Why a giant leap is only the first step to bossing on line sales

Mark Petrou – Previous National Fish and Chip shop of the Year winner, founder of chippychat.co.uk and author of Fish and Chips - a National Treasure shares his 3 step strategy to maximizing profits from online sales.

I was at the top of my profession (winning fish and chip shop of the year 2006) in a time when there was only really one type of customer (apart from phone orders) – The walk-in…

The walk-in customer is without a doubt the most price sensitive customer you will be likely to encounter (unless you’re daft enough to throw away your brand value to Groupon). Nowadays we have many types of customers. Walk-ins, the grey pound, the time-poor parents and the weekend millionaires. We have phone orders, app delivery orders, click and collect customers, eat-ins and contactless aggregators who may have never even visited our store.

Covid 19 has forced many independent operators into accelerated modernisation. We’ve had to adapt very quickly. Some have partnered up with aggregators like Just Eat, whilst others have been turned off by the fees and have chosen to go independent and set up online ordering without. Many shops have also taken to social media as well but I wonder just how many have actually had a plan in place as to where this path leads to? Have you even considered the power of the data that is growing in the back end of all this technology?

I’ve been consulting for chip shop owners privately with a dedicated team of experts to support me (Spud Guru) for over a decade and never promoted it before. From fish cutting and frying to mixing batter and from driving sales to cutting costs, Knowledge sharing has always been in my DNA. One of the most obvious things I’ve seen in nearly every shop I’ve visited before, during and as we come out of the lockdown era is that many operators are caught up in the day to day pressures of running their business and are failing to look ahead.

Are you making plans or maximizing the opportunity of having your business online?

Three clear steps to maximise online success

Step 1 - Online ordering

Earlier in this article, I wrote that we now have many types of customers. Since smart phones appeared (2007) Consumers have been sucked into changing the way they like to spend and shop. No one can argue that having online ordering is a fundamental way to future proof your business. More and more future customers will want to order their meals this way. The walk in customer is the person that makes a front line owner/operator afraid to put their prices up – in fact an online customer will typically spend twice as much per transaction as a walk in customer and price increases are much easier to implement and be accepted online as well.

The fear for many of setting up online ordering is managing the switch and if you’re considering delivery as well as click and collect, the whole “driver, insurance, pay thing” can also be daunting. This fear often drives us to making the mistake of choosing to work with an aggregator who has their own system and drivers (going with an aggregator can work for you – but the timing for this step is absolutely critical). When we go down this path, we satisfy ourselves by charging more online to compensate for the cost of the relationship with the aggregator and get comfortable with their drivers making it easier but don’t realise that we’ve actually stepped forward into a trap. (see step 3 – data management).

Most shops also have attempted a social media presence before considering implementing an online ordering service.

Step 2 - Social media

Unless you’re over 70 or just arriving from another planet, it’s unlikely that you have not heard of social media.

Social media is defined as “interactive technologies that allow the creation or sharing of information, ideas and interests via online communities.” You may recognise the most common as being Facebook (nearly 3 Billion users) Instagram (owned by facebook -1 billion users), TikTok (1billion users) and Twitter (less than half a billion users).

Most independent fast food professionals use one or more of these platforms to promote their business but are they doing the job right?

Me and My fellow Spud Guru’s have identified 9 different post types that work across these platforms and they all do different jobs. Some drive sales, some grow your audience, some build your brand awareness and some grow your brand value. The key to having an effective social media presence lies in identifying who you want to speak to, what type of post is going to engage them and when is the best time to reach them. Before you can do that, you really ought to know your customers first because attracting more of the same type of customer gets you better retention that attracting different types and makes the job of feeding them easier too.

Having a plan and doing it right saves time, effort and money. It’s the difference between having a social media presence and using social media as a powerful business tool to generate sales.

Many businesses don’t even realise that there is a back end to all of these social media platforms that allow you to use the data from your audience. Many businesses don’t even realise that this data and the data from your online ordering platform is where your top line sales will come from…

Step 3 - Data management drives sales.

When you sign up to an aggregator, you are gifting them the most important key to driving sales in the digital market place. The data you retain from having your own online ordering system belongs to you whereas the data you generate from working with someone like Just Eat belongs to them. Essentially – you end up giving your online customers to them and they let you keep 70% for doing all the work.

The best time to use an aggregator is actually once you’ve levelled out on your own online system. You can then use an aggregator to entice their customers over to you. It’s perfectly legal and ethical too and no different to what they do to you.

So once you’ve grown a customer base on your online ordering system and an audience on your social media, how do you convert that into more sales?

Your online ordering service can be automated to identify lazy and lapsed customers through visit frequency data analysis to send them messages and offers to entice them back in. Not only that, you can automate it to send them vouchers on their birthday, run a Christmas promotion or give you a great review.

This valuable data can also provide you with information about how much extra revenue it generates verses how much it costs to run (very typical results are normally 5 times more in sales than it costs). The very best feeling is turning a one time visitor into a weekly returning customer virtually for free.

Your social media audience data can be used to find similar people just like them and to directly target them with incentives to spend with you just like your existing customers. That’s why the aggregators want it so much. If you fall out with the aggregator, they will simply aim their other fast food shops at your customers instead.

Spud Guru is myself and 3 other talented experts. I know fish and chips and they know online ordering, social media and data management.

Spud Guru are different. We don’t charge you for our expertise and then keep you locked in and in the dark. We charge to show you how to do it yourself and support you until you can.

Spud Guru go at your pace and your budget. We only work with a limited number of clients at a time and usually see them managing on their own after about 12 months.

Spud Guru don’t just do digital. We specialise in fish and chip shop refits, staffing, compliance and operational consultancy. We help experienced operators as much as new starts.

For more information go to www.spudguru.com or call me on 07825872130 (you may have to leave a message and the best time to call back) if you just want to chat about what can do with you.

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