With only ten days before Christmas day, the Lizian Shop is busy. The fact our business thrives in spite of the poor state of the market is not a miracle. Although the sad reality is only half of the market’s stalls are let. Visitors to the market do not stay long, as there is little to explore or see. Ian and I are aware of this limitation, and we work hard to overcome the issue.
Many traders believe Nottingham Council is not doing enough to promote the market. This supposed failure of market officials to promote the market has become their reason for suffering poor sales and loss of custom. I do not agree with the market traders suggestion. Nottingham Council has no obligation to promote the traders or their products. They are the trader’s landlords nothing more: and as landlords, they fail abysmally.
When a visitor enters the market, they see a rundown relic of the 1980s. The paintwork is drab and in need of attention. Shutters are damaged and do not look secure, and there are blown light bulbs and inadequate facilities. In truth, the market has no appeal to visitors or new traders.
It is believed the market was once a good source of income for Nottingham Council. And rather than looking after an asset of which the people of Nottingham could be proud, they chose to use the market’s profits elsewhere, and neglect the goose that laid the golden egg.
A person with a good head for business would, over time, turn the market around. The master principle of business is to consolidate profits: in this instance, all earnings from stallholders rent must be returned into the market. As a result, we would see a modernisation of lighting, repair of the heating and a repaint. The larger stalls are notorious for letting: therefore, it would be prudent to break the large units down into small and affordable ‘starter’ units. These would be let by way of monthly licences. I look across at a unit which has been empty for six months. It could be broken down into four affordable forty pounds per week units which would provide an income of eight-thousand per annum. In this area alone, I can see another four small unit areas: all of a sudden, there is a total of sixteen-thousand pounds per year income. (8 rentals at 40 pounds per week equals 16000).
A quick walk around the market and using this formula the available space would make thirty-two small stalls available. Giving a return of sixty-thousand a year. Now, it could be correctly argued: “Would there be enough people to take on the stalls?” Well.the calculation is based on thirty-two additional market traders coming to the market. I’m sure; there are thirty small businesses desirous of a small unit costing forty-pounds per week. It seems sensible to open the stalls to small workshops, artisans, photographers, even charities and drop-in legal advice centre come immediately to mind.
With a market full of traders customers would have good reason to enter and explore the market.~With An additional 60 thousand per annum income the market could quickly become a well looked after asset, which the citizens of Nottingham could be proud ~ The traders would thrive because new businesses would attract new customers into the market. If the council reinvested in the infrastructure of the market and were realistic about the needs of traders, all would change.
And for all of the problems this poorly maintained market brings to my fellow traders, our business thrives. It is successful because we use the internet, social media, and continuous promotion. Every customer is valued and respected. We have a no-nonsense returns policy which rarely comes into play. No nonsense? Yes! We refund or replace without question: the rule means we have never lost a customer. The policy may cost a few pounds of profit, but it gains hundreds of pounds in goodwill.
Customer Service Rules
Profits are Returned to Offer a Vast Range of Stock
When Ian and I opened the stall, a fellow trader said: “You will not last five minutes-selling rocks and own made jewellery”. He is long gone, and we are still here. This market stall has enabled us to make LizianEvents Ltd a profitable and healthy business, and the lessons learned on the market floor are used to LizianEvents benefit.
During the last few months, many Community Members have acknowledged the long term goals of the organisation. Response to the mentoring days, on-line courses, website workshop and the fantastic approval of the LizianEvents News Podcast has astounded me. Remember, this daily news, the on-line courses, LEN podcasts and Sunday workshops are paid for or subsidised with stand fees. And the stand fees are lower than many comparable shows. This IS 365 days per year organisation, and it is a Community-based organisation. There is strength in Community, and as more people see the potential more so will they thrive.
Those who take advantage of what we offer will benefit both in visibility and in the long term profitability. In reality: the choice is either to be like some of my fellow market traders and believe it is the council’s responsibility to promote their business. (To my mind this is a mindset of failure) or take our route, one of constant self-promotion, customer respect and use of established ground rules.
You see, we have to be brave to succeed. Qualifications will not guarantee success, nor will knowledge: Yes, the skill will establish an ‘ability’ in the minds of a client or customer, but the client and customer have many opinion and choices. It is the people who care the most and persist the most who succeed: customer care and self-promotion reign over all other aspects of commercial success.
And this brings me to an important observation. I accept we lose Community Members because of ‘high expectation’ of what we offer. If one believes there will be an automatic success when attending a show organised by LizianEvents, then there is a possibility the expectation will exceed the reality; the Community Member becomes disillusioned and this, in turn, brings disappointment. We offer every opportunity to promote pre-show, and we provide the opportunity to develop every day. And there is the secret, we have many visitors to LEN and LizianEvents FaceBook Group, and many Visitors come to the shows to meet the people in articles and posts.
Is this true? Ask Kirstie, Carol, Stuart, Richard, Brigitte and many more who find they prosper at the events due to pre-show promotion. Another aspect is presentations during the shows: Visitors attend our Well Being Shows to listen to Community Speakers, and the talks are promoted on the media streams. Is this accurate? Well, in every survey this year: social media and email promotion are top answers in the ‘how did you find out about us’ and ‘how did you find out about the talk schedule’ questionnaires.
In conclusion and no particular order, the points I make are these:
You can shine in the most adverse circumstance
Work with those who reinvest in the future
Be part of a group and make it strong
Care for your customers
It takes time to succeed
Be prepared to share and learn from those who are established
Prefer to work with the successful who share their knowledge
Know security is within groups
Groups are more potent than individuals
Look for evidence of success
Look for evidence of intention
Do not ‘over-expect’ – ‘high expectation’ should come from one’s actions
Poor management will not make much-needed changes
Poor managers dislike transparency
Great managers share their feeling and seek assistance
Great managers do not hide limitations
Attainment is the highest of rewards
Use every available access to customers: Both new and old
Unlike rhetoric and casual opinion, success is not easy. One has to make a long term commitment to an objective or goal. Short term gains are most often overwhelmed by longterm losses. Be aware of the mentality of the gambler, they have a way of talking about minor wins and ignoring massive losses. The LizianShop is successful because we are committed to Customer service and respect, a clear returns policy, and acknowledgement of limitations. Customers take time to come through a half-empty market and spend their money at our stall. Many have been customers since the beginning: in fact, I served our very first customer only last week.
Active Notice Board
Sharing Is Important
You will find the same ethos runs through the LizianEvents organisation. We keep the stand prices as affordable as possible, and we return profit into new ventures. For example, we have lowered stand fees at events organised at the new Lady Eastwood Centre to encourage more Community Members to the show and help them with profitability. We are able to bring in a new partner (Barrie John) into The Pure Spirit Shows because we see the power of sharing knowledge and business acumen. We see prosperity, not in monetary terms, but we see success in the success of those we work with in the organisation. Ian and I believe the future of small business is interaction, and long term growth, not immediate profit and disregard for The Community.
See You Soon
Liz Clark: MD LizianEvents Ltd