Sunday, 11 May 2014

Timpsons, Undertakers? Why not?

In “The Spectator” last autumn (October 6th, p. 43), Martin Vander Weyer describes a visit to Timpson’s kiosk for a passport photo. He writes that the job was done “courteously and with evident pride of workmanship.”

Whilst he’s waiting, he reads wall posters that tell him what it’s like to work there; the company supports various charities, and it holds up “Mr Keen,” “Miss Skilful” and “Mrs Happy” as cartoon role models. (Don’t sneer, liberalissimos, it works!) Workers – no, “colleagues” – are entitled to use a selection of holiday homes for free. (I believe Richer Sounds, also an excellent retailer IMO, has a similar set up)

 Timpsons also have a reputation for giving ex-cons a fair crack of the whip.
There are, apparently, 900 Timpson’s kiosks and it’s still run by the founder’s descendants. It seems “colleagues have the freedom to do their job the way they choose…no boxes to tick…bosses don’t issue orders…Head Office is a helpline.” Timpsons call this principle “upside down management.”

Far be it from me to suggest that certain large chains of “funeral directors” could learn a great deal from Timpsons, which is a thriving business. It's not bank-rolled by hedge-fund managers either, as far as we know!

The article ends “In the search for enlightenment and human kindness in capitalism, the little Timpson kiosk may have lessons to teach to the giant corporation next door.”

OK, it’s easier selling those excellent engraved Zippo lighters, or mending your boots, than it is to deal with grieving families. But I bet Timpsons employees are not harassed by financial targets and told to upsell the options available to customers.

“Timpsons, Undertakers” – I look forward to the signs going up.

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