SUMMARY BY TOM TANNER
This is a summary of the Sustainable Restaurant Association Delivery Made Good Webinar 1 April 2020
For members of Food Made Good a recording of the webinar will be available via the online community
Andrew Stephen, CEO, SRA – Host
Mark McGlinn, Founding Partner, Food on the Move Today
Andrei Lussmann, Founder, Lussmanns Sustainable Fish & Grill
Ollie Hunter, Co-owner, The Wheatsheaf, Chilton Foliat
Amy Heather, Head of Strategic Accounts, Just Eat
Andrew said that the industry faced three big uncertainties:
- When it will re-open and how much notice it will be given
- How much longer the Government’s support would continue in the shape of the Job Retention Scheme
- How it can manage cashflow and income in the gap
As is always the case, operators have combined their practical and innovation skills and in many cases that has included switching to, or upscaling, a delivery model.
The purpose of the webinar was, he said, to provide some coalface and expert insights into how to do this in a way that was safe and effective.
The view from health and safety
Mark encouraged anyone looking to introduce delivery to look at the situation in the light of the pandemic and stressed the need to understand the risks involved. “This is not a simple change,” he said. “It is operational transformation.” He added that operators must communicate the risks to their team and agree a timeline for change.
A good first base, Mark said, was to review the excellent delivery during Covid-19 food safety advice that’s readily available from among others the FSA and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
Safe and successful food delivery requires specialist knowledge and a step process from everyone in the operation. Overlooking this could risk the reputation of the business.
Key first steps:
- Conduct a health & safety audit
- Register with the local authority
- Review ordering systems – both web and phone
- Communicate allergens information and label food properly
- Forego reusable packaging for the moment
- Ensure drivers practice social distancing
View from independent restaurant and delivery novice
Having closed his six restaurants (five in Hertfordshire and one very newly opened in Oxford) Andrei said he pivoted overnight to ensure the business had cash coming in. Within 30 hours of closing the doors he had become an e-commerce site doing delivery and a small click and collect service.
As well as the importance of cashflow, Andrei said the other main reasons for doing delivery were, “keeping in the zone mentally and keeping the lights on so as to maintain a flicker of hope that the business would be ready to launch again on the other side of the crisis.”
Delivery Lussmanns style
Menu – ready meals he knew their mailing list of 23,000 would want – like cottage pie, fish pie and chickpea hotpot.
Hours – Orders to be placed Monday-Thursday, cooking Thursday and Friday and delivery Saturday
Pricing – The 300 customers are paying £5 for delivery (with no complaints) and this is providing a valuable £1500 extra income on top of the income from the meals themselves.
Risks – A reputation built over 20 years must be protected if you want people to come back to your restaurant when it re-opens. Andrei is also aware that he must keep reviewing the viability of the operation from all perspectives. “I have to keep an eye on whether keeping things going like this is providing us with further debt. You also have to be aware of what it might be taking out of you, ensuring that when you can re-open in 3-6 months you are actually physically up to doing that.”
“Until now, I thought delivery was the devil,” said Andrei. “Today, I have eaten my words and within seven days we’ve turned a fledgling service into a workable model which, while it’s bringing in only a small amount of money, is mentally rewarding.”
View from a Wiltshire village pub and another delivery novice
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” Ollie said as he celebrated having no competition in the village, but bemoaned the fact that The Wheatsheaf was also very remote.
Hunter’s Top Tip
“Before making any plan, take account of everything in your business and understand what the bare minimum of your business is. Don’t just build a new business that sounds great but is going to create new debt.”
Risks – With huge demand for fresh produce and parents running a nearby farm growing organic fruit and veg, Ollie embarked on a veg box scheme. Such was the volume of demand though he could not keep up and so as not to disappoint customers and to preserve his reputation he stopped that service.
Offer – The Wheatsheaf is now doing what it does best – serving quality food that people want, providing that little bit of luxury and a weekend treat.
Menu – Wood-fired pizzas for £12 – which means he is still making a decent margin
Long term benefits – Ollie says he’s realised he can cook pretty much everything in the wood fired oven and will build his regular pub menu around this when re-opening, reducing staff and energy costs.
Summary – Create a clear vision of what you want that’s going to make you and your customers happy and that will work and be prepared to adapt.
View from the delivery aggregator
Some of the major brands in delivery like McDonalds and Greggs have stepped back but those who have kept operating have seen a spike in their orders and many new businesses have joined the main platforms
Key things to consider for delivery novices
- Delivery method – either going solo or signing up with an aggregator
- Staffing levels – calculate how big a team you need
- Menu – find your USP, tailor it to margin-rich food that transports well and consider how you can encourage customers to order more
- How can you get food from your site to customers with as little contact as possible
- Remember speed is of the essence so quick to make dishes are king
Final Dos and Don’ts
DO assess the full nature of the operation and understand the nature of the risk around Covid-19
DO know your numbers, be consistent and keep reviewing what you’re doing
DO Simplify your business to the core before building a new model and maintain your passion for the product as that is what will keep the business and the industry going
DO find your USP so customers find you
Keep up-to-date on our COVID-19 advice page
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Visit the community to ask a question or call us on 020 3903 2777