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Phone 4u Extends its Grass Roots Performance Program for Another Season

January 2011
As a multinational performance improvement company founded in 1980, Grass Roots has offices in over 16 countries and more than 1000 employees worldwide. The company helps its clients effectively engage with their employees, customers and channel partners through a wide range of solutions and services. These include communication, education, measurement, rewards and events.
Phones 4u is an independent mobile phone retailer with more than 450 retail stores and annual sales of $1.3 billion. Founded 1996, Phones 4u has a staff of 5,500 and offers innovative mobile solutions using Vodafone, iPhone, BlackBerry, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and more.  

Phones 4u wanted to deploy more than just an incentive program. They were seeking an invigorating, incentivized experience for its employees that would be memorable and long lasting. Phones 4u also wanted an innovative incentive solution that would uphold Phones 4u’s cutting edge corporate image and its “good to its employees” reputation, as well as increase cooperation and build long lasting relationships and feelings of goodwill among its employees. Also importantly, the incentive program would increase revenues, productivity and overall profitability.
Grass Roots set the bar high, and with Phones 4u’s vision in mind, created a team building, exciting, “must-have” reward that would give employees an experience of a lifetime. The Grass Roots solution was the development of an innovative activity in the form of a game for the top store performances. Entitled “Stranded,” this active game of endurance offered Phones 4u’s employees in its 450 plus stores to compete in order to place one of the store employees as one of the 40 participants or rather “castaways” in Stranded’s final show down. Stranded was designed as a 10-week performance program where all stores competed to show an increase in productivity, revenues or superior customer service. This incentive program was all created, deployed, tracked and reported using Grass Roots’ performance improvement platform and the results of all the stores led up to the big prize which was a chance to compete in this customized reality game.
A game of mental and physical endurance, Stranded took place on a remote island of the West Indies. There was a final total of forty store employee participants, each representing their winning store and eagerly waiting to compete for the big prize, an all expense paid trip to the luxurious Atlantis Hotel in Nassau for their entire retail store team. All the store employees were rooting for the contestants back home and watching the competition, day by day, the events captured via live video feed and presented on Facebook.
The game commenced upon arrival of the contestants by speed boat, which was anchored offshore. Contestants then had to swim ashore and hike across rough terrain to a very rustic base camp. Over the next three days there were nine challenges, both on land and in the water. These challenges set the bar for three stages of elimination. Eliminated contestants soon learned that rather than leaving for home, they were taken to another camp on the island where they had to perform ‘eco’ chores that improved the island’s environment. This giving back to nature greatly engendered team bonding and was a very welcome element of surprise.
There were lots of surprises in that upon the games completion, all competitors returned from the island for a one-night stay at the luxurious Atlantis Hotel in Nassau. Additionally the winner welcomed their entire store team that came to join them for a further five days of sunshine and fun at the Atlantis resort.
Phones 4u was able to leverage the incentive experience in an internal marketing campaign to it employees. Working closely with Grass Roots as their service provider, Phones 4u developed an easily identifiable theme logo that was replicated across all mediums, collateral, equipment and clothing. In advocating its mobile communications business, the communications involved with Stranded were high tech and the platforms used included a dedicated micro-site, SMS messaging, ‘You Tube’ and ‘Facebook’ communities, face to-face briefings, as well as a launch video and collateral marketing packet. Additionally Grass Roots created a blog for Stranded to show what the participants were doing each day. All Phones 4u employees could follow the progress of the castaways.
Phones 4u deployed Grass Roots’ incentive platform and innovative methodologies during a time where the telecommunication’s industry was facing one of the most unpredictable and challenging marketplaces ever: The industry as a whole was experiencing a recession, fierce competition and consumer uncertainty, Phones 4u came out on top with an improvement in overall productivity, new and repeat business and store team collaboration. 
A management tool called Net Promoter was used to gauge the loyalty of a firm's customer relationships. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research. Phones 4u’s net promoter score showed a 5% gain during the ten week incentive period. There was also a 5% increase in the number of customers willing to recommend the brands Phones 4u was promoting. Sales and market share increased by 4% despite a very challenging Q4. In terms of the team building and creating a life experience that would never be forgotten, many participants reported that Grass Roots America’ program turned out to be ‘a life changing experience.’ It changed corporate perspectives and perceptions to the benefit of Phones 4u. In regard to giving back, participants gained from the experience of helping to support the island’s environment and infrastructure. 
Tom Shorten, Director of Phones 4u has stated that “Stranded exceeded our expectations in every respect and has undoubtedly been a huge motivational success. It has changed our culture and brought the whole sales force and teams closer together. In all my years, I’ve never encountered such a fantastic and once in a lifetime experience.” 
Plans for the next “Stranded” game were begun immediately due to the success of the program and its positive impact on performance improvement and communication and respect among the sales force and the other company teams that were motivated to work more closely together for the benefit of company growth and customer service.
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