'Ron is a natural – he loves the game, his shop and his customers'
A panel of eight judges had the difficult task of picking a winner from the shortlist for the 2017 Betting Shop Manager of the Year. Here they offer their reflections on the experience
Brough Scott, chairman of the judging panel
Ron is a deeply traditional betting shop manager who has modernised himself to give 21st century service in the Charlton betting shop he has run for 21 years. Old-style warmth never goes out of date!
Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA
This was my first year taking part in the judging effort and it was a real honour to be asked to judge the cream of the betting shop industry, especially having previously spent 30 years in that sector. The quality and character of the final 24 was very high, and selecting an overall winner from the eight regional champions was extremely difficult. They are all winners.
Helen Scott, SIS
Being part of this competition is, for me, a privilege and the highlight of my working year. The requirements for today’s betting shop managers are vast, but there is one constant – the hunger for providing excellent customer service. What struck me this year was the finalists' genuine passion in this respect; they love their customers and contribute so much to the communities they serve.
Richard Hayler, MD of Ibas
Our final eight reminded me frequently about how important a trip to the bookies still is from a social perspective – for some placing their 20p yankee is their only certain conversation of the day. Ron is a natural – he loves the game, his shop and his customers.
Andrew Pennington, Racing Post
Ron has worked in the industry for 40 years and is fully deserving of winning Betting Shop Manager of the Year. His experience and know-how shone through during the process. Congratulations to Ron and his team at Jenningsbet in Charlton, as well as the other seven regional champions.
Tanya Stevenson, betting expert
Without question my favourite role is judging Betting Shop Manager of the Year. The betting industry landscape is ever-changing, technology evolving, yet a betting shop still remains a social hub. This year’s winner has literally seen it all over 40 years. Ron is a fabulous personality, a great manager who has an excellent team. He will be a fantastic ambassador.
Nigel Boardman, SIS
Congratulations to all the regional champions who are a real credit to the industry. Ron is a deserving winner in a highly competitive year. An industry veteran with vast experience, he will be an excellent ambassador in what will be a challenging year ahead for the industry.
Jim Cremin, Racing Post
What came across through the judging process was the uncertainty ahead within the shops in the face of unfair prejudice, but also the pride and care taken by managers to look after their customers. The motivation and drive of these high achievers is inspiring and all eight regional champions deserve warm congratulation. Ron edged it, fair play to him and his team.
Biggest changes in the industry Ron Hearn, in his own words, has seen
The three biggest changes would be: the launch of SIS in 1987 which replaced Extel; the abolition of betting tax in 2002; and the introduction of all-weather tracks meaning during bad weather betting shops can still give customers race meetings, unlike pre-1989 when there were often periods of only greyhound racing in a time before virtual racing and FOBTs – shops were often quiet.”
What the mystery shopper said
The manager and cashier were really friendly. They valued your presence and genuinely wanted you to have a good time. In his original entry paper, submitted back in June, he recalled that he had seen three generations of some customers and explained that any problem gambling issues "can be spotted early," arguing that the industry "does everything it can to try and help".