As the largest small business retail network in the UK, to mark Small Business Saturday, we’ve spoken to the some of the many entrepreneurial postmasters within our 11,500 strong network for their top tips for small business success.
I’m constantly inspired by the postmasters that are running successful small businesses in diverse locations across the country. All of them are using the Post Office, particularly the footfall it brings in to their shops, to make the businesses more profitable and sustainable.
Take for example Laura Hamilton, presenter from Channel 4s ‘a Place in the Sun’ who took on a Post Office earlier this year. The Lord Robertson on the Green Post Office in Purley was threatened with closure after its owners found a new home abroad. Spotting the business potential, Laura renovated the space into an artisan deli and coffee shop, which is now a must stop destination and thriving business in her local community.
Or Elliot Jacobs, whose entrepreneurial flair was evident from an early age when he was selling computer discs in the school yard. For Elliot, adding a Post Office to his stationery business in 2014, was crucial to the success he has had since then. Quickly expanding to three branches by 2017, each branch has experienced 20-30% growth year-on-year. On the first floor of his Hertford branch, Elliot also runs a co-working space for the benefit of locally-based entrepreneurs and small businesses. Elliot also finds time to mentor young aspiring entrepreneurs as part of his work with Young Enterprise, a leading charity that provides enterprise skills for young people.
Our most successful postmasters take pride in their position as successful retailers at the heart of local communities and their tips and advice they have shared really demonstrates this. There are some really great ideas here and I hope you will agree and find them useful. Share your comments or any tips you have below.
- Charitable benefits. Our business is Dementia Friendly. We’ve found that supporting a national charity with local roots helps a worthy cause and also helps to forge strong new business connections across the community. Nick and Wendy Horler, Bleanavon
- Support other local businesses by sourcing local products. We use bread from the local organic bakery in our tea room and it’s great to be part of a network that supports each other. You have to go the extra mile to get people to shop local. Katie Mace, Leadenham Tea Room
- Be part of the community. The local library in Ashburton is now a part of my business, alongside my shop and Post Office, providing a valuable community service and increasing footfall. It’s given my customers a reason to come back again and again. Stuart Rogers, Ashburton
- Embrace events – I regularly host local events such as first aid training, fitness and ladies nights. This helps to build interest on social media and packs my coffee shop with new potential customers each month. Laura Hamilton, Lord Robertson on The Green in Purley
- Every detail counts – Establish a customer experience that brings your retail brand and offering to life. Then deliver on this with excellence every time as part of each customer interaction. Elliot Jacobs: Hertford, Finchley and Potters Bar
- Employ people with passion that reflect your customer first approach. Trusting my team and providing the right tools for them to excel professionally allowed me to expand from two to four branches. Neal Gurney: Thunder Lane, Acle, Harleston, Framingham Earl and Drayton
- Make the most of social media. A good social presence helps promote your business and stay connected with your customer base and their needs. It’s also a great listening tool too. Adam Phillips, Boscombe East
- Reward loyalty: We’ve launched a ‘VIPea Club’, a loyalty card scheme for our most loyal customers so they can enjoy exclusive offers, rewards and events. If appreciated, your most loyal customers will tell others and send business your way. Even in our digital world, word of mouth is still very powerful. James Debbage, Bergh Apton