Serving customers is an honour and a privilege says new columnist, Premier retailer Dan Cock

About five years ago the shop in our village was in a bad way and one evening, when talking to some friends, the subject of the store came up. Naturally, we chatted about how we would “do it better” if we got our hands on it. Four years later, here I am, operating Premier Whitstone Village Stores, near Bude, in Cornwall.

Since taking over the business in 2007, we’ve carried out extensive modernisation and refurbishment, allowing us to introduce a much wider range of general groceries, in addition to local produce, hot food to go, off licence and many other products and services, including a Facebook page which we update daily, and online shopping and home delivery.

Having had no previous retail experience, I had a lot to learn. I found talking to other retailers as well as suppliers’ reps and, of course, reading Convenience Store, a great help. So to think I am now being asked to share my experiences and knowledge here is a great honour.

What I realised early on was to centre everything I did around the most important factor in retailing: the customers. We all know that without them we are nothing, but so much more can be gained if we listen to them properly. Find out what they want, what they like and don’t, and treat them as you would expect to be treated. In essence, roll out the red carpet for them.

This is definitely appreciated and they will come back and give you a much greater share of their weekly spend.

Love of the job helps, too. I truly feel that it is a privilege to serve my customers and they detect this. If yours do, too, and provided that the rest of your offering isn’t too far off the mark, you’ll be just fine.

If they like what you’re doing they’ll also take care of your marketing. After all, there’s no greater form of advertising than word of mouth.