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Tips on navigating and thriving as a small business during the Covid crisis

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by Startacus Admin

The Butlers Larder
Artisan food and drink producers from the Butlers Larder share tips on navigating and thriving as a small business during the Covid crisis.

Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses has brought together an array of exciting, artisan food and drink producers from across the North to create “The Butlers Larder”– a delivery service of fresh groceries to homes in Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

The Butlers LarderEach Larder producer is brilliant at what they do - be it meat, pasta and cheese or coffee, nut butter and chocolate! In what are challenging times for many small businesses, the Butlers Larder is a vital outlet for artisans to continue doing what they do best. More information on all of the artisans can be found here;

Producers from the Butlers Larder have come together to provide their tips on navigating and thriving as a small business during the Covid crisis.

Matthew Hall, Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses

“As a fourth generation family business, we have great relationships with makers, producers and artisans. We put passion, care and innovation into everything that we do, so even though we are in the midst of the Covid crisis, we would always say to continue to work with partners who share your values as a business - don’t panic and stray too far away from your core – yes you need to be agile and innovate but don’t lose who you are, either.”

Mary Monkman, Lakeland

“Be able to adapt your business - we have seen a real increase in people wanting to send gifts to family and friends and so have adapted our offerings to reflect that.”

Jools Abel, Nowt Poncy

“Go above and beyond in anything you do. If you have to deliver at midnight - do it. Sunday 04:30 delivery slot? No problem, be there 20 minutes early!

“Don’t make promises you can’t fulfil. People will always remember when you let them down and remember to communicate - if you have promised something but can’t fulfil it due to a courier issue or lack of stock, let the person who ordered know as soon as possible. 

“If you f*** something up, confess as soon as possible. People are remarkably receptive to honesty and truthfulness. They dislike deceit and lies.

“Order damaged or lost by a courier? It’s not the customer’s fault. Send another straight away and deal with the issue later. Provide THE very best customer service possible, every minute of every day. 

“The rule books have been ripped up. Take this opportunity to make new rules and collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Find your tribe and see how you can help them as well as how they can help you.

“Find someone whom you trust implicitly so you can share your downs and bad days and know they won’t blab.

Simon Cordingley, The Bee Centre

“Focus on producing a first class product that you really believe in and the sales will follow. For us it’s more about making sure customers get a high quality product with excellent service.” 

Paul Williams, Choc Amor Ltd

“Having an online presence is key.  Ensure your website is simply laid out and easy to use. 

The Butlers Larder“Increase social media usage to keep let customers know you are there, and informed of what’s happening, what they can order online and anything new.

“Think about what products would be useful at this time.  We have, for instance, put together a small letter box friendly gift box which is shipped with a message sticker saying thank you / happy birthday / missing you. 

“Consider a door to door delivery service within your local area.”

Maria Whitehead, Hawkshead Relish Company

“Our business really changed due to foot and mouth in 2001 and the resilience we have built since then has stood us in good stead for this crisis. We have looked at what we have, listened to what people want and reacted to provide this in a way that works for us and our business, not being scared of diversifying or altering the business model to fit the marketplace, being adaptable and creating new opportunities. Some ideas will work, others may not, but everything is worth a go!” 

Julian Campbell, Funky Nut Co.

“Perhaps a little late in the day, but, cash is king - really it is. Control your costs, all of them. For example don't get into debt to buy new kit to manufacture. Buy used or think of alternatives (they are out there). Then, when things like Covid happen, you can weather the storm. 

“Diversify. Too many eggs in one basket has never been truer. Can you sell products to another market e.g. cakes and other products? Vac pack them and sell onlie. Can your equipment be used for other products? Ours will do peanut and nut butters, but also nut milks and sauces.” 

Emma Coupe, Alston Dairy

“Over 50% of our sales came from the food service industry so when the pandemic began to take hold, we knew we would have to adapt to survive the period. The key areas we focused on were making better links with other local suppliers, this has led to great collaborations and additional sales via doorstep deliveries. 

The Butlers Larder“Speaking to existing customers (and businesses we no longer supplied) to see if there were any new opportunities to increase our range with them. This has led to picking up quite a number of new/increased orders. We have found that our customers are more willing to talk at the moment and discuss potential opportunities, as everyone is in the same boat.

“Think now about what the new ‘normal’ might be, and how you can utilise any new business opportunities that might come your way. Be adaptable and don’t close off any potential avenues.”

The Butler’s Larder (@butlerscheese @butlerslarder)

Visit to find out more about all of the producers and to place an order, minimum of £40. Delivery to five counties in the North West and also West Yorkshire. Orders must be placed by noon two days before delivery day. Delivery schedule as follows, (none at weekends):

Monday - Cumbria
Tuesday - Lancashire
Wednesday - Greater Manchester & Cheshire
Thursday - Merseyside
Friday – West Yorkshire (selected postcodes)

Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses


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Published on: 14th May 2020

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