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In an industry-first bid to encourage more retailers to offer HND, the Daily Mail has selected six store owners to work with to introduce the service. Last month, as they prepared to start their deliveries, the publisher invited them to London for a masterclass in HND management. Here, Chris Rolfe brings you all the best practice advice from the event, detailing guidance from the team at the Daily Mail, and expert retailers Richard Brighton and David Worsfold
Richard Brighton has been in business for 32 years and serves 4,000 HND customers. From his multi-million pound business, around 74% of revenue comes from newspapers and service charges. He had the following advice for the new HND retailers:
I’d recommend door knocking as the best way to get new accounts, but only in a village environment. You will find about one in three will take you up on your offer.
We do leaflet drops too – you need to in the early days to soften people up. And get in early with leaflets to new housing estates, because once people are used to not having papers, they don’t want them.
Set the right service charge
I charge anything between 30p and 70p per day depending on the locality I’m delivering to. But I think a suitable charge for retailers who are delivering locally on foot would be around 30p per day for weekly customers, 50p per day for Saturday and/or Sunday customers and 35p-40p for customers who pay monthly.
Offer fantastic service
I would offer free delivery during the initial promotional period because you have to establish yourself. We tell people that, to make sure they’re happy, we’ll give them 12 week’s free service. After that, check if customers are satisfied. Ask if they have any requests and act on them. If people say ‘Please don’t bring your van up my drive as you’ll wake me up’, don’t, because it will be the end of the account if you do.
Manage your newspaper supplies
If you have a growing HND business it would be disastrous to be short of copies, because you are claiming to offer a superior service. We order our papers from the wholesaler by 10am every day and tell them what we want. This ensures we are never short.
Be strict with news deliverers
This is your livelihood so you have to be strict. I’ve lost 2-300 customers in my time through employing kids who have, between them, pinched milk, ridden on lawns, bashed their bikes against customers’ cars or changed the order of their rounds. It’s a 7am start and if they are late, I’ll fine them or let them go.
David Worsfold bought his store in 1998, after working in it with his father since 1982. He delivers to 1,000 HND customers, making 4,500 drops per week via a team of adult van deliverers. He had this advice for the retailers at the event:
Make HND a professional, standalone business
When I bought my business, HND was an add-on to the shop, so I separated it completely. I wanted to be professional, to make money out of my service charge and for it not to matter if people come into the shop to pay or not.
I’ve just put my charges up from £3.10 to £3.25 for seven days a week and charge 60p per day for Saturdays or Sundays, because I’m in an affluent area. We offer a good service and that’s what people pay for. You make your money on service charges, which cover all your costs.
If deliveries are late, run without them
If there are any problems with late deliveries, I’ll hold on for half an hour then run without them. We will send papers out without supplements if they are late, and if customers complain we ask them to ring the publisher. I have Twitter, Facebook and email, so I can tell my customers if we have any problems.
Micromanage your deliveries
We pre-assemble the papers, parcel them up with delivery sheets and have boxes on some gates for people. It saves time going in and out of drives, so deliverers can make 60-70 drops per hour rather than 40-50, which is a winner when you pay by the hour. We micromanage our routes, planning to always drop off on one side of the road, for example, so the driver doesn’t have to get out into traffic.
Encourage payment by vouchers
We encourage people to use vouchers, which tie them into our shop. It also helps with cashflow, as vouchers get credited within 10 days, whereas customers might not pay for eight weeks – I do around £2,000 of vouchers per week.
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