There are many benefits to winning an Independent Achievers Academy award.

Some are obvious: it gives you kudos among your peers; it’s great PR to share with customers and local press; and the success will motivate staff and show them their hard work makes a difference.

Meanwhile, suppliers, symbol groups and retail organisations will want to work with you, test new ideas in your store and use you to represent their brands.

This year’s retail innovation category winners, Bob and Sue Young, discovered a less obvious benefit. A local estate agent told them a prospective buyer listed their criteria as a south-facing garden and being within walking distance of the Youngs’ award-winning Robin Hill Stores. The agent told the buyer they had no properties that matched both criteria. They chose Robin Hill Stores.

Not only does the store create a centrepoint for the village and improve residents’ quality of life, Bob and Sue actively promote their award wins and, following a recent article in The Times, believe an award winning store can add £10,000 to village property prices. Talk about giving something back to your community.

Whether you are based in a rural village, or have even won an award, what can you learn from Bob and Sue? For a start, tell other local businesses, especially estate agents, about your store. Find out about new potential customers who have moved to the area and market your store and services to them. You could even send a welcome gift basket showcasing the great produce you sell.

Happy Christmas from all the RN team. I hope you enjoy a rest or a cracking trading period, depending on your plans, and see you on the 27th for the final issue of the year.