I am not a huge fan of early starts and am definitely one of those people who needs three cups of coffee before I feel ready to tackle the day. I live fairly close to our UK headquarters in Warwick but, thanks to the increasing traffic, what used to be a 20-minute commute now takes 40 minutes!
Most weeks I spend two or three days in the office and the rest out meeting with our existing dealers and prospects. As group dealer manager, I sit within our national team and look after any Jet dealers who own sites that are located across a wide geographic spread and are supplied by more than one terminal. This can range from companies that own and operate fewer than 10 sites, to those who have upwards of 300 sites.
When I’m out on the road, my time is split between supporting our existing dealers and getting to know our prospects as they look to find the best supply deal to meet their needs. It’s so important to invest this time to keep up to date with our dealers’ businesses and see at first hand the many ways that convenience retailing is changing.
The days of forecourts focusing solely on fuel are long gone and now it’s all about delivering convenience on many different levels. Time-poor consumers are looking to tick off as many items as possible on their ’To Do’ or ’To Buy’ lists under one roof, and we work closely with our dealers to help them maximise these opportunities.
When I’m in the office, a typical day will see me spend my time catching up on emails, chatting to my team members and planning. I have regular contact with all the key areas within the company which support the sales function including retail services, brand, account coordinators, administrative support, treasury group and transport. I spend a great deal of time on the phone chatting to customers finding out about their aspirations for their business and how we can help turn those aspirations into reality.
I also enjoy the time I spend talking to our prospective customers about our retail offering.
Forecourt operators are among some of the most forward-thinking and savvy entrepreneurs in business and expect a lot more than just a good deal on pricing. Security of supply, reliable delivery, a strong consumer brand and successful promotions are all key to a strong retail offer. Jet offers all of these, which makes my job a lot easier when meeting prospective customers. I love negotiation, dealing with people and being able to seal a deal. And I still get a real buzz from seeing a site transformed to Jet.
My role inevitably entails some nights spent away from home so I have countless hotel ’horror’ stories.
I wouldn’t say I’m a slave to modern technology but over the past 30 years it has certainly changed the way I work. Given the nature of our business and the fact that Phillips 66 is an American company, we operate 24/7. That can sometimes make it difficult to switch off, but I still like to find time for my own interests.
I’m a lifelong supporter of Chelsea Football Club so I can often be found glued to the TV or, preferably, at Stamford Bridge during the football season. I like watching new films at the cinema and enjoy a ’big night out’. I’m a fairly good cook but only the typical ’man food’ like steak, roasts and BBQs. I have an impressive collection of cooking gadgets!
My wife, Debi, and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this year and we have two grown-up children. Our youngest is now off at university in Portsmouth but his big sister has moved back in with us with her boyfriend so it’s not quite the empty nest we envisaged!
Some people may read this and think that 30 years is a long time to stay with the same company, but I feel very lucky to work for a company that doesn’t pigeon-hole its employees.
The company, the industry and my role continue to evolve, so there’s never a dull moment!
Name: Graham Clout
Company: Phillips 66
Job title: Group dealer manager
Career history: Three years with the BBC before joining Conoco in 1987. Various roles in supply, strategy and sales for both the wholesale and retail divisions as the company evolved from Conoco to ConocoPhillips and then Phillips 66
Greatest achievement: Still getting a huge buzz out of striking new deals after almost three decades!
Tips for business success: Always look people in the eye and tell them the truth
Most likely to say: Let’s do this!
Least likely to say: It’s lacking detail why don’t you show me another 50 PowerPoint slides!
Other interests: Tennis, golf, badminton, swimming and going to the cinema