newspaper, wholesaleRetail Newsagent, 6th January published a letter from Lesley Brown who runs Frankmarsh Store, Barnstable. She has laid down a challenge to the magazine to help resolve the persistent late delivery newspapers at her shop. She says:

‘Our recent challenge has been to try to deliver our papers at an acceptable time to customers. This has proved to be very difficult as our wholesale deliveries get later and later.’

In the past I had significant difficulties caused by a variety of titles at different times. The Smiths News wholesale house at Crawley had a firm approach to newspaper arrivals after the ‘Cut Off’ time. They undertook delivery of the rest of the titles and reran the errant title(s), they told me that it was the only action that they had available to them.

After years of frustration with late newspaper arrival times we developed a strategy for staying ‘stress free’ HND retailers. It took some time, but here are the 12 rules that we use over the past decade or so:

1. Keep the customers informed of late running issues by getting the newspaper delivery staff to delivery a letter from me telling them why we can’t deliver and to come and collect their paper from our shop. We have a set of stock letters covering all the title ready for any failure.

2. Ask the NFRN about who to talk to at the publishers and wholesaler and their contact detail. Keep the NFRN Help Line informed of every failure.

3. Develop a positive relationship with the supply chain, both wholesaler and publishers.

4. Regularly talk to the important/key personnel at the supplying wholesaler, the House Manager & Night Manager and further up the management tree.

5. Discover from the Newspaper wholesaler when the ‘Cut Off’ time is and how they decide what action to take.

6. Use the National Distribution Monitor website to discover how many other newsagents are being affected by the poor arrival times of newspapers.

7. Continually explain why having all the newspapers by the Required Delivery Time is important and what the benefits are and the consequences of a poor delivery time and reruns are.

8. Ask customers to contact the senior managers/directors of the publishers of their newspaper to explain how the service failure affects them and you.

9. Ask publishers and wholesalers to assist in sales development.

10. Never just rant at the supply chain; they are at the beginning and end of the day important business partners.

11. Find different ways of getting the message out to a wider audience. I used a blog, Village Counter Talk where I regularly published items about how the industry ‘fails’ my customers, but today I would make use of Twitter. #DailyMirror_late_again sounds like a good hash tag to me!

12. Be patient, it takes time.

By implementing these rules we didn’t stop reruns, but we did gain a consistent first delivery time that enabled us to have a many years of stress free service.