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12.6 Case in Point: Pret A Manger Puts Peer Pressure to Work
Pret A Manger (meaning “ready to eat” in French) is a UK-based café known for convenient, inexpensive, and healthy food with menu items such as soups, salads, sandwiches, muffins, cakes, and coffee. The first Pret opened in 1986 in London and was founded by two college friends, Sinclair Beecham and Julian Metcalfe, who wanted to avoid additives, preservatives, and chemicals frequently found in fast food. But they are also known for their unique team-based structure, selection, and training techniques.
Pret is structured around the concept of a “Pret Estate,” based on small groups of 10 shops. These are led by what Pret calls “imaginative and passionate leaders.” In addition, all their shops have trainers within their core staff. It is not unusual to have staff remain for decades. For example, Collins Obamwanyi is a general manager of a Pret shop but began at his very first shop decades earlier. Just like Obamwanyi, a total of 75% of Pret managers began their careers as team members.
Getting a job at Pret is a team process. A newly hired employee goes through a traditional hiring process. However, those who make it that far are asked to work at a shop for a six-hour shift. After that, employees who worked with the hire are asked to vote whether or not they want to work with this person. Most make it through this process, but 10% do not. Those who do not are paid for that day’s work and not invited back. Their team-based approach to hiring seems to be working, because while the turnover rate in the fast-food industry can be over 400%, Pret A Manger enjoys a relatively low 60% turnover rate without paying more than other similar businesses who rely on hourly workers. In addition, Pret rewards employees who are promoted or pass training hurdles with a monetary reward. The catch? They must give the reward away to coworkers who helped them succeed. When stores are rated well by the mystery shoppers who anonymously visit and grade the stores each week, the top 10% of stores receive money for a shop party. Twice a year, they also throw a “massive” party to which everyone at Pret is invited.
Pret has “hopped the pond” to the United States with stores in New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC, as well as shops in Hong Kong and Paris. Pret plans to continue expansion around the world. Pret has a shop within a Target store and is in talks to open up further, with Pret retaining full control of its own kitchen, menu, and pricing.
Case written by Talya Bauer and Berrin Erdogan to accompany Carpenter, M., Bauer, T., Erdogan, B., & Short, J. (2013). Principles of Management (2nd ed.). New York: Flat World Knowledge. Based on information from Pret A Manger. Retrieved September 14, 2012, from www.pret.com/about; Clifford, S. (2011). Would you like a smile with that? New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2012, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/business/pret-a-manger-with-new-fast-food-ideas-gains-a-foothold-in-united-states.html; Horovitz, B. (2012). Target to open natural foods restaurant in Chicago store. USA Today. Retrieved September 14, 2012, from http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/story/2012-07-24/target-pret-a-manger-healthier-food/56466400/1.
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