It cannot be easy to see your business devastated by flood water,  and undoubtedly heartbreaking to see the business you have worked so hard to develop  washed away through no fault of your own.

With an understandable desire to get the business back into operation as quickly as possible there is often limited time available to consider whether or not changes to the internal layout of the shop might deliver new business opportunities.

But if you are starting again with a relatively blank canvas do not rush  to reinstate what was there before. An opportunity exists to address layout issues that might have previously impacted negatively on the way customers  ‘shopped the shop’ . Careful placement of replacement shelving might help alter the way  customers circulate; identifying and maximising the impact of new selling hot-spots can help generate additional sales and improving merchandising techniques is easier when you are having to stock the shelves from scratch.

It might even be practical to relocate the counter, just because things have always been in a certain position does not mean that they are in the best position for your business in the future.

Identifying new opportunities, on top of everything else required to get the business up and running again, might deliver some challenges, but it is time that could be well spent.

We would be only too happy to discuss with you how our extensive expertise could help ensure that opportunities are not missed and help identify the silver lining available for your business in the future

This year has not been the best  for footfall and revenue generation at many attractions.  The negative impact of the Olympics on incoming tourism , unforgiving weather conditions and the ongoing gloom over the economic climate all contributing to a severe downturn in attendance figures across the sector.

Taking time out to look at your attraction from an impartial viewpoint, particularly that of the customer,  is never easy and certainly one of the major challenges facing retailers in their fight for survival on our high streets.

Applying his extensive business development skills, understanding of how customers perceive and use space and wide marketing expertise our ‘Shop Doctor’ can bring a refreshing insight into identifying issues impacting on business performance at visitor attractions.

Looking at an attraction through  a fresh pair of eyes can provide an insight into the business that may not have previously been considered. Link this to recommendations as to how to improve the way the attraction interfaces with the customer, ideas to improve catering or retail efficieny and suggestions regarding routes to effective diversification the outome could prove very stimulating. 

If you are considering how to revitalise your attraction in time for 2013 now might be a good time to talk to Let’s Talk Shop.  Our skills are not just orientated towards retail development alone, they are transferable into any business where direct customer interface and delivery of high levels of customer service are critical to maintaining existing levels and, ideally, attracting increased and profitable attendance in the future.

The Shop Doctor is currently working on a project  to assist Cheshire East Council identify opportunities to improve the shopping experience in the ten market towns involved in the Love Local Life Loyalty Card initiative.

The Shop Doctor is assessing the physical experience of shoppers in the towns  and also evaluating the effectiveness of their on-line presence and how it might be more effectively utilised to attract increased shopping activity to each of the towns.

The final report will highlight issues  impacting on the shopping experience and propose recommendations that will help inform future initiatives to help maintain and develop retail vibrancy in towns across the County.

The towns involved are Alderley Edge, Alsager, Bollington, Congleton, Disley, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Middlewich, Sandbach and Wilmslow.

A further 15 towns have been identified today to receive funding to help implement some of the Mary Portas recommendations to government, bringing the total of supported towns to 27.

The full list of the  towns announced today are:

Ashford, whose Town Team will use its local market to attract people back to the high street by offering new stall-holders the opportunity to have a ‘stall for a tenner’;

Berwick, who will work with local builders and other businesses to give their high street a much-needed facelift;

Braintree, who will provide mentoring support to the high number of independent shops in the area;

Brighton (London Road), who will encourage retailers to work together to tackle vandalism and crime to help realise the area’s full potential;

Hatfield, who will look beyond retail to provide community and event facilities to encourage more visitors to the high street;

Leamington (Old Town), who plan to focus their efforts on tackling the high vacancy rate in the high street and encourage new businesses to the area;

Liverpool (Lodge Lane), who will help aspiring young entrepreneurs in the community by offering a mentoring service;

Waterloo – Lower Marsh and the Cut (London Borough of Lambeth), who plan to set up satellite markets and tackle the high number of empty shops in the area;

Forest Hill, Kirkdale and Sydenham (London Borough of Lewisham), who plan to renovate 12 empty premises and improve signage in the local area;

Chrisp Street, Watney Market, Roman Road (London Borough of Tower Hamlets), who will use exploit their high visitor numbers to run a series of public information programmes;

Loughborough, who plan to involve students from Loughborough University to reinvigorate their high street and encourage budding business owners to consider setting up locally;

Lowestoft, who will create a Town ‘group’ discount scheme to attract local people, and establish a mentoring scheme in conjunction with schools, colleges and retailers;

Morecambe, who will set up a community café to provide advice and support for those looking to take up business opportunities;

Rotherham, who will launch a publicity campaign to highlight the unique nature of the high street and encourage people to ‘shop local’; and

Tiverton, who plan to improve parking facilities to encourage more visitors and tourists to the town centre.

The government has said it will share £5.5m between the 27 successful bidders and 392 other town teams. The 15 pilots will receive a share of £1.5m to make their ideas a reality. This includes £300,000 from the Greater London Authority for the London pilots.

Towns not selected to be pilots are to be supported a new online encyclopaedia – 100 Ways to Help the High Street and run by the ATCM.

Following completion of an extensive £3million infrastructure project to provide Poynton with equal priority shared space  for pedestrians and road users it is intended that the  environment created will help to revitalise the local economy by making Poynton and the local area even more attractive in which to live, work and visit.

The innovative high quality scheme sets Poynton apart from other trading centres providing an opportunity for the village and its wider economy to benefit from the unique nature of the presentation of Park Lane and its junction with the A523 London Road.

Let’s Talk Shop Ltd is currently engaged in meeting with businesses operating in Poynton to identify the impact of the improvements and the aspirations for businesses operating in the village. The work follows an initial exercise undertaken in 2010 prior to commencement of the scheme and will help to draw conclusions as to the economic impact that the scheme will have on Poynton.

In association with Cumbria PR we can provide a copywriting service, from promotional leaflets and newsletters, to content for your web pages. We also offer an editing service to ensure that your written promotional material is of the highest standard.

All enterprises, from voluntary sector organisations to corporate businesses, should recognise the importance of sharp and relevant copy to stimulate the required response in their readers.  Written material should be relevant and to the point, appropriate in style for the target audience, and free from technical and grammatical errors.

A background in journalism, writing and editing for publication, is the ideal basis for this craft, to communicate messages effectively, succinctly and persuasively. Cumbria PR can provide this service, for individuals and for organisations, large and small.

For further information please contact Eileen Jones on 07791 178903

The Shop Doctor will be following up his recent work in Dumfries with a similar programme of masterclasses and ‘one to one’ shop visits in Annan and Stranraer following submission of a succesful tender to Dumfries & Galloway Council.

The Let’s Talk Shop programe commences in Annan on 26th June, and that for Stranraer later in the year. 

A return visit to Millom will also be taking place in response to requests for expert help from the Millom & District Business forum, which consists of town centre traders who meet monthly.

Following a review of the town an evening workshop presentation entitled ‘I’ve not shopped here before, but I’ll certainly be back.’ will challenge retailers to think about ways to make the shopping experience in Millom a memorable one for all the right reasons.

For further information about this event click here

In Cheshire East evaluation of the ‘Shopping Experience’ will be the focus of forthcoming visits by the Shop Doctor to Knutsford, Sandbach, Disley, Macclesfield, Alsager, Congleton and Middlewich and delivery of a further programme of retail masterclasses focusing on the findings of the Shopper Experience research and identifying ways to make  good experience even better.

More information will be posted about all of these exciting projects focussed on revitalising the retail economy of the  towns involved as it becomes available.

With further Retail Masterclasses delivered on the evenings of Tuesday 24th and Wednesday 25th April at Blakemere Craft Centre and Castle Park, Frodsham, and 11 businesses visited to receive ‘one to one’ advice our Shop Doctor was extremely busy last week in Cheshire.

In total 18 independent businesses have now been visited under the ‘Let’s Talk Shop’ Retailer support programme currently being delivered in conjunction with Cheshire West and Chester Council and many positive recommendations identified to help develop retail opportunities in all of the businesses visited.

When visits are as diverse as a Bridal Gown Shop to a Pet Shop, Jewellery Shop to a Bike Store, within a short timescale immediate impressions play an important part of how the business is perceived by the Shop Doctor and usually the outside impact of a business reflects opportunities to be found within.

Even good businesses can lose their way and the philosophy adopted by the Shop Doctor of helping to make good businesses even better is found to be a far more effective route to success than seeking routes to criticise.

Love Local Life, the Cheshire based local loyalty card supported by Cheshire East Council  ran a competition for Valentines Day where  cardholders were asked to nominate their favourite local business.

The competition was a great success and identified four very deserving winners in the categories of Best Value, Best Products, Best Service, Best Range.

Part of the prize to each winner was a visit from ‘The Shop Doctor’ and it was a pleasure to visit each of the businesses and meet with their owners on 12th April.

Already very good businesses I am intending to provide each with ideas that will help make their individual and entrepreneurial business even better, and I start by recommending each of them to you:

The four winners were:

Middlewich DIY – Best Value –

Delissimo, Alsager – Best Presentation –

Sylk Wine Bar & Restaurant, Macclesfield – Best Service –

The Lavender Tree, Alderley Edge – Best Range –

More information about the Love Local Life Card and the wide range of retailers offering discounts to cardholders can be found at

Retailers in Cheshire West and Chester will be able to attend one of  “The Shop Doctors” Retail Masterclasses being arranged for 29th March 2012.

The masterclass is being delivered as part of a  new “Shop Doctor Support Programme” being delivered into Cheshire West and Chester for the first time.

The programme also allows for ‘one to one’ advisory visits with 12 independent retailers within each of their businesses. Following the visits each retailer will be receive a comprehensive recommendations report from the Shop Doctor detailing opportunities that he believes will  help build business performance and onward profitability.

The Shop Doctor comments that “unlike many recent TV shows featuring retail ‘gurus’ that result in a major stock purge, and often expensive shop refits, my advice is about identifying immediate solutions that can be cost effectively implemented to help revitalise the businesses concerned.” he added “Substantial investment is often  desirable but not always possible in the prevailing economic climate. We work with the retailers concerned to help them recognise and maximise their existing opportunities, ones that can materially improve performance and lead to future investment if necessary when the economic climate improves”