07:00 16 February 2013
As a Budleigh Salterton resident, I am aware of the debates which are taking place regarding the parking meters in Marine Parade and the apparent impact this is having on the footfall and spending patterns in the town’s shops.
As the proprietor of a successful marketing consultancy, I am firmly of the opinion that there are other factors to consider.
Whilst there are shops that offer excellent customer service in Budleigh Salterton, there are several that seem to be determined to offer very little customer service.
Why is it that some High Street establishments are often closed and when they are open, customers seem to be invisible and providing a quality service for customers is not high on the agenda?
I do support businesses in our town and am a loyal customer to many.
Conversely, I am saddened to say that all too often I have been at the receiving end of some very underwhelming shopping experiences and when this happens, I do not return.
Even in times of economic turmoil businesses can succeed and flourish if they offer the right products at competitive prices; are customer-focused and value their customers.
Several of our town’s businesses need to ask themselves some searching questions.
It will be a brave move for them to make, especially as not all of the answers will be liked.
However, embracing a customer service ethic will reap benefits. Those not recognising this as a fundamental element of their business strategy will not only fail to encourage customer loyalty they will also fail to attract new customers.
I applaud those proprietors who have embraced a customer service ethic and work hard to secure repeat business and loyalty. To those who have not, I would say it’s time to ask; do you really do all you can to make customers feel welcome and valued?, Are you helping to make Budleigh Salterton the town people want to visit on a regular basis?
Another factor centres around several of the High Street buildings, which are looking very down-at-heel.
Seemingly there is a lack of interest being shown by landlords, and despite the best efforts of many of the businesses to keep attractive shop fronts and interiors; landlords’ apparent apathy is leading to properties looking rather unsightly.
One example is the weeds growing out of roof gutters. This lack of repair gives the High Street a lacklustre feel. Landlords should consider the impact this is having on their tenants’ businesses and that in the long term their lack of action could lead to more empty shop units in the town.
In conclusion, I believe the issue of parking meters being singled out as solely to blame for the reported dip in footfall and spending patterns in our town does not stack up. Some shop proprietors and landlords are not blameless.