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In February, the National Federation of SubPostmasters launched a team to help postmasters develop their retail offer.
Three months in, RN asked Troy Gardner and David Gold how it is supporting businesses around the UK.
RN: You recently launched a retail team to support subpostmasters. Tell us about that.
Troy Gardner: It’s a team that works nationwide to help subpostmasters with their retail offer, split into areas of expertise such as cards and gifts, convenience and stationery. We began visits in February and have done about 80 so far. We also pass on knowledge through seminars and workshops and plan to launch webinars too.
RN: What support does the team offer? TG: There are around 11,500 post offices in the UK and we are working with companies that can help them. We’re working with a merchandising company, shop fitters, and a commercial property consultant. We’re talking to companies about food-to-go offers too. There are such a vast array of companies retailers can work with – we want to remove some of the legwork for them.
David Gold: We also help people save money. We’ve met with the Carbon Trust, for example.
RN: How do the store visits work? TG: We do a retail health check where we walk through the business with the postmaster and talk about everything from the pavement to the back office, then about things they can add, like card stands. We break it into three stages: quick wins, work that doesn’t cost much and things that cost more but will reap more rewards.
DG: Part of it is making the most of each metre, so we look at the range and what each bay is doing. In general, the biggest opportunities will always be cards and stationery. Often it’s doing what you already do, but better.
RN: What have you learned from the store visits?
DG: Retailers often just want a fresh opinion. They’ll say they’ve been meaning to change the floor changed for two years, for example, and have finally done it – it’s that little prod that motivates them. It’s important to see your business through your customers’ eyes, or get a fresh opinion. The biggest mistakes we see are on windows, gondola ends and pricing. Your shop needs to reflect where you are. We saw a fantastic post office, but the outside didn’t reflect the village it was in, which is why locals weren’t coming in.
RN: How important is education to the retailers you’re working with? TG: Wherever you are in your retail career, education is important. Great retailers go out of their way to learn more. It’s about taking time out to work on and for your business. When I worked for the Post Office we provided workshops which focused on working in, on and for your business and on social media. We want to start something along these lines in the next couple of months. Then we’ll do more specialist things too, like looking at cards and breaking down different areas of convenience.
RN: What else can postmasters expect to see from your team this year? TG: We’re launching a design and project management initiative called Concept 2 Conclusion for postmasters who want to refurbish their post offices. We’re also looking to help retailers offer a choice of products they wouldn’t get from the cash and carry, so we’ve spoken to a company called Fine Food Angels, for example. We also we want to help new postmasters with their plans to buy post offices. And we plan to produce our own point of sale so postmasters can brand their own unaffiliated businesses.
Company: National Federation of SubPostmasters
Commercial director and retail team lead: Troy Gardner
Retail consultant: David Gold
Profile: Set up three months ago to help subpostmasters develop their retail offering, the NFSP retail team conducts store visits, liaises with suppliers and is set to launch education programmes via seminars and workshops.
Latest news: The team is launching a design and project management initiative called Concept 2 Conclusion for postmasters who want to refurbish their post offices.
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