In one of the toughest years for the country and the British High St, Ismail Loonat, Postmaster of Batley Post Office, in our Northern England region has managed to grow the bottom line of his business by supporting his local community. His revenue is up by 10% and below is how Ismail has achieved this fantastic result.
While months of lockdown have driven some High St trade online, both for his retail business and his Post Office services, Ismail has noticed a new type of customer coming through the doors of his branch. As businesses across the country have had to find different ways of doing things, Batley Post Office has been at the centre of day-to-day tasks for a lot of local businesspeople.
Banking and mails products have increased as businesses turn to local Post Offices for services that would have been done in a city centre bank branch or corporate office. With people working from home and banks opening fewer hours, Ismail’s branch was the only place to access cash for a lot of local people over the counter after 3pm, essential for many people working through the day. Almost as essential as providing the service is telling people it’s there – Ismail is well plugged-in to his local community and promotes his branch on Facebook and local forums such as the local food bank, the local community centre and the council to drive business.
It's not just businesses who are using Ismail’s branch more, local charities and community organisations have been working with him to find ways to carry on delivering their services to local people. A local charity, One Nation, needed to send out hard copy publications but with in-person services closed, the Post Office was a lifeline for them keeping in contact with their clients and supporters. Ismail offered a discount on the envelopes needed for the mailing and even parcelled them all up with his team to allow the charity staff to focus on providing front line support. This didn’t make Ismail much cash but it’s meant he has built a new commercial relationship with the charity and it’s won him life-long supporters in his local community – something money can’t buy!
This relationship with charities has built up in a number of ways. At the start of the pandemic the One Nation charity offered Ismail £1,000 to buy bread, milk and eggs so he could give these out for free to people who needed them. The plan was that this would last for four weeks, he ended up doing this for 4 months and even had the local Morrisons supermarket providing free produce too. At the start of the pandemic Ismail bought a bulk pack of facemasks and gave these out to people who needed them when they entered the store – he was the only local business making masks available for free and his local community have thanked him for that by being loyal customers as we emerge from lockdown. Another example of how a little cash investment up-front in doing the right thing can pay dividends with customer loyalty long into the future.
Last year, Ismail was nominated for a Post Office We’re Stronger Together award, which celebrated Postmasters who went above and beyond to support their customers and communities through Covid-19.