How to start
As with any business, there are rules dictating the location of a fish and chip shop. Even if you are taking over existing premises, these are still things you should look at – could there be some clue as to why the previous occupant moved on?
“You need chimney pots, people living all around,” says David Beedle. “If you have a city centre location, you’ll get some lunchtime trade but then not much until the pub and club trade late evening. A residential area is best because you get the repeat domestic and factory business.”
Being in a residential area will also cut down on your immediate competition, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of that it is up to. You need to look at what your competitors are doing in terms of products and hours.
In terms of quality of product, you don't need to be in the same league as McDonalds and so on, but look at what they do well, such as consistency, and learn from that.
There is no industry-wide brand so this is not something that fish and chip shops are known for – although the NFFF and Seafish work to raise the sector’s profile generally. And individuals are starting to change this too. A good start is to fight the image of fish and chips being unhealthy.
“If fish is fried at the right temperature, it shouldn’t be soggy or greasy,” explains David Beedle. “The trick is to make sure the batter encases the fish fully so it steams inside the pocket not touching the fat at all.”
The most obvious routes are Yellow Pages listings, as well as local good food guides. It's also a good idea to place leaflets in local tourist information or guesthouses if you are situated in a tourist area.
The best promotion for your business is the overall design and image you project. Again, this goes back to the cleanliness of your shop, so you should make sure you have bright, inviting décor.
It should also extend to you and your staff. Make sure staff are smart with uniforms or matching aprons and they are pleasant and helpful at all times. “I teach my staff the importance of good body language,” says Joyce Willoughby. “Eye contact is very important.”
Word of mouth
Recommendations from family and friends is as always the best advertising – it works, and best of all, it’s free.