Being at the heart of your community is obviously of great benefit to your business but by engaging with local youngsters, perhaps even offering work experience, will build stronger ties at more levels.
We are working to support the business and our community by engaging with children in our local area.
We started by speaking to some schools to see if any kids wanted training and work experience and have had a couple of girls come and work with us as a result.
It’s been good for them because this will provide them with someone who can give a good reference, but it’s been a great experience for us too.
I used our existing training system – getting the last person employed to train up the newest recruit – which worked well because it helped to build my staff’s leadership skills.
I’ve learned a lot about the legal requirements regarding working with children. We have had to be careful, making sure health and safety procedures are followed, for example.
I was pleased to find that because this was an area I’ve already focused heavily on, we were on top of the legal requirements already.
Because the girls were younger than my normal staff it made me realise that I needed to adapt the way we work for them.
We can’t expect them to do the same work in the same time, for example.
We normally do our deliveries as quickly as possible, skipping lunches and breaks to finish them, but you have to bear breaks in mind with younger people.
It’s reminded me that there is more to this job than just the work we do.
Also, it’s helped me to go back to basics in the shop, because these kids are customers too and I could ask them their opinions on the shop.
Now I want to put on some workshops and have spoken to a college nearby about doing lectures.
I’ve also been approached by a school to do a workshop and would like to get my business customers involved, to talk about their businesses.
They run a music school, salons and accountancy firms, for example.
One of our customers is a chartered surveyor and they are doing a youth enterprise scheme, with tutoring, which is quite a high profile thing, so I’ve spoken to them about how we can help or supply things for this.
We could help teach the kids about doing inventories and managing prices, for example.
Working with children in this way is a new thing for us, but it’s something I would like to do long term.
Even if you just help one child or parent it’s worth it. It’s a way of giving something back to the community, but I have to admit that we we’re doing it for the business too.
Through working with kids we can build long-term loyalty to the shop from them and their families.
Now the schools are finishing for the summer break I’m also thinking about how I can run promotions on basics such as bread and milk during the holidays.
And I’ve spoken to suppliers because I want to change the range I offer for kids’ lunches.
I want to look at healthier options such as small portions of fruit so we’re not just selling sweets for lunch boxes. It’s helped because the schools have given us guidelines about what’s allowed.
These might seem strange products and promotions to focus on now, but when customers go to Tesco to buy kids’ uniforms for the new term in September, they will see great deals there, so if we put on our own offers now this will remind them about the great service we offer.