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Since Harjinder and Permjit Basra opened their shop almost 26 years ago, it has gone from strength to strength. Now their boys Ravi and Micky have grown up and are helping to bring fresh ideas to the business, building on the good will the family has nurtured over the decades.
Ravi says the key to the success of the store, which lies in a residential area outside Shrewsbury, is customer service.
“It doesn’t matter how big your shop is or how good it is. Unless you know how to treat your customers you won’t do very well,” he says. “Lots of our customers have seen me and my brother grow up. They know us and they come back again and again to talk to us.”
He knows that speaking to a little old lady in the shop could make her day, and he also knows how much his friends like to come into the shop and taunt him and his brother whenever their beloved Man Utd lose, but it’s all part of building a rapport with your customers and making your store a fun place to visit.
One of the biggest challenges for Harlescott Convenience Store is the threat of the multiple grocers, but Ravi says there are always ways of giving your customers a reason to visit you instead. For many years now they have offered four-pint milk bottles at two for £2 which compares excellently with the nearby Co-op’s price of £1.75 for one. When customers know they can pick up essentials at such bargain prices it gives them a reason to visit.
The shop runs every single promotion Booker does – even the optional ones, so that when customers come in there are always more offers on the shop floor than in the promotional leaflets.
“We send out 2,000 leaflets every month and when people come in the shop they are surprised to see more offers. Then they know there’s always a reason to visit because there might be something on promotion that they really want.”
While many post offices have been closed down in recent years, Harlescott Convenience Store has kept its own one. In a stroke of genius, Ravi and his family decided to use the internet to advertise not the shop but the post office. For £56 a year, whenever someone types ‘post office Shrewsbury’ into Google, theirs is the first name that pops up.
“There are loads of shops, but not many post offices any more, and we get a lot of people coming in to use it and then they see there’s this great shop as well. We’ve put it right at the back so they have to walk past everything in the shop.”
Ravi is a big one for trying things out even if you’re not certain they will work, and one big success has been the hotdog machine, installed after the refit almost a year ago.
“They say that if you sell eight hotdogs a day you will make £2,000 a year, and while it’s leveling off a bit now, so far we have been selling 40 a day. It’s been great and it doesn’t use much in the way of time or overheads.”
Since the shop was refitted, a lot more customers who live in private housing and who have greater disposable incomes have started visiting the shop, hugely boosting the average basket spend.
As a thank you for their customers’ business, they sponsor two local football teams and a rally car driver, and six months ago they celebrated the shop’s 25th birthday by holding a fundraiser for the local community centre.
Ravi says: “Mum and Dad built up the business from nothing and our customers are really pleased for us. But as far as we’re concerned without them we don’t have a business, so we’re really pleased when we can give something back.”
SHOP AT A GLANCE:
Name: Harlescott Convenience Store,
Location: Harlescott, Shropshire
Size: 2,500 sq ft
Opening hours: 7am to 8pm Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm Sunday
Staff: four full time and three part time
Date store opened: October 1986
RAVI’S TOP TIPS:
Always be welcoming and polite and speak to your customers
Make sure your shop has perfect availability
Try something new – don’t be afraid to take a risk
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