I wake up every weekday morning with Sarah Kennedy my wife Stella doesn’t mind as she quite likes her. My Blackberry and my wife rule my life, but only because I let them. The Blackberry alarm is set for 6.30am, seven days a week. Monday to Friday are school-run days. Not quite like Groundhog Day, but similar.
So, once the alarm has gone off, I lie in bed and wait for my breakfast and cup of Earl Grey to arrive on a tray with the morning Daily Sport. It never arrives, but I am the eternal optimist.
I wait until the last possible minute then jump out of bed, do the normal stuff then go downstairs, grab the gym bag (one that I prepared the night before), get a banana, pint of water and off I go. School run first, then to the gym then home, where the work really starts. My Blackberry has been working overtime storing up all the missed calls, emails and messages. I used to think these were life’s main priorities, but they are all put on hold until the most important things are dealt with. They are: family and friends, me, exercise and food.
I feel good, I’m ready for the emails, and the many demanding decisions that need to be made. Shall I get tickets for Cold Play at Wembley or Manchester? Shall I go full corporate to the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at a reduced price or just watch it on Sky?
Or, the most important one of all, shall I go up a penny as one of my competitors has moved its price on SPUL.
I must admit that petrol prices should be in there with exercise and food as a very important issue, because it’s the pennies that enable us to all enjoy a fabulous lifestyle.
Foreign travel, or even travel out of the Cotswolds, drives the point home to me that we all lead very privileged lives in this industry.
I know many of my friends and associates work very hard, they also play hard.
Unfortunately sometimes people looking in from the outside may only see them playing hard.
They forget that to be able to afford to play hard you must have either won the lottery, robbed a bank, or worked hard at some point. I did the latter for a while. I now have a newly-married daughter, Emma, to do that for me.
She did cause me two weeks of grief recently by going on her honeymoon.
Thankfully she took her laptop and still managed to order the tankers and cope with all the back logging that seems to be a normal part of life these days.
Back to my emails. They seem to take up most of the morning.
Planning trips abroad and time on my boat is what seems to take up most of my time. I think 2010 is going to be another busy year.
It’s time for lunch now. Stella and I will either eat out or, if the weather is nice enough, stay at home and have it in the back garden. Then a siesta. Zzzzzzzz.
The Blackberry does its job and wakes me in time to carry out some chores around the garden.
Time for a mid-afternoon protein shake, then I venture into my office to dial into the business and check on the CCTV to ensure all is performing well and the shops look tidy. Then, if the site offices are empty and the computers are not in use, I delve into the back office computers to look at sales data. Current and historical.
I check out competitors’ prices and study all our departmental sales and fuel volumes to ensure we do not lose track of what this business is all about. The basics.
My daughter Emma has left me in charge of the online alterations to our newspaper and magazines standing orders so, when I remember and I am online, I alter the quantities to ensure we never sell out of the popular titles. Basics never sell out!
The same applies to all the essentials we stock. Milk, water, coffee, cigarettes, popular offers. It’s a shame our fuel wholesalers can’t seem to organise their fuel deliveries to ensure we don’t sell out of fuel.
Our shops are destination points and we have to protect that position as it’s very important and something that’s taken years to develop.
Customer confidence in our shops is high and we I obviously mean Emma work hard to maintain that.
Evening school collection times vary, from the earliest at 4.30pm through to the latest at 9.30pm, depending on which activities the kids have on which night of the week. Dancing, rugby, cricket, hockey, football and tennis coaching are all included.
So Stella and I are back and forth clocking up the miles helping to ensure our petrol station in Cheltenham’s fuel volumes are up year-on-year. If they show signs of dropping, we drive faster or take the long way to Cheltenham to use more fuel!
A family dinner is miraculously produced in between the taxiing and we sit down every night together to discuss the events of the day and what the next day may bring. The children do their prep, I do all the housework, hoovering, washing and ironing nah, not really. I sit down, fall asleep and get ready for tomorrow. My Blackberry buzzes and wakes me up.
Big Oil prices are in. Up or down. What shall I do? Go back to sleep and wait until tomorrow.