Our operations manager, Darren Hamilton, and I attend 90-day planning sessions quarterly and training workshops monthly through ActionCoach business coaching, which has really been a catalyst for our success. We now run 90-day planning sessions with all our managers and assistants across every function. They start as a training and idea sharing session, then move into a planning session where each of the stores sets one overriding goal they want to achieve over the next quarter and then build the strategies and timings for them to achieve it. Every store and every function now has 90-day plans every quarter, which they share with their entire team and all work together to achieve.
I also spend at least one day a week concentrating on my own 90-day plan and growth plans. Darren and I go to ActionCoach sessions every fortnight with our coach Rob Carter; these again have been really beneficial in driving our success.
The rest of the week I try to keep free for meetings. Just lately we've been really busy with our site in Langford, as we get close to extending it. We have two Budgens/ Esso sites in Bristol (Nailsea won Forecourt Trader of the Year in 2008), and two Budgens stores.
We have a great accounting team, which provides very up-to-date financial reporting. They've allowed us to make the right changes over the past two years that have led to our improved profits. We began by focusing first on margins and processes. There was no point going hard after more customers and more sales with a leaky bucket.
We undertook a large amount of management and financial training for every relevant person in the business. We spent the first year running our own training courses every two months focused on management, finance and systems. This was to allow every manager and department head to analyse their own stores and sections, and begin systemising processes to increase overall margins.
We trained all our managers in financial reporting and how to understand and manage their profits and losses. We then began sharing all our financial data with all the teams, allowing them to run the sites as their own business.
I'm a great believer in sharing everything good news or bad and being honest. It's amazing how hard people will work for you when they feel included in what's going on, and understanding how 'they' and the 'business' is doing.
One of our sites has been running around 1.3% total wastage for the past few months, with fresh sales of over £39,000 and store sales of around £105,000 which is all great. Last year we began focusing on driving sales, service, and growth, making the most of the robust business to make more money with better margins.
We have invested a lot more time and effort in our marketing plans over the past few months, really breaking down each of our target markets and building strategies to increase the number of customers within each market, the number of times they shop and the amount they spend. This has resulted in group sales up 11% so far this year and one store up 17.5%. Our pharmacy sales are up 41%, script numbers up 23% and Subway sales up 15%.
Away from work, my partner Zena Bishop and I are currently building our first home from scratch. We managed to buy the plot before it made it to market, a case of 'not what, but who you know'.
We have spent the past few weeks digging, scraping, lifting and shifting dirt to clear, dig and pour the foundations for our house, taking 24 loads of soil away in total! This included Zena driving a one tonne dumper and me a three tonne digger happy days!
Name: Jonathan Tout
Company: Tout Ltd
Job title: Managing directorCareer history: Started at Tout Ltd; then moved to BaBusiness Enterprise; then Musgrave Retail Partners GB. Rejoined Tout in 2012
Greatest achievement: This year's profits up 35% and our EBITDA rising from £1.1m to £1.4m our best year ever, all driven by creating, empowering and managing the best team.
Tips for business success: Know your numbers "If you don't know your numbers, you don't know your business," said Warren Buffet, and essentially neither do your teams.
Most likely to say: Sounds like a good idea, let's try itLeast likely to say: I don't think that will workOther interests: Gym (I try to train a few times a week)