I’ve always considered myself more of a night owl than an early bird but it’s impossible to ignore the wife’s 6.30am alarm. For her, living in Kent and working in London means an early train commute and for me, it’s a grumpy start and taxi duty to the station before heading to the office for arrival between 8am and 8.30am.

Working for an SME independent family business blurs the lines of any job title you hold I enjoy a variety of broad responsibilities at RS so a typical day (thankfully) is hard to come by. Generally speaking though, my day is a balance between meeting the immediate needs of our customers and the progression of our long-term business development initiatives.

With a fresh cup of tea prepared by one of my wonderful team members (I genuinely get this), I start by evaluating the day/week ahead and organise my time in the form of a good old ’to do’ list. The rule of thumb here is customers first I still manage the majority of our senior accounts including Esso, BP, Euro Garages and Snax24 (among others). We’re continually working with them to improve the performance of their supplies and consumables procurement. With each of our customers we will have projects running to help them rationalise their range, improve efficiency and reduce spend. This requires a lot of work in first identifying opportunities for savings, co-ordinating a trial to test a new initiative, and then delivering a post-trial evaluation.

I still enjoy being out on the road and I’ll aim to have one or two client meetings a week. My philosophy is consistent with my dad and our managing director Chris, who believes the business can’t be run from behind a desk. It’s essential to connect with our customers and discover their specific requirements. This means understanding their operation and seeing how our products are being used. This helps us to identify opportunities to supply alternative products that can help make our customers’ operation become more efficient, cost-effective and safe.

A day in the office is split between a stint sat in among the hustle and bustle of the sales floor, meetings with our senior team and a more peaceful retreat to an office.

I will always start the day on the sales floor. Our accounts team will talk to hundreds of forecourt retailers on a daily basis and there’s no better research tool than to hear, first hand, what’s occurring in the market. I can never resist, however, the opportunity to quiz and coach our sales guys asking them the reaction to a promotion, what the general feeling is in the market and what can we do to improve our offer so it’s necessary (for their sanity) for me to escape to my office to concentrate on other aspects of our business such as range development and pricing.

A recent initiative we were delighted to support was Forecourt Loo of the Year. We were pleased with the focus on an area which, according to Him! research, is one of the biggest bugbears of forecourt customers. Our cleaning and hygiene range might not be our fastest-growing product category but, it’s certainly our most established and arguably the most important for our customers wishing to maintain and improve store standards.

My day will often feature a meeting with my sales manager to discuss everything from the success of a sales team incentive to our performance against targets.

I’m often distracted by any new opportunity which presents itself and, thanks to the initiative, dedication and commitment of our team, new opportunities present themselves throughout the day. I therefore make sure I’m the last to leave the office to revel in the silence and rattle through emails, correspondence and reports. By 6.30pm hunger will usually get the better of me and it’s back to where we started the train station, to pick up my wife and argue the toss between the gym or dinner and TV. If it wasn’t for her, a box set (Entourage is a current favourite) and a Masterchef-inspired meal would win every time!

Name: James Hayfield

Company: RS Sales & Distribution Ltd
Job title: Sales director
Career history: Joined RS three years ago after a career in media working for Haymarket consumer media on brands including FourFourTwo, Stuff and What Hi-Fi
Greatest achievement: Convincing my wife to marry me
Tips for business success: Differentiate yourself and stick to the course
Most likely to say: "What else can we be doing?"
Least likely to say: "Sorry, I haven’t got time for this"
Other interests: Football especially, but I’m fan of all competitive sport. Two knee operations have finally put pay to my playing days so I’ve recently signed up to a triathlon to satisfy my competitive nature