during the course and are expected to treat it like a job.
The foundation works closely with the Probation Service and The Prince’s Trust as well as Ingeous and A4E. Some students have chequered backgrounds, even criminal records for things like drink driving, but not for crimes involving dishonesty. Not everyone makes it to end of the course, sales work isn’t for everyone, but June does her best to direct people on to another opportunity.
BE Fuel Cards are not running (and funding) this project purely out of the goodness of their hearts. They are recruiting and retaining committed, well trained staff. But it is good to see a business offering genuine opportunities and a step up to people in their community.