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The future of our member meetings

Learning and Leading

bira’s constitution states that we are supposed to have four meetings every year for each of our divisions (which are the Pet Product Retail Association, bira Cookshop & Housewares, Fashion Association of Britain, Home Décor Retailers Association and the British Hardware Federation). However, anyone who has been involved with these meetings in the past knows that it has been an ongoing struggle to make sure these meetings happen.

We knew we needed a change. Firstly, these divisions don’t represent our varied and diverse membership. Secondly traditional committee meetings don’t have the same appeal as they once had, how many retailers have the time to sit through a whole day meeting, talking about the same things four times a year? We also had to be honest with ourselves and realise that our meetings might not have been as ‘action- led’ as members would hope. We were having meetings for meetings sake rather than making best use of our members precious time.

So, what’s the solution?

We held our first Retailer Forum this summer to come up with new ideas for our member meetings, how to overcome the barriers to attendance, how to market them and report back to the membership afterwards and we were really pleased with the ideas we received.

We’ve made these into 10 key actions:
  1. Meetings to be split into either a Leading or Learning session
         • Leading discussions on issues that members face (suitable for those who are activist members and want to support with the things we are fighting for)
         • Learning sessions that will share bira’s its own knowledge, as well as that of our partners and other members. This might include training sessions, study tours etc.
  2. Members need to choose which sectors they fall into – a survey could go out so that members can say what they sell and then invites to meetings can be based on this e.g. those members who sell knives, or those who sell lighting. Divisions that bira has on file don’t work as well as they once did and our historical data of what members sell could be out of date
  3. Themed meetings on key topics e.g. meetings about knife sales/ shop theft / ways to diversify / parking
  4. Shop study tours to be offered to the whole of membership (where relevant) to form part of the programme of activity, as learning can be gathered from all independent retailers
  5. Closer links with trade shows and group tours (not just to our UK-based exhibitions)
  6. Better promotion of meetings across all available channels and regularly report back to the whole of membership as to what actions have been taken
  7. bira to facilitate more discussion and updates between meetings via social media groups/ conference calls
  8. Create shorter meetings at times and dates that better suit members and avoid key buying and selling times
  9. No commitment – allow all members the opportunity to come to a meeting as and when they are relevant to them
  10. A greater community feel, with a focus on the networking element of a bira meeting. Members can be our advocates too and should be encouraged to bring along other retailers from their local area.

The team at bira will be working hard in the coming months to get a programme together for 2019, to encompass as many of these as we can. Once approved by our Board of Management we can update our constitution to reflect the changes our members want to see.

In return, we hope that those members who have never considered attending a meeting, will be encouraged to come along and either lead discussions or learn something new. And for those that continue to support us and give up their time in support of bira and their fellow members – thank you!

We’d love to hear your thoughts, email