Responsible Retailer of the Year 2016 sponsored by Imperial Tobacco UK
Interview with Mani Dhesi, owner.
Store size: 1200 sq ft
Period at store to date: 11 years
Hours: 4am –10pm, Monday to Friday
As well as stocking a good range of convenience products, Day-Today Maryhill offers dry cleaning and phone repairs.
Owner Mani Dhesi is employed as a watch commander with Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, and spends much of his time educating others about fire safety.
A retailer with a keen eye for technology that could help his business, Mani recently updated his EPOS system and began using a beacon system to transmit offers and promotions to customers’ phones.
Day-Today Maryhill recently sponsored the publication of a children’s book warning against the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The book, published through the Police Community Clubs of Great Britain, was issued to the local school.
MANI Dhesi is a retailer who has made responsible retailing his top priority. His award-winning Day-Today in Maryhill was purchased 11 years ago. At that time, he said, the area had a pretty bad reputation for anti-social behaviour and underage drinking and the shop had been perceived by some to be contributing to the problem.
As one of his first actions, Mani identified the drinks that were most popular with the local youths and removed them from the shelves.
“Before you knew it, all the troublemakers stopped coming to the shop,” he said. “And that made it much better for other customers.”
He installed a good CCTV system and lighting at the front of the store – both of which have been regularly maintained and updated over the years – and word soon got around that Day-Today Maryhill was a safe place to shop, where customers didn’t have to worry about being asked to buy drink for teens or face abuse from drunks.
“The community knows that this is a safe zone. If people are going to be getting up to anything bad, they won’t be doing it outside my shop,” said Mani.
“We’ve completely cut that off.”
From the layout alone, it is clear that responsible retailing is taken seriously at the Day-Today store. All the chilled alcohol is behind the counter, decorated with signs displaying average units per drink, recommended daily limits and problem drinker statistics for the area (updated regularly).
The store also has a robust Challenge 25 policy, which is fully backed up by regular comprehensive staff training on the whole Challenge 25 system and age-restricted sales generally.
“The staff know my view is – when in doubt, refuse the sale,” said Mani. “Not only do we record if an ID wasn’t shown, we’ll record it if it was. That proves we’re doing it all the time.
“We also describe what the customers looked like, which the police find helpful when they’re looking for patterns,” he explained.
“We used to keep it all in a book, but once we got the new EPOS system installed we had our refusals register put on there. So I can print off the log for the police whenever they come in to check it.”
Training sessions are held at least once a month, to refresh staff on existing protocols or update them on new legislation and services. Mani ensures his staff know they have to be careful not only when it comes to age-restricted products like cigarettes and alcohol, but with services like Western Union.
“When someone’s sending money, I always ask them where it’s going. My staff are always trained to question. They might say ‘Oh, I’ve been left some money and I need to send £300 to release it’ and we know that’s a fraud. If they won’t agree with me we’ve got a disclaimer they have to sign.
“Another one is wives – or proposed wives. Some guy’s sitting in Nigeria somewhere pretending to be a mail-order bride in Thailand, sending emails to a thousand people and hoping to get 10 hits. It’s up to us to tell them it’s a fraud. Sometimes they don’t want to hear it, but we’ve got to be responsible. It’s horrible what some people will do.”
For these reasons and many others, Day-Today Maryhill was the well-deserved winner of the Scottish Grocer’s Responsible Retail of the Year Award 2016, which is run in association with Imperial Tobacco.
But Mani’s key piece of advice to his fellow retailers comes back to carefully considering what’s on a store’s shelves.
“Think about what you’re stocking,” he said. “Examine the issues in your area and try to find out what’s contributing to them. Is it anti-social behaviour, vandalism, drugs? Whatever it is, try to identify who the culprits are and what they’re buying from your shop.
“Whichever community you’re in, at least 99% of them will be decent people. If they see you being responsible, they will come to your shop. It will make you much busier. The core of the community is decent people, law abiding and responsible. When they see a retailer behaving the same way they will choose to shop with them. I think good, responsible retailing always leads to an uplift in sales.”