Poor service will send Guildford shops to the wall
Surrey’s longest-standing independent business networking group, the BEST Business Group, this week sounded a stern warning to the failing standards of service in town centre shops in the county.
At a breakfast symposium on the state of our town centres, the 15 members warned that shops would fail, if they did not differentiate themselves from the internet and make shopping a positive and enjoyable experience.
“The overwhelming problem is the crass, unprofessional service offered too often,” said Laurie Rogers, acting chairman of BEST and managing director of marketing company, The Brandmakers.
“Parking is a headache in towns like Guildford, Godalming and Dorking and expensive. In France it’s free, but that’s not the main issue. Shops are their own worst enemies as they need to offer an altogether better experience.
“Too often the assistants don’t know their stock and don’t want to serve. By contrast, in a country like Germany their counterparts have to do two years training to work in a shoe shop, so they are really knowledgeable about feet, materials and stock.
“In Surrey frequently, alas, there’s a lack of passion and personal responsibility, which is very sad as our High Streets are the centre and soul of our towns and shops have to provide added value to visitors. If they fail to heed this warning, people will simply vote with their feet and the shops will go to wall.”
The BEST Business Group members come from all over Surrey and represent firms dealing in: law, property, accountancy, investments, banking, medicine, travel, landscape design, construction, plumbing, marketing and PR.
They agreed that excellent service will always beat low prices as in the case of Bells family butchers in Haslemere, which has been successful for 50 years in the town, but competes with two nearby supermarkets. Their secret? Service, professionalism and expertise.
Laurie Rogers concluded: “We at BEST agree that there is the hassle of parking charges and traffic, but people will overlook these, if the shopping experience is exceptional.
“It’s not too late but shops in Surrey have got to raise their game, otherwise people won’t bother and will just buy everything online or go up to London.”