For any retailer worth his salt, store standards have to be the number one priority. Any time you ask a customer what they want, a good shopping environment is right at the top of the list.

The customer journey begins outside the store, so the exterior is the first thing you should look at. We sweep the pavement and empty the bin every morning before opening, and make sure that the windows and fascia are cleaned once a week. At Londis Southwater we have a set cleaning routine, with some jobs done daily, some weekly and some monthly so that the whole shop gets attention.
Inside, it is important that the floor is clean and swept every morning, and that product is well-merchandised, with shelves full and fully faced up. Any POS material should be positioned in a disciplined fashion, not haphazardly.

It needs a lot of commitment and discipline to get it right, but it doesn’t require a lot of investment, and I think good housekeeping should be a priority for even the smallest of stores.

I think it is our high store standards which have helped us to get on the shortlist for the Convenience Retail Awards, and we’re all very excited to be in the running. I have entered many awards over the years and believe that doing so brings a lot of benefits. For one thing, it gives you the opportunity to examine your own business in detail, which you might not do otherwise. And for another, your standards naturally go up as you prepare for the judging visit.

It’s also a great morale boost for the team to be recognised in a prestigious awards programme, and it’s great recognition for us as a business. At our next staff meeting I’ll be telling them that we are in the final of the CRA, but that it is just a start point for getting the business up to the next level. After all, the reason we are here is because we want the store to be the best in the area.

The fifth benefit is possibly the most important, in that awards success can generate great local publicity and more interest from the public and local media. We are a community store and if we do well in awards our customers see it as ‘one of us’ that has won, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for March 19!