Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community
Valerie Dowling - sales assistant with a big heart
Published:  12 January, 2010

I have worked for Mace Approach, a BP site in Andover, Hampshire, for six years and I love it. I was extremely chuffed last year to win the forecourt category of the Sales Assistant of the Year awards run by Forecourt Trader's sister publication Convenience Store. The judges said really nice things about me such as how hardworking, dependable and helpful I am and it really meant a lot. It's great that there is recognition of the key role that sales assistants play. I had a great time at the awards presentation and won 500 which I will put towards driving lessons. But I really want to win the overall top prize next time!

A typical working day for me starts at 10am when I arrive for my shift although I am on call Monday to Friday evenings and all day at weekends, which could mean answering a call at 3am which has happened on a few occasions. I also cover for anyone who is sick even it means early starts or late finishing. Plus I am also responsible for one to one training with our team members.

The first thing I do on arrival at the site is let the early starter go for a break as they have been there since 6am. Then it's onto re-stocking the shelves. I write out a list of cigarettes that need to be stocked up having been sold on the previous shift. It's all recorded on a stock sheet every shift change.

Every Wednesday and Friday we place a stock order for anything running low. We then put it on the shelves on a Thursday and Monday, remembering to rotate items with 'sell by' or 'best before' dates.

At least three times a week we place an order for fuel making sure the fuel book is filled out on the days the fuel is due to arrive otherwise it will not be delivered!

At the beginning of every month I draw up a cleaning rota everyone who works in the service station has their own section of the store which they are responsible for keeping clean throughout the month.

Twice weekly I make sure the forecourt and toilets are well-stocked with soap, toilet roll, paper towels, gloves and so on. The same goes for the car wash which is kept topped up with the necessary chemicals. We also have a coffee machine which is cleaned daily with all stock replenished on an ongoing basis as required.

All this is done while making sure the customers are served in a polite manner and are helped in any way possible. It all sounds straightforward but there can be problems, which we have to deal with in the best way possible, either by sorting it out ourselves or ringing the necessary people to come out and fix the problems quickly.

Customers can be problems too. A couple come into my store who looked and acted a bit strange. I had my suspicions that the guy was stealing so I phoned headoffice and asked for someone to keep a check on the CCTV while I focused on the lady I was serving at the time. The guy stole a further chocolate bar and magazine so I waited until he'd left the store then confronted him and retrieved the items he'd stolen as I didn't want to cause a scene in front of the customers. The problem was handled in a calm manner and even though the store was full of shoppers, no one was aware of the situation.

You also have to be on your guard when you are asked for cigarettes or alcohol by someone you believe to be under the legal age to purchase such items. I politely ask them if they have any identification to prove their age and say I won't be able to serve them unless they can provide it.

But most of my customers are very dear to me I keep in touch with them all on Facebook. Some of them pop in the store on a regular basis for their bits of shopping and a coffee and chat.

One of my regular customers has MS so I fill his car up for him and go in and pay. Also, when he needs his car washing or tyres pumped I do that for him too.

He always offers me a pound as a thank you, but I always refuse it, as I help him out of the goodness of my heart as I would do with any of my customers.




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Weekly retail fuel prices: 2 October 2017
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East120.5363.90127.17119.00
East Midlands120.03127.76118.80
London120.3757.90128.81118.85
North East119.80129.71118.46
North West120.19127.87118.63
Northern Ireland119.22125.23117.53
Scotland120.2463.80126.78118.50
South East120.7259.90129.39119.48
South West120.39128.00119.02
Wales120.0459.90126.47118.61
West Midlands120.0865.90128.12118.84
Yorkshire & Humber119.73127.02118.57

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