Why pander to the Blue Mooners? by HC Jones, Cardiff

I have just read your Ask Fred page in the November MTJ Extra and note his reply to BH regarding the once-a-year Christmas customer. I note the once a year Christmas customer did not need a meat voucher to ask for their Christmas meat order, so why pander to them after Christmas with vouchers.

Our business has been going since 1932 and, every year from the end of November onwards, the 'Blue Mooners' start coming into the shop. They are not then seen in the shop after Christmas, although they still live in the village. I note, Fred, that you were the editor for 15 years-plus, but have you ever owned or managed a retail butcher's shop, as you never seem to mention, "when I had my own shop, I did this or did that". So I have doubts that you have had behind-the-counter experience.

We have put your theory into practice in the past, but it does not work. We are lucky to have very loyal customers and we are loyal to them. Loyalty works both ways, so why worry about the Blue Mooners?

Fred A'Court replies:

Mr Jones confirms what I suggested in my answer that this is an issue that comes up every year and annoys a lot of butchers. By mentioning vouchers I was merely suggesting some effort should be made to convert once-a-year-customers into year-round customers, hence my other suggestion that Christmas is a good time to build a database of names and addresses, so you can keep in touch with all customers that come into your shop through marketing initiatives during the following year. As regards experience, Mr Jones is right I've never owned a shop, although I have worked in one. For some 30 years I have been a food, farming and business journalist, commentator and awards judge not just on MTJ and that has brought me into contact with a huge number of people and firms in the meat sector at all levels. Hence, I can call on the expertise of many contacts when answering questions. Plenty seem to welcome the column as an entertaining springboard for new ideas or for coming up with solutions to problems in their own shop. But, as Abraham Lincoln said, "You can please some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time. But you cannot please all of the people all of the time."

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