Kelly Barnes, co-owner of Krispies in Exmouth and Exeter, Devon, talks about the cut-backs she is making to tackle rising prices as well as the importance of keeping a positive outlook for customers
You can’t switch on the TV or open a newspaper without hearing or reading something about the cost of living crisis. While it’s a very real thing and we noticed it having an effect around here at the same time as most, so far we’ve not seen any major impact on customer footfall.
January followed our normal peaks and troughs and, even this month, we are following last year’s figures so we will continue to monitor this, although more closely than ever.
The main thing for us, as with other businesses, is still the rising costs of ingredients and energy. We’ve had to respond to this by raising our prices by 5% across the board and the premium we charge for deliveries to 25% instead of 20%. It’s not great to start the new year with a price increase but we had no option and, to be honest, as sad as it is, customers are getting used to prices going up generally.
Unfortunately, I don’t see this being the only price rise in 2023. When we do increase our prices, we don’t highlight this to our customers, we keep telling them what great value fish and chips is as well as playing to its strengths: it’s sustainable, low in fat and full of Omega-3. We promote the fact that we deliver it straight to our customers’ doors, that they can take the night off cooking, and that they can enjoy Krispies fish and chips in the comfort of their own homes. We don’t want to bog people down with negativity so it’s important to look for the positives and push those messages.
I think now is the time for operators, if they don’t already, to look at their figures, and I mean really look at them, more closely than ever. In my husband Tim’s words, you can’t just be “pissing into the wind!”
We monitor our wages every week and we constantly adjust our rotas where we can to adapt to trade.
Operators need to be weighing and measuring as much as possible too, ensuring that portion sizes aren’t too big so you aren’t giving away product unnecessarily.
Being totally honest, we have had to look at the staff we have, ensure training is being completed and get rid of the ‘deadwood’. We can’t afford in these times to have ‘OK’ team members. Everyone needs to understand the mission and not give a half-arsed approach to the job. We can’t afford to have two people doing a job simply because one person isn’t quite as good.
We have also cut ‘luxury’ back-of-house systems for food safety and created in-house document systems in their place.
Having said that, when it comes to sourcing products, refusing to compromise on quality is paramount. It’s easier to source cheaper alternatives to many of the products we use but we aren’t willing to do so.
We aren’t seeing any of our costs coming down yet. Fish, potatoes, batter, oil, there has been little movement but I’d like to think by the summer we will see some settling of prices.
Looking ahead, I think customers will return to their old habits and patterns and, to be completely honest, I think as long as your product is A1 all the time, then you will retain those customers. That ‘treat’ once a week is even more of a treat and you have to ensure you’re doing a good job so there’s no doubt they choose you week in, week out.
I’d also like to remind operators that as much as recessions are a bad thing, we’ve been here before. This is our third one since opening Krispies. Although I’d say it has by far been the hardest, I believe at times like these people downgrade from a restaurant experience to a takeaway. It’s our job to deliver the best possible product and service.