Throughout the course of running and then selling my business I spoke to many different experts whose help and advice was invaluable to me.

The key reason we thought that a Post Office could work in our shop was the launch of the 'combi-counter'.  This is a screen-less PO that would be part of the main shop. I was privileged to see a presentation about this 'new' development more than 12 years ago and immediately thought that it could work in our type of shop.

I had a meeting with Post Office Ltd's Rural Transfer Advisor a couple of years later. Our neighbouring Post Office was not for sale at that time as the owner had only bought it a year or so before.  However we still talked through the process of buying a Post Office and of how a modernisation might work which proved to be both interesting and useful.

The next expert was our local district councillor who also happened to be a regular patron of the shop.  He was the chairman of the council planning committee so I regularly talked to him about our plans and opportunities. When I mentioned that we were considering an extension to the shop he arranged for a planning officer to visit us. The visit certainly smoothed the way forward as I was able to get a positive response to our idea of building on to the front of the shop. The only real concern was that we should ensure that the extension was built in similar materials to the rest of the premises.

By the time we needed to move towards a planning application the third expert, our architect, had retired, but he put us in touch with another who took our design scheme drawing through the planning application to permission.

All the way through the process from coming up with the idea to develop our shop to its completion and beyond we regularly talked another expert, our bank manager. We were most fortunate to have the same man in this role from 1996 through to 2007. It meant that he knew our business very well so when we wanted to apply for a loan he was incredibly supportive.

Next came selecting a good builder. Here our customers were very helpful in coming up with some names of who to invite to quote for the work. We had five on our list, but only three quoted as the others could not do the work within our time frame. Each builder we spoke to added to the knowledge we had about the process.

We also talked to a local estate agent and a commercial surveyor, both of whom were customers of our shop. Talking to them acted as a check on whether it made sense to invest in an extension to our shop.

In part 3 I take a look at the development we undertook.