Date

Summer greetings from your new committee. We hope you are enjoying some fine weather, firing up the BBQ, with plentiful supplies from the shop of course!

As a reminder we are: Bridgette Crundwell, Shop Manager; Rosemary Dawbarn, Secretary and Training; Stuart Fox, Accounts & Contracts; Matt Timms, Communications; Mark Tribe, Personnel & Premises and John Cull, Chairman. Not forgetting Mark Dawbarn who is doing sterling work, helping out on a temporary basis with the volunteer rota.

Following the recent AGM, we arranged a Saturday morning away day for the new team in Churchill. We had three very productive hours together to get to know each other better, take part in a team exercise and make some plans for the year ahead. As a result, we are now able to update you with what happened.

Why are we in business?

Our focus remains our customers, volunteers and the local community. With so much competition from local supermarkets and the rise and rise of on-line shopping, it is so important that we remain relevant in the lives of those who support the shop. We have to keep the loyalty of everyone who shops with us while looking to increase daily footfall where we can.

Our Priorities

We have decided the three main priorities are to; increase sales, re-fresh the shop environment and improve our communication.

Sales

Our sales are currently running at around £3000 per week and we would like to increase that by 5%. This equates to 100 customer visits per day spending on average £4.25 per visit. Ideally, we would like to push that to a ‘fiver per visit’ and at our next meeting at the end of August we will be working on more ideas to achieve this. We have also produced our first detailing around 25 ’essentials' price-matched them with the local Co-op. We have also launched our summer promotion; any three Hooky Bitter/Gold for a fiver. (The fiver theme will feature strongly this year!) Our aim is to change the perception that the shop is too expensive or too posh! We also want to work on our ’bottom line’ and I’m pleased to say we operated to a profit in July to the tune of £366, mainly due to keeping an eye on costs and sales margins. This is great news as all profits are ploughed back into the shop for future improvements and replacement equipment as and when we need it.

Environment

We cannot change the location of the shop - ideally we would be bang in the centre of the village - so our challenge will always be to get customers through the door and once we do that to keep them. This we can do by paying attention to the 4 P’s; product, people, processes and presentation.

Product

Now we have Bridgette firmly installed as Shop Manager from Monday to Thursday, I’m sure you will agree that the shop is well stocked and as mentioned keenly priced. However, it needs to shout ’quality’ and that is why we are looking to change our fruit & veg supplier and have fresh supplies, local where possible, supplied six days a week.

People

We have Ascott people serving Ascott people so there will always be a warm welcome. You get more than your shopping at the shop; you get to know what's going on and if you fancy a sit down and a coffee we can provide that too.

Processes

Processes are important; whether it’s a simple to use till system, taking special orders, providing daily newspapers or training new volunteers; we have to make sure we do it right. One concern is the amount of clipboard checklists volunteers need to complete and this is something we are looking at. Bridgette is doing a great job bar-coding our products so that the till team can be confident that when they log on, their needs are being put first.

Presentation

Lastly, we have to make sure the shop lay out and product presentation continues to be attractive and welcoming. We plan to get some new ideas by visiting other village shops and considering where we might make improvements. Although we do make changes from time to time in lay-out, maybe this the right time to take a fresh look and consider doing something a bit more radical. Watch this space! Our aim is to score 11 out of 10 in all 4 P's!

Communication

We have a problem people don’t speak to us. The best communication is two-way and yet we get very little feedback from our customers or indeed, our army of volunteers. We intend to put that right! Matt has taken on the role of communications and we will be looking at a mix of ways you can get in touch with us and we can get in touch with you. We will be mixing social media; face book, web links etc with more traditional methods, i.e. newsletters and AND talking to you to get your views. We will stay focussed on our core group; customers, volunteers and the community ensuring the message is relevant and supports shop sustainability. For the community, we want to make sure that everyone knows we do much more than meeting everyday shopping needs. We already provide a prescription pick-up, ticket sales for village events and in the future we are looking at a parcel call & collect service as well as promotion links to local clubs and activities. We can let you know what is happening in the village by being the central source of timely information.

Immediate plans

What is happening in the short-term?

Plans we have place right now are:

  • A seasonal shop promotion every three months
  • Change to a new fruit and vegetable supplier with emphasis on local produce with fewer air miles
  • Research into shop layouts — watch out for designs on display in the shop this autumn
  • Focus on key financial measures at each management meeting
  • Continuing to communicate how we are doing financially each week
  • Refreshing the ’welcome to the village pack' for newcomers
  • Providing a Shop News every two months
  • Plans for a Grand Christmas event — including a NEW & ENHANCED shop draw (this will be the last month for the current draw).

Spotlight on a Volunteer

We're hoping to catch one of you 'in the act’ for each newsletter. This month's spotlight shines on Nick Carter who works the Friday morning shift. Unfortunately, Nick recently had an argument with a hedge trimmer (ouch!) requiring surgery on his right hand —the one he uses to operate the till buttons. However, never one to let the side down, Nick organised his shift before his appointment at the JR. Nick next time you’re in the shop — come and collect three Hooky beers from our shop promotion as a big THANK YOU from the management committee.

Like Nick, we’re all volunteers, we all play our part and we all want to see the shop prosper. We couldn't do it without you. So, whatever you're doing, enjoy the summer and lets hope it stretches way into September!

John Cull, Chairman