How would you describe your store?
This is my first store. The size of the store is approximately 800 square feet. We sell alcohol, tobacco, confectionery, soft drinks, fresh, frozen, and general groceries. The services we provide are Lottery, PayPoint, a cash machine. Contactless payments are also available within the store. I have four part-time members of staff all employed from within the local community.
What sort of trading area do you operate in?
We are in a council housing estate and within the parade where we are there is a hair dressers and a hardware store. The majority of my trade is at regular intervals throughout the day, with repeat customers. I do very little passing trade because of where the shop is located, which is off the main road within the housing estate.
I have quite a large range of customers. There is a primary school which is located literally a few hundred yards round the corner from the store. I would say that the majority of them are young families, young mothers, single parents, but I do get the older generation in. It’s very a mixed demographic.
How long have you been a retailer?
We’ve been retailing for twenty years. When we first bought the store it was a family-run business with myself, my brother Jay and my mum and dad. Then my brother bought his own store and in 2009 my parents were looking to give up the store. Myself and my wife were both working outside of the store but we decided to take it on as a couple. We still had a bit of help from my mum and dad but they took a backwards step and let us take full control of the shop.
What is the best and the worst thing about the job?
The hours are always going to be the worst and obviously the quiet times like Christmas. But I feel if you’ve got good staff and good management you can have a good work-life balance. But that depends on how good the staff training is that you give, as your staff are representing you and the store when you are not there. The good part I think is dealing with customers on a daily basis, especially in a tight-knit local community like the one that I trade in. Its got a very Coronation Street feel to it where everybody seems to know everyone. 90 percent of my customers are all regulars, who we’re on a first-name basis with.
What sections of the store work best for you and which are the most challenging?
Fresh, frozen and food to go are the most challenging at the minute. These three areas are the ones that I will be concentrating more on over the next few months. With limited space it can be difficult to increase your range that you want to provide. Waste is a key factor because you don’t want to go head first into a line and end up wasting a lot of it.
Where I can I try to source value packs. I also have a common area in my shop dedicated predominately for pound lines. It includes some £1 lines like multipack sweets, crisps, and pop, which I think are very popular with shopping mothers. It’s like a promotion bay which is situated in the front of the store near the counter. Those products are very fast moving.
I do use my EPOS system every six months and what I do is any slow selling products I will delist and replace them with other products. Sometimes you find things sell, sometimes they don’t. It’s all about having a good balance and looking at your EPOS data.
Do your sales depend on seasons and weather?
In the summer we can sell pretty much everything. I did invest in a slush puppy machine in the summer period at the beginning of July and in the first three or four days I sold nearly a thousand cups. They went down very well with the kids and the adults, especially when I introduced a vodka slush variation for the adults. I have also got a large fridge in my stockroom which I keep stocked up with the best-selling beers and ciders, so when they are placed on the shelf they are chilled.
Do you ever have customers asking for products they have seen on TV that you know nothing about?
Occasionally I do yes, but to be honest with you I do tend to see a lot of the stuff in the trade magazines or the cash and carries. If somebody does ask for a product that I’ve not seen or heard of I do try to get it in for them, where I can.
Do you get the support that you need from your local police force?
The Police Community Support Officers do pop in when they are in the area to ask how things are. You will always get a bit of aggravation now and then but in terms of where it really felt threatening its been very minimal. It helps that I have good CCTV in the shop, and also telling staff ways to prevent crime, making sure they regularly take money out of the till, doing it discretely and so on. I do use my EPOS tool so if so much money gets into the till it prompts the staff to take the money out of the till.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to your local retailer?
Take time out. The store is our bread and butter but I think you need to have a good balance. Otherwise you can live through your store 24/7. Train your staff so you’ve got good protocol in place and give them knowledge of the products that will be in your store.
When you have promotions, make sure your staff know what products are on promotion and at what price. Look after your customers, if they go away happy 99 percent will come to your store for the good service and value for money.