Preoday - An Owner’s Perspective
Before Covid 19, if I were to be able to offer you a full order book of customers and know what meals they wanted in advance from a tight menu of your best selling or highest margin items, and to have those orders staggered over an entire shift instead of a business with unpredictable trade patterns, a wide menu and no idea of what you would be selling. Then, you’d think you’d have died and gone to chip shop heaven…
The fish and chip world is waking up to the fact that Covid 19 is not going to be a flash in the pan (full marks for that pun) and that just like the world beyond fish and chips, we have to adapt to a new way of life. One operator who is no stranger to adapting is former fish and chip shop of the year winner Mark Petrou from Petrou Brothers in Chatteris.
Mark successfully ran 6 shops under the Petrou Brothers brand along with 2 pubs, a cinema and a deli with his brother Pete until a health scare prompted them to sell up and start building houses. Having survived the credit crunch in 2008 and now down to just 1 site and over 40 houses under his belt –Mark was already looking at Preoday for his original and last remaining award winning shop in the Fens, long before the Corona Virus turned modern living on its head.
“I recognised that the high street was changing and the way consumers liked to shop had evolved and I was able to identify 3 broad types of consumer in my shop. The older generation I affectionately call the grey pound. They like 1 to 1 interaction but their orders are small, they tend to be walk-ins and they are extremely price sensitive. They’re important and shouldn’t be forgotten but when looking at future proofing my business, I decided that I should be concentrating on the two other types of customer – I call them the ‘time poorers’ and the ‘weekend millionaires’!!”
Having seen the success of other shops in the industry with strong branding and working with online aggregators, Mark had already figured out that online ordering was beginning to replace phone ordering. “I looked at the food ordering services being offered on TV closely and found that they had terms that I just couldn’t live with. Giving a quarter of my sales to a silent partner and letting them retain all of the customers information was never going to be an option. I wanted a system that gave me total control and it soon became clear to me that Preoday had the perfect solution. This was about 6 months before Covid19 took hold.”
Mark decided to refurbish his shop and reduce the size of his takeaway. His thought process had brought him to several conclusions that made him choose to do this. “My business was 100% takeaway but I was competing with every other takeaway for the same customer. I was afraid to charge the prices that I felt my product was really worth. I knew from talking to other operators already using online ordering systems that not only were they having to charge more to cover the fees they had to pay to aggregators (around 25%) but surprisingly, nobody complained about it either. Not only that – the average transactional spend was much higher too than from walk-ins which was a unexpected bonus.
“I wanted to enable my ‘time poorers’ (working parents, career driven and busy people) and my ‘weekend millionaires’ (consumers with no financial obligations – living at home with parents, retired and/or mortgage free) to be able to order their meals in advance either on their smartphones, tablets or on their desktops to save time and make the process even easier.
I also decided that by making the takeaway smaller, I could create a sit down area, allowing me to serve my very best product and charge a premium for it and at the same time drive my walk-ins into buying on-line as well”
Mark started refurbishing 2 days before Lockdown was announced and completed the makeover (without his new frying range being commissioned) in a speedy 8 days. “The whole quick service landscape changed over night when we were closed. Every takeaway in town shut down initially but I had already decided that being closed was not a sustainable business model and had planned to reopen.
I considered the restrictions imposed, the seriousness of the situation and my vulnerable ‘grey pound’ customers. Having already researched the vital role that fish and chips had played during the Second World War for a book, I saw an opportunity to offer a service that kept people at home, protected the NHS and potentially saved lives. Preoday had all the tools I needed to be able to do this.”
The Preoday Way
The Preoday platform is available as a desktop or laptop ordering system and is available as a smartphone app as well making it ideal for people in lockdown or on the front line to be able to order meals in advance very easily. They put your menu on the system for you and then hold your hand and show you how to add items, hide items and control and manage the rest of the clever services features. It allows you to run a click and collect service, a delivery service or both (2 systems side by side are best for both) and it also allows you to determine the frequency of how many orders you take at once or within a certain period of time. Mark chose to run a delivery service and a click and collect service. He allowed 4 deliveries every 10 minutes and then introduced a click and collect service every 5 minutes to allow social distancing a few weeks later. He also chose to restrict his menu to just his best sellers and high margin products by hiding from view all the other items on his menu. This made it easier for him to produce his menu safely with only 2 cooks in his kitchen and put his orders together quickly so that his drivers were able to fulfill their 1 drop every 10 minute quota safely too. In his shop, he was able to give his customers a 1 in 1 out service as long as they turned up at their allotted collection time.
“I’m now completely booked up in advance, I know what my customers want and I have reduced waste, labour costs and I believe I’ve increased the quality of my product by producing every meal just before it goes out but that’s not the half of it. I am charging what my product is actually worth now. My customers are adding items that I would have struggled to get my staff to upsell before.”
He added “Preoday take nothing from sales - just an agreed reasonable monthly subscription. Not only that, I have so much valuable data and information about my customers spending habits and I have their contact information AND consent to send them details of specials and promotions – all straight forward and simple to do for free through the Preoday platform.”
Mark believes that Preoday has given him the edge over the Middle men aggregates “I’m 20-30% better off straight away. Compared to using someone else’s platform. I get to keep and use all of my customer information and it’s so flexible. I can reduce customer frequency if I lose a driver or a pan goes down, or in my case, your new range sits in your shop still not connected. My customers really like it too. Check out my facebook page and see how happy they are. It’s a great looking user friendly, front facing tool that even an operator like me with very basic computer skills can get to grips with easily. For me, it has turned this global threat into a real commercial opportunity to grow my business. Increasing sales and decreasing costs and waste at the same time is the most efficient way to grow profits.”