For Whilton Mill Karting & Outdoor Activity Centre, the road to recovery after the coronavirus pandemic has taken many twists and turns, just like its outdoor go-kart circuit. And, just like a go-kart race, it’s taken speed, agility and a good team to ensure (new) normal service has resumed as soon as possible.
The centre is located near Daventry, just 20 minutes from the centre of Northampton. Facilities include a 450-metre and a 1,200-metre outdoor go-kart circuit, clay shooting ground, off-road course for quad bikes and a modern 80-seater restaurant that overlooks the circuits, and which is open daily to the public. The venue is home to a thriving grassroots motorsport club and is regularly visited by individuals, families and groups for adrenaline fuelled fun.
But all this came to a complete stop in March when lockdown measures saw the business close its gates to customers. Shortly afterwards, most employees were furloughed, and Whilton Mill went into stasis. Instead of complete hibernation, behind the closed gates, work was under way to refocus and rebuild, ready for when it was safe for customers to return.
“Great efforts were made to navigate and understand the river of information flooding out from the government, its agencies and various associations that represented our industry,” said Daniel Whittemore, Sales & Marketing Director. “That was key to staying afloat. Quickly, we needed to understand what support was available to us and our employees, how soon was it safe to reopen and what conditions needed to be met to ensure that our customers and employees were safe when we did.”
Whilton Mill Karting & Outdoor Activity Centre initially reopened in May for the pursuit of outdoor sports, and then in July when groups and individuals first returned for rental kart events. Before they did, time gained during lockdown was spent developing a new website, introducing online booking, investment in a new fleet of karts for juniors and creating COVID-safe procedures. Measures to protect customers included further investment in a helmet sanitising cabinet that uses ozone to kill viruses and bacteria, along with free balaclavas and the washing of race suits after every use.
Dan Rust, Sport & Operations Manager, added: “With the COVID-safe measures put in place, customers now feel safe when karting with us and we’ve had a busy summer with families, individuals and businesses enjoying the many outdoor activities available. The new junior karts have been a great hit for kids parties and couples are really enjoying the clay shooting experience followed by something to eat in our restaurant.”
A vital component of Whilton Mill Karting & Outdoor Activity Centre is its employees, many of whom were furloughed and spent weeks away from the business. This is the same story for many businesses up and down the country, employees were either furloughed or worked from home, either way they were isolated from colleagues. Those that remained in work often found themselves working longer hours or more shifts to accommodate reduced workforces.
“There’s no doubt lock down had an effect on morale. Humans are sociable, we like to see our families, friends and colleagues, without that contact our motivation can suffer,” said Daniel. “As soon as possible, I wanted to get our employees together for an outdoor activity. Some of our team hadn’t seen each other for weeks and others that returned early had been working really hard. We wanted to thank them for their hard work and I also knew from experience that spending time together on a fun outdoor activity would help renew relationships and boost morale and teamwork. Our team enjoyed an afternoon clay shooting and quad biking followed by food in the Break Pad, our restaurant.”
Whilton Mill’s story is a familiar one for many businesses in the area. Like them, could your workforce benefit from spending time together enjoying an outdoor activity. Outdoor team building activities can contribute towards improvements in employee motivation, teamwork, communication and building better relationships, and there is much evidence to support this.
To help local businesses bounce back, Whilton Mill Karting & Outdoor Activity Centre is offering a 20% discount off any group event for 20 or more people that takes place in 2020. To take advantage of the offer call 01327 843822 and quote RACEBACK2020. Find out more at www.whiltonmill.co.uk.