This week enterprise campaign StartUp Britain announced plans to open empty shops and help new retailers to get their products onto high streets. Every retailer that signs up will take a space in the shop for a two-week period, during which they benefit from a bustling high street's footfall and get to sell their products to a new and inquisitive audience. The flagship store is set to open in Richmond, Surrey over the coming weeks.
Retailers will be required to pay £135 towards the rent, but to sweeten the deal they will have an opportunity to pitch their products to John Lewis, which clearly has the potential to take their business to a new level.
If you're thinking of taking part, here's a tip: make sure you sort yourself out with a mobile chip-and-pin machine. High street shoppers will expect to be able to pay by card, so having the right technology in place could be the difference between an expression of interest and an actual sale. Make It Cheaper can help you get favourable rates on hardware and transactions that will minimise the provider's share of your revenue.
This new scheme forms part of the government's wider initiative to invigorate the retail environment in Britain's town centres following Mary Portas's formal review of high streets in December last year. More generally, the willingness is clearly there to give small businesses a fighting chance in testing economic conditions, as evidenced earlier this year when plans were announced to make empty government office spaces - made vacant after what the press dubbed the 'bonfire of the quangos' - available to start-ups at a low cost. With extra incentives such as grants, loans and mentoring schemes all in place, it seems a good time to go into business.
If you're someone who is taking the plunge, something to be aware of is your vulnerability to exorbitant energy bills in your new office or retail space. You will inherit the previous tenant's supplier and it is likely they will charge you out-of-contract rates that are typically double the amount of the cheapest deals available. Your inertia is the supplier's biggest win in this scenario - but second prize is your angry phone call because at least this represents some level of customer engagement. The supplier then has a chance to pitch less objectionable rates and a longer-term commitment.
That's unless you've already fallen victim to an opportunistic broker who has bought data that shows you are new to the building and who may use underhand tactics to trick you into long-term energy contracts on commission-inflated rates. This is where Make It Cheaper's commitment to impartiality and integrity comes to the fore. We can use our buying power and knowledge of the market to find new tenants on out-of-contract rates a great deal on their energy supply - leaving them to focus on the more exciting aspects of their new business venture.
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See how much you could cut off your utility bills by calling Make It Cheaper for a free consultation. It only takes minutes but could save your business thousands. Click here for more information.