Now in its third year and with inspirational leaders at the helm, Tong Garden Centre has a clear vision for future growth. The team has tripled in size, customer numbers continue to rise and turnover has more than doubled. Supporting immense growth and continued development at a rapid pace has been possible because Tong has never lost sight of the customer nor the importance of building a united “team Tong” capable of exceeding customers’ expectations. Tong’s values and behaviours align every member of staff with its vision and provide a firm foundation for the future. Being customer-centric includes added-value services such as carrying purchases to cars, an assembly service and pop-up events. Every staff member is recognised as an ambassador responsible for consistently delivering memorable customer experiences, interacting and engaging through service, knowledge and product choice. Tong’s customer charter, values and behaviours have underpinned recruitment and induction, shaped training and appraisal programmes and are celebrated through reward and recognition events. Training manager Carrie Mackertish has launched the Tong Training Academy to deliver bespoke and relevant training business-wide with greater focus and structure on the Tong customer experience and a firm commitment to investing in people. Mackertish has also fine-tuned the appraisal process to measure individual performance and improvements. The reward and recognition programme celebrates team members who have gone the extra mile to deliver exceptional service. The programme improved in 2017 by updating the nomination form to include evidence of Tong’s values being demonstrated plus the addition of a green, silver or gold pin to accompany the £25, £50 or £100 shopping vouchers rewarded every month to successful colleagues selected by the review panel. Two prestigious awards were also introduced last year — the Customer Service Award and Director’s Cup, awarded by senior management on a quarterly basis to recognise exceptional individuals in the business who set the bar consistently high by demonstrating Tong’s values. Tong makes a commitment to respond to every customer where it can, acknowledging comments and suggestions, sharing ideas and recognising areas for improvements, rectifying issues promptly and fairly.