I usually wake up just before 6am. My iPhone automatically receives financial reports each morning from the previous trading day, which I then usually go through in bed, much to the annoyance of my partner Claire. Then it’s time to get up.
I take my two step children, Freya and Oliver, to school each weekday at 8am, which can be as stressful as running two petrol service stations! I then head for work. Bush Hill Service Station is my first port of call, located in Pembroke, followed by Crossways Service Station in Neyland some three miles away.
Crossways is also my head office. My daughter Jessica assists in running Crossways Service Station. She is my rock!
I started working in the downstream oil industry in 1998, when I joined Elf Oil UK Limited as the dealer sales manager for Wales and the West of England. I was account manager with responsibility for over 60 sites. Elf Oil was a fantastic company to work for. It was a big family; we worked hard and played hard.
I remember Elf’s recruitment consultant saying that once you’re in the oil industry it’s in your blood and you will never leave! How true that was. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I love serving customers and can regularly be seen working on the tills. I suppose in everything I do I am pretty much hands on, which probably goes way back to the start of my working life when, for eight years, I was a civil and mechanical engineer.
I do enjoy the interaction with people that petrol retailing allows, and I also believe that it’s the best way to learn and improve.
Evolution is essential, whether that be in service levels, facilities, products or technology.
Dragon Service Stations currently employs 14 people and we are always willing to invest in people and facilities to move forward.
Our latest purchase is an Istobal rollover at Crossways, which must be the most environmentally friendly wash in Wales, with a 95% water reclaim system.
In almost everything we do, our aim is to make both of our sites the local destination in their area. We set our pump prices based on cost price and local competition, and undertake three-weekly shop promotions run by Costcutter. These are promoted by regular leaflet drops and Facebook marketing.
I have a great team around me and a good fuel supplier in Certas Energy. We’ve been Gulf branded on both sites for several years. The brand is strong and the people we deal with at all levels are experienced and supportive.
Running a forecourt requires so many hats that it is invaluable to have good people around. I’ve had to acquire attributes very quickly in human resources, health and safety, convenience retailing, management accounts, stock control and general management.
I usually arrive home around 4.30pm to spend the evening with Charleigh, my new-born daughter. After bathing and putting her to bed at 7pm, it’s back to the pumps, so to speak! I look in on both sites to make sure things are running smoothly.
At weekends, I dedicate as much time to my family as I can, although I usually spend a few hours on site to check that all is well and the staff are happy. And it’s also an excuse to play with the new Istobal car wash!
Name: Darren Briggs
Company: Dragon Service StationsJob title: managing director but more like chief pump gofer!
Career history: dealer sales manager for Elf Oil 1998-2001; eBusiness executive for Total UK 2001-2003; co-founder and managing director of BigOil.net 2004-2008. Dragon Service Stations from 2011.
Greatest achievements: 1) My two daughters Jessica aged 23 years and my new born Charleigh Ffion, aged 16 months. 2) Completing the Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge in under 15 hours and raising £7k for Ty Hafan. 3) Being awarded Best Forecourt Retailer of the Year at the Retail Industry Awards 2013 for Crossways Service Station.
Tips for business success: Remember business is easy and only people make it difficult!
Most likely to say: "Looking good chop chop!"
Least likely to say: "My staff are my biggest asset" I need to say this much more!
Other interests: My family.