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A day in the life of a .... Betting Shop Manager

05 April 2012

Betting Shop Managers are responsible for the day to day management of bookmakers up and down the country. Although their role has changed dramatically over the last 5 years their key focus still remains the same which is the safe running of the premises, management of staff, accounts, bet settling and customer service.

Who better to find out what a day in the life of a betting shop manager is really like than Andy Bennett, who is the reigning SIS/Racing Post Betting Shop Manager of the Year.

How did you get involved in this role?
I got involved in the industry by accident to be honest. I have always worked in a customer service based environment, mainly sales in the retail/shop sector. I was living in Livingston and my partner Tracy was homesick so we decided to move back to the Borders. William Hill were advertising for their fast-track Deputy Manager scheme in the Galashiels branch, and after successfully coming through their automated telephone interview I met with the Area Manager for a face to face interview and was fortunate enough to be offered the position.

What attracted you to the job?
The most attractive thing about the job was that it still involved personal interaction. I have always really enjoyed the 'people' element throughout my career and it was clear from even the telephone interview that Hills were all about providing the best service to their clients as they possibly could. It suited well with our relocation and Hills were understanding over a start date, accommodating for Tracy's start date at Thorntons and the actual date of our move. I was very impressed at the lengths they went to to get who they perceived to be the right person.

What is a typical day like for you?
There is no typical day! That may sound strange as very often you have a core group of regular customers who come in every day and bet on similar product, horse racing and football being the core element of that. As it is individuals you are dealing with though there is always something new going on with someone, or some event to look forward to. We also work in small shop teams and develop a strong bond, they become like extended family so the only things that remain the same are the opening hours, every day is different.

What is your favourite part of the job?
My personal favourite part of the job is seeing people enjoy themselves. For a great many of our customers their experience in the shop is the highlight of their day. I'm not talking about winning or losing here, I'm talking about the interaction they get with other punters as well as the staff. It may sound a little sad but I genuinely mean it when I say there is not a customer I dread seeing walking through the doors. And having built up such an atmosphere in the shop there is a mutual respect. It takes some time to develop but maintaining this is highly satisfying.

Which part of your job would you like to change?
The thing I would most like to change about the job is the downturn that seems to be effecting the shop side of the industry. This is maybe not the same answer as I would have given pre-competition but as I learn more about the bigger picture in our industry through the opportunities afforded to my by winning Racing Post / SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year I think a lot of the ills could be reversed through government assistance in making the shop arm of companies more affordable. It is very difficult to compete with the technological advances made through internet and mobile betting, fewer overheads making it more affordable for them to offer better deals/prices etc. The Government taking a firmer grip on Betting Exchanges in particular may be part of the answer, and bringing more companies back on shore I believe could help in the long term with the levy, hence increasing prize money and making horse racing a more attractive proposition. It is a mammoth task, but one which I feel may be well worth undertaking to secure a better future for both betting shops and the sport of racing.

What is the career progression for someone in your role?
As a betting shop manager progression can come in many different forms. As I mentioned earlier it can take a substantial amount of time to build business in your shop, and you can not take your eye off the ball for a second if you are to maintain business and indeed progress. But challenges are what drive us on so stepping up and taking charge of a group of shops, whether that be District Manager, Satellite Manager or Area Manager is one option. Training Manager is also something that would interest me greatly but the natural progression is to increase your influence on the business by taking more responsibility and challenging yourself to hit new heights, without a negative impact in the most important part of your life, family life.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking a similar role?
Advice to someone in a similar role? Don't allow yourself to settle for what you have. Keep pushing yourself to be the best that you can. Challenge yourself to improve and take on board and learn from all the experiences you will have in what is a brilliantly exciting industry. You only get back what you are willing to put in, so if you want the best possible rewards then ask searching questions of yourself and never settle for second best. Most of all, enjoy what this job has to offer, it is a real buzz.

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