Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Members' Affinity Scheme

For many years I have been looking at ways to thank and reward our members for their support. 

Tangentially, I have also been working with various local councillors to encourage residents to "shop local" and support their independent retailers.

Then six months ago I realised the two could be directly linked: a Members' Affinity Scheme which would both reward members for their support, encourage new members to join and, at the same time, drive footfall towards Kent's many independent small shops and businesses. 

After a great deal of hard work, we are about to launch our Members' Affinity Scheme. 

The trial is taking place in Paddock Wood (where West Kent Towers is situated) and where, I am delighted to report, sixteen of the towns 20 or so independent retailers have "signed up" to participate. If the trial is a success we hope to roll it out in other areas.

The key is to give the retailers maximum choice in the size and scale of their offer. Some have used it to drive business on quiet days (10% discount on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). Others to up-sell (complimentary pudding if you buy a starter and main course). Some have simply given a wide discount which can be used any time. 

Importantly, we have also attracted a wide variety of general retailers (not exclusive suppliers which are out of reach for many shoppers). Participants include a pet shop, hairdresser, dry cleaner, card shop, Indian restaurant, nail bar, hardware store and print shop. Businesses that almost every local shopper will use on a weekly basis. 

We will be officially launching the scheme in September at a reception hosted by Greg Clark MP with local participating retailers and community leaders invited as guests. At the moment our sixteen retailers are signing off their artwork, before the brochure goes to print.

Once the scheme is up and running we will send a discount card to all those members in the surrounding catchment areas then follow up with a membership recruitment campaign to all local pledges, citing the discount card as a reason for joining. 

Will it work? It will certainly do no harm, and until we try these things we will never know.  

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