OPINION: Lots of little things make a big difference – Bay Bashir, Belle Vue Convenience (Go Local), Middlesbrough

'There’s not a quick, overnight fix, but you have to start somewhere. It’s not one single thing, it’s 25 things'

There are all sorts of challenges facing the country, including cost-of-living, wages, inflation and rising energy bills. With a combination of issues, we have to ask where can we get that money from. We can, of course, increase prices, but if we’re going to do that, we have to increase what we’re offering, whether that’s customer service, deliveries or availability.

The staff understand that if the store is at risk, their jobs are at risk. We need to drive sales and go that extra mile for customers, whether it’s helping pick out a product or taking five minutes to talk to them. These are things I’ve always done, but it’s important now more than ever. The long-term effect of what we’ve done over 25 years has meant we’ve not been hit too hard. Our sales are strong, but that’s because our work in the community over a number of years has been really good.

There’s not a quick, overnight fix, but you have to start somewhere. It’s not one single thing, it’s 25 things. Little upgrades you can make will have an impact. Get the staff and shop looking the best they can, improve cleanliness and presentation, improve customer service, and make sure your staff appreciate the store as much as you appreciate them. These things don’t cost a lot, but they mean a lot. Customers won’t come into a store full of miserable faces. It’s about putting things to one side, putting on a smile and giving the best service you can.

We’re all doing our bit, but everyone’s got their own challenges at the moment. I’ve got to make sure my staff are in the right place to come to work. The more you look out for them, the more they look out for you. If staff look down, I try to see and I ask them about it and see if I can make them feel better. It might be inconvenient to give them time off, but they’ll give you the benefit next time.

It’s a total team effort and looking out for every detail. If the staff are performing at a high level, then we get more customers and increased sales revenue, so it’s about getting the best and most cost-effective solution. It’s not one thing, it’s accumulated things. So, at the start of the day, clear your mind and get in the right place to do your job. You’ll know if someone isn’t on the right level, so just ask the question. You might be able to make a difference or, at the very least, you show that you care.

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