It’s a Blood Bath on The High Street

Business Management

By Marc Ford, Coach, Author and Editor at YBKBS

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists”

Eric Hoffer

blood bath on the high street ybkbs magazine for small business by Marc Ford MBA

Yesterday saw the announcement that jobs on the high street in the guise of Frankie and Benny’s, Accesorize and Quiz are going (ref: BBC News ). Many will say it’s a further nail in the coffin of the high street, but is it really?

And who’s fault is it anyway?

The Coronavirus has hit us all at the same time. Some say it’s unprecedented. I’d say it’s not. Change comes in various forms, but granted perhaps the pandemic has forced change’s hand. Things do change. And perhaps they change at a quicker pace than they did 20 years ago.

But who’s fault is it really?

“It’s because people shop Online.” 

“People go to retail Parkes and don’t shop on the High Street.”

“There’s too much competition.”

Possibly very valid reasons. But why have habits changed? Why have customers turned their backs on eating out? Why have the bosses of these businesses racked up huge, unsustainable debts and had no cash in the bank? Perhaps the latter should be looked at in more depth but very rarely are directors of failing businesses bought to book over a massive collapse, (unlike BHS), and they tend to get a job somewhere else on another board at another company, (and genuinely do the same poor job there too).

One of the key aspects of theses businesses failing, in my humble opinion, is a lesson that EVERY small business could learn from. And profit from. 

Business is NOT about how many outlets you’ve got. It’s not about how much of a bonus you earn. It’s not even about having smoke blown up your backside when it comes to being seen as a success. Business and especially small business, is about what problem you solve for the customer. If you’re not solving a problem for your customer, you will go out of business.

Look at the businesses that are failing in this case. I’ve been to Frankie and Benny’s and none of them offered me food I’d remember and service I’d go back for. Accesorize has been overtaken by the internet and doesn’t offer an experience which you’d want to go back for and as a bloke, I’m not best placed to comment on Quiz. But looking at the problems that are plaguing Debenhams and it’s ‘current administration’, they have learned nothing, nor moved at pace to mean something to anyone or offered anything different. 

I’m also a realist. Times are tough and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, when the government support is switched off it will make it harder. However, there are opportunities for small businesses to learn from the mistakes of their bigger cousins. Everyone wants an empire, but if you look through history you’ll see that change in empires happens very quickly. (Just look at our own!) So the best lesson you can learn right now and avoid our poor relations mistakes, is to make the customer your NUMBER 1 priority.

If you own a restaurant, serve the best food ever with the best service tips will pay for. If you own a clothes shop, make sure that you cater for everyone and deliver second-to-none customer service.

If you own ANY type of small business, stop looking for excuses, serve, learn and adapt.

The UK economy has changed, but at it’s core, it still won’t accept poor products, poor service, poor pricing, poor experiences and it STILL needs to know “What’s in it for me?”…not you.

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