Nearly forty guests, representing thirty three different local businesses and organisations, attended "It's Thursday with The Best of Haverhill" at The Days Inn Haverhill. The guest speaker was the Haverhill Town Centre Manager, Tina Hanks, who launched a Haverhill Town Centre survey.
Tina explained how the idea for the survey had been formulated. The presence of a Tesco store in the town had set her thinking about the valuable lessons that small independent retailers could learn from the highly successful supermarket. Just one or two marketing hints and tips from Tesco which could be adapted by local businesses could be of real benefit.
Tina approached her contact at Tesco who was receptive to her ideas. Tesco were eager to put something back into the town in return for the welcome they had received from the community.
Through Tesco Tina was introduced to Dr Andrew Fearne, Professor of Food Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Kent Business School. Dr Fearne has responsibility for directing and developing Tesco’s customer relationship programme via their Club Card loyalty scheme.
Although Dr Fearne’s work to date has focused on individual retailers he was keen to be involved with a project that would work with a collection of businesses, such as a town centre.
Following several meetings with Dr Fearne Tina invited a cross section of local retailers, businesses, business support agencies and the two upper schools to form a Partnership group. The aim of the group was to develop a programme which could be adopted by them and others in the future to help their businesses. It was agreed at the initial meeting in June that a survey should form the starting point of any activity as any real information on what people actually thought about the retail and service offer in Haverhill was not available.
The survey has been developed over the summer months with input from the Partnership group and Dr Fearne. The aim now is to distribute the survey form far and wide and obtain as many responses as possible between now and 30th November 2010.
Tina comments, “As a group we are looking for the support of local businesses to help us to get this survey out there. Businesses can help by creating awareness with their employees, providing a link on their website to the St Edmundsbury Borough website, encouraging their customers to complete the survey and even emailing it out, in pdf format, to their databases. The survey will be available in paper format at various locations in the town including the Arts Centre, Leisure Centre, library and the Council offices. The simple form can be completed online. I will also be spending a Saturday or two on a stall in the market encouraging local people to complete the form.
We are offering an incentive of £100 of shopping vouchers, kindly donated by various businesses in the town, to encourage people to complete the survey.”
If you would like to help distribute the survey please contact Tina Hanks on 01440 765100.
The aim is to provide a snapshot of what visitors and shoppers feel about the current offer. Once the data has been collected and analysed we will invite the Town Centre Manager to another Best of Haverhill business meeting, probably in the spring, to present the findings of the survey.
The business card draw prize of a floral arrangement, prepared by Best of Haverhill business member Blooming Lovely Studios, was won by Mick Smith from HAVO.