Notes: May ‘Business Matters’ 13/04/2021

As N2’s community and business network, with a wide range of interests represented at each meeting, N2United provides the opportunity for us all to share news and suggestions as to how we can make East Finchley an even better place to live and work.

We act as a forum for all local businesses and community organisations and provide an opportunity for businesses to promote their services. All ideas will be compiled and published on our website. As the majority of attendees prefer the meeting time of 8pm over 7pm we will continue at this time at least for the next few meetings.

1.     Welcome from N2United Chair, Nick Allan.

‘Back to Life, (back to reality)’, by Soul to Soul, was our hosts ‘walk on’ music as he opened the May N2United meeting on Thursday, 13th, fitting given more restrictions were lifted this month. With our usual co-host, Louise Cambridge on holiday, Ruth Anders was on hand to help keep the meeting… and our host, on tack helping to steer the meeting to its promised 9pm close. As Ruth pointed out, it was a particular pleasure to see so many past members, attending again as well as all of those attending for the first time, all are very welcome!

This meeting returned to the focus of ‘Business Matters’, designed to help local shops and businesses share tips and tricks on marketing and promotion to strengthen their business.

Guest Speaker, Grant Silverman, owner of WOW Merchandise based in East Finchley, provided an insightful view of the various options small businesses should consider to improve their marketing, find new customers and build sales.

The meeting was again honoured by the presence of 2 of our Local Councillors, Claire Farrier and Arjun Mittra who provide an update on several local matters including the parking and the cycle lanes.

2.     Updates since last meeting

With the meeting scheduled for an hour, there was a lot to cram in but the ‘viewers’ heard from a range of business sharing their news or promoting their business including Little Volcanos, Muswell Hill Gym, Age UK, Chery Tree Tuition Centre, Dementia Friends, KOKOS, Nudo Pizza amongst many others.

The East Finchley Food Project
Alison Roberts spoke about the East Finchley Food Project which has now been running for 5 months.  It aims to feed anyone that needs extra help.  It will continue to carry on once the Phoenix is open from 10:30 am to12:30 pm every Tuesday in the foyer.  You can donate or pay a meal forward with this link https://iloven2.co.uk/community-organisations/n2-food-project/

Finchley Food Bank
The local Food Bank is run from St Mary’s Church, towards the north end of the High Road, working in conjunction with other food projects. Please support and refer to Facebook for the list of particular items required each week. https://www.finchleyfoodbank.org.uk/

Brian’s Tuesday Quiz
Brian Hoopers
long running weekly quiz is still going strong! It starts at 8 pm and usually ends about 9pm and used to be held at the East Finchley Constitution Club but is now via Zoom. Look out for a list of topics published on his Facebook page on the Friday or Saturday before each meeting so people can do some research! Zoom ID is: 771 5119 7569, Password: 2JrVBX.

Age UK

Gillian Jordan, Age UK Barnet, provided an interesting overview of the work of the charity including suggestions for how people can get involved in the upcoming ‘Dementia Awareness Week’ – for more information on what is going on in the area, see www.ageukbarnet.org

Gillian also mentioned that Age UK Barnet are looking for volunteers in the following areas:

1) walking buddy (for the elderly who are scared to go out alone)

2) digital inclusion buddy (for elderly who don’t know how to use the internet)

For more information on the work of Age UK across the country, visit: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/

Dementia Friends

Cllr. Farrier is also involved with Dementia Friends and runs a series of Dementia Friends information sessions locally. https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/WEBSessionDetails?id=a055I00000I9PDsQAN#.YHcH6-hKg2x

East Finchley Arts Festival
It was reported that the East Finchley Arts Festival has been discontinued in its previous format. A suitable individual is being sought to take over as Director to expand the format for broader inclusion of arts and music. Daphne Chamberlain is scheduled to attend the June N2United and will provide more information then.

3.     Business update

With so much change for our shops and small business due to the restrictions and now with the re-opening of non-essential shops, it was important to hear from Brian Hooper with his regular, ‘N2United Business Update’. He reported that between 12 and 15 shops overall in N2 haven’t re-opened since the start of the pandemic, but this is fewer in comparison to other nearby areas. For example, in the local Barnet area, many haven’t re-opened with Whetstone reporting 20 closed shops, Friern Barnet, 16 and in Muswell Hill it’s 18!

More specifically, Brian reported on the following local, businesses:

  • Aylmer Parade – dentists still closed as they have mostly elderly patients, there are 2 shops likely to close as the landlord is putting the rent up.
  • Market Place – only one shop closed
  • Church Lane – no shops closed
  • East End Road – 2 shops closed (solicitors and hairdresser)
  • Graham’s butcher open and busy!  Nick at East End Road Barbers is taking bookings online.
  • Fortis Green – The site previously occupied by Mightee Fit is being converted into office space
  • High Road – 6+ shops haven’t re-opened

Business Stimulation Campaign
N2United continues to help local businesses and the community with a range of business stimulation campaigns and we are currently planning the next series. Currently, we are featuring a number of local businesses on our website as part of the ongoing ‘showcase’ feature – see http://n2united.co.uk/n2unique/showcase/

To share your ideas or to have your business featured as one of our ‘showcase’ business, please get in touch!

James Boyce – Cherry Tree Tuition
Run after school tuition – are looking to expand online and home learning offering.  There is also a Summer school in the pipeline too.

Hussein Lalani – Muswell Hill Health Club
Hussein Lalani, owner of the newly opened ‘Muswell Hill Health Club’ shared his plans for his new gym on the site where the Manor Gym in Fortis Green was sited, extremely popular with East Finchley residents. Hussein and his team took over ‘The Manor’ during lockdown and saw the site as a community hub so he wanted to take it on. Reflecting what his members requested, the new gym is now completely updated and modernised with a bright new Café at entrance. He wants to make it a popular ‘local’ gym instead of another ‘corporate cookie cutter gym’ to provide the ‘look and feel’ of a west end gym in N2! Now offering yoga, Pilates and spin classes as well as the usual services expected of a modern gym with the added advantage of a pool.

4.     Report from our local Councillors:

Councillors, Claire Farrier and Arjun Mittra, East Finchley ward councillors provided update for the group, on a range of local matters including the cycle lanes which they are still trying to follow up on but report slight improvements with junction of Baronsmere Road and the new loading bays in Fairlawn Avenue and Chandos Road.

As there is now more of a ‘café culture’ developing in the country as result of pandemic, local councillors are processing requests for permission for the expansion of seating onto pavement and encourage people to get in touch with them if you’re interested in doing the same.

Echoing the request by Cllr. Moore at the April N2United meeting, they stressed the importance of being given as much detailed information as possible on specific, issues as possible so they can help.

5.     Speakers

Grant Silverman – Wow! Merchandise

Grant Silverman, Wow! Merchandise, was invited to speak at this meeting to help local businesses and organisations improve their marketing, find new customers, and build sales with a range of ideas to consider.

Grant asked, “What does marketing mean?” Explaining that it is ‘the action or business of promoting and selling products or services’.  What about sales? Sales are what SHOULD come out of marketing – don’t be scared of the word he implored!

As most people’s first port of call is the internet for new providers… including for local businesses and services, you should make sure your ‘presence’ is impactful, useful and relevant to your audience. Also, consider the following areas below:

  • Video – to promote your business in a visual way to express information and emotion.
  • General digital advertising e.g., pay per click
  • SEO – a way of standing out from other people. Including how to stand out on the high street.
  • Mailing list – an effective way to stay in touch with clients.
  • P.R. – providing your clients or potential clients with information about your business to reinforce a positive opinion about the work you provide.
  • Social media and blogs – important and potentially highly effective way to talk about your business and what it does.

There are 5 major channels of social media, small businesses should concentrate on 1 or 2 channels that suit you or your audience or you will spread yourself too thin.

It is difficult to know which part of your marketing might have made the impact you want, so equally important as what you do is how its measured – remember, it’s rare that marketing brings instant return. 

Reinvest your businesses spending by putting a measure in to see if your marketing is working.  This is Return on investment and should be measurable. Also, make sure your measures are realistic!

About Grant Silverman
Grant Silverman of Wow! Merchandise has been involved in marketing for 20 years, primarily in branding, print and promotional merchandise but through his business has also a lot of experience with general marketing including PPC, PR, Video, Mailing Lists, and advertising.

He also helps run the East Finchley festival where he is responsible for marketing and the main stage. www.wowmerchandise.co.uk

Lynn Winton

Lynn Winton provided a glimpse of retail expert, Sara Gatoffs tips and advice on how to sell into big retail chains, develop a local presence as well as advice on running a small business. Sara will join us at our next ‘Business Matters’ meeting later in the year to expand on these ideas.

6.     Soap Box

Diana Cormack, The Archer newspaper, jumped on the N2United Soapbox to reinforce the appeal from Hat at the April meeting. Highlighting a recent article in the paper about the increasing local, litter problem, Diana shared early plans to help promote a change in behaviour re the detrimental effects of litter to encourage us all – including local shops and businesses and the wider community – to discourage people from dropping rubbish.

Ideas are encouraged for ideas for an N2 wide initiative.

7.     AOB

The recent petition for improved safety in the causeway has started well and has already received over 3,000 signatures but still needs more local support to affect change, sign the petition at you.38degrees.org.uk/p/thecauseway

8.     Thanks & Close

Co-host, Ruth Anders, thanked everyone again for their attendance and especially the sustained energy and ideas shared and encouraged everyone to spread the word about these regular N2United, 2nd Thursday, monthly meetings.

Thank You!
Thanks were also expressed to everyone who is supporting the various food projects, to our Councillors, The Archer for hosting the meeting via their Zoom account as well as a special thanks to the N2United committee, particular to chair, Nick Allan for his personal time and dedication.www.n2united.co.uk/meetings.
Thanks to everyone who continues to support our local shops and businesses, you’re making the difference!

Next N2UNited meeting8pm via Zoom on Thursday 10th June 2021

The meeting is open to everyone and will build on, and develop the ideas shared at these meetings to support our local businesses and organisations, keep us all safe, and keep improving the area where we all live or work.

We will also be sharing more on our next business stimulation campaign – tell your business neighbours!