Jill Dilley – Operations Manager
It’s time once again to learn a little more about the people behind the projects, turning the spotlight on some of the fantastic team members at Clarke Rendall who help us to deliver outstanding pieces of furniture that our clients love.
Today, we meet Jill, our valued and experienced Operations Manager.
Tell us about your role within Clarke Rendall.
I’ve been working at Clarke Rendall for 18 years, so I’ve been here for quite a while now! I joined the company as a Sales Support Manager where I helped to support all our new orders from when they came into the business, right the way through until the desks were manufactured and installed. I held this role until October 2020, at which point my role changed slightly and I became the company’s Operations Manager.
What does an Operations Manager do?
Really, it is a little bit of everything, Our Sales Director would call me the Maestra!
I oversee the smooth transition of a project from an order, through to a signed off installation on site and everything in between. I am responsible for scheduling all our deliveries each week and I have a great deal of involvement with our customers as well as our Production Team, liaising with them about what’s happening on site and co-ordinate labour and site access with our fitting teams. Once installed, I co-ordinate any snagging at the end of a job too. Through doing all of this I get to know a huge number of our clients, so I am often their first call for new sales enquiries and quotations which I am happy to help with. It’s very varied.
So it sounds like you are fully involved in all aspects of an order?
Absolutely. As well as keeping our customers informed, I liaise with our production team in the factory and our fitting team who are out on site and everything in between ensuring they are aware of any installation requirements. I’m also involved with our accounts team, ensuring all invoices have been paid prior to installation.
Running the operations of a multi-departmental business like Clarke Rendall, it does mean there’s a lot of paperwork and emails to respond to, but it’s important, as we pride ourselves on customer service. I’m always pulling together a plan to ensure we manage our customers’ expectations, and it’s been commented on by my colleagues that one of my favourite phrases is ‘I love it when a plan comes together.’
But it doesn’t stop when the product gets installed either?
Oh no. If a client should say that something isn’t quite right, or that the product has been damaged, then they tend to come back to me. At this point, I will have a look and make a decision as to whether it's our error, or maybe it is something that’s happened after installation that’s outside of our control. Either way, it’s about finding the best resolution and determining what we need to do to help them to ensure it’s right.
The role must come with its challenges.
Challenges mainly arise when we have a large project, one with a lot of furniture or perhaps a phased install, as there is so much to consider. For example, with our project at the Minster Building, there were two ways of getting into the building. Depending on what furniture was coming in at what time, determined which entrance could be used. At one point we needed to arrange for someone to be there directing pedestrians, as we had to close off the pavement to ensure our team and the delivery could have easy access. This happened across a number of days and that was challenging while the install was taking place. But, we did it, and I don’t believe there was a single snag reported on that project either which was a great result for the whole team.
Could we describe you then as the operational eyes and ears of the business?
You could say that, yes, but of course I can only be effective in most situations with the full support of the team around me.
One important part of our process, when receiving an order, is sending out what we call a pre-installation checklist. We ask our customer about the route of access into their building, with questions about door sizes, lift sizes, the floor level of installation etc. We try to obtain as much information as we can before we go to site, to make installation run as smoothly as possible. If we see anything alarming then I can arrange a site visit from one of our team to assess the situation.
All of this helps me when planning the installation and also help our design team decide how many sections or components a product will have for trouble free access.
How have things changed in the office furniture business over the last 18 years?
Well, we are definitely busier! It has become more commonplace to have larger projects, and orders for bespoke furniture have definitely increased too. While orders for our standard range grew in popularity a few years ago, there’s really been a growing trend to go back to bespoke recently.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Definitely the variety. I don't think I could do something that was the same thing day in, day out. And, while ultimately we're delivering furniture, actually there's so many different types of companies we deal with. This brings differing requirements and solutions needed to solve a range of problems. There are also so many places where the installations take place – each of them unique – so there’s certainly a lot of variety!
What would you say sets Clarke Rendall apart?
I think it's our willingness to help and support our customers. The vast majority of the team have been here for quite a number of years - we’re a great bunch of people, and I enjoy coming to work. And I know we'll do what we can to help customers, because we're a strong team.
What do you think your clients would say they most appreciate about working with Clarke Rendall?
It’s our ability to make things happen, and we are known for delivering on our promises. But, we’re also honest. If there’s a problem, either in terms of materials or with the production, then we let our customers know, as we are proactive rather than reactive.
We don’t like to let our customers down. It’s important that if there is going to be a delay with their order, we are honest about that, and work with them to find a solution or a timeframe that works.
I know that the personal approach works well, as I’ve worked here for such a long time. Many of our customers know me, even if I’ve not met them in person - it’s always great to chat to them to understand their requirements and how we can help. Plus, I like looking at all the photos of our finished projects - it’s a great feeling to see the project come to fruition.
For further advice and help on how our team can assist you, please contact us at email@example.com or 01908 391600