Dan Amin runs less of a store and more of a community hub. As he tells Alex Yau, he’s converted potential criminals into customers and got their children putting their artwork on the walls
Running a store in one of Coventry’s most troublesome areas was always going to be a challenge for Dan Amin. Based in the Stoke Aldermoor council estate, the neighbourhood surrounding his One Stop is notorious for crimes such as shoplifting, violence and antisocial behaviour. According to official police figures, there were more than 550 crimes reported in the area during the year before Dan took over the shop.
“I became the manager of the store in June last year and we instantly experienced trouble,” he says. “We were being bombarded left, right and centre by people who thought they could come in and get away with stealing products and generally causing trouble.
“You can’t stand for this. It’s like someone coming into your own home without your permission.”
Instead of letting his 2,000sq ft store remain a target for antisocial behaviour, Dan decided to take a stand by engaging with the community. His approach was to organise regular events at the store and turn it into a social hub for nearby residents. A funfair was held during the grand opening of the shop to raise awareness of the new ownership, while nearby residents are similarly engaged during the Easter, Halloween and Christmas periods.
“Every year, I like to go the extra mile during events such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas,” Dan says. “For example, last Christmas, we held a bauble-painting competition for children where there was a hamper given to the top three.
“We normally hang what the kids have made on the walls of the shop. The community, especially the parents, get together and we’ve seen antisocial behaviour reduce as a result. Adults will either stop any bad behaviour themselves or notify us – they don’t want all this positivity ruined, or to see the work their kids do destroyed.”
Each community event attracts more than 500 attendees.
We want to stand out with personal service and by giving back to the community
The store’s improved product range over the past year has also benefited disabled and elderly residents. “We don’t just stock the regular convenience store products such as milk, snacks and newspapers or services such as PayPoint,” Dan says. “We have a 10m bay of household goods such as glass plates and stationery. A lot of our customers are elderly and unable to make the bus journey to the nearest supermarket.
“We’re the only convenience store in the area, and it makes a difference because they don’t have to travel far to buy all these essential items.”
Complementing this range is a 1m bay dedicated to international foods from Eastern Europe and Africa. “Many of my customers have come from other countries. The products help us cater to a wider audience and attract more customers.”
The combination of regular community events and a specialised product range has had a positive impact on the store’s financial performance.
Sales have increased year on year by 28%, while basket spend has grown by £3 to an average of £8 per customer.
Having already made a major impact in the community, Dan’s primary focus over the next year is to continue to deliver a personalised service and ensure his store remains the main convenience store for residents in the area.
“Retail is in my blood and I’ve always known customer service is the key to differentiating,” he says. “My grandfather, who opened a convenience store in the 1970s, taught me this and it’s been passed on through the generations.
“There’s no real secret. It’s just about communicating with customers properly and getting to know them on a first-name basis. Staff working at a checkout in a supermarket won’t do this. We’re not about delivering that kind of service. We want to stand out with personal service and by giving back to the community.
Inside my store
- Focusing on categories such as fresh has helped transform customer perceptions of the business
- The store’s open layout and large CCTV monitors help discourage criminals
- Staff are helping the business gain a reputation for great customer service
- Dan Amin has created a community hub for the Stoke Aldermoor council estate