A typical working day starts at 6.30am with an espresso to kick start the day. This is followed by a brisk walk with the dog, making sure we avoid the postman! It’s a great time to gather my thoughts for the day ahead.
I then spend an hour or so catching up on emails and reviewing my objectives before setting off for the day, either into Head Office to discuss upcoming projects with directors or to meet with suppliers. If I have arranged site tours with my area managers, the day consists of site-standard walks with store managers to pick up on any outstanding issues, review store performance against targets and setting goals for sites to achieve over the following month.
As a part of an area manager and operation manager’s site visit we conduct a business review, which covers all aspects of site operation from visual standard checks and health and safety procedures, to store pricing and employment records. This is quite an in-depth review which would take a large chunk of the day but leaves the site with an overall score and action plan for further development, which helps us maintain high standards. These scores are collated and managers are rewarded for excellent, consistent performances at our annual conference.
We have also introduced ’key stats’, which is a basic profit and loss spreadsheet. This helps managers focus on profitability, both from increasing sales and decreasing overheads a very useful tool in developing a manager’s awareness and understanding of performance and what can affect a site’s profitability.
I always set monthly and weekly personal targets (both in and out of the workplace environment) and try to instil this in my team.
We constantly review performance and achievements against targets. Once a quarter I sit down with area managers and the office manager to discuss progress against our QBR (Quarterly Business Review) and talk through any areas of concern with Head Office and my field team.
Every Friday I receive CPCs (call plan cycles) from area managers which detail their movements for the following week. I use this to determine which sites I will visit and what projects require my attention. We are always mindful that any discussions around store development/improvements need to be actioned and completed within agreed time frames.
Lunch normally consists of a sandwich or fruit on site. But if it’s Friday and I happen to be in the office, it’s pizza day!
I try to allow time at the end of the day to review/write up actions resulting from that day’s visits and communicate to area managers and directors any actions that require further attention.
The back end of the day is always a useful time. If I’m in the office, I use it to sit down with the directors to discuss/review our business plan and to make suitable adjustments to keep us on track to achieve our objectives.
We also receive the daily sales analysis which details all trading information for the previous day. This gives me an instant reflection of any issues or great results which I can discuss with the site and share with my team.
I normally arrive home around 6.30pm and spend some time in my office catching up on emails, which sometimes proves difficult if we have our grandchildren over, who inevitably want me to read stories or play dinosaurs! Some may say it’s a role that should come easy to me because although I have an electronic diary, I still prefer to use my ’my pad’. It never needs charging or backing up, I just turn a page and I’m good to go for another day!
We normally sit down to dinner around 7.30pm after which we watch a bit of TV. QI is one of my favourite programmes, much to my wife’s annoyance. It’s surprising the amount of useless information I can retain.
My weeks are so varied it keeps my role both challenging and rewarding so I still look forward to getting up on a Monday morning.
Name: Chris Loach
Company: HKS Retail
Job Title: Operations manager
Career History: Store manager at Prime Garages (Mobil); operations director at Hockenhull Garages (35 years); operations manager at HKS Retail
Greatest achievement: seeing my two sons grow up and start their own families and careers. Working my way from a ’gas jockey’ to company director
Tips for Business Success: Being disciplined, organised and focused are key to delivering consistent results. Set goals that are measurable and achievable
Most likely to say: We don’t have problems, only challenges!
Least likely to say: That will do
Other interests: Rugby Union; cycling; family/grandchildren