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Customer satisfaction, range and great value are high on Syed Haider’s agenda. And by helping to curb anti-social behaviour and supporting local causes, the Glasgow retailer has secured his place in the community. Steven Lambert reports
They say charity begins at home but for Syed Haider, this starts at his convenience store and spreads out to the entire community around him.
The owner of Day-Today in Cathkin, Glasgow, splits his time between running an award-winning shop that is focused on offering the best value possible to shoppers, helping to curb anti-social behaviour and supporting local good causes.
Despite only taking over the 1,000sq ft business 18 months ago, Syed has grown average weekly turnover from £4,000 to £20,000 and also scooped the Today’s Symbol Store of the Year award in March.
But for him, the most important part of his job is ensuring his customers are satisfied. He says: “We do regular customer surveys and we will always ask them for their thoughts before we make changes or bring in new products.
“We’ve also tried to make sure that we offer them everything they’re looking for.”
Syed has achieved the latter through a £250,000 investment in the store over the past 12 months, leading to a major refurbishment and the addition of new product ranges and services.
He says: “I wanted to introduce things that we didn’t have, like frozen food and fresh fruit and veg, which we now have.
“When suppliers saw what we had done more of them wanted to work with us, and this has allowed us to take on other services like PayPoint and the Lottery.”
Located close to a mix of council and private housing, Syed says finding value for money products is one of the most important considerations for many residents.
He has met this demand by offering a combination of Today’s monthly promotions and a large selection of his own deals.
“We have bottles of Irn Bru at £1.49 compared to £1.85 at the supermarkets and a two for £2.50 deal on Coke all year round.
“We also have milk and free range eggs at £1, and we now have a dedicated £1 range. We buy products cheaply and we sell them cheaply – instead of taking 40% margins, we’re taking 10% to 15%.”
It’s a far cry from the early days of the business, which suffered due to high levels of anti-social behaviour taking place around it.
Syed decided to tackle the issue head on, installing a state-of-the-art infra-red CCTV system inside and outside the store to deter loiterers. He also signed himself up to a community board consisting of police, councillors and the local MP.
He says: “When we started, the front counter used to be covered with a cage and we would get four to five people hanging about outside and it drove people away. So one day I told them they were barred and provided police with hi-res CCTV images of them.
When suppliers saw what we had done more of them wanted to work with us, and this has allowed us to take on other services like PayPoint and the Lottery
“Now the situation is much better and if we do have trouble, we call the police immediately and they get here quickly.”
This commitment to the community goes even further, with Syed providing free fruit and water to schoolchildren at the nearby Cathkin primary school as part of a healthy-living drive. He also makes regular donations to local initiatives, most recently handing a £200 cheque to volunteer group the Golden Girls and £250 to the church.
“We don’t do it to promote the business, we just want to help out where we can,” says Syed.
Looking ahead, Syed said he is keen on making further changes to his business and will also increase his social media presence through a dedicated Facebook page for it.
“I’m looking to change the layout of the store again and I’ll be getting some opinions from our customers on that.
“With the Facebook page, I’ll be posting our deals and new products, and I’ll also use it to find new charities which we can work with.”
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