Posted: 07/04/2020

No advice needed: High praise for indies’ response to COVID-19

A lot of people are really scared. And while they’re trapped inside, they want good cheese, good charcuterie and just good food – it’s one of the small pleasures we can still enjoy!

Suddenly, more than ever, people are wanting to stock up with smaller retailers, delis and farm shops; they don’t want to go to a supermarket and be exposed to large groups of people. 

So, if you have been on top of your customer service in the last few years, you – hopefully – are reaping the benefits as people realise this is make or break for a lot of small shops.

Jilly Sitch
Guild of Fine Food training manager, Jilly Sitch

So, while I usually use this space to dole out advice, this is a really tough one for me because from what I’m reading and seeing on social media, so many independents are doing exactly the right thing. They’re reinventing themselves by moving online and doing deliveries, and introducing strict social distancing measures. 

People are reaching out to their customers, and doing it brilliantly, and even taking on new customers who are stuck at home and vulnerable. While the supermarkets struggle to deal with the crisis, it is you small independents that are stepping up and serving your communities. 

I think the key thing to learn here is that we may be tapping into things which are going to work long term and help the industry grow. Now you’re set up online, why change that after this all blows over? Areas that you thought you couldn’t venture into before may be possible and profitable. 

If I’m to offer one bit of advice here it would be this: Now is the time to think outside the box! Look at what others are doing, and doing very well from what I’ve seen, and think which of these options would work well for you. And if you’re not busy, use this time to plan for the rest of the year or put a business plan together for Christmas. 

This is the time to make an impression on your new customers. Let people know that it’s businesses like yours that go the extra mile for their customers just because you can. 

And, before I sign off, I’d like to add how immensely proud of our sector I am. We have stepped up to save our peers, help our communities and support those who are trapped in their homes. Keep it up!

Read stories like this and more in the digital edition of Fine Food Digest here.

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