Lively workshop helps retailers get planning for 2024 

A lively online workshop led by small business mentor Dave Christie provided independent health store retailers with a whole range of tips on how to plan for a successful 2024. 

The session was the first in a new series of monthly Health Stores UK workshops hosted by the Take on Goliath founder. The plan is for the sessions to be as interactive as possible and to encourage retailers to discuss and share their ideas and initiatives. 

Look back to move forward 

Dave said a good place to start with planning for 2024 would be to “look back and reflect on what went well for you this year”. That might include evaluating how much time and resource had been allocated to particular initiatives. 

“Ask yourself why you undertake certain actions and what is the ‘need state’ for that action”, he advised. And it was important to be honest about the returns that these actions have  produced. He cited one retailer he had worked with who had calculated that they spent 10 hours per week on social media. On analysis, this was shown to have produced no return at all. In fact, when the store stopped social media activities their sales went up. 

“That’s not to say that social media work isn’t valuable. It’s about whether it works for you. This retailer found that freeing up time for other things created a better return for the business.” 

Let customer feedback inform your planning

Dave believes customer feedback can play an important role in informing future planning. He also sees a store’s front window as being the single most effective way to entice new customers through the door. “Very often a front window is talking to existing customers, not doing something to attract the attention of yet-to-be customers,” he said. He suggested working with brands to maximise the shop window opportunity, and urged: “think about how you use your windows in a different way in 2024”. 

Step back to get a clearer view

Dave is also an advocate of an approach he calls ‘taking two steps back’. “It’s good to stand outside your shop and look at it from the point of view of someone who knows nothing about health stores. What does it look like, and what does it say to them? If I’m one of those ‘health store curious’ people, what does this window tell me my experience is going to be like?”

Set achievable goals 

It is important to set goals when you are planning for the year ahead, but to ensure these are achievable. “Ask yourself, how far does that goal take me from where I am now, and is it realistic?”. It’s particularly important not to allow goal setting to create additional stress. “That’s why it’s best to have action plans, and set rungs on the ladder towards achieving these goals”. 

The interactive session saw retailers providing practical examples of ways they had successfully brought new customers into store. Debbie Gregory of Elixir Health talked about the work her store does with a local NHS-affiliated social prescriber. “This has really put us in front of people who would never have come into the store before.” Cheryl Thallon of Sheaf Street Health Store explained how the store’s cafe is an official ‘Chatty Café’ venue on Tuesday afternoons, bringing in new customers and performing a valuable function in the community.  

• Dave Christie’s Workshops are free to attend and open to all independent health food retailers. Check for details on future workshops 

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