Supporting Suffolk business – why we buy local!

“Buy local” is a phrase that’s bandied about a lot these days. We’re all painted a grim picture by the media… reports of high streets that are turning into ghost towns; small businesses going bust as they fail to compete on price with big players like Tesco and with ever-increasing rents and rates; traditional village services like butchers, bakers, convenience shops no longer “convenient” to the returning-home-from-work commuter.

And yet, at the same time, we’re also being told to “buy local if you want to save your local high street”. But are we actively doing this? It’s easy to pay lip service to the buy local mantra, but we’d have to say, it’s not something that is being practiced by the many.

Do I buy local myself? I’d love to. Is it always possible? No. On a personal level, it is by far and away more convenient to stop off at Sainsbury’s or Tesco on the way back from work to do the weekly shop or to buy some additional items that have been forgotten or are needed for an unplanned dinner. I can get everything I need in one simple visit to a large supermarket. What’s more, I can also fill up with fuel at the same time – and when you’re running a business that’s biggest monthly expense is fuel, price is everything. It would cost up to 6-7p per litre more to fill up in my village – over a month of re-fuels, that makes a big difference.

But I do make some exceptions – in the next village of Elmswell, there’s a great butcher. And I mean great. They always have the cuts of meat that I want in stock and their prices are highly competitive. The quality is unsurpassed and simply incomparable to the meat quality that you can get from a supermarket. So I will always, except in last-minute, urgent situations, frequent the butcher in addition to my weekly shop.

I do however try to ensure that our business requirements are met locally though. We’re asking our clients to buy our services from us – a local taxi and airport transfer company. Thankfully there isn’t such thing as Tesco Taxis, Sainsbury’s Shuttles, Asda Airport Transfers or Morrisons Chauffeurs yet (if they ever decide to launch this, you heard it here first, and hopefully they’re not reading anyway)! Our clients are putting their money into us, so I feel it our duty, where possible, to re-invest some of that back into my local area.

So what do we do to commit to this?

Firstly, all of our vehicles are looked after by Andy’s Auto Fix in Norton, Suffolk. Not a Ford main dealer. Not a branch of Kwik Fit or Central Tyre. But a local, established mechanic, that gives us the best prices that they can with the service and care that comes from having a close relationship between our companies

As our clients will know, we provide a uniformed service – our smart jackets and shirts are selected and embroidered in Ipswich by GM Supplies. When we have requirements, they’re quick off the mark to order what we require, get it embroidered and arrange for its collection. Normally within a matter of a couple of days

Our website was designed and is maintained by another company from Ipswich – WebStorm UK. A small and independent business that listened to our requirements, delivered what we wanted and are constantly working with us to continue it’s development

Similarly, every good website that wants to be visible these days has to have an element of SEO (“Search Engine Optimisation”) and Search Marketing. Being well out of our skill set, we contract SEOmers from Hadleigh to do this for us. Again, a small company, which helps maintain a personal relationship between our companies. They actively put more time and effort into improving the visibility of our website than we could ever do, and they’re a very forward thinking company – they come up with the future suggestions on development long before we ever do!

Our photography is all handled by another Ipswich company – Heff’s Photography. We’ve worked with them ever since our conception and hopefully you can see why if you look at the pictures spread over this website

On the other side of the coin however – yes, there are things that we either can’t source locally, or are so price-driven on that we have to look nationwide to gain an advantage on. But we do try to limit this where possible.

So ask yourself – what are you doing to support your local economy? Are there one or two slight changes you can make to enable a small business where you are to weather the economic storm and stay open? We’d love to hear your thoughts…