It seems that The Government has invited TV Retail Guru, Mary Portas, to host a working lunch of Industry Leaders next month to seek answers to why the British High Street continues it's decline.
In recent weeks Bolton Town Centre has witnessed the disappearance of Sweetens Bookshop and Nelsons Shoes, two businesses long established in Bolton and well known to many local people.
While many will lament the loss of these businesses, one cannot help but wonder how many of those people recently visited either?
It's true that it is a shame and as a small business owner myself, I empathise with those businesses and can't help feeling that it is exactly those sort of businesses that should be leading the revival of our town centres, Local Independent Businesses, thriving alongside the larger, national chains but it wont happen without a lot of hard work, imagination and assistance.
While Mary Portas meets with Industry Leaders to thrash this out, locally professionals should be identifying great businesses, long standing businesses, those well known and trusted businesses and getting along side them to help them, not only to survive but to prosper in these uncertain times.
Business cannot be conducted by anyone, in the way it was even 18 months ago!
I believe the reason some of our best loved businesses are disappearing is that, invariably, they are older, longstanding businesses that have not recognised the changing trends, to some level have been complacent and in the end have simply been consumed by rising debt due to loosing their market share.
This is not entirely to be unexpected, let's face it, if our business was long standing, known in the town for providing a good product with good service, always done well without much in the way of marketing or advertising and most customers came, we thought, by 'word of mouth', then why would we be expected to notice small changes in our financial performance? After all, the business had survived many previous recessions.
Many local independent business owners are swamped by the myriad tasks they are expected to perform; Sales, marketing, personnel, accounting and that's before any work is done to deliver the product or service core to the business. So it's not surprising that when times get tough, mostly only essential tasks are maintained and business owners can become blinkered, missing the signs financial decay until it's too late.
If we want to ensure the survival of our High Streets and those unique independents that make them what they are, then those of us in the Business Services sector must role our sleeves up and be prepared to get involved.
At thebestof bolton and many other 'bestof' communities around the country, we are looking for those local independent businesses that come by recommendation, those known to provide great products and services, delivered through exceptional 'Customer service' and then work with them to 'SHOUT' about the fantastic things they do, making that 'Word Of Mouth' marketing they think they enjoy really work for them.
Also those business owners need to pick up their heads and look around, see what's happening around them in their business sectors and their towns and be prepared to give people a customer experience they won't get anywhere else, providing products and services people will be prepared to go out of their way to have, if only they knew they were available.
Yes, we are experiencing a recession the like of which most of us have never known before but running parallel to it is a change in the way business is being delivered, unknown since the industrial revolution!
The internet is here and like it or not, going to be around for the foreseeable future and with it, e-mail and 'social media' offers a method of communicating with others both in your area and around the world so revolutionary that traditional methods of going about your business just aren't good enough today, tomorrow or any time into the future.
If you are worried about the future of your business, know you need to do something but not sure where to start, contact 'thebestof bolton' and let us tell you how we might help or contact 'Business Bolton' http://www.businessbolton.org/ the Councils business support department to see what's available at little or no cost.
BUT whatever you do, don't bury your head in the sand, batten down the hatches and hope your business will still be around when things start to get better because by then you might just have missed the boat!
Member since: 4th July 2012
I am David Ramsden, owner of thebestof bolton.