By Kathy Kyle, Founder

We know that key to the success working in a business improvement district is partnership, empowerment and community building.

In the first quarter of 2023, we began working with the Dorking Business Improvement District (BID). Since February, we have streamlined internal processes, made cost savings, and significantly improved relationships with partners through our carefully managed stakeholder management programme, which is both digital and face to face. Rooted in our approach to integrated omni-channel brand development and grassroots advocacy, we are once again helping our clients through collaboration and community building.

The nonprofit, business-led company now has monthly meetings with the council chief executive and head of the district council.

The BID has been shortlisted for two national awards for which we hosted.

The organisation has received more earned media coverage in the past eight months than its previous five year term combined.

Last week it not only received the BBC Radio Story of the Day, it received the Times photo of the day (digital edition).

The Times Photo of the Day online by Paul Quezada-Neiman
Credit: Paul Quezada-Neiman/Alamy

We developed and collaborated with our client team to create a holistic campaign to drive footfall to the town. The success of our work depends on our ability to create strong brand ambassadors not only with our client but with their stakeholder audience. As Christmas approaches, the Dorking BID team, composed of our DigiKind team and our client team, kicked off the festivities with Small Business Saturday and the Very Dorkensian Christmas Festival.

The event was a success, with key stakeholders composed of: businesses, BID Board, members, volunteers, and community partners. Our team galvanised the entire community into action, generating sponsorship from sponsors and active participants: BBC Radio, paid and donating sponsors, volunteers, the committee, residents, churches, schools, charities and non profits (Friends of Dorking, The Mens Shed, and Circular Dorking), Safety Advisory Group, the street clean up crew, and local council teams.

Semi rural goes national

We believe in collaboration for mutual success.

Our team coordinated the shoot requested by photographer Paul Quezada-Neiman with our community and business partners: The Dorking Desk Shop, the Kings Arms Pub and Dorking Dramatic Arts Society. We briefed the landlords, requested permission from all parties, organised all aspects of the costuming, parking, approvals and a member of our team was present to meet the photographer to ensure he had no issues on the day – all whilst managing a full street closure, market vendors, entertainment and awards ceremony.

We have an incredible team.

Our Small Business Britain UK campaign was picked up and shared on Instagram and Twitter with an overall reach of over 110,000 followers. We were interviewed by SBS and our creative campaign and interview were both shared by the brilliant Small Business Saturday team, shining a light on our client and town.

Jo Sherwood, Founder of Anni and Arthurs – Photo: Rosie Riordan

Shining a light on Community Spirit

In addition to a focus on shopping locally, the celebrations extended beyond twinkling lights, with live music, festive stalls, sustainable shops, children’s activities, food and fare – our team also celebrated the town’s pride in place with the Community Spirit Awards.

This initiative is aimed at shining a spotlight on the incredible businesses, individuals and volunteers making a real and recognisable difference in our beloved town. With the success of the DorKing Coronation awards, we brought this initiative back to recognise the positive spirit that is alive and well in the community. Our winners were shocked and delighted by the accolades; all joined the crowd at the main stage at the festival.

By the Numbers

We measure our results by our impact and what we can influence as a consulting agency. Dorking businesses and the town, like many in the UK, has suffered from the impacts of the pandemic, the closure of all nearly all banking services, rising food costs, parking fees, global conflicts, and inflation. From a reputation management perspective, BIDs also have a mixed response from businesses as a whole. We have worked hard to improve relationships with BID businesses and community partners and we are confident that we are achieving success.

Here are a few testimonials from a survey we sent out, after our first event:

  • It gave a good impression of Dorking and was fun for all ages Dorking is a great town and I’d like to see more if these events.
  • It was a perfect event, well organised and popularised. People really enjoyed it. Well done!!!
  • You are doing a wonderful job.
  • Great event and a pleasure working with the team.

We have not sent a survey after our second event yet, however we have asked all community partners involved for feedback, and it continues to pour in. We have also scanned all social media and will conduct a survey after the Christmas period.

  • It was a joyous event and a good reminder in dark times that community can lift ones spirits. We are so lucky here in Dorking as we punch well above our weight when it comes to community heroes and on a day like this they were out in force. Well done the BID – this event was medicine for the soul!
  • Dorking seemed to be buzzing all afternoon in spite of the wet weather. The variety of acts and stalls was great and you added your usual spark of magic. Congratulations on another special event and please pass on my personal congratulations to all of your team. These events only work if everybody does their thing and, by golly, everybody did. Here’s to the next event but perhaps not too soon.
  • Once again, huge congratulations for such a successful event. I’ve done a number of Christmas events like this over the years and the sheer variety of what was on offer and the overall feel were both hugely impressive.
  • You did a brilliant job leading a fantastic team. You nurtured an open and relaxed atmosphere where people could talk freely and feel confident to make suggestions/try things. If I try really hard I might be able to trawl up a few minor suggestions but they would be minor.
  • Thank you for having us at your beautifully organised, heartwarming, and memorable event. We thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I hope you’re having a well earned rest today.
  • It was a great day, full of variety and had something for everyone. The incredible effort of you and your team in arranging this was massive and took so many hours. You should feel very proud of what you achieved.
  • Fantastic day well done all. So many fabulous people also volunteered on the day. So glad I live in Dorking with such wonderful folk. Kathy you are brilliant. I am in awe of your organisational skills. Thank you.
  • I just wanted to drop a line to say well done. A phenomenal amount or organisation, prep and implementation went into that. From our point of view, from start to finish it was a joy to be part of, thank you so much for all you did to make that happen.
  • Hi Kathy. I forgot to write earlier. I just want to say this was first time since I’m in Dorking that I could get out to see Christmas markets. Normally I been stuck in pub. I can’t really compare to previous years but i just wanted to say Well done organising it – it was really fantastic atmosphere I haven’t seen so many people in Dorking 🙌. It was brilliant to se town being busy. Hopefully everyone had lots of sales and good time. Thank you so much for putting our town on map.😊😊🤗🤗 Big Thank you for you and your team 😊
  • Massive shout out for all who participated in today’s Christmas event in Dorking. In spite of the cold and eventually the rain many people were there offering their goods, services, knowledge, experience, not to mention dancing and singing skills to encourage the town to have a very happy Christmas. I would especially like to thank Kathy Kyle and the BID partnership team for organising everything.
  • Well done Kathy Kyle and the Dorking Business Partnership team for getting us into The Times today (online). Kim Stevens you’re finally going national!!!
  • We had a great time too. Cycled in as far as Topps Tiles, parked and walked the rest of the way in. I’d like to thank everyone that made it happen. Well done to all involved. We tried Fire Pizza which was great, and we wouldn’t have done had to the event not been on.
  • What a great event in Dorking today. Knew it was going to be busy, parked at the station and after a 10 minute walk through the park we were in Dorkensian Dorking supping mulled wine and mince pies.

Header photo credit: Luke Whatley-Bigg. Find him on Instagram at @photography_possibilities.