Dean Holborn Owner, Holborns

We took over the post office in our village in 2006 after the original one closed and invested money to make space for it.

Having a post office is important to a c-store like ours because it gives people another reason to visit the shop and it reinforces the shop's place in the community. If the post office had gone, people would have had to go elsewhere and taken some business with them so it was worth doing it.

To make a post office work retailers have got to reinvest in it and have confidence in it. What Post Office Ltd wants is a modern, smart shop not the dowdy old places many post offices have become because shop owners have forgotten about them.

Retailers have to build the corporate image of the post office so people can identify with it. People running a post office need to offer consistency in terms of service, so they must have a professional approach to how they run their service, which staff they employ and so on. We have continued to invest in our post office so it offers the service our customers expect. They see it as an important part of our store and not just an old office at the back of a shop.

Ken Parsons Chief executive, Rural Shops Alliance

Post Office Ltd as an organisation has changed a great deal in the past few years. A lot of sub-postmasters haven't come to terms with this and just sit and wait for people to get their pensions.

The reality is that they need to be proactive in terms of the products they are selling and make sure they offer new Post Office products such as insurance and broadband and phone. If your post office is slated for closure there is still a lot you can do in terms of offering customers an alternative solution. Our research has indicated there are key post office services people want access to. They want to be able to post packages so you can organise for Royal Mail to come and collect packages for an annual fee or you can sign up to a parcel delivery service and charge customers a commission.

They also want access to cash, so you should be able to provide cashback or an ATM machine. They want to pay bills, which can be achieved by using PayPoint or Payzone. Finally, people will still want access to government forms such as passport applications. These are available online so if you have a computer you can print them off for customers.

Robin Prior Treasurer, Sulgrave Village Shop Assoc.

When the post office in our village closed it was a major loss to our community. The grocery store and post office closed but the loss of the post office was the bigger blow to the community so we built a new shop that had one.

We opened a store and post office in 2004 as part of a community project and it has been well received by the village. A post office is vital to the health of the community because it supports local businesses as well as individuals.

Our services are still part of Post Office Ltd. We have survived the recent cull the organisation has made, but we want to expand our operation and the services it provides to give our customers more choice. To get the most out of our post office we want to provide more services than a typical service might. So, as well as selling stamps and posting parcels, we are looking at creating a service hub that includes a post office but also banking facilities and a drop off point for goods ordered online.

The closest town to our village is an 18-mile round trip so if we can offer services at the post office, it means people haven't got to make this journey and everyone can benefit.