16 – How to market a Fish and Chip Shop

Fish and Chip shop marketing plan

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We look at ways that Fish and Chip shop owners can find new customers and turn them into repeat customers and the ways which a Restaurant owner can market a fish and chip shop.  This is not just for Fish and Chip shop owners, but covers a range of ideas that work really well for other types of cuisines such as Indian Restaurants, Chinese and pizza marketing.

We look at the 2 times that a fish and chip shop customer is looking for a new fish and chip shop and ways that you can target them at those times.  How can you use Facebook to find more customers?  What is the easiest way to build an email database and how can you introduce efficiencies in your shop?

Many fish and chip shops are very busy on Saturday night, with long wait times for customers.  We look at ways to manage this and ensure you don’t lose any customers.

We also discuss how one restaurant owner discovered a database with 1,500 emails that he didn’t know that he had.

Finally we talk business plans and personal plans.  Do you have them?  Are you on track to achieve your goals.  Lots of ideas not just for Fish and Chip shop owners.

Here are a couple of articles we’ve written previously on Fish and Chip shops.

Tips for finding more customers for a fish and chip shop.

Fish and Chip shop marketing – how do you compare.


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Episode 16 – How to market a Fish and Chip Shop

James Eling: Hey, it’s James from Marketing4Restaurants and welcome to episode 16 of Secret Sauce, the restaurant marketing podcast. How to market a fish and chip shop.

James: Welcome back everyone. If you didn’t have a Facebook page up until recently, hopefully you saw the last episode and you’ve now gone out and created a Facebook page. Been getting lots of good feedback about how some people are a little bit hesitant to move into Facebook, they’ve now got a Facebook page set up.

So, that’s the first part. As promised, we are working on an advanced Facebook strategies session, where we’re going to go through some of the interesting things that you can do with Facebook. Very powerful marketing tool. Before we get into today’s topic, which is fish and chip shop marketing, I want to talk briefly about an interesting conversation I had with one of our customers. This is a guy who’s just taken over the marketing for his father’s business. So, we’ve been dealing with the father up until now, and the son came in and said he wanted to do a few things about marketing and he had a few ideas about things that he wanted changed with the website, which was all good. It was a very interesting conversation about online bookings. He said that he wasn’t a really big fan of taking bookings online, he said that most customers prefer to either just walk in or they got a lot of people calling to make a booking. And I said, “Absolutely, I know in Australia we find that probably around only 10 percent of bookings are made online.

But, you know, that number is growing all the time.” So, he said, “I don’t really know if we need to have the Free Online Restaurant Booking System (FORBS) widget there.” And I said, “Well, I’ll tell you what, how about I go and pull the numbers and we’ll just how many people have made a booking. Because the important thing is that for everyone who’s made a booking you will have received an email address, which is something that you can use.” I know that the father did, he actually got us to help with a couple of email marketing campaigns that we’d done for him. So, typical yield utilization type campaign, send an email out to drive people to come in on the quitter nights. And it was very interesting because they’d had 1,500 bookings made. So, they had 1,500 separate email addresses which is an amazing result. And he was really surprised. I said, “It doesn’t take long for those numbers to really start to add up when you send out an email campaign.”

So, coming into winter, you send out a campaign and, you know, 1,500 people. That can be quite a big campaign. And the important thing to remember is that these are emails from people who have actually eaten at your restaurant. So, hopefully they’ve had a really good experience. So, let’s just say that you send out a campaign with a really good offer to drive people to come in on Tuesday nights in winter, and get a three percent response rate. That’s 45 bookings in one month. And we know that the average bookings is around 2.4 seats per booking. That’s 108 people and their restaurant is about $40 per average. Now, that’s an extra nearly $4,500 from sending out one email. You do that every week and that’s an extra $50,000 in revenue.

And all you’ve really got to do is take your food costs out of that. The rest of it flows through to the bottom line. You’re talking about, I would have thought, probably an extra $30,000, $35,000 that would be coming through to your restaurant. He was, obviously he’s going to be leaving the online booking system widget on the website because now he’s a big believer in database marketing. His father always was a fan of it, he just didn’t realize how big their database was. And the thing that I’m a really big fan of with our free online restaurant booking system is that you don’t have to do any work. It’s not like people who put their business cards into the fish bowl, or they filled in a survey or anything which generally gets lost and then thrown out. This automatically goes into your database. It’s just sitting there waiting for you to be ready to use it. So, that’s pretty exciting.

Now, fish and chip shop marketing. Okay, so if you don’t run a fish and chip shop – and I decided to do fish and chip shop marketing is the first of our sort of niche ones because we did a blog article a while ago about how to do fish and chip shop marketing, and it’s a very popular one. We got a lot of people going to that page. And I know that it’s something that a lot of fish and chip shops sort of struggle with. They kind of set up their fish and chip shop, but they’re not really sure how they should go about doing the marketing for it. So, I thought we would choose fish and chip shops, and we’re going to try and get as specific as we can with fish and chip shops, but a lot of the information that we’re going to cover is generic restaurant marketing type, and business plan, as well, ideas for you.

How to market a fish and chips shop: Start with a business plan

So, the business plan. That’s where you should always start off. And when I talk about planning, planning is very important. Plans are useless, but planning is very important. An old Dwight D. Eisenhower quote there. The first thing that you should think about is your personal plan. Far too many restaurant owners get into this situation where they hate going to work because they feel that they’re not working towards the goals that they want. Now, it’s your business. Your business should be working towards your personal goals, whether that’s to build a lifestyle where you can travel the world. Whether it’s send your kids to a good school. Buy investment properties. I don’t know, doesn’t matter. But what you should always do is you should have that personal goal in mind, because it’s really tough running a restaurant. And if you’re going to be putting in those long hard hours and working really hard, you want to have some sort of financial benefit there for you, some way that it can impact your life.

How to market a fish and chips shop: Think about your personal goals

So, always think about your personal goals. Why is it that you come to work? Too many people get burnt out because they’ve lost sight of their personal goals, or they don’t think that they can achieve them. And that is really sad. So, you’ve set up your personal goals, whatever they are, and you’ve worked out how much money you need.

The next thing is your business plan, and this involves a lot of the money. I think you need to sit down and you need to work out, ideally do this before you open the restaurant. Before you sign the lease, start mapping out some sample budgets on how the business is going to go. One of the very sad things, and we’ve spoken about this in a previous restaurant autopsy, is restaurants that operate for six months then do their food costings and work out that the food costings are off, then work out the pricing, and they can’t make the business work. The price that they need to charge for the food is not sustainable in a competitive environment. And it’s very sad when you realize that, and it’s very sad when you realize that six months down the track. Much, much, much better to realize that two weeks before you sign the lease. You’ve already got your heart set on the place and you’ve got your idea about what the menu’s going to look like and how excited people are going to be when they pick the items, when they come into your restaurants and they order off the menu your exciting signature dish. You’ve already fallen in love with it, but it’s not too late. Run those numbers. It’s much better to pull out then than six months down the track when you’ve put all of your hard-earned money into fit out. It’s too late then. After you’ve signed the lease, after you’ve done the fit out, you’re in trouble.

How to market a fish and chips shop: Run the numbers

So, the kind of things that you want to be doing is working out all of your fixed costs. Your lease, electricity, the things that are going to come in on a monthly basis. And in some respects, you might also, there’s a bit of debate as to how you handle staff. So, a lot of places there’ll be a variable component for staff depending on how busy it is. So, staff sort of fit in, they’re a little bit difficult to work out. That’s one of the things that you sort of need to come up with a model about how many staff you think you’re going to have on, what the costs are, you need to be working out what the minimum wage rate is for them. I know in Australia that’s a big issue for a lot of people, working out what the wage rate is. So, you’ve got all of your fixed costs. One of the things I like to then work out is how many days are you going to be open, because the perfect lifestyle type business is one that’ll do, say, breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday. That means that you’ve got the weekend off, and you’ve got the evenings off, hurray. When you divide your fixed costs, so multiply that out for a year, divide by 52 that gives you your weekly fixed costs. If you’re open for five days, divide by five, that gives you the fixed costs per day. Divide that by the number of hours that you’re open, and that gives you the revenue that you need to bring in, or the profit that you need to bring in, to cover your fixed costs. Interesting.

How to market a fish and chips shop: Work out your food costs

Then work out your food costs. So, if you’re going to sell a piece of fish for $5 and it costs $1, then you’re looking at 20 percent. You can then workout, with those mathematics, you can then work out the kind of revenue that you need to be bringing in on an hourly basis. Don’t forget the things like oil, repairs on equipment, lemons. How many lemons are you going to have? How much tartar sauce are you going to have? All of those little bits and pieces. It’s the things that you forget when you’re doing your business plan, they’re the things that can come back to haunt you. I always like to have a really big amount of fat in there when you’re coming up with these costs, so that if you miss anything it can just sort of slip in. Everyone always forgets some of those sort of things. So, that’s going to give you the kind of revenue that you need, and I like to think about revenue per hour.

A restaurant is very much like an aircraft. An aircraft takes off and when it takes off, if it’s got empty seats they’re seats that they didn’t make any money on and that opportunity never comes back. You can’t sell a seat after the planes taken off. So, you want to get as many people into the plane as possible. You want to get as many people into your restaurant every hour. Now, obviously it’s going to be very hard to get people in at, say, 4 o’ clock in the afternoon. But when you start thinking about revenue per hour, if you start at 4 o’ clock could you be targeting school kids on their way home from school? Can you sell them a small chips and a couple of potato cakes just as a snack on their way home? If you think about the number of hours that you’re open and the amount of revenue that you need to bring in, that is then going to start creating questions about, “Who could I sell things to at 4 o’ clock? What is that product? What market is there that is walking by my restaurant that I could target?”

Success in business is all about the questions that you ask, and far too many times people don’t ask the right question. So, I think that once you start going through that thought process you think, “Wow, there are a lot of school kids here, I could probably sell them quite a lot of potato cakes,” or scallops, whatever you want to call them. So, that’s going to give you some numbers to think about.

Now, onto the marketing plan. Realistically, there’s a couple of different types of fish and chip shops. Are you a tourist fish and chip shop? Are you sitting at the end of a pier where people come to as part of a tourist destination? That’s a very different story to a fish and chip shop that’s in a residential area. And I’m going to really talk about your local dish and chippy. The fish and chip shop that people will go and get their average meal from. The marketing strategy’s fairly different for both of them. The first question that you want to ask yourself when you’re working on your marketing plan is what is the average long-term customer value for a fish and chip shop customer? Because it’s quite scary the amount of money that some people spend on fish and chips.

So, in our family we spend $40 when we get fish and chips. There’s a family pack that the local fish and chip shop does. And we’re actually having fish and chips tonight, which is exciting. We would have it about once every two weeks. So, 26 times a year, so that’s 40 times 26. That’s $920 a year. Now, we’ve been in the same house for eight years now. So, we would have probably spent about $7,000. Now, has that all been with the same fish and chip shop? No. The fish and chips that we get from them are okay. They are average enough that on occasion we have gone to other fish and chip shops, just to see if there was anyone better. So, they are the closest ones, the product that they sell to us above all else is convenience. We’re not really fussed about the price. If it was $5 either way, we probably wouldn’t be too concerned.

But the fish there is pre-prepared, so it isn’t fresh. We’ve been to a couple of others which we found were either as good or not as good. So, that brought us back to our normal fish and chip shop. But we left them for probably a year, and we drove an extra 10 minutes to a fish and chip shop in the next suburb because that fish and chip shop had fresh fish. And Facebook they would have photos of the fish that had just been delivered from their fish distributor and they would be there cutting it up. And it was like, “Wow, this is fresh fish. The fish is in today. Amazing. Awesome.” And so, they would cut it up. The batter was really nice. The chips weren’t that great, but the fish was amazing. Because it was fresh and it was prepared in the shop. And I think that that made a really big difference. And so, we drove past our local fish and chip shop to get the fresh fish.

Now, unfortunately, they went so well that they were able to built the business up, they got quite a good name, the sold the business off, and the person who bought the business thought, “It’s too much of a pain to prepare fresh fish. I’m not going to bother.” And as a consequence, they went back to doing pre-pared fish. And it was like, “Wow.” So, we went back to our local fish and chip shop. But they lost us for 12 months because there was someone with a superior product. So, the upshot of that story is that your long-term customer value could be quite high. Now, when you think about that, like I think about restaurants and I’m a very difficult – as far as restaurant marketing goes, I have some restaurants that I really like but I don’t often go back even though it’s amazing. I’m the kind of person who likes to go out and experience new restaurants. Yes, it’s a bit of a gamble. You go out to some places and the food is, wow, really awful, or it’s hideously expensive for what you get. You don’t really get the experience that you want, or it’s too expensive or the food’s just trash. But sometimes, you know, you’re really pleasantly surprised. So, I liked that going out and discovering new things.

So, I very rarely go back to a restaurant. Now, if your entire market is made up of people like me, you don’t want to spend a lot of money to attract me to your restaurant because of the fact that I’m not going to come back. So, that’s a problem. For a fish and chip shop though, and I think that for takeout this tends to occur quite often whether it’s Chinese, Indian, anyone who’s doing takeout, delivery, people tend to order more frequently. So, their long-term customer value tends to be a lot higher. So, even if I spend $200 a head at a fine dining restaurant but I only go there every three years, then my value is a lot lower than compared to a fish and chip shop where I’m buying a family pack for $40 but I’m doing it 26 times a year.

So, I’m spending $1,000 there every year. Which means that, and we’re starting to see it, that there are some fish and chip shops and some takeaways that are spending quite aggressively because they know that if they’ve got great food, great value, great experiences, and for whatever that means in a takeout context, they’re able to provide an experience the first time to a customer which is sufficiently good to turn them into being a regular customer. So, you would quite happily spend maybe $20, $30, $50, $100 on acquiring a customer if you average – so, we’ve spent $7,000 there. I know that in some suburbs people only stay, on average, three years. So, that would cut your long-term customer value significantly if they’re moving out of the suburb. So, you would want to be, I would have thought, you know, $20 to $30, $40, maybe $50 per customer would potentially be a good deal.

Now, you obviously want to sort of work that out and you don’t want to go spending that all in one month. I would sort of trickle that campaign out, because it’s very hard to tell the success of the campaign in the short-term if you’re relying on people to come back multiple times. You’re only really going to know that if you’re running some sort of loyalty card, or you’ve got some sort of system where you can track people. And I know some fish and chip shop owners are really quite good. My local café’s really good, he always recognizes me. He’ll talk about, you know, the topical things. He tends to talk about my t-shirts. I usually wear superhero t-shirts. And so, he’s noticed that and he will make mention of that. So, he knows that I’m one of the local customers there. In a fish and chip shop, little bit more difficult because people are going in less frequently. But it is still one of those things that you can try and get your finger and the pulse on. So, if you’ve realized that you’ve got a budget that you can spend to acquire customers, what are the kind of things that you would be trying, how would you try to acquire a customer?

Now, this is my number one tip, try to get, marketing is all about psychology and all about really understanding your customers. So, when is it going to be that you can pick up a new customer? And I would have thought that that is only going to occur on two separate occasions. One, they’re unhappy with their existing fish and chip shop. So, you know, either the last order was short, you know, “They left the fish out and I got home and there was no fish in there and I’m really upset about that.” Or, “You know what, for the quality of the fish it really is poor value. It’s soggy, it doesn’t taste fresh, it’s very oily. I’m not really happy with the quality of the food that I’m getting. I’m going to go and try a separate fish and chip shop.” That’s the first scenario. The second scenario is they’re moving into the neighbourhood. So, “I’m moving into the neighbourhood. The suburb that I have moved from is a long way away, I can’t go back to my old fish and chip shop. And even if it was the best fish and chips in the world, and the owner was amazing and all of the staff knew me by name, it’s too far for me to go and get fish and chips.” That is a point where people are going to be looking for a new fish and chip shop.

So, people who’ve just moved into the area. Now, how can you target those people? Well, there’s a couple of ways. You can target them in Facebook. There’s actually a group of people who’ve just moved, that’s one thing that you can do. But I’m thinking about something a little bit more interesting. The one industry that knows everyone’s comings and goings is the real estate industry. So, two sides to the real estate industry. The people who sell the houses and the people who manage the tenants. So, someone might, they are either going to buy or they’re going to lease. Either way, they’re moving into your suburb, your catchment area. So, and a lot of those guys will have, they’ll have a welcome basket to welcome people into the local area. So, they’re looking for things to put into their welcome basket, particularly when they’re selling a property. So, someone buys a property, they’re going to move in, now they want to be top of mind when that person decides to sell. So, there’ll be a nice big, you know, welcome basket. You know, “Welcome to the neighbourhood. Here’s a whole heap of stuff from local businesses.” What’s stopping you from creating a printed coupon with the real estate agents name on it that they can redeem?

And so, we’ve already worked out that you’re prepared to spent $20. Now, let’s just say that your fish and chip shop, your food costs are fairly high so they’re 30 percent. Would you spend $12 to pick up a new customer? Would you spend $20, $30, $40? Would you spend $50 to pick up a new customer? Because my question is if you gave away a coupon that was for a free family pack and gave that to the real estate agent to give to their customers, they would then redeem that, you’re going to give away $40 worth of fish and chips. It’s only cost you $12, but it’s your opportunity to get in front of the customer and say, “This is it. We are the best fish and chip shop in the area. You don’t need to go anywhere further. We’ve just given you a freebie. Next time we’d really love you to come back and order another family pack.”

So, the exciting thing about that is that you’re giving away $40. The real estate agent likes it because he’s got something now of value that he can give to people who are moving into the area. And I like this kind of marketing because, as long as your conversion rate is high enough, you’ve got an unlimited marketing budget. So, there’s two components here. You’re either going to give the coupon to someone, or the real estate agent give the coupon to someone, now they’re going to two things, they’re either going to redeem or it or not. If they don’t redeem it, what does it cost you? Nothing. Hurray. Apart from printing costs, which is virtually nothing. So, it’s costs you the printing costs. It’s costs you like 5 or 10 cents. And they may become a customer without redeeming. You’ve created brand awareness. And we see that quite a bit, people they get the voucher then they forget about it, they throw it in the bin and think, “I would like fish and chip shops.” And then they start looking for it, and you’re already top of mind. If they do redeem it, then there’s two choices again. They’re either going to become a customer or not.

So, if the food is great, if the value is great, if you provide a great experience, those are the kinds of things that highly predispose people to becoming a repeat customer. So, you’ve spent $12. Now, what is your conversion rate on that? Now, this is one of those things where it’s very difficult to know because, you know, unless you’re doing some sort of loyalty system. But if you do it over a period of six months, you would expect to see a significant increase in revenue. Because these people are going to be ordering fairly frequently. Now, everyone orders different types. I know families that have fish and chips every Friday night. Every Friday night. They’re worth over $1,500 a pop. That’s a huge amount of money, and you have just spent $12 to get in front of that person. That’s exciting. That is really, really exciting.

How to market a fish and chips shop: Facebook marketing

So, that is my number one tip. Now, we’ve got lots of others. You’ve got your Facebook marketing. And, once again, people go, “But I’m a fish and chip shop. What do people want to know?” You know what, it’s like what everyone has in a restaurant. So, you know, the food that’s coming out of the fryer. Is there anything that’s unique about you? If you’re doing things like fresh fish, show people the fish coming in, show you cutting it up. “This is us preparing the batter.” You know, “What’s special about your batter?” “Well, we use this beer.” Or, “We use, you know, it’s a local craft beer that we use to make a beer batter that’s really different.” If there’s nothing that really sets you apart, maybe you should be thinking about, “What are the things that can set us apart?” Because Facebook looks for things that set people apart. If your story is, “We use the fish that every other fish and chip shop uses that’s pre-frozen,” you’re going to struggle to be able to market that. So, you want to be thinking, you know, what are the products, you know? Do you do a fried Mars Bar? You know, is there something crazy? Could you do, and this idea just came to me just then, could you do a monthly different fried chocolate sweet type thing, you know? A fried Cherry Ripe, a fried Turkish Delight, a fried, you know, one of those coconut bars. Could you do something like that? You know, do a little bit of “Wow, there’s a thought for a fish and chip shop.”

How to market a fish and chips shop: Research and development

Do a little bit of research and development. What does it look like when you put a Turkish Delight in batter and fry it up? What else could you do? What else could you fry up in your kitchen that would get, you know, because that tells a story. People are going to come back. “What is it this month. You know, I remember when you did Snickers Bars or Mars Bars and they were great, they’re my favourite.” Create something a little bit interesting like that. Now, we get back to one my favourite topics because the main that we make money out of is, of course, websites. I’m amazed at the number of fish and chip shops that don’t have a website. I did a Google search for our suburb and fish and chip shop and there was only one business that had a website, and it was a Weebly website and they rang very poorly for SEO. But because no one else had a website they were number one, they were the only one that came up. That’s really interesting.

How to market a fish and chips shop: Claim your Google Places

So, if you have a website, then things like you’ll appear in Google Places. We’re seeing more and more people actually using Google Maps as a search engine. “Where’s a fish and chip shop near here?” Now, you can get in there without having a website. That’s true. But people are going to look at it and they’re going to say, “Well, you know, what have they got there?” And that’s your opportunity, if you’ve got a website, to have that, “You know, well, we cook fresh fish.” “You know what, that’s what I want. I want fresh fish. That’s where I’m going to go today.” It’s kind of a no brainer to have that. Now, when we talk about our advanced Facebook marketing one of the things we’re going to talk about is remarketing.

If someone goes to your website and they live within 10 kms of your business, then they’re in your target market and they’ve probably already had fish and chips. That’s an audience that you can target again through remarketing. And that’s an exciting thing. So, linking up the Facebook with your website can be really powerful. You’re going to be really keen to build up your emailing list. So, one of the easiest ways of doing that is online ordering. So, traditionally fish and chip shops don’t use online ordering, and that’s because margins are tight and they’ve never really thought that they needed to use something like a Menulog or a Grub Hub, or an Eat 24, Just Eat, Delivery Hero, and of those guys. Because they don’t want to have all of that margin leakage when people are making an online order. Completely get that.

But if you use our Free Restaurant OnLine Ordering system (FROLO) system, that allows you to do a couple of things. On a Friday or a Saturday night, our fish and chip shop will have one person just working the phones. One person. And I don’t know what it’s like in your shop, but it’s noisy in this fish and chip shop. And, “Sorry what was that? What was the name? Okay, yup. Okay, let me just read it out. Hang on a sec’. No, sorry, got that bit wrong. Yup, no, what was it that you wanted?” It’s painful watching the orders being taken, really painful. And like, I know, I’ve had people in front of me in the line saying, “Hang on a sec’, that’s not what I ordered. I ordered something else.” So, you’ve got all of this human error that’s in there. With an online ordering system, you’re capturing all of the data. Now, when you’re on the phone, they just want to get the order and they want to start getting it cooked, and then they want to answer the next phone call. And their phone is actually, because this fish and chip shop is moderately popular, their phone is often engaged. Which always makes me worry how many people are going to another fish and chip shop because it’s engaged.

So, you can actually free up some of that person who is on the phone. And you could even, when you think of the labour costs in there, do you give a five percent discount to people who order online? You want them to order online, because then you get the magic holy grail of online marketing. The email address. Okay, Facebook’s great but if someone doesn’t check into Facebook for seven days, you can’t hit them. If you’re competing with a lot of other businesses out there to get into the local people’s Facebook feeds, they may not see your ad. You can’t specifically make an ad appear on someone’s Facebook feed. With an email you can send that email out. And this is just so powerful, particularly when you want to do one of the things that I think is the most exciting this that marketing can do, yield utilization. So, our fish and chip shop is, the one that we use is like a lot of fish and chip shops. On a Saturday night they can be flat out. Really, really, really busy. But they’re quite on a Tuesday night. So, and you see people, they’re unhappy because it’s a 30-minute wait and all of those sort of things which highlight to me yield utilization issues.

And some restaurant owners, they’ll say to me, “I know what you mean by yield utilization, James. Cutting our prices during quiet times.” Well, yes. Sometimes. So, if you’re flat out on a Friday and Saturday and Sunday night, let’s say they’re your peak three days. What would happen if you put your prices up 10 percent, and then gave a 10 percent discount on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday? Or, Monday, if you’re open. Is there a discount? Well, there’s a perceived discount. But you’ve actually just put your prices up. And the beautiful thing about that is that some people are going to say, “Wow, you know, my family pack’s gone from $40 to $45. That’s starting to get a bit pricey. You know what, let’s have fish and chips on Thursday night, because it’s still only $40 on a Thursday night.” Interesting. So, one of the beautiful things is that you have your customers to pre-select into the group that would prefer to have their fish and chips at the normal time that they want to have it and they’re prepared to spend a $5 for that premium.

For everyone else, they can order at a time when you’re not as busy. So, you’ll find that things get increasingly hectic, and as they get more hectic you get inefficiencies and you will reach that point where you can only cook so many pieces of fish and so many chips and so many burgers, whatever it is that you have on your menu. You’ll reach the limitations of your kitchen. You never want to reach that limit. So, because that’s when people, you know, the wait starts to get a bit longer. So, that’s when you can take people who were probably going to order on the Saturday night and move them through to the weekdays. It’s always worthwhile, I think, having a good hard think about your pricing strategy. I know that, and you always think, “No, if I put my prices up everyone’s going to go, ‘Hey, that guy’s too expensive, we’re never going to eat there again.’” And the thing that I find really interesting is that most of the time no one even notices.

How to market a fish and chips shop: Make yourself unique

You know, obviously, go and have a look at your competitors. Is there something that makes you unique? Because where there’s unique, there’s margin. Think about those sort of things, but it really is a big opportunity and particularly if you’re really busy, then your products pretty good. You know, you’re ticking the boxes of, you know, great food, great value, great experience if you’re really busy. But if you’re dead quiet on a Tuesday night you need to do something to try and balance that out. So, yield utilization doesn’t always mean discounting. Think about that. It might mean putting your prices up in your busy periods. And it’s exactly the same as buying an airline ticket. If there are only a couple of seats left on a route that’s normally $200, if there’s only 2 seats left on a plane and that plane takes off in 3 days’ time the airline will try and flog those seats for $1,000. Because they know that there’s going to be a lot of people who want to fly and they’ll find a couple of people crazy enough to spend $1,000. Flip side of that is if there’s 100 seats left on that plane and the plane’s taking off in a couple days’ time, they know that they should be doing whatever they can to fill those seats. Because once those seats have gone, they’ve gone. And it’s the same for you. Once an hour is gone in your restaurant, it’s never coming back. So, whatever you sold in that hour, that’s what you sold.

Leaflet drops, forgot about leaflet drops. Some people do find leaflet drops work. And people go, “But you guys are online marketing people.” Well, we do online marketing but I just love marketing in general, and it’s really important that you guys are able to make a strong, robust living out of this. So, you do whatever it takes. And there’s lots of distribution methods out there. You know, the post office can send them out. There’s companies that will have walkers going around dropping them into mail boxes. I think it’s always worthwhile, you know, just doing a small run and just seeing. The great thing about it is include a coupon. Don’t have the generic, “Here’s our menu.” Have the generic, “Here’s our menu,” but a tear off coupon down the bottom. You don’t want, I’ve seen people who the whole thing is the coupon that you have to bring in. Well, that had your menu on it. In the perfect world, that ends up on the fridge. You know, the magnets, the fridge, so that when we think that we need to have fish and chip shops, we can order off the menu.

And this is a really good point. You know, what is the product that you sell? Because I’ve got to tell you, one of the really expensive products that a lot of restaurants sell is time. And we’re talking about my time. I don’t want to be sitting around for 20 minutes waiting for you to cook my fish and chips. What I want to do is to ring ahead and say, “I’m going to be there in 20 minutes, make sure my fish and chips are ready.” Now, do you know what one of the big impediments for people ringing up your restaurant is? Not having the menu. So, “How much is a family pack again? Okay, so, hang on a sec’, what were the other two? There was two other packs that you’ve got. One was for like one person, and one was for like two people. Can you just go through what’s in both of those packs and how much they cost again?” That is a conversation that no one wants to have.

And so, whilst that’s what people are thinking, if they don’t have the menu in front of them via leaflet or, nudge nudge, a website, they’re not going to order over the phone. Which now creates the dilemma, can I be bothered to wait there for 20 minutes while the fish and chips get cooked? I’m not sure about that. I am less sure about going and having fish and chips tonight. These are the kind of thought processes that people go through. Make it easy for your customers to order from you. Make sure that your website has the menu and, particularly if it’s on a mobile, don’t have it in some crazy PDF download, because people don’t like that. It doesn’t work well, sometimes it doesn’t render well on the phone. And sometimes they can’t find it in their downloaded items. Just have it as a webpage, you know, it should be simple to do that.

Otherwise, have a leaflet. So, the leaflet, the two things that you want to do with your leaflet if you’re going to do a leaflet. One, make it so that it can sit up on the fridge so that people can say, “Yup, I want the family pack. I want this, I want this, I want this, and I want this.” The other downside with that don’t forget about leaflets is that if you put your prices up people are going to know. That’s one other thing to think about with leaflets. But the other component is have a tear off coupon down the bottom. You don’t want people ringing up and saying, “Can I please have this, this, this, this, and this,” and then wondering, “How did they find out about that?” You want them to say, “Can I please order this, this, this, this, this and this, and I’ve got a coupon for $10 off.” “The leaflet. That’s awesome, the leaflet worked.” Okay. Some sort of redemption offer is a really good way of telling you how many people have actually taken the action that you wanted them to do. I think that’s it.

Is there anything else? Ping me an email, info@marketingforrestaurants.com if there’s anything that I missed. Hopefully I’ve come up with some awesome ideas. Real estate agents, okay. So, you want a real estate agent to do something. Now, some of these people will do it because they’re nice people and they just want, you know, they’d like to give out coupons. A lot of the time they’re going to go, “Yeah, I forgot about that,” because it’s not top of mind. So, you need to pay them to do that. And you’re going, “God, more costs in my business. Why, James, why?” Okay, what is the best thing that you can do for a real estate agent to incentivize them to hand out your coupons? Fish and chip lunches. Yeah? So, give the principal a call and say, “I’d like to come out and, how many people have you got working in the office? I’d like to come out on Friday and I’d like to give everyone free fish and chips. I’ve got a coupon that I’d like you to give to everyone who moves in. And depending on the number of these coupons that we get redeemed, we would like to make this, we might do this once a quarter.”

So, couple of things happen here. One, if those people working in the real estate agency are locals, you’ve probably won them over as customers. Boom. Two, I think that that’s a wow factor. “Wow, hey guys we’re having free fish and chips on Friday. How awesome is that?” This is the kind of thing, you know, we talk about great experience. Boom. That’s the thing that people are going to talk about. And so, already you’ve got that massive halo effect around you. “You know the guy who gave us the free fish and chips?” “Yeah, he’s awesome. The fish and chips are really good and so, yeah, that’s why…” And they will tell that story to the people. “You know, we get fish and chips for lunch every now and then. Awesome, awesome. You should try this.” So, they haven’t just handed it over, “Here’s a whole heap of vouchers from some randoms that want to sell you stuff.” “Here’s some vouchers. You’ve got to check out the fish and chip shop guy. He’s awesome. He’s the one that we use and yeah, he’s really good.” So, that’s it. There’s got to be something in there that you can take out of that. And as I said at the start, this works for Indian restaurants, as well. It works for Chinese, it works for all of those people. So, lots of ideas there. Keen to get your feedback and failing that, I hope you have a really busy night tonight. Okay, bye.

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