On 7 May this year the country will go to the polls in a general election. I have been receiving a regular flow of campaigning literature from the perspective candidates as well as the current MP. But as the candidates take to the streets to speak to constituents, make sure you know what you want to talk to them about.

Top 5 topics to question candidates on:
  1. What affects your local community and the implementation of the Localism Act.
  2. Employing staff and whether or not the support that smaller businesses have been getting recently will continue and develop.
  3. Crime and how it affects your business.
  4. Tobacco control and the illicit trade.
  5. The economy and the ongoing control of inflation.

Graham Hales, of Cosham newsagent, told me that the Ukip candidate for Portsmouth North visited his shop and talked about the challenges facing high street retailers. Graham knows his area well and was able to talk about the issues that face independent retailers in Cosham. He covered free car parking, business rates, rent, public transport and the local community he serves. He added that he felt Cosham was held back by being hemmed in by the M27 and M275, as there is no provision for pedestrians or buses to easily get past these ‘obstructions’. Graham was specifically talking about the challenges that face his neighbourhood.

General elections are a great opportunity for independents to talk to their perspective MP. Community-based convenience stores should be high on candidates’ list of places to visit. My wife and I were visited in our store during every election campaign that occurred in the years that we ran our business. I always had my manifesto of ideas to discuss from tobacco control to employment, from the health of the economy to education.

To make the most of the opportunity that the General Election presents to our channel, you need to think about your manifesto and be fluent about the points you wish to get across. If you get more than five or ten minutes, you will be incredibly lucky. Also, send an invitation to the candidates you want to see visit you in your store so that their minders can add this to their canvasing plan.

Good luck with this and hopefully you will keep up the relationship with the candidate that becomes your MP in the new Parliament.

Have you spoken to any election candidates about your business? Let us know how it went.