The campaign has a cross party, business friendly approach at core. We have a firm but positive line which is absolutely necessary for bringing managers on board, maintaining wide political support and for work with Head Offices. These guidelines are to make sure this works.
Approaching the retailers
We work to establish a positive relationship with store managers and head offices. We have found that getting impassioned is counterproductive. An unfriendly approach can set a store manager against cooperation very quickly, and the damage takes months to repair. Agreeing to differ and taking on board their very real concerns is essential for leaving a way forward with those who will not comply, and we have found that time, with several visits and discussion often lead to change.
It is possible, however, for everyone to help in some capacity. Some people have admitted that they just feel too angry not to take a confrontational approach, so they have agreed to keep up the pressure as independent customers while letting us know of developments they come across, and they are very useful in this role.
Visiting all the store managers is very important, particularly for independent stores. It is time consuming, but it is amazing how a whole city can be covered by visiting a few shops at a time on a routine basis. Mail drops unfortunately do not work well, and generate a lot of waste.
How to plan your route around the shops
Concentrate on streets with small independent shops first as they are more likely to be paying attention to their heating bills and join us. We advise approaching shops that are already closing the door to join the campaign first and display a sticker if possible. Once you have 30 or 40 in the campaign in the city then retailers feel that they are not going out on a limb and find it easier to change. The independents feel the increase in fuel prices bitterly, while the chains are often protected from this.
Take the campaign leaflets/factsheet and ask to speak to the manager, or if they are not there speak to another member of staff. You will find out all sorts of useful information e.g. a shop never uses heating because it has problems with heat from next door, or the lighting is too hot. Note it all down.
Stickers and flyers
We provide campaign templates for printing out – a factsheet, a sign for the shop door, and a poster. The campaign may also have stickers and leaflets directly available, for which please send a message to [email protected].
Leaflets are handed over personally to shop staff, preferably the manager. We have found that mail drops just get put in the bin. It is important to leave stickers only in shops where they will definitely be put up. Offer to put them up on the spot, and if in doubt revisit rather than leaving them go to waste.
Many shops agree to be part of the campaign but can't take a sticker for a variety of reasons (all published materials have to come through the company, they don't ever take stickers etc). It is not vital that a sticker is displayed, but it both helps the campaign and encourages customers to close the door behind them. It is a good idea to note on the campaign spreadsheets which shops have taken stickers so that replacements can be dropped off over time.
How the closed door policy affects business
There is a retail myth that a closed door will damage business. This is demonstrably not true. Over 300 shops in Cambridge alone of all types and sizes from Primark down to the delis, operate a closed door policy (we started with 8) and none of them would run with it if business was affected. The Cambridge University Research Project also found no problem, and neither have a number of detailed internal research studies conducted in companies such as Vodafone and Neal's Yard
When shops are not using energy to heat/cool the store
The question of leaving the door open while the heating/air con is off is a complication. Shops may need to open the door to avoid switching air conditioning on - natural ventilation is obviously the low energy option in these cases. We can only find out what is going on through discussions with the managers but stores with open doors while not using energy for climate control are part of the campaign (these may include flower and chocolate shops that do not use any heating or air con). In the late spring most shops will not be using energy for climate control. As a result we have a policy of stressing that a shop is being asked to close the door specifically against energy waste and may have open doors at some times in the year. It does mean that continued monitoring is very important indeed.
Media coverage and press releases
As a matter of course, as with other NGOs, we ask that all press releases under the Close the Door name are sent here to come from the main site. Although we require accountability to the centre it is most unusual that we have to change any copy. As regards the media, the campaign has now had excellent national coverage and this adds weight to all local Close the Door coverage. If you need any help on this please let us know.
Timing through the year
Time is of the essence as retailers seem to understand loss of energy through wasted heat much better than through wasted air conditioning and it is considerably more effective to catch them in cold weather. The late spring to autumn is a good time to go round the shops again to consolidate earlier approaches and update info, and draw attention to the problem of air conditioning. Autumn is important for reminding shops of Close the Door, however compliant or non compliant they are, and organising media coverage for late autumn and winter.
Taking the campaign to shopper
Educating customers about closing the door is something that the shops need help with. It is useful to contact people not only through the media but also through community groups - whether in schools, colleges, churches, mosques, synagogues, neighbourhood watch groups etc. Using the short film on the website the Close the Door message need only take a short time. Flyers and posters are useful in this context, as are pop up banners. We can also send you templates for these in due course. Shoppers tend to throw away or drop flyers without looking at them.
Contacting head offices
Although you can always contact head offices personally, when approaching on behalf of Close the Door head offices are tackled centrally with input from the groups. If you could let us know of any Head Office contacts that you want made we would be very grateful as we co-ordinate this centrally, can send you the outcome of any past contact, and let you know who to send your comments on stores to for maximum effect.
The disabled access question/mothers with buggies
Disabled access is frequently used as an excuse to leave the shop door open. Even from managers who have access up very steep narrow steps. Disabled Access is never a suitable excuse for leaving a shop door open. All Planning Departments and Disabled groups that we have approached have stressed that an open door is never an acceptable answer to suitable access. Disabled groups have all sorts of other suggestions e.g. tassels on door handles/door bells etc that can be put in place/ attention from staff etc. They also make the point that less mobile shoppers suffer badly from draughty, cold or overheated areas of the shop floor, which are possible to eliminate with a closed door. Mothers with modern buggies almost invariably hold a door open with a shoulder and get their highly manoeuvrable buggy in with no problem. This is equally possible with a double buggy (and nine times out of ten some kind person holds the door anyway).
It is very helpful to get a statement of support from your local MP and MEP. See here for those who have already given their support. It is common practice to send a short statement for approval, and to state that it will be used on the campaign website and for local publicity. Please contact the campaign if you would like some help with this.
City council/local business association support
It might be helpful to know that we started by working closely with Cambridge City Council from the beginning. Their support has been crucial and they can give the campaign a reference - please contact us if you would like us to put you in touch. We also work with the Sustainable Cities Department and City Centre Management. This backing is very useful to add weight to a local Close the Door campaign. Supporting the campaign is an easy a way for a council to show green credentials.
It is valuable to get the campaign in articles in City Council publications e.g. environmental and shopping magazines.