In the lead up to International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March, we’re are taking a moment to shine a spotlight on Faye Coles, Postmaster at Monk Fryston branch.
Monk Fryston Post Office and Village store is a small Community branch near Selby, Leeds. Faye and her husband Kevin have been running the branch for 10 years and last year, their hard work and dedication was recognised through a number of awards.
- VisitEngland ROSE award for their four-star Bed and Breakfast accommodation, The Barn
- Best B&B and Guest House category in the annual White Rose awards organised by tourism agency, Welcome to Yorkshire
- Best New Business from Deliciouslyorkshire 2018
- Runner up in the Countryside Alliance awards in 2016
- Runner up in the Yorkshire Post Rural Awards in 2017 for rural diversification
Faye and Kevin’s backgrounds are not in retail. In fact Kevin was a commercial photographer and Faye was a speech and language therapist. 10 years ago they entered the retail world when they purchased the Village Store and Post Office.
Faye said: “Our success story so far has been a true partnership between me and my husband. The shop and Post Office has stood on this site for over 100 years and we feel it is vital that it should be kept running for the community, particularly as all the local banks have now closed. Adapting and moving with the times has been key.
“Things were getting more challenging, and we wanted to bridge the gap between the main village and our local community so we had to diversify our business. We opened our guest accommodation, The Barn, in 2017 which is adjacent to the shop.
“Competition was getting fiercer so shortly after, we also decided to refurbish the store in 2018 and now offer our customers a wider selection of deli and takeaway foods from local producers. We also produce our own home baked goods and confectionery and sell personalised hampers under the label of Monk Foodie.
“It has been a challenge and hard work, there’s no single and sure winning solution for business, but diversification really makes a difference. It’s a fine balance to get it all right, but shop customers visit the Post Office, sometimes Post Office customers use the shop.
“People don’t realise we are award winning until they visit and often it leads to repeat trade which is great.
“We never really thought about entering awards before but we did once – and we started winning. It’s been positive for business and given the team a real boost in terms of motivating them and making them proud.”
Dawn Penty, Area Manager said: “Faye is a great example of a postmistress getting the balance right on community focused entrepreneurship. She’s got great positive attitude towards her local community and her dedication and commitment to her three businesses is inspirational.
At the core, Faye’s business model is all about getting the customer experience first class by making their life easier, just those little things and going that extra mile for their customers. Customers showed their appreciation for the two members of staff who man the post office during the recent Love Your Customer week and in recognition these two ladies were awarded a Customer experience award within my Area.”
Or see Instagram – @monk_fryston_barn
Want to know more, read on below:
The ROSE (Recognition of Service Excellence) awards showcase England’s variety of high-quality accommodation where owners and employees go the extra mile to make their customers’ visits extra special. They are selected following a nomination by a VisitEngland Assessor and are only awarded to 100 hospitality venues nationwide.
Faye and Kevin were presented with the White Rose Award from Welcome To Yorkshire for best B&B and Guest House at a glittering award ceremony at the Leeds First Direct Arena in November 2019.
Part of the final judging included a visit by a mystery shopper, who concluded: “A traditional B&B offering an exceptionally comfy bed and the most delicious breakfast. Guests are warmly welcomed and are on hand for good, local advice and even a ride to the station!.”
The Barn’s ‘most delicious breakfast’ was a runner up in 2019’s Deliciouslyorkshire Taste Awards and The Barn and the Post Office and Village Stores jointly won ‘Best New Business’ at the same awards in 2018. The Deliciouslyorkshire Taste Awards are regarded as the largest and most respected Food and Drink awards programme in the region.