Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Day in the Life: Variety means the days fly by for Murco's Mike

My day invariably starts off with the Tarzan call of the Chris Evans' breakfast show at 6.30am (not everyone's cup of tea I know, but the show gets me off to a good start). The first and possibly most difficult task of the day is getting my teenage son out of bed to make sure he's on time for the school bus at 7.15am! If time permits (and just to keep up with my partner's daily gym visits!), I go for a swim a couple of mornings a week and find it sets me up well for the day ahead.

I took on the role of business development manager with Murco covering Wales/South West a year ago. My customer base varies greatly from large entrepreneurial dealers with big volumes and large c-stores on the West Coast of Wales and North Devon, to small volume sites in deepest West Wales, so it's rare that I ever have a dull day.

The variety my job gives me and the support I've received from colleagues has been second to none, and the culture at Murco is one of total support for our dealer network with a real feeling of 'all being in this together'.

It was almost 20 years ago, having worked in marketing and advertising up to that point, that I completed a business degree as a mature student and joined the oil industry working as a night cashier around my lectures. Working at the coalface saw me in good stead when taking on the roles of supervisor, site manager and area manager of company-owned and dealer sites with Elf and, subsequently, Total.

The first of many telephone calls comes in around 7.45am and I often find myself wondering how we managed without mobile phones as it now it feels as if I could do with two! Being field-based, a typical day will find me in the office at home checking daily pricing and dealing with emails to see if anything urgent has cropped up overnight. Plus I need to work out who needs to be on my list of calls to provide price support to our dealers. I liaise daily with my sales manager, focusing on retention and new business strategies. If I am on the road, this will be spent covering the region visiting existing and potential new dealers. The workload can be extremely varied involving anything from discussing the finer details of a new deal, to visiting an existing site that may need maintenance support with pumps or canopy damage. Later in the day I could be visiting a site to check they have everything they need as part of my regular customer relationship visits. Invariably this means enjoying a cup of tea and a slab of cake (hence the need for the visits to the pool), while listening to the customer's needs and making sure any issues raised are amicably resolved.

With the changing face of fuel retail and large oil companies pulling out of UK operations, it's refreshing that Murco operates in a straightforward way and allows dealers to get on with building the shop/valet side of their business and improve their margins. It's this working in partnership approach that has been very successful for the organisation and the most rewarding for me personally.

Some three years ago, there was doom and gloom in the industry with many sites closing. There was huge uncertainty in the business. Fast forward to today and my experience is vastly different. Dealers are fighting back, investing in their sites with new pumps, valet equipment and improving their shop offer either by introducing a brand or doing it themselves. Developing strong, long-term relationships with our dealers is clearly the way forward for success on both sides.

One year on with Murco and my days fly by, continuing to be as interesting and varied as ever. At the end of a day on the road, I turn on the radio for 'Drivetime with Simon Mayo' for the journey home.


Mike Gwillim-Jones

Job Title: Business development manager
Company: Murco Petroleum
Career History: 18 years in the oil industry with Elf, Total, Experian Catalist. The previous 13 years in advertising and marketing
Greatest Achievement: My loving family, who are always there to support me. Also becoming Welsh Schools' hurdle champion (although that was when I had hair 35 years ago!)
Tips for business success: Remember the customer is king
Most likely to say: "How much?"
Least likely to say: "Of course, you can have it darling!"
Other interests: Sport, particularly football and rugby, although these days more of the viewing kind, but I still manage a regular swim and open-water kayaking when in Cardigan Bay on holiday.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 18 September 2017
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East120.75128.55119.84
East Midlands120.29128.81119.63
London120.7558.57130.05119.82
North East120.2059.90129.98119.40
North West120.52128.62119.81
Northern Ireland119.2369.90126.85119.03
Scotland120.60128.18119.75
South East121.03130.63120.24
South West120.75129.31119.96
Wales120.35127.44119.57
West Midlands120.4262.90130.69119.84
Yorkshire & Humber120.1971.90128.67119.59

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