I’m back with a bang! Yes, we’re just over half way through the first year of business and it seems a good time to evaluate, focus, re-focus, garner some energy and goodwill and go full steam ahead for the next few months to when we will celebrate our first anniversary in style.
Many thanks for all the good wishes over the last week, in hindsight I think I was overdoing it and once I got a cold and cough, I didn’t stop to take some more care of myself and then it developed into a chest infection. Mum says we need a holiday but when you are self-employed, it can be quite difficult to stop and force yourself to take time out. However, I know that if I put a holiday in the diary, then I will work my schedule around it so that is just what I have done. Rather than risking an enforced ‘holiday’ in the sick bed, I am going to take 5 whole days away from the business in August and Matthew is taking a long weekend in July. Hopefully we’ll be buzzing then having being recharged! Do you find that you find it hard to take time out from your business? If you have any tips, we’d love to hear them. As Dad said, holidays should be an important part of any business plan as they are essential.
We’ve delayed the final edit on our new brochure (which Matthew mentioned last week) for two reasons. One was that we found another two boxes of them at the back of the the stationary cupboard which was great. Another is that one of our competitors on Whisker Street has just closed down so we want to evaluate how we can best attract their loyal shoppers to move to us and then, to stay shopping with us.
Image from Here
Many of them have come to shop here and we’ve definitely seen an increase in turnover as a result. However, we think that as our long term aim is to keep them as loyal customers, returning again and again, we really have to determine their shopping needs and discover how we can best meet them in our own marketing strategies. Are their needs going to be different to our existing clientele? We can’t presume anything at this stage.
When we were building our business plan and evaluating our competitors, we noticed that the Whisker Street shop just wasn’t listening to their customers. Many of them were elderly and seemed to want a more personal and helpful service than was provided, they seemed to return to that shop out of loyalty, fear of change and the delivery service that was offered. We know we offer the personal and helpful service, along with a superb range of cheeses. We have just launched our delivery service and this will also test the waters as to the need of an online shop in the future. Customers can now do their shopping, leave it here while they shop elsewhere and then they can either collect it or it will be delivered to their home that afternoon. Of course, it needed the investment of a refrigerated van but with every cloud is a silver lining as we purchased a very good second hand one from another business that was closing down.
While the online shop will be way into the future if it does happen, we are now advertising our ‘phone and deliver’ service whereby regular customers can telephone us with their order, pay over the phone and we’ll deliver it that afternoon.
One thing for sure though, I am so glad our business plan was thorough when I see so many other businesses closing down. As the saying goes ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ and hopefully we’ve done sufficient preparation to ensure we succeed.
If you would like to read our book which incorporates the thinking behind our business plan, you can purchase a paperback or an ebook of The Cheese Mall online. We’ve been getting great feedback so I hope you find it useful too.