The Deputy Prime Minister once made a speech where he said we need more businesses to be run like them, and that a “John Lewis economy” may be an answer to some of our economic problems.
What makes John Lewis different?
John Lewis give at least 2 years guarantee on all washing machines and other appliances – and even 3 years on their own brand (plus 5 year guarantees on TV's). They have a specific ethos going back to its founder and the business is set up as a “partnership” between the owners and staff.
A big part of this ethos is that the people who work there share in the profits. They aren't known as staff, but as partners. Unlike most other companies they aren’t run to make profits for anonymous shareholders who expect much but put nothing in other than some cash.
The people who work there, who make the company what it is, and who help create the success, are the ones sharing any profits. This uniquely incentivises staff to genuinely care about the company and the kind of service they offer.
Quote from John Lewis site
"The John Lewis Partnership's 69,000 Partners own the leading UK retail businesses – Waitrose, John Lewis and Greenbee. Our founder's vision of a successful business powered by its people and its principles defines our unique company today. The profits and benefits created by our success are shared by all our Partners. ”
The person answering the telephone, the sales advisers, and the person who delivers your appliance, all have an extra incentive to give customers a high standard of service so they will remain loyal customers. If they give a better service then John Lewis should prosper, and all staff receive a share of the profits at the end of each year. It’s more than a financial incentive, it’s feeling part of the business.
Ultimately this leads to a better customer experience all round
I have experienced this standard many times myself having purchased the majority of my large products from John Lewis.
Any time I've had to telephone for advice, or popped in to a store I found a higher level of product knowledge and customer service. My findings have been borne out by the fact that John Lewis have won several awards for their service and been voted the UK's best retailer on more than one occasion.
Are John Lewis struggling?
Sadly there is evidence that John Lewis are struggling to maintain their unique position. Online reviews appear to show a slip in standards. Hopefully they can ultimately keep their focus on high quality service.
Free extra long guarantees for large domestic appliances – and TVs
In addition to the first year manufacturer's guarantee* John Lewis provide a free second year service guarantee, (three years in the case of John Lewis brand appliances) plus accidental damage insurance (TVs come with a 5 year guarantee).
The second year guarantee is in effect a 12 month extended warranty with accidental damage cover, which is paid for out of the price of the appliance – or included if you like. On fridges and freezers the accidental damage cover also extends to food loss.
Generally speaking appliances don't often fail during the second year but of course they can – sometimes annoyingly just after the first years guarantee is up. I personally think that having a second year guarantee is comforting and would even be worth paying slightly more for.
The three-year warranties on John Lewis branded appliances and five year guarantees on all televisions are an even greater comfort. If a product is the same price or cheaper than elsewhere then clearly John Lewis have the edge with these extra warranties
* Some appliances already have longer than 12 month guarantees. Bosch for example tend to give two year guarantees, and Miele's come with either 2, 5 or 10 years (depending on promotions). Other manufacturers also give longer guarantees than the traditional one year. In these circumstances you could argue that the second year free guarantee is not so useful though there may still be some aspect of the second year cover such as accidental damage and (in the case of freezers) food loss insurance that could have a potential benefit. The greatest benefit comes with appliances only covered by a 12 month manufacturer guarantee. Appliances with extended parts guarantees would also benefit from the John Lewis 2nd year cover as only parts are covered after the first year.