What it takes to be a General Manager
O levels in English, Maths, Art and Woodwork
Eddie Obeng Business School, London
Health & Safety qualification
My career background
I’m from Birmingham, and originally I worked for local business Cine Equipments Ltd. When I started they had four shops, but this increased to twenty-three, by which time I was a General Manager. The owner sold the business to Jessops (?), and I remained with the new owners. I became Area Manager and I’m proud to say I was Area Manager of the Year – twice!
Jessops relocated me to the South West and I commuted for six months before moving my family to Ottery St Mary. I helped to open stores in Penzance, Weymouth and Bournemouth, as well as acquiring stores in Guernsey and Jersey.
From Jessops I moved to Crealey Great Adventure Park for a short spell as Guest Services Manager before becoming Store Manager for Homebase in Yeovil.
My daughters had worked at Otter Nurseries so when I saw a job advert in the Midweek Herald, I thought I’d apply. I met with Operations Manager Sean Duff then MD Jacqui Taylor – they decided to offer me the position of General Manager.
A typical day
I look after the garden centre side of the business, including the hardy nursery, garden stoneware, aquatics and garden buildings, as well as health and safety for the Group.
Each morning I walk around every department I manage, making sure that the business is at its best, and looking good for the customers. I check the quality of the plants we’re putting on sale – to make sure they’re good enough to be sold. I check emails and see if any department needs extra support – if it does, then I often jump in myself to help out, or move other staff in. I check my emails and do a lot of planning. My phone will ring 40 or 50 times a day, so I have to keep on the ball. I deal with customer concerns, which thankfully are pretty rare.
In addition, I handle personnel, any issues or recruitment needs including interviewing potential employees. I give reviews and praise when it’s due.
Style of working
To me, the difference between a manager and a leader is the mentality. A manager says, ‘I’ll do it’ and a leader says ‘We’ll do it’. I am more of a leader, and I like to have good team behind me – the right people in the right place. And that’s what it’s like at Otter Nurseries.
What I like best about my job
I love the way the business makes me feel, and I know our customers love the way the business makes them feel! Our customers stay on site for a long time, much longer than other retail locations. I prefer to be busy and there’s no downtime at Otter Nurseries. It’s frantic when bedding is on sale, then suddenly it’s Christmas, then before you know it, it’s bedding season again.
Advice for someone looking to become a manager
Here we get a lot of youngsters from our local secondary school, The Kings School. My advice is that it’s fine to start at the bottom and work your way up. Or get a business qualification, or both!