Brownlies of Biggar: Know your customers

Brownlies of Biggar: Know your customers

Donna Morgan, postmaster of Brownlies of Biggar, Lanarkshire, talks to us about how she feels being through to the finals of the Scottish Grocer Awards 2019 in the Post Office Retailer of the Year category.

Finalist – Post Office Retailer of the Year

Brownlies of Biggar is based in a thriving high street. To head off competition from local supermarkets, their stock is specialised and people visit from miles around, because they find the branch so friendly.

They’re active on social media, all managed by one of the team. They promote their products online and in branch, for example to local businesses for banking services, or to schools with a trip coming up for travel money. Now regulars even call the branch in advance to ‘order’ cash, helping both sides get organised. A local business lets them know when he’s planning to send 500 diaries once a year, so they can process them without holding up other customers.

A valued part of the community

The Biggar team know the needs of their vulnerable customers, like a blind customer who needs cash in £10 notes only (not mixed notes like ATMs), so she can keep track. And a lady who finds bills confusing, so brings them all in a biscuit tin, for the staff to organise, pay and reassure her it’s done. They help the elderly apply for free TV licences, by doing the online form for them.

The young are looked after too. They sponsor local football teams, Biggar United Juniors, for ages from 10 to 18, providing their kits.

And in her first few months as a postmaster, while still finding her feet, Donna’s young son invited his whole first year primary school year group to come for a tour of the Post Office! Undaunted, Donna rose to the challenge and now it’s a popular annual event in early December, with the kids posting letters to Santa and getting healthy eating goody bags.

At Christmas, they also have a wrapping table with sticky tape and scissors, to make things easier for customers and educate them about wrapping.

Biggar Gala Week involves week long events for all the family; Donna is on the committee and manages the logistics and bars. She fundraises all year, so that kids can all go for free, regardless of their family circumstances.

Recognition matters

On being through to the finals, Donna said, “It was lovely when we found out. It’s a bit of recognition for all the hard work we put in, a boost for the team.”

About International Women’s Day, she added, “One of my bugbears is that there are so many women working in retail, but so few are represented at the top, in trade bodies and at leadership level. It’s something I’d like to help change in future.”

When asked what it would mean to win, Donna said “I’d love it for the staff. Working in the Post Office can be hard at times, a steep learning curve. They’ve all come on a journey with us and now they love it.”

Donna’s 3 tips

  1. Get to know your customers. If they are having a bad day, you can make them smile.
  2. Spend time to train your staff. It helps their development and helps the whole team when things are busy.
  3. If you know your customers and your team are well trained, you can give customers the right product for them, on the Post Office or retail side.

Donna will be attending the awards dinner on 7 March at the Hilton in Glasgow, with her husband, Bruce. Best of luck!