North East & Northumberland

Graham Calvert FILSA

Graham Calvert – Stocktaker North East

Based in Newcastle and covering Durham, Sunderland, Northumberland

In the year 2000, I made the decision to become a Stockcheck Franchisee to expand my current client base.

My business has primarily grown through word of mouth and recommendations. The addition of National Accounts work has contributed to the expansion of our client base. I’ve chosen to invest a lot of hours as we’ve been very busy, but that’s been a conscious choice. The challenges of self-employment revolve mainly around diary planning and fitting in with client schedules. It doesn’t always go smoothly, especially around holiday times, and it’s a constant juggling act to fill diaries for both myself and my employees, but we always manage to get things on track in the end. Being self-employed means that your destiny is in your own hands. You can be as busy as you want to be and organize your diary to suit your needs. My main dislike isn’t the job itself, but sometimes it’s dealing with clients who may lack experience in stocktaking. Some clients are receptive and help improve the efficiency of the process, while others require a lot of repetition. The best clients are the ones who have prior experience with stocktaking and see it as an essential tool for their business.

I began my journey as a Stocktaker in the North East at the age of 19, receiving two years of training back in 1988. The company I worked for was prominent in the North East area and mainly served Working Men’s Clubs. I learned the stocktaking process by hand, which gave me a full understanding of the reports and the Realisation Account. My training was conducted by a qualified Auditor, and I still follow the teachings he imparted to me to this day. It’s crucial, especially in the early stages of your career, to be trained by a mentor with best practices, as you’re likely to carry these forward in your profession. I left the industry at the age of 21 to attend university, but after two years, I realized that engineering wasn’t the right fit for me. So, at 24 years old, I decided to start my own business. Initially, progress was slow, but I was fortunate to secure a contract with Vaux Brewery as an External Stocktaker. They engaged me on most days. I would typically conduct a liquor stocktake each morning for Vaux, which allowed me to work independently at other sites in the afternoons. This arrangement worked well for around five years, until 1999. In late 1999, I met Malcolm Graham, and together with John Gilpin and Jackie Barber from Stockcheck, we were offered a contract in the North East. That’s when we decided to take a franchise with Stockcheck. It’s been 23 years now, and we’re still going strong!

The ability to connect with the client is of paramount importance. Understanding what’s essential to them, helping them enhance their systems, and offering advice on all aspects of their business to boost profits and tighten controls. Providing the service is not just about “bottle counting”; it’s about building a relationship, adding value, and ensuring they have complete trust in our reporting. I provide information on product trends or menus, as many operators don’t get the chance to step outside their own environment. Stocktakers’ knowledge of costs in the marketplace can be a valuable information tool.

There have been many significant opportunities. One of the most notable is when we take on a new client and discover that their discount rate is significantly understated. I’ve assisted many clients in negotiating better deals and increasing their profits. It’s a great way to establish a strong connection with your client.

Outside of work and family life, I’m a Newcastle United season ticket holder, and I enjoy meeting friends before the game (and after) for a few beers. I also play Snooker in local leagues, a passion I’ve pursued for 35 years. My favourite food is Indian, and my preferred drinks are IPAs and Spiced Rums. I hope that the business will continue to grow, allowing me to employ more team members.

If I could go back in time and offer my former self some advice, it would be to become a better judge of character. Sometimes, you’ll be let down by people you least expect, but those experiences help build your character, and you learn valuable lessons from your mistakes.

Stocktaker North East Profile