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10 Quick Fire Questions with Umesh Patel

Company: Souldrop Service Station

Number of Stores: 1

Number of Employees: 9

Years in Existence: 45

1 – What made you choose CBE as your EPoS supplier?

I had meetings with Chris from CBE and he sold the company very well. We saw your product at the NCS in Birmingham, and Shell UK also gave CBE a very good reference. I thought the service you had provided to me even before I had signed anything was amazing.

2 – What are the main trends you are observing within your industry?

There are a lot more people moving to electric vehicles now, so these customers are only using the shop with us as they are not fueling up. I think there is a lot of loyalty now within our sector, people are choosing to return to us rather than going to the supermarket. I think the margins are much more relaxed at the minute, supermarkets are still pushing but not as much.

3 – Can you describe what a typical working day looks like for you?

I would normally open the store 3 to 4 days a week and do all the temperature checks. The staff come in about 7:30 and I’ll go to my office and have a cup of coffee while checking all the data and reports for the previous day. By 9:30 I’ll be on my way home for a good proper breakfast. I trust my staff to run the store and I would only ever return during the day if I was really needed. I believe if you pay and treat your staff well, and there is honesty between you, there is no need to be around all the time.

4 – What do you love about your job?

I love the loyalty from my customers. Our location has such high loyalty. It’s just a lovely place to work, everybody gets to know everybody. I thoroughly enjoy each day I go to work.

5 – What do you feel is your greatest strength?

Man management. I think I am a very good delegator.

6 – How do you think your employees would describe you?

The best since sliced bread, and that’s the god’s honest truth. I think they really look forward to coming into work. I am very approachable. I would be quite strict with what needs to be done but I let them get on with their jobs. If I see any slacking of course I will pull them on it.

7 – What job role within your company would you be terrible at?

I absolutely hate putting the milk out. Since COVID-19 landed the milkmen take the deliveries to a certain part of the shop and we must take it to the chilled sectioned and replenish the stock ourselves. I would not be a fan of the cold.

8 – What is the most heartwarming thing you have ever seen an employee do for a customer?

Only last week, I popped into the garage to pick up some paperwork and it was absolutely pouring rain and windy outside. There was a customer who would be a regular, trying to work the air for the car tyres on the forecourt. A staff member approached me and asked if she could help the customer. She asked me if I minded standing on the till for 5 minutes while she helped her out. The air companies charge £1 to use the service and my staff member used her own money to help the customer, in the pouring rain, and I just thought wow. I think it is one of the most warming things I’ve seen a staff member do.

9 – How do you relax after a hard day at work?

With a large glass of whiskey. I would be a keen golfer. At the minute I would be only playing 2 evenings a week, during the summer I would be out 3 to 4 times a week.

10 – Finally, if you could have lunch with one person, who would it be, and why?

My father. Because I cherish every moment he has here and at 85 years of age, my time with him is so valuable. When I am in England, he won’t have lunch unless I’m having it with him. He is my best friend.

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