My day starts with my husband Marcus’ alarm going off at 4.55am. He works in London and leaves at 5.30am every morning. I normally lie in bed watching the news to find out what has happened in the markets overnight until he leaves and then I get up and get ready.
I then pack the dogs (two Springer Spaniels Flash and Tia Maria) into the car for my arduous commute to work. My office is at my parents farm above the stable block about one mile away!
The stables are a hive of activity when I arrive at 6.30am. My sister runs the other side of our business, which is a farm and equestrian establishment. She is a professional event rider and is off to the first competition of the season with five horses. She is aiming for London 2012 so now is the time that her younger horses need to start to prove themselves. I say good luck and wave them off in their 17.5 tonne HGV diesel-guzzling lorry, thankful for their custom.
The dogs settle down for a sleep while I spend the next couple of hours doing paper work. I am very lucky because I have excellent managers at each of my seven sites. They are responsible for the day-to-day running while I take ultimate responsibility for their performance and that of the business as a whole.
I am happy to admit that I am a bit of a control freak and justify my hands-on approach with my mantra ’information is king’. I control all the prices of fuel and shop goods for all my sites centrally because that way I am in control of my margin. I enter the bank statements each morning onto Sage so I know what our bank balance is, and I have a number of spreadsheets analysing sales, waste, wages, shortages, customer counts etc which calculate weekly changes and changes year to date.
My parents are my greatest inspiration because they set the business up over 35 years ago and now it is my responsibility to evolve it to ensure its success for another 35 years!
My father is still very heavily involved in the business so I always have someone who understands who I can talk to about issues and ideas. Marcus is another great support because, although I can never totally switch off and leave the business as it trades 24 hours a day 365 days a year, he does make sure our home life is as far removed from it as possible!
I try to limit myself to having three or four major projects on the go at one time. At the moment we are putting together planning applications for redevelopments of two of our sites. I am pulling together a promotional calendar for the rest of the year for each of my sites and am looking to upgrade our IT infrastructure across the group.
The beauty of being a small family business is that we are able to change and adapt quickly to our environment and as such no one day is ever the same. I generally try to only have about three scheduled meetings with suppliers a week, which ensures I always have enough time to get to each of my sites. I always take a list of things I want to cover and always leave a list of things for the managers to do and come home with another list of things for me to do.
I generally leave the office at about 7pm having checked my emails and messages there are for me and head off home to spend half an hour on the treadmill, do the ironing and bake some cakes!
Name: Susie Hawkins
Job Title: partner Simon Smith Group
Career History: 33 years experience in retailing (since birth!)
Greatest Achievement: 2004 NACS/ACS Global Scholar
Most Likely to say: a problem shared is a problem halved
Least Likely to say: I’m bored or I have nothing to do
Tips for success: know your business and know your competitors’ business!
Interests: Skiing, horses, dog walking, friends and family