I have always said to people how great this industry is; there is something about being involved with the UK’s national dish. I have spent all my adult working life and some of my youthful working life in the fish & chip business; there is no doubt that its hard work, long hours, but it is also financially rewarding if everything falls into place.
We have put some tips together to try to help you get off to a good start.
A business plan is a must, having written a few over the years it’s a must that you do two versions.
A light business plan and a very detailed business plan, there is no point sending over a full-on comprehensive business plan with every little thing discussed. You want to get the other persons interest not put them off; if they like your light business plan, then they will want the full business plan.
Be clear and precise with your business plan; be sure to cover the following:
✅ What you will sell?
✅ Who will buy it?
✅ What you will charge?
✅ How will you make money from the business?
✅ What do you envisage your GP to be?
✅ How you’ll spread the word about your business?
✅ How much you’ll need to earn for it to be a success?
✅ Any obstacles and possible solutions to overcome them (be honest)?
➡️ Need help with a business plan, download a template here.
Talking is the easy part. Listening, on the other hand, is tricky. Luckily we live in a connected world, the First thing you can do is start by joining the Facebook communities, just search Fish & Chips, and they will pop up.
Ask questions and participate, while there reach out to the National Federation of Fish Friers and let them know your intentions, they should be able to put you in touch with someone close by but not too close to your future venture.
If you get up every day trying to learn and do better, this should get you off to a good start. Before you invest thousands of your hard-earned money (and the banks), then you need to learn to get it right. Get all the training you can, go to a local chip shop, get in touch with the KFE or NFFF and go on their training course, if you have the budget do both.
It’s clear to me that you should factor this off-site training to get the basics and set aside some money to have someone come to your site for on-site training.
Over the years I have seen many come into the trade and underestimate the simplicities and the complexities of serving hundreds or thousands of portions per day is a big ask and customers don’t like being tested on.
If you want to own your fish & chip shop, why not start with a plan in mind. Don’t quit your day job right away; begin working nights in a fish & chip shop, do this until you are ready to leap. You may find this time useful, no point quitting your job, selling everything and jumping into a business you may hate. This way you can learn on the job and earn some extra money too.
Do the maths on the property, striking a balance is a challenge in itself. A property with a high footfall could throw your numbers out; for example, what you pay on the property could make your break-even is too high. But if your goal is to have a delivery-based business model, then you don’t need the fancy expensive high street position.
Social media has made it much easier for small businesses to reach niche markets. It’s also a cost-effective way for start-up companies to reach their target audience. However, it’s better to fully understand which channels will work best for you before embarking on a social media strategy.
There has got to be a focus on the product, and it has to be accessibly priced. If you are seen as ripping people off, you will only get one visit.
The fish & chip industry was built on value for money, so get a good grip of your margins and try to be value for money, the repeat customers will fill your till.
When people are new to business, they assume that you have to buy stock cheap and pay staff the least you can and then charge as much as you can to make a profit.
Don’t get me wrong you have to balance these costs, but buy cheap at your peril because customers will get pretty bored by a food business that is forever cutting costs.
Find a formula you like and stick to it, evaluate it from time to time but a rush to the bottom will only upset clientele.
Many businesses fail because they haven’t planned their finances adequately. Ensure you have enough money stashed away to keep you going for the first six months as your business may not take off immediately. It takes time to build a brand, create a reputation and to let people know what you’re doing.
In my view, there is only one way to choose the bank you will trade with, the relationship manager. I would not trade with a bank because they are close to me, and I would not use a bank because they give the cheapest loan or free banking. Talk to banks nearby, and book an appointment to see the business relationship manager, get a feel for them.
Although last, this is probably the most important. Get an accountant from day one. When you start a business, many of your decisions will determine the legal structure of your business, so it helps to have an expert on your side.
A chartered accountant can prepare your accounts but also help with your business strategy. An expert will also be able to offer you legal advice about your taxes.
Take it from me, a cheap accountant will likely be expensive, and a great one will save you money. You just have to take a long term view.