Weblog: Betting Shop Manager of the Year
Heart-warming five star fairytale of Kempton Park
A FAIRYTALE came true at Kempton as Clive Smith's Kauto Star won the King George VI for a record breaking fifth time.
I say fairytale, but it won’t be much of one to the layers, as once again this magnificent beast, ridden by Ruby Walsh, captured the hearts and minds of the masses with yet another miraculous performance. To say the horse dominated from start to finish is not to take away from class of the others, this was a fantastic line-up, but every sentimental pound has been landed and that will create a real feel good factor for punters up and down the land.
It is always a much more enjoyable job managing a betting shop when the punters are winning, and I am looking forward to returning to work on Wednesday to catch up with everyone's Christmas stories and jokes. Kauto winning will mean there is a real buzz about the place and hopefully spare me some of the jokes that you get out of the Christmas crackers. (It's amazing how many people find them funny!).
I hope everyone had a brilliant Christmas, it's been such a nice change to have favourable weather and all the streets have been full with children playing with the new toys Santa was kind enough to bring. This was the first Boxing Day I have had as a day off in over a decade, and it has been a joy to spend the extra time with the family.
As usual, Kris has been spoiled rotten by his Grannies, Papas, Uncles and Aunties, and Santa wasn't bad to him either. I always just expect to workthese days, they are among the busiest on the calendar and come with the territory in our business. That's not to say it's not appreciated though and I think it is a great credit to all the betting shop staff, those with young families especially, who sacrifice this time and manage to provide an excellent service over the holidays.
We are fortunate that Christmas Day opening does not happen when you see the job that many face these days then it does make you feel lucky. I would hate to see our industry go down the same road as many supermarkets and the like, having staff working on Christmas Day.
Boxing Day is however an excellent day to work and next year I will gladly take my turn again. Betting shops are, I believe, an important part of local communities. There are many people who will have been left staring at four walls this Christmas, and who will have been waiting outside the shops for opening time to catch up with their buddies. That is one of the things I feel proud of in the work that I do.
Managing a betting shop doesn't make me an industry specialist, and even if it did there would not be a huge amount that I could change froma shop level. Managing a betting shop however does give me the capabilities to ensure that connections like that can be maintained in a friendly, welcoming environment.
I had an interesting discussion with a shop team in London in the early hours before the Manager of the Year conclusion a few weeks back (their manager was away to bed), and I was amazed to hear that of the three of them, two believed that betting shops would soon become a thing of the past due to internet technology.
Perhaps I am being naive, but I really truly believe that customers prefer personal interaction if they are treated the right way. Complacency in today's financial climate, well, in any financial climate, is a business crime. It’s very easy to lose customers but I think on the whole betting shop staff are a good breed with a good work ethic.
Again, it’s not always an easy job, especially at this time of year with the long hours, so a big thanks to the teams who staffed their shops Boxing Day and were fortunate enough to witness Kauto's piece of history. An especially big thanks to my Scotbet Selkirk team, from Allan, my co-manager right, through to Sheila our cleaner in making sure our punters were well catered for.
On a family theme, a story that caught the eye this week was of Richard Burton. As many of you will know, Mr Burton is Britain's most successful point to point jockey, and has ridden a remarkable 414 winners, as well as 64 under rules. At the age of 35, he is calling it a day. His most notable successes include three Cheltenham Festival winners and victory onboard Cappa Bleu in the 2007 Christies Foxhunters Chase at Aintree.
His wife Hannah is expecting their second child and, with his business selling equestrian equipment going from strength to strength, he has decided to concentrate his time with his family. He says that he has a huge part of him keen to keep going, but continues “I've achieved everything I've dreamed of.”
Well good on you Richard and good luck in your future exploits, another story to go with Kauto that warms the heart.
Would it be too much to ask that as this year comes to a close and we get ready to enter a certain-to-be busy 2012, the stories that dominate our back pages have a bit less doom and are a tad more upbeat. We live in hope!
Happy New Year folks.