Power to the apprentices
What happens if you leave things to the apprentices? Bründl tried it in its shop on the Kitzsteinhorn mountain and was in for a pleasant surprise. “Power to the apprentices!” announces the slogan in the window at the Kitzsteinhorn Alpine Centre. In front of the entrance, two girls are selling raffle tickets for a charitable association, the “Rolling Hearts”, and offering free coffee and cake. Inside the shop, there are young boys and girls as far as the eye can see. Shop manager Alex and his assistant Manfred are in supporting roles today. What’s happened? A youngsters’ revolution? Mutiny on the mountain? No, nothing of the kind.
Kitzsteinhorn conquered by trainees
“Giving young people a big chance” is how apprentice trainer Bernhard Bründl describes the unusual project, which is part of a workshop at Bründl Sports. For a day, the trainees from the first through third apprenticeship years can slip into the roles of experienced sales pros and manage the rental business and the workshop next door, where the material is professionally prepared. Nina Moser, ordinarily employed in the Accessories Department of the Flagshipstore in Kaprun, is playing shop manager. The sixteen-year-old dressed her team in brown baseball caps and ordered a set of T-shirts, with fawns on them for the girls and stags for the boys. After all, “we are exceptionally different,” Nina says, quoting the company slogan and laughs.
Role reversal from A to Z
But that wasn’t all: she talked Central Fashion Purchasing into organizing work clothes for the team, and wheedled some free prizes for the charity action in front of the shop from the flagship store itself: water bottles, T-shirts, vouchers for ski wax and, as the main prize, one-day free rental of a set of ski equipment. But the attractive “shop manager” also had to answer the important questions, like who takes a break when. And of course, she also had an assistant manager, just like in real life. That role was taken over by Nico Fuchs, a thirdyear apprentice at the Waldmannsheil shop in Kaprun. After a brief introduction to rentals, serious business began for Nico and his friends. Welcoming customers, asking if they are looking for anything in particular, hitting all the main points, picking out the right equipment, entering everything correctly into the computer system – and then tuning the hardware perfectly to match the needs and skills of tourists. A challenging task, but no reason for Nico to lose his nerves: “You get used to it,” he says. “It’s real cool.” What he particularly likes is the direct contact with customers.
Mario Aman, also a third-year apprentice at the Salzburg outlet, is working on a pair of ski boots he has just sold. The nineteen-year-old shifts a couple of buckles in order to increase wearing comfort. At the same time, his co-workers in the service workshop are letting the sparks fly and, with the support of ski robots, getting returned material back into working order. Whether here or in sales – where Nathalie Binder, eighteen, from the shop Planai in Schladming, is routinely counselling an Arabic-speaking couple in English – a total of thirteen apprentices have everything under control. Which means shop manager Alex can enjoy his lunch break with no worries. Only Elisabeth Rendl, the apprenticeship manager and co-initiator of the project, suddenly has a problem: she now has thirteen apprentices who all want to work in the Alpine Centre in the future – and not just for a day.