Agent Diary: ‘Mixed’ sums up our January

On some days we smashed our targets, but others became known as ‘toilet roll days’, says Hays Travel Gateshead branch manager Colin Burns

Well, another January has been and gone. So, how are we all feeling? Having spoken to friends and colleagues around the country, it appears ‘mixed’ would be fitting. There are those who have smashed records and are now celebrating their best month ever, and others who have not seen the results they had hoped for. The good news is, I haven’t spoken to anyone who has said it was a disaster.

There are those who have smashed records and are now celebrating their best month ever, and others who have not seen the results they had hoped for

For my shop, mixed is about right. On some days we smashed our targets, but others became known as ‘toilet roll days’ – let me explain. Imagine your aims are a roll of toilet paper and just as you take hold of the end, it falls off the holder and rolls away, just out of reach, leaving you hanging on to that end. As you pull a little to try to reel it in it moves closer, but then with one wrong tug it rolls away again until eventually it goes out of the door, leaving you with just a couple of squares to show for your efforts. We all have those days, I’m sure.

Delayed payments

At the end of each day we looked at the non-booked enquiries and analysed the reasons given. Many were because the customer would not have the deposit available until payday, so we made sure to agree a date on which we could contact them again. Thankfully, the last weekend of January came good as those customers returned and confirmed their bookings.

Rumours began circulating that Dame Irene had been cleaning the floor in our Teesside Park branch and, soon after, photo evidence hit the branches and the press

There was a great moment of light entertainment when the Hays regional and divisional sales managers, along with board members, returned to the shop floor to sample a day in the real world.

Rumours began circulating that Dame Irene had been cleaning the floor in our Teesside Park branch and, soon after, photo evidence hit the branches and the press. There was a collective sharp intake of breath and a shared feeling of, ‘But she’s a dame – she can’t be cleaning floors!’ Now, I have it on good authority that mopping up is nothing new for Dame Irene, especially when her daughter Helen has been cooking. Then, not only does she have to clean up after her offspring, she also has to eat the food and pretend it’s good!

Bouncing back

Another lift came from the announcement that Hays Travel reported profits of £51 million last year. That’s a big number, one that a couple of years ago would have been unthinkable as we all wondered if we’d ever fully recover from those dark lockdown days. Back then, I wrote about the tough decisions being made by business owners and senior managers as they looked for ways to not only survive, but to come back stronger.

As we move into February and onwards to spring, let us all go and check our toilet roll holders and make sure every roll is securely fastened

I’d like to use this opportunity to recognise my team, who have worked so hard to implement the policies and new ways of working to make sure we contributed to this brilliant result. I’m sure there will be lots of managers feeling the same.

So, as we move into February and onwards to spring, let us all go and check our toilet roll holders and make sure every roll is securely fastened so that none of them can fall off and roll away, leaving you with little to hang on to.


Friendly competition

Like many travel agencies, we love a bit of friendly competition within the team and there’s always a bit of ‘Look what I’ve just done!’ and ‘So what, I did this!’ Lately, my two apprentices have started to take this a bit far. Harvie turned 18 and, not to be outdone, Sophie did the same thing just a few weeks later. Then, Harvie passed her driving test and, no sooner had we stopped celebrating the achievement than Sophie passed hers too. It looks like the competition between the pair isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, as Sophie will very soon be signed off her apprenticeship and will become a fully-fledged travel consultant. Harvie, it’s over to you!

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