6 lessons to learn from a successful community event

Independent convenience retail

The Sherston Boules Day is the biggest event in my villages calendar and it has a big impact on my business. I know that if Gail and I manage it well we will have a successful day. Here are the lessons that we have learnt since we took on the village shop.

1) My people:

Having the full backing of your employees is key to having a successful event.  We ask the majority to work extra hours to help us get through the day.  Whilst we generally limit this to a 4 hour shift (to enable them to share the experience of the event) it nevertheless represents a sacrifice of their time, which would leave us in a precarious position if they did not participate.

2) My Community:

Don’t be greedy! Locals know we enjoy a good days trading.  They also expect that some of this is “given back”.  We do this by sponsoring medals and prizes and being the “hub” for all advertising and many other requests.  In addition, we DO NOT increase prices of drinks and ices for the day to take advantage of “strangers being in town”.  There are also a lot of locals who attend!  Done correctly it helps us cement relationships with the community, but could easily backfire if you are perceived to be greedy.

3) Managing risks:

New dangers emerge for such events that don’t normally arise, e.g. danger of under-age sales of cigarettes and drink and theft.  We feel it is wiser to sacrifice profit at the expense of vigilance.  We place all stimulant drinks on the top shelf and place “over 16 signs” alongside.  We are very very careful not to sell under-age products (booze is available on the High Street plus the Village Hall and 2 pubs – why come to us unless it is for a bar-b-que?)

4) Managing stock and resources:

Remember that stocks require to be housed prior to the event.  In this regard, we purposely start to rationalise our ices and drinks offering/run down our frozen food stocks and clear out the spare shed to accommodate other items a good month before the event.

5) After the event:

Don’t forget the clearing up and re-stocking!  At the end of a long hard day, it is nice to have some help!!

6) Make notes:

Finally, always keep notes and statistics of previous year’s accounts and get the opinion of staff regarding what went well and what could be improved.  Invaluable when you start the planning again 10 months later!! (or in the case of securing the ice cream freezer 6 months before it is loaned out elsewhere). For example, sales of toilet rolls and air freshener rocket the week before as people prepare to accept guests for a few days!

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