At the time of writing, the world is in the grip of the coronavirus crisis, which is having some profound effects on the way we live and eat. With the lockdown limiting our movement, it’s also having some drastic effects on the way we shop, and the Kantar Worldpanel has noted that spending at local butchers, bakers and grocers has risen by a third during the crisis. You may well have experienced it at your own shop, especially if you’re an independent butcher.
A significant number of respondents to Kantar’s surveys have already vowed to continue these habits after the current crisis passes. So, we’ve summed up three of the best ways you can ensure you’re catering to your local customers, while taking into account how their attitudes and lifestyles may have changed since the first onset of the Covid-19 crisis.
1. Know your customers
This is important for any business, but especially a local one like a butcher. While there are some staple cuts of meat that are popular almost anywhere in the nation, it’s useful to consider the demographics of your local neighbourhood, and who might be living there. In the North West alone, areas around north Manchester are home to high numbers of Jewish residents, while Asian communities make up a significant proportion of the population in towns like Blackburn.
Different ethnic groups prefer different cuts of meat, and there is often significant variance in the way they prepare them too. That means knowing the beliefs and customs of your potential customers is key to persuading them to buy from you, and enables you to offer them a personalised level of service they might not receive everywhere else.
If your local area is home to a number of different cultures and communities, it’s often a good idea to use bi-lingual or even tri-lingual signage, including chalkboard signs outside your shop. Acknowledging their heritage in this manner is an excellent way of showing that you have their needs and desires in mind, convincing them that they’re likely to find what they want in your shop.
In a similar way, it’s always good to shout about your specialist skills as a butcher, but it’s even better for business if you’re intricately familiar with all the particular ways that different cultures like their beef prepared. This allows you to provide special orders with minimum difficulty, quickly forging a sense of loyalty from your customers. If you’ve got specific skills that make you all the more valuable to that community, that can often end up giving you the edge over your competitors.
On a related note, it’s also helpful (sometimes essential) to know the different dietary laws of various religions, so that you’re able to instantly tell customers whether or not a product is suitable for their requirements. In the long run, this type of cultural knowledge and service can be worth more than any individual sale, so even if you’re not able to provide what a certain customer wants at that particular time, they’re likely to remember you for when they’re shopping for something different the next time.
2. Be community minded
At the time of writing, everyone’s foremost concern is the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, one of the best ways to be community minded at the moment is to demonstrate to your customers that you prioritise their safety, which you can do by implementing social distancing measures and a one-in, one-out policy inside your shop.
In addition to this, all the normal rules apply. Look out for other local businesses, and make recommendations to your customers if they’re not direct competitors. With any luck, the other business will recommend you right back! This type of personal, word-of-mouth recommendations can do untold wonders for local businesses. You can extend that sense of community spirit to others in your area, too - for example, when people ask to put flyers on the counter, don’t automatically say no. Being seen to be active in the community can again go a long way to encouraging customers through your doors.
Get to know your customers individually, especially your regulars. Remember their usual orders and preferences, and if they’re open to cooking tips, don’t hesitate to give them out. It can also help to give discount coupons for new customers, or anyone who recommends a friend. Again, word-of-mouth can sometimes be more effective and powerful than any flyers or social media campaign.
3. Promote the environmental and ethical benefits
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the lockdown has forced us all to examine the way we live and eat. For many, it’s prompted a reassessment of how their lifestyle impacts the world at large. There’s a growing sense of responsibility amongst consumers, and local businesses need to be mindful of this going forward.
As a butcher, you’ll have chosen your suppliers carefully. The important thing is that depending on who you choose (and how well you know them), it can make all the difference as to whether certain customers will buy from you. There are environmental benefits in buying from local businesses in that it reduces the ‘food miles’ that products have to travel. However, you’ll also need to be prepared for customers to ask you about the size of the farms who supply you, and about their farming practices, such as the diet they feed their animals. For example, they may ask you if your food is free range, and it’s best to have the answers ready.
These are just a few ideas, of course - you may well have a few of your own! And if you need a few more butchers knives and butchers machinery to help you get the job done, you need look no further than us right here at Butchers Equipment Warehouse. We’ve got a huge range of machinery and knives for you to browse right here on our site, and if you’ve got any questions or need any advice, you can always give us a call on 01254 427761. We’re here to help. Stay safe!