Up your game, up your gain

Press Release: 15/02/2016

Businesses in Winchester’s market towns are set to take part in a development programme designed to help them build and reinforce their retail and selling skills.

As part of its continued commitment to maintaining flourishing high streets in the district’s market towns, Winchester City Council is supporting up to 40 local businesses through the ‘Up your game, up your gain’ initiative.

Open to small retail businesses in Bishop’s Waltham, Wickham, Alresford and Denmead, the scheme offers each participant the chance to see itself as its customers do by agreeing to being ‘mystery-shopped’ and receiving feedback through a report and one-to-one advice session from a customer service expert.

The mystery visits will be carried out by Shopper Anonymous Surrey, part of the UK’s leading mystery shopping company. Retailers will be rated on their window displays, interior layout and customer service.

Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Cllr James Byrnes, said:

We want people to come to our market towns, enjoy their visit, and come back - and that depends on our businesses providing a great experience. The purpose of this project is to give them as much support as possible, helping them to compete in the increasingly challenging retail environment.

Louise Oram, Chair of Wickham Chamber of Trade, said:

Our local towns and villages have a unique and eclectic mix of retailers, managing to combine excellent shopping and services within a calm and pleasant atmosphere. The diversity of quality products available means it is a refreshing change to the much-duplicated ‘UK High Street’.

Jim Smith of mystery shopping firm Shopper Anonymous Surrey says the project is a real boost to the area. He said:

In our experience of running these projects elsewhere, retailers get really useful feedback which can directly improve sales and help bring businesses together – which can only augur well for the future.

Every shop receives a report on how they fared, a one-to-one meeting to discuss the reports and a list of improvement actions. The programme will culminate in an awards ceremony in April which will recognise those businesses which have shown outstanding customer service through the programme. An award for the town whose businesses as a group have scored most highly will also be up for grabs.