In April, we launched our new field team structure, through which every branch now has a named contact if they ever need to help, have a question or need support to grow their business.
We also introduced a team of Business Support Managers. This team is there for a Postmaster from up to six weeks before they even open a branch, through the first six months of running a branch, if it’s needed. Things they may help with include security issues, forecasting, customer awareness and best practice on integration of a Post Office with a retail store.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll hear from new and experienced postmasters and members of the Business Support team to understand how they’ve been working together.
This week, meet:
The Postmaster, Salaha (Sal) Ahmad, Woodside PO, Aberdeen, Scotland
The Business Support Manager: Scott Hamilton, Scotland
|Salaha Ahmad||Scott Hamilton|
How did you get in touch with your Business Support Manager?
“I started off with my local Change Manager, Bob Sharp. He was able to share a whole wealth of knowledge and helped with the practical side of setting up a brand new branch.
Once we were open, my Business Support Manager, Scott Hamilton came and introduced himself.
What support has your BSM given you?
“I am already an experienced postmaster, having managed Berryden branch for 16 years. Scott took me through a Branch Insight Report that drilled into the breakdown of my sales on a monthly basis, which I’d never had before in my years running a Post Office.
“It helped me see where I was building business well. For example, we were doing well in Mails and Travel, having already sold 10 travel money cards in the 15 weeks since opening. Crucially, Scott was able to identify key areas of improvement.
“My main gap, or area with potential for growth, was business and personal banking. After realising this, I did some research into local businesses and started handing out leaflets about what Post Office can offer at local community events.
“I was desperate to see the next Branch Insight Report and we were both blown away by the results. After just a few months, Woodside had performed better than the national average for personal and corporate banking, E-Top Ups, bill payments and National Lottery. Even with my years of experience, without Scott’s advice and the report, I wouldn’t have known the size of the opportunity. Credit where credit’s due!”
Tell us a bit about your branch
“We are a completely new branch, the area had been without a Post Office for three years, so people were used to doing without one.
“Woodside is a store with three symbols combined. We have a Premier Convenience, the Post Office and JG Ross, a local craft bakery. All three brands complement each other and help to build footfall.
“I feel our unique selling point is that each member of staff is fully trained in every aspect of the job and that our counters are managed with the same level of expertise whether a customer pops in at 7.00am or 8.00pm. So, basically one member of staff will manage the entire customer journey – from a letter to Australia, to a pint of milk and a hot macaroni pie! The customer gets a seamless service and we save on staff costs.
“We’re also big on sharing success. When one of us finds a clever way of doing something we tell the others and bounce of each other’s success. We recently re-enacted a customer journey where the customer originally came in to post a letter to Australia. Laura was able to sell her the Track and Send service, find out that she was planning a trip to Australia and tell her about the Travel Money Card. The customer left with a pint of milk and came back the following week to buy a Travel Money Card!
“My proudest moment so far was when we were named a top performer for Best New Post Office in the 2019 Post Office Retail Awards - we’d only been up and running for about 3 months!”
All in all, how has it been working together?
“Scott has provided a wealth of support and insight. In particular, he was able to go in to granular detail about our early performance. On his advice, I pushed our banking services using external prospecting techniques. It’s been great working with him.”
I'm soon to be transferred to my Area Manager, Sally Wilson. I can say for sure that if other branches take advantage of these support structures then there should be years of good trading yet!”
Business Support Manager, Scott
Tell us about a branch you’ve worked with recently
“I helped Woodside PO, on the outskirts of Aberdeen. It was a new branch, to replace one that had closed three years previously.
The Postmaster is Sal Ahmad, she had been running a Mains branch for a while and has now taken that experience and applied it to working in this Local branch, in a small bakery and convenience store. She’s turned it into a local unlike any I’ve ever seen before, she’s won retail awards, it’s just outstanding.
What sort of support did you give the branch?
I answered a lot of questions to make sure Sal was comfortable with the processes, offered training on any aspects of running a branch and mails conversations.
We have access to a BIT (branch insight tool) report, which we go through with the postmaster to look at how they’re doing on things like number of customer sessions, how they’re doing on mails compliance and cash declarations and so on.
We encourage the branch to use social media and Sal has now set up the Woodside Facebook page, which is now such a good example I use it to show other branches. Sal also takes a mobile Post Office to local galas and community events, to promote what their local Post Office can do for customers and bring in business.
It’s about the fourth month they’ve been open now. The Area Manager for Inverness is Sally, she and I are now starting to work together and plan for handing Woodside over to the Area Manager team, once we’re both happy the branch is ready.
To decide this we will look at things like their number of customer sessions, so have they promoted the branch enough, how comfortable they are with their sales conversations and compliance, how their sales for mails and personal banking are growing relative to the opportunity in their area and how their cash management is going. “
All in all, how has it been working together?
“It’s been absolutely terrific. Sal at Woodside has said it’s been great to have the extra support, that one point of contact throughout. In fact, every branch I’ve contacted in the 14 months since I started have said how welcome it is to have the support and that it’s been a long time coming.”
L-R Fiona Smith, Laura Robertson & Salaha & Attika, Zulfiqar Ahmad. Woodside Post Office, Aberdeen