The Billington’s of Lenzie team was announced as one of the winners of KP Snacks’ Local Legends competition in partnership with C-Store.
Each of the ‘Local Legends’ demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their local communities through lockdown and beyond. Here’s what owners Mark and Sue Billington had to say about their win and why they think they were successful in implementing new processes and meeting consumer needs.
Matt Collins (Matt): Firstly, congratulations. The reason we set up the Local Legends competition was to reward retailers for their resilience during these times, and looking at the role you have played in the community, we are absolutely thrilled to be able to reward and recognise this. Tell us a bit more about what you and your team did during lockdown.
Sue Billington (Sue): We managed to stay open all through lockdown which was a good thing as we are often described as a bit of a hub for the town. Alongside our usual duties, we delivered soup to the elderly and vulnerable who were shielding in the area and introduced care packages filled with everyday essentials that were available for delivery as well.
Mark Billington (Mark): It was just important to be responsive really and be aware of everything that was going on around us. We placed a focus on stocking more everyday items so we could fill the gaps when supermarkets couldn’t cope with the increased demand. Then yes, when people weren’t able to get hold of essentials, we put these packages together and helped deliver them.
Matt: And how did you maintain good service, keep in contact with, and work with people in your community?
Mark: Good service was maintained simply by being reactive to customers needs, we have good reach with social media and a mailing list which made it easy to reach out to our customers and for them to contact us too. We ran Zoom tastings for customers and also used Zoom to keep in touch with all the team to ensure all were coping with the situation and were well informed of changing procedures.
Matt: It’s great to hear you were able to keep in touch with your customers in such difficult times. Why do you think your team was successful in implementing these new processes, particularly in stocking new or more goods and in coordinating deliveries/donations?
Mark: We simply became more reactive to needs - for instance, we worked closely with a local fruit and veg wholesaler to have fresh fruit and vegetables delivered on a daily basis.
Sue: We started a local delivery service too, which proved very popular for customers that were self-isolating. We charged just a small delivery fee of £1 which was donated to Aberlour Children’s Charity which supports children whose lives have been directly affected by Covid-19, and we managed to raise over £500.
Matt: That’s a really amazing contribution. I’d be interested to know, what has been your approach to retaining and rebuilding your own profitable sales?
Mark: We’ve focused on introducing offers and services to rebuild profitability and to ensure that we remain a key part of the community. Once we started delivering the packages, they became really popular, which was excellent for us. Not only were we helping the community, but they were helping us with cash flow and keeping things going. It was a win-win for both sides really.
Matt: It’s great that you were able to do something innovative which helped your business commercially, but still focused on that customer-focused service. What lessons have you learnt from the last six months?
Sue: We have learnt that we have a strong presence in a community who truly appreciate our efforts and continue to support us going forward. We have also learnt that we can be forward-thinking and reactive to changing circumstances in very challenging times.
Matt: What an incredible contribution, on that, we want to finish with saying a big thank you on behalf of KP Snacks for being one of our Local Legends and for what you do for retailing - and we wish you all the very best.