In line with Steve Denham’s articles, my comments on the 5F’s (Fresh, Full, Fair Price, Fast and Friendly) and including an overview are as follows:

Overview

My road trip with Mike Greene and Steve Denham was an amazing day and a real eye-opener in terms of how, despite being in retailing for more than 33 years, there is still opportunity to learn, understand and share in the passionate business that is retailing.

I have always been an admirer of Mike. For his great charity work, his contribution to, and understanding of, retailing and shopper dynamics, and his very personable and down to earth personality.

An opportunity to spend a day seeing his new business operations at My Local was indeed a rare treat and one that I could not miss. Mike operates his business on the 5 F’s – Fresh, Full, Fair Price, Fast and Friendly. His motto is to keep it simple so that “any new staff can understand the core store missions within 5 minutes” with in-depth details provided with further training. So what do these 5 F’s mean for My Local?

Fresh

Fresh is now without a doubt the heart to a successful convenience store. My Local purchases its Fresh products from Nisa and while it is of a quality that is seen in symbol groups, it does not match the superior quality of the multiples. Herein lays the challenge for the symbols and independents on the quality of their fresh and chilled.

If symbol and independents are to win the hearts and minds of convenience consumers, then great strides will need to be made to benchmark the quality and range of the multiples. My Local are immaculate and well-presented stores in key locations, fighting hard to win footfall but slightly hindered by the shortfall on Fresh. The My Local in Windsor has a great food-to-go area with a hot unit and a chilled unit that sells loose cut fruit (from the stores reduced to clear) that customers can fill into a container. The store makes more margin on this than whole fruits!

Full

Availability is a key factor for most convenience stores and My Local is on top of their game to ensure that the customer leaves the store satisfied with his/her basket.

The manager round rings to ensure that there are no gaps on key lines and will even take a drive down to the local cash & carry to ensure availability on the shelf. Individual store managers in local areas will support each other on stocks, ideas and range and best practices including managing waste. Stores have a “Power Hour or Fun Time: Face Up Now” (12 to 2pm and 5pm to 6pm) where staff in the store face up the whole store!

Fair Price

My Local is keen to send out a value massage and has recently lowered prices in line with the Co-op. There has been a further push on lower prices over several ranges and on categories including the very strong lunchtime meal deals (a sandwich, packet crisps and a drink for £3), evening meal solution for £10 and price-points throughout the store.

These offers are supported by great PoS that is produced in house or by an external agency. The My Local in Staines had a basket full of groceries with a message “all this for £6.67”. A great way to get the value message across.

Fast

The My Local that we visited had self-service tills that Mike told us are used by about 40% of his customers. It is quite incredible to see customers using self-scanners when there are no queues at the manned checkout. The My Local philosophy is that more than two people at the till is a queue and assistance is requested. In today’s fast society, a fast and friendly service at the checkout is a prerequisite and My Local is on track on this principle.

Friendly

A friendly, smiling, cheerful person at the checkout is a must for convenience stores and My Local ensure that this ethos is followed through with store managers ensuring proper staffing, uniforms and personalities. The store recruitment process has been much simplified to ensure that staff are recruited locally, quickly and without too much red tape. Most stores advocate the use of Twitter (stores have the birdie cut out logo on shelf hangers) and Facebook and keeping customers informed about their local stores.