Alfie Best, the chairman of Europe’s largest park operators, Wyldecrest Parks, surprised many viewers when he appeared on our screen in ITV’s Undercover Big Boss. During the show, not only were we able to meet some of the members of Wyldecrest Park, but we also got to learn about the chairman himself.
In the show, Big Boss Alfie goes undercover as William Finney where he deals with drainage systems, shadowing a salesman and pouring pints, all in the hopes to learn more about the ins and outs of his company.
This was also an exciting time for the PHHPA team as our very own team members are also featured as mystery shoppers. Our director general, Bradley Chapman and director Kim Wright both went undercover as ‘potential buyers’ and reviewed some of Wyldecrest Parks’ beautiful homes.
Sharing the news with his son and his mother, Alfie explains, “I’m going to go undercover and try and find out any problems in the business”. With a buzzcut, fake tattoos and piercing to match his look Alfie (or should we say William) became unrecognisable. And just like that he was ready to begin his journey as William Finney.
Alfie’s undercover journey began in Penwortham Park in Preston. With around 180 residents living at the park and only 1 Wyldecrest employee working on the site, maintenance manager Julio appears to have a lot on his shoulders. This is where Alfie began to quickly learn that whilst Julio is already on a busy schedule in regards to his role duties, he is also taking on many other duties and taking care of resident complaints.
As Julio begins to share with Alfie his financial struggles and everything that he has to put up with, Alfie continues to learn that Julio has the weight of the world on his shoulders without receiving the right recognition or credit. This, undoubtedly, is a lot of responsibility for one man but it certainly does not go unnoticed.
Heading to the Lake District on his second day in undercover, Alfie looks to delve deeper into his park home empire. On his way, Alfie shares his awareness on how the park home and staycation industry is going to boom following the pandemic. Prioritising staying ahead of the game during this industry growth – starting with park home sales.
This is where we met the park’s dedicated salesperson, Richard. During this day, William (Alfie) shadowed the sales executive and reviewed how he dealt with the customers and their concerns/requests.
This is also where you can find Bradley and Kim, also undercover, as a couple looking to purchase their new park home. Firing away questions at Richard about the home and the pitch, Alfie began to see some cracks. It is here that Big Boss Alfie explains Wyldecrests ‘YES’ policy – “whatever the customer wants is yes…it’s just not yes for free”.
During our time with Richard on screen we also began to learn how committed he is to his role and Wyldecrest Parks. However, his passion also comes with a cost of missing out on time with his family as he lives on site during his working days.
This was a touching moment for Alfie as he found himself relating to the committed employee. Again, Richard’s dedication, hard-work and worth ethic is certainly noted in Alfie’s mind, with a nice surprise at the end.
On day three the audience got to meet not only the gypsy multi-millionaire but also two caravan connoisseurs, his mum and dad. Joining him in Bockenfield Country Park, his parents walked around and reviewed the park itself.
On the other hand, Alfie spent the rest of his day checking out the rest of the parks’ attractions. Big Boss Alfie joins ‘Timeout Tavern’ where he goes undercover as a trainee barman. He explains that the social clubs and other attractions are not often run by Wyldecrest Parks directly, and are rented out to third parties but that they are representing Wyldecrest Parks.
William meets Donna, a mum of five and the manager of the Timeout Tavern, and begins to take care of customers and their needs.
Alfie learns about the importance of social clubs within the parks in efforts to build a strong community and bring everyone together. Some residents explain that not having a social club would be detrimental to the business and the park itself.
Donna is a dedicated businesswoman who has many dreams and aspirations for the clubhouse and the overall community. Her love and dedication to the cause was truly inspiring to Alfie and for that he knew he was ought to reward her efforts.
Julio, Richard and Donna were all invited back to meet with ‘William’, all under the impression that they’ll be providing feedback on his performance. What they didn’t know was that they were about to meet their undercover boss.
By inviting these individuals back to his home, Alfie wishes that this will lead them to truly know and believe that they are part of the Wyldecrest family. In very touching moments Alfie expresses his recognition of their hard work and rewards them for their dedication.
Richard was up first for the big reveal. He was lost for words when he realised that it was, in fact, Alfie Best that was following him around. Alfie expressed his concerns and elaborated on the ‘yes’ policy.
The viewers witnessed a touching moment where Alfie opened up about his life work balance (or lack of), explaining how he saw so much of himself in that moment. To Richard’s surprise, Alfie goes on to reward him for his efforts and dedication to Wyldecrest Parks and surprises him with a two-week holiday for him and his family.
Next up for the reveal was Julio. Alfie thanked him for the day that they had spent together, expressing how he thinks he was ‘worked to the bone’ during his time with Julio. Later the chairman expressed how his work ethic was admirable and reminded him of his role model, his father.
Alfie expressed how disappointed and hurt he was how much everyone at the park relied on him with no recognition or rewards. For this reason, Alfie expressed that he will be providing the help necessary as well as giving him a pay rise and a £5,000 bonus.
Finally Donna was last. During his time with Donna, Alfie quickly learnt that it was her business that was at the heart of his park. Providing the residents with that community feeling. He expressed to Donna how he would like to invest into her business and help her expand it. Everything is interlinked, as the park grows so should their social clubs.
At the end of the show, Alfie explained to the viewers how he felt as though he was losing touch and connection with the company. His experience taught him a lot during his time as an undercover big boss and reconnect with everyone in the Wyldecrest business family.
He stresses on the importance of the third party teams like the maintenance team or the sales team. He says, ‘they are the people that will drive the company to the next level’.
It was inspiring to watch Europe’s largest UK park operators go on this journey. Truly showing us the ins and outs of the park home industry. It was an honour to be part of this adventure and for our directors to be invited along to mystery shop.
As an association we are looking to always be proactive, insightful, empowering and supportive. We want to help the industry grow and support all park operators and service providers. Join us and grow alongside one of the UK’s most lucrative industries since the pandemic. Visit www.phhpa.org/join for more information.