Life of a bookmaker – Imogen

Do you ever get the feeling you’re not being taken seriously? I have. Almost every day I had at least one customer come in, look me up and down and expect me not to know how I do my job. Unless the customer had seen me in there before that was almost every reaction I got from a new customer.

I had worked in a bookie for over two and a half years. From when I turned nineteen to just after my twenty second birthday. Yes, I am young, but I am a quick learner and always listened to the tips my regular customers gave me. I could manually settle bets while tills were down (which was most of the time) and I could run the shop from 8am -10pm with hardly any help. And yet I would still get told I couldn’t do my job. One thing I have learnt from working in a bookmaker is, treat retail workers with respect because you don’t know how much they have on their heads. My experience working in a bookmaker will never leave me, the highs and lows of running a business day to day. But I can always say that this job made me a better and stronger person.

I met some amazing people who I’ll never forget; you would never realise the range of people who go into a bookmaker. I had lovely ladies popping in just to pass the time on the machines. Young lads on Match Day coming to support their team. Older gentlemen quietly watching the horses. I have seen people walk in at 9am and leave at 5pm.

My experience from working in a bookie made me realise that the secret to great customer service is simple; be nice and helpful. As soon as a customer came into the store, they would receive a warm smile and a simple ‘hiya, how are you?’ Sometimes I got a lovely reply but other times just silence, which I didn’t mind. Any problems with bets I was straight on the phone relaying with the right people to get it sorted, busy or not. I had a wide selection of loyal customers that would only ever come into my store. Four months after leaving when I see my old customers out and about, they stop to chat.

Working in a bookmaker in the UK is a challenging role especially at an early age. My advice would be to anyone twenty-one or younger looking to work in a bookmaker is be yourself, be strong and learn from everything. Most importantly have fun.