The Customer Is Always Right! John Birch puts customers at the heart of all he doesPublished on: 03/10/2023
When you’ve been responsible for the acquisition and sales of literally millions of pounds worth of luxury cars in the UK, the Middle East and, for a couple of years, in Myanmar, you’d think that the move to manage the movement of pre-loved items for the charity shop estate of Wirral Hospice St John’s would be a walk in the park.
“Not a bit of it!” Our Bromborough Croft showroom and logistics manager, John Birch, quickly disavows us of this view. He’s the man who sold those luxury cars, Land Rover, Jaguar, BMW, Audi and he says,
“I’ve honestly never worked so hard in my life.”
You see John, after a stellar career in car sales, retired from that business a couple of years ago and he really isn’t one for gardening. And, having successfully worked in the cut-throat commercial world of car sales, John really wanted to be able to do something that helped to make a difference, for social good.
When the job was advertised to join Wirral Hospice St John’s as a manager, John applied straightaway. His obvious grasp of the complex distribution of goods to where they will sell the best fitted him for the job and it was just over a year ago he joined us.
He started work in our busy Moreton shop which, as well as selling larger pre-loved items of furniture, beds, three-piece suites and the like, alongside clothes and a huge variety of other bric-a-brac and accessories, it was also the hub for people from all over Wirral to book the pick-up of those larger items on the hospice van.
“It was a steep learning curve. The movement of goods into and out of the store was miles faster than I was probably prepared for. One minute I was putting the bolts on a bed that had just come in, then someone would walk in and see me doing it and want to buy it, we’d sell it and then prepare another piece of furniture to fill the space.
It is constant!
More physical than I’d been used to and all the while serving customers, rearranging clothes and organizing volunteer shifts.
I don’t know where I’d have been without the unwavering support of all the volunteers at the shop. Many have been helping for years and they certainly got me through those initial few months.”
Before finding his vocation in sales John was actually set on a path to becoming a helicopter pilot! Spending family holidays to Cornwall, close to the Culdrose naval base, John became enamoured with the whirly birds flying in and out every day to carry out their air-sea rescue missions.
He was accepted to the navy at 17 and was set to start as a midshipman when cruel fate intervened. Riding his motorbike along the road in his native Bootle (born and bred) a taxi driver, as they sometimes do, performed a U-turn right into John’s path and a tumble over the handlebars and the bike landing on top of him saw him then spend several months in hospital!
Oh No! Broken limbs and vertebrae left him outside of the Navy’s plans to allow him to fly. The dream was over!
However, that twist of fortune paved the way for John to eventually travel the world pursuing his natural talent for sales and, after fifteen years of doing what our friends in America call pushing tin, at the old Wirral/Liverpool car dealership, Cubbin and North, he was approached and became the dealer principle of a new Mercedes Benz dealership in Qatar.
Over the next 20 years John also worked in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait and Myanmar. Chat to him about representatives of various Royal families, bulletproof Mercedes’ and seven figure sums (because he can’t disclose details!) and you get a picture of an interesting, exciting and fulfilling career.
Nowadays, John is fully ensconced in helping Wirral Hospice generate funds from our charity shop estate, our Bromborough Croft showroom in particular but, because he is, more than likely, the person people speak to on 0151-604-0171 to arrange our van collections.
“The shops are at the heart of our Wirral community. It’s our job to provide the best possible customer service that we can so that, as well as being able to get the best possible value for a quality pre-loved item from furniture to clothing, people know that we are reflecting all the values of our renowned local adult hospice.”
If you ever see John in action you just know he will do all he can to help. He inspires his immediate team, assistant manager Liz and a small army of volunteers at Bromborough Croft and although he may not have become a helicopter pilot, he’s certainly earned his stripes as far as Wirral Hospice St John’s is concerned.
So, John, keep pushing the tin, or wood, cloth, other metals and fabrics in all the materials of the goods people can buy at our hospice shops, because everyone connected with the hospice is so grateful that you do!
If you have some time to spare and feel you could help make a difference at Wirral Hospice St John’s in one of our charity shops, then don’t hesitate to get in contact.
If you need to book a van to pick up larger furniture items (sofas and the like will need their fire safety labels still attached) please call 0151-604-0171
We’d love to hear from you.