HR departments turn consultant: Rentokil Initial

Selling learning and development to external customers at Rentokil Initial

The journey Rentokil Initial’s L&D team has been on is undeniably impressive. Three-and-a-half years ago when global head of U+ (learning and development) and HRIS Richard Gregory joined the business, learning was predominantly classroom-based. It wasn’t hugely inspiring, or tailored to Rentokil’s largely on-the-road workforce.

“So we developed interactive videos, 3D interactive walkthroughs… You name it, we produce it internally,” says Gregory, of the digital overhaul he rolled out.

Pretty soon this caught the imagination of those upstairs. It was decided this content should at least be passed on for free to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. The proposition arrived at – selling content to customers – constitutes the best of both worlds.

Gregory explains that Rentokil now offers L&D resource in all four areas of its business: pest control; property maintenance; Initial (hygiene, workwear and medical); and Ambius (which installs and services interior and exterior plant displays, flowers, replica foliage and similar for commercial businesses). Training for customers can cover anything from spotting bed bugs to warehouse risk assessments.

Clients tend to be customers of other services, rather than companies coming to Rentokil just for training. “We’ve had a few customers just for training but we’re not a training company and don’t intend to be one,” says Gregory. “We might do that more in the future but I would say you end up creating a very different business model if you go down that route.”

The key is that material is, in the main, repurposed from existing training collateral and so produced at low cost – though the business will occasionally deliver bespoke materials where requested. “We do hold face-to- face training as well; we’ve always done that,” adds Gregory.

Though they receive plenty of support from sales, marketing and operations on selling to different customers, Rentokil’s L&D team is heavily involved in providing content and assisting customers day-to-day.

“We treat both internal and external customers the same,” says Gregory.

Rentokil is also considering launching an apprenticeship scheme service: “We’ve done a lot of work around internal apprenticeships, and with the new levy coming in next year why wouldn’t we take some of those lessons learned and run apprenticeship schemes on behalf of other employers?”

Further reading

Commercial HR: How HRDs are cashing in on their expertise

HR departments turn consultant: Warwickshire County Council

HR departments turn consultant: University of Sheffield

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