Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year 2018 finalist and owner of Frydales in Leicester, Charlie Collins, talks about his vision for running a successful delivery service
As one of the youngest fish and chip shop owners in the country, I think it’s important to look towards the future and the direction in which the industry will move, which I believe will be delivery.
I currently use Uber Eats and Deliveroo for delivery but having to put prices up by 35% to cover the costs of the service is not appealing to customers. I’ve also tried using Just Eat but the difficulty of finding consistent drivers and the high commission prices led me to lose money over the eight months that I tried it. However, I still firmly believe if fish and chip shops are going to keep up in the takeaway industry it’s an area that needs to be addressed.
If we are to move towards delivery, we must work on two key points. The profit margin of fish and chips and the packaging available.
To put it simply, the margin is not currently high enough to sustain the effort required for delivery. The national average profit margin is 60-65%, meaning the only way around this is to use high delivery charges with a high minimum order to make it profitable, putting us in a much weaker position than a pizza or Indian takeaway for instance whose margin is much higher and the cost of delivery is already built into their prices. By the time driver wages, the cost of vehicles and VAT have been taken off of the total, it is difficult to make a satisfactory profit for the amount of work involved.
Everyone who has eaten fish and chips knows it does not travel well and always agree it tastes best when fresh. This makes the right packaging an issue, which is putting us at a disadvantage as there doesn’t seem to be anything that will keep the product well enough to deliver three to four orders in one journey. One, maybe two, can be delivered at a time if in close proximity, making good quality fish and chips labour intensive to deliver compared to other takeaways.
I think if the industry is going to continue to keep up with consumer demands than we must price our product competitively and stop undervaluing the food and service we provide. With some shops selling huge portions for low prices and not charging a delivery fee, they are potentially causing more problems, trying to get a lot of quick orders, but if we can come together as an industry to educate our customers that we are not ‘ripping them off’ with higher prices, we would all benefit.
If we want to avoid so-called ‘dark kitchens’ setting up in warehouses specifically for delivery, which threaten to take away the tradition of independent fish and chip shops, then we need to catch up with other takeaways sooner rather than later.
I don’t doubt with the amount of passion and support in our industry that we will find the solutions to these problems. I would love to hear from other shops that are successfully running a delivery service and the logistics of this as I feel it can be successfully achieved with the right demographic of customers and the correct pricing structure.