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  • Sylvie Barr

A Butcher's Tale



I hope you all had a good Christmas and a good dose of some ‘me time’ over the past few days. Excuse the interruption, but I wanted to share this little story with you.


I took this picture last week, the day before Christmas Eve.

It’s near us, in the pretty village of Lindfield, where they still have a local butcher, Cottenham’s.


It was lunch time. People were queuing up the high street and round the bend, and I was told they had been since 9am.

Of course it’s always manic a few days before Christmas - have you watched the film Shrek the Halls 😃 - so you could say, nothing new here. And of course, with social distancing, the queues would be longer than usual. And we all want to treat our loved ones with a special meal for the occasion, so we push the boat out at this time of year.

Yet, master butcher John and his team had prepared for even more custom, as they had done their homework a few weeks before…

When talking to people they realised that, contrary to previous years, many would stay at home for Christmas.


Haywards Heath and its surroundings are in the London commuter belt, and instead of going to visit the parents, in-laws and the wider family up North or anywhere else outside the capital, this was the year people would stay put.


So John and his team figured out a way to meet that extra demand. They had their Christmas ordering set up on their website as usual, but on top of that they put a super slick operation in place for the few days before the festivities.


One team member would come and ask people in the queue outside the shop if they were there to collect an order or just buy on the spot.

If it was a collection, they would call the team at the back of the shop, who would bring the order already packed in a reusable branded hessian bag (free on-street advertising for the weeks to come!). Another butcher would remain at the counter to serve people who hadn’t placed any online order.


So the queues moved swiftly and people kept coming.

Sure it was a dry day and with that, some luck to add the casual customers, but there’s a lesson here for us all and our businesses.

John and his team stayed relevant by meeting new, maybe not to be seen again levels of demand. By being organised, they remained calm and kept the same warm welcome as any other day. This way they didn’t upset their regular customers, and I’m sure that Cottenham’s gained a few more loyal clients too.


As 2020 is drawing to a close, what will you do in 2021 to remain or be even more relevant to your customers? How will you evolve your business and your brand?


If you’d like a chat to explore how I could help you with that, get in touch and we’ll take it from there.

As for now, Happy New Year to you and yours, let’s have a ball in 2021!


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