I wake up at six in the morning and go to the gym. This helps me maintain my jovial and proactive attitude to life. After an hour in the gym (some days with a personal trainer), I get to work for about eight o’clock.
The first thing I do is phone all the site managers and ask them if all the pumps and equipment on site are working, and if there were any incidences that need my attention. I then look at all the entries in my bank accounts and compare it to my forecasted bank balance.
Having attended to all my emails and post I then spend at least an hour each day analysing the sales of each site. It’s something you have to do if you are serious about growing your sales. I also make comparisons of previous years’ sales. This gives you a good understanding of trends. Some of the inter-site comparisons also make you discover which site is missing out on sales of specific products.
By this time it’s ten o’clock. and it’s time for breakfast. I have a cereal breakfast and two boiled eggs. I’m really hungry by this time, having been to the gym. As my office is based at the service station nearest to home I then set off to collect sandwiches that we make ourselves because customers do not like soggy bottomed sandwiches!
Because of Subway, sandwich sales had been plummeting for a while, so I finally decided to make my own and guess what, it’s been one of the best things I’ve done. Sales have doubled in four months and customers are really happy with the freshness and quality. I go and pick the sandwiches up from the site where they’re made and go to the third site. I have my own little inspection of the site and have a look at the due diligence records.
I also inspect the loo as my pet hate is an unclean lavatory. I have a look around at the standard of the merchandising and leave instruction for anything that requires doing. I also assess how the cashiers are interacting with customers, and whether they are putting customers’ interests first.
I have in mind the Mahatma Ghandi quote about customers: A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so. I run my business based on this very understanding of what a customer is.
I return to the second site and do this routine again before leaving with more sandwiches for the first site. By the time I get there it’s one o’clock. So I spend some time cooking myself a lunch in the purpose-built kitchenette on site.
I really enjoy cooking and this helps me take my mind off things. After lunch I sit down to have a look at the fuel stocks and orders. While the site managers are trained to get it right, it’s always good to keep a tab on it as you could end up holding too much or running out. You also need to keep an eye on your dip losses.
At around four o’clock, I make myself a protein and yoghurt fruit smoothie. I like to make appointments to see people in the afternoons so that all my work is done and therefore I’m happy to discuss matters at ease. I try to finish by 5.30. Before I go home I write down all the things I need to attend to the next day.
Everyday I think about what I can do to better my operations. My father has always said to me that the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. He trained me extremely well in what is required for any business to thrive and remain successful. The natural propensity of any business is towards failure so one has to constantly keep on top of managing and judging what is happening not only in ones business but in the market place.
On the way home I like to listen the news on Radio 4 and I love to listen to the news quiz Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, and Just a Minute!
Name: Shailesh Parekh
Job title: Director
Company: Midland Motor Fuel Ltd
Career history/biog: Degree in metallurgy; came to England in the ’90s and worked up from a service station cashier, to buying my first site in 2003; currently operating threeGreatest achievement: Starting two new service stations from scratch in the depths of the recession; continuous growth in existing business and achieving runaway growth in the new ventures
Most likely to say: "Let’s get on with it"
Least likely to say: "I’ll do it tomorrow"
Tip for business success: Treat your customers and staff as you would like to be treated yourself
Other interests: Cooking, gardening, politics, singing