Community service – Academy in Action with Booker

Contributing to your local area increases awareness and drives loyalty. The IAA's Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski and Booker's Martyn Parkinson met Robert Kirkwood.


  • Name: Robert Kirkwood
  • Shop: Premier Express Corner Shop
  • Location: Cowdenbeath, Scotland
  • Size: 470sq ft
  • Staff: Two full-time, one part-time

Contributing to your local area increases awareness and drives loyalty. The IAA’s Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski and Booker’s Martyn Parkinson met Robert Kirkwood to find out more

Robert’s Challenge:

Robert is making a great contribution to his community, helping many customers in need, but now he needs to spread this message.

Robert says:

“I want to get feedback on what I can do better – what I’m not doing and should be. I’m already supporting local events but I want to enhance the profile of my shop now. I know I should use social media but am not sure how. I think it’s time to look at this area of the business in more depth, so I’m glad to have the IAA and Booker share their advice.”

IAA advice:

1. Share what you’re doing to get coverage in local papers

Robert has already developed very strong ties with some customers, helping out those in need. He contacted the wife of a dementia sufferer, for example, after discovering that he was visiting the store multiple times a day to buy lottery tickets. Another who is suffering from terminal breast cancer, cannot afford to have her house correctly modified. Robert has put up a premium bottle of vodka for a raffle in his shop and has already raised £180 in two weeks. Martyn believes this is a great example of community retailing and suggests creating an event when the final figure has been reached to give the customer any funds raised. “Invite your local paper to the shop, it’s exactly the kind of story they love to cover.”

Action: Contact the local paper to share the great (community) work you’re already doing

2. Share photos and videos and events you partake in

Robert has tried intermittently to use social media but it hasn’t been a priority for the business so far. He feels that to “drive his business forward” it’s is something he should now develop. Martyn agrees: “It’s a great way to find out what your customers care about and what’s going on in the community.” He adds that Premier are about to run a series of workshops for social media that could give Robert the skills and advice he needs. “We’re inviting all of our Premier customers to spend some time with our digital team – it’s about setting up a shop’s Facebook account and then looking at the content that consumers will be looking for and will get views and likes.”

Action: Attend Premier social media workshop to learn how to share engaging photos/videos

3. Research clubs, schools and organisations to support

One benefit a good social media presence can provide is finding clubs and societies in the community retailers can work with. “Social media can show which clubs, organisations and charities are active in the community you’ve not come into contact with,” says Martyn. “It’s important to ask customers what they want, what’s important to them and use this to have a conversation with your community and see how to get involved.” Robert already sees a lot of weekend trade from cyclists. There are a number of clubs in the area and catering to their needs could increase sales and loyalty. Martyn suggests trialling high-margin premium-priced protein and healthy products to make his shop a destination.

Action: Ask customers what’s important to them so you can tailor your offers

Partner advice:

“It’s fascinating to see somebody new to the industry who embraces the community so much. It’s now about how we package this to spread the message a little further. He’s such a humble guy who would probably rather do it under the radar but he’s starting to realise by talking about it he can increase his footfall and start to attract more customers.

Martyn Parkinson, Brand Director, Premier

pencilYour action plan:

  • Go to betterretailing.com/IAA to download the free tools to improve your shop
  • Call 020 7689 0600 (Option 3) to find out how you can take part in a future visit from one of our partners
  • To benchmark your shop, download your free digital copy of the IAA’s Retail Profit Guide.

Our retail toolkit is packed with useful tools and resources to help you grow your sales and profits, including the Retail Profit Guide.


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