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Julian Holliss is a real West Country wonder

27 August, 2010
Swimming round islands, checking up on data, catching up with the kids - it's all in a day's work for the sporty retailer
Page 50 

Every day is different and can start in various ways sometimes an early doors tanker which BP prefers to deliver first drop out to our rural and coastal locations. Or in school term time our children Jemma (10) and William (8) have long days leaving home before 8am and returning at 6pm, so I try to see them at one end of day. Plus my wife Charlie insists on one family supper during the week.

The sites are close to home and all in very close proximity, so I can react quickly and be flexible when required. I have an office and CCTV at home which I use after hours.

My role is all-encompassing and includes the pricing and ordering of fuel, alcohol, news and mags, domestic and seasonal fuels at all sites, plus covering shop orders during staff holidays. I also cover some banking duties on days off, which can equate to every day in the wrong week!

Last week, I put aside time to review our retail prices, category by category, as one part of ensuring we are generating the margin required to stay in the game. This week, I am aiming to finish updating and relaunching our induction and training programmes. I try to achieve one positive for the business each week above and beyond daily functioning.

Yesterday, we met with our business banking manager for our annual review. Surprisingly charges aren't increasing dramatically and there even seems money to borrow if you have the nerve and desire.

We are presently at the top of our seasonal peak and very busy with grockles (tourists), working extremely long hours, so I am reminding everyone around me to look after the business now and it will look after them in the winter.

Our business doubles in August from January, so stockholding and staffing levels become challenging, but I am practised and know the spikes and when to staff/stock up and down accordingly.

This morning I have checked and ordered stocks of wetsuits, summer goods such as windbreaks, buckets and spades, crab lines and charcoal. These are good margin products and we need to have availability without ending up with a warehouse full in four weeks time.

I had a dial-on earlier with Brendan from Time2 to work through and confirm our holiday-accrued figures that the system automatically generated. This afternoon, I will process and check the clock-ins for the past week and generate the 'weekly hours worked' report for all staff and email over to our payroll bureau to run the payslips. I'll also print the monthly time-keeping records for July and, as with our aged debtor's reports, I'll be able second guess who is late before looking!

We used to have supervisors processing paper time sheets but I now control all paid hours myself as it is our biggest overhead. Thereafter, I will update the rotas one week in advance to maintain the forward planning.

This evening, I am planning to meet friends for a first training swim around Burgh Island in preparation for the annual swim race at the end of the month. It is about a one-and-a-half mile swim around the island in a most stunning part of the Devon coastline. We are so lucky to live in this part of the world. If it's not too late Charlie, Jemma and Will may join me so we can have some family time.

Although it's not possible at this time of year, I normally try to train most days in one form or another, as it keeps me sane. There is a leisure centre next to our Dartmouth site and it is convenient to take in a spinning class or five-a-side on the way home.

Like many of our peers in the industry, we are proud to be an established second generation family business, started by David and Diane over 40 years ago at the Totnes Cross Filling Station.

Charlie runs the office side of the business and oversees Prism Plus and Sage for all sites and businesses.

She is very dedicated and efficient in her role and has provided me with great support and reliability in the business.

She even covers for me to go off enjoying myself at events like the Top Indies track day!


Julian Holliss:

Company: Holliss Filling Stations

Job Title: Director

Career History: 20-plus years in the family business

Greatest Achievement: Winning Forecourt Trader Top Indies Driver of the Day, our children Jemma and William, opening Townstal Road Garage and completing the Norseman

Tips for Business Success: Take all help available

Most Likely to say: "Please can you hoover the mat"

Least likely to say: "I love Tesco's home delivery service"

Other interests: Endurance and adventure multi-Sports, William's football and rugby training and matches, taking Will to Old Trafford.