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National Motorcycle Museum

300 to 500 employees

Leisure and hospitality

“As an HR professional looking after just under 500 people, Natural HR gives me exactly what I need and importantly, gives me opportunities to develop new practices.”

Mark McHugh, Group HR and Health & Safety ManagerNational Motorcycle Museum


The National Motorcycle Museum & National Conference Centre is a unique and dynamic family business situated in and around Solihull. The business enterprise also includes two local hotels: The Best Western Plus Manor Hotel – Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill and The Best Western Plus Windmill Village Hotel, Golf Club & Spa.

The National Motorcycle Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of British motorcycles. Since opening its doors in 1984, the museum has almost tripled the number of motorcycles on display to approximately 1,000 bikes and attracts over 250,000 visitors every year. The site is also home to the National Conference Centre. Boasting state-of-the-art facilities and over 700 free car parking spaces, it is one of the biggest conferencing and events locations in the country.

The Challenge

Staff retention in the hospitality sector is infamously difficult. The business has approximately 480 employees which are a mix of both core staff and casual staff. As such, managing HR processes and ensuring compliance across the three sites was proving challenging.

Mark McHugh, Group HR and Health & Safety Manager at The National Motorcycle Museum, explains: “When I joined the business all three operational sites were being managed independently and as such, differently. Part of my remit from the Business Directors was to ensure the business was not only compliant but had a consistent approach to HR. With respect, and in the interest of practicalities and efficiencies, it was evident that our systems required modernising. Hence the reason I started looking for a HR system.

“Any successful business requires decent and engaged staff; to make this happen HR is the oil in the engine. Due to the size and dynamic of our business, it was proving difficult to find a solution in the market that would satisfy all our needs.”

The Solution

At the start of 2018, Mark started his search for an HR software solution and during May 2018 discovered Natural HR. After an early conversation in the selection process with Natural HR’s CEO, Jason Dowzell, Mark was confident he had found not only a service system, but a provider with a work ethic that was right for him.

“We chose Natural HR for a number of reasons. Predominately they wanted to gain an understanding of our business and they demonstrated personability. When we had meetings, they wanted to understand exactly what we wanted from the system and provided a vision of what NHR would offer. It was just what we were looking for. Additionally, I like working with local suppliers.”

Having been involved in similar projects in the past, Mark opted for a phased approach to implementation across the three sites. “Our logic was to launch Natural HR at our Windmill site and learn from it, before rolling it out to our other venues.

“Whilst introducing innovative elements of time and attendance with Natural HR, this was a sensible approach and positive learning curve. It also enabled us to build workflows that would prove invaluable.”

Mark continues, “It was important for us to make sure we considered all the processes including upstream and downstream impacts: accounts and payroll being a pertaining department. For example, all employees are issued with ID cards with a unique QR code to scan in and out via iPads using Natural HR’s working time management system. Leading on, casual employees accrue holidays against rota and then approved working time. The system calculates this for us and it is displayed on the employee’s Natural HR card.”

“You find many factors are impacted when you introduce a new system like this. For example, we had to update our employee handbook to reflect the changes in process.”

The Benefits

With the entire business now using Natural HR, Mark is delighted with how it’s now been received by staff, managers and particularly new starters.

“We systemically complete the on-boarding process using Natural HR. Following a new appointment, new starters are welcomed electronically to the business via NHR prior to their business induction(s). Most importantly, employees have access to their personal details via their system log on. If, for any reason, these are incorrect, they can update these and we are informed. An employee’s employment contract is also posted on their dashboard for them to electronically sign and they also instantly have access to our Employee Handbook, our Health and Safety Policy and visibility of a site-specific staff notice board. Additionally, staff receive a weekly working time rota and can request leave via their employee card.”

“After a lot of time and effort with Natural HR we are now benefitting from the efficiencies I set out to achieve. For me, it’s about the appropriate and efficient access to data.

“It was a greater challenge with some of our existing staff and any suspicion of change is always an obstacle to overcome. But Natural HR has now become integral. It demonstrates a professional approach from day one. Staff retention is difficult in hospitality; however, we are focusing on retention of employees and I see NHR playing a role in this.”

The Future

Mark is just as effusive about what the future holds for Natural HR. “Our system is continually evolving; our managers are realising that the system not only helps them day to day but also in requesting evolutions. Absence management and electronically triggering a return to work process is our next focus.”

“As an HR professional looking after just under 500 people, the system gives me exactly what I need and importantly, gives me opportunities to develop new practices.”

To find out more about the National Motorcycle Museum, National Conference Centre or hotels, please visit: The National Motorcycle Museum, The National Conference Centre, The Best Western Plus Manor Hotel – Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill and The Best Western Plus Windmill Village Hotel, Golf Club & Spa.