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Wise investments

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Jonathan France, owner of Fish Bank in Sherburn in Element, West Yorkshire, talks about the benefits of investing in ordering technology as well as how he prepares youngsters for their first jobs

Like many chip shops, Covid had a huge impact on our business but I’m glad to say most of the changes have been positive.

When Covid first hit, we closed and then opened back up following all of the latest Government guidance. We have a large customer area and were able to have a small number of customers socially distanced. We then introduced a pager system to allow people to order and leave the shop to avoid being near other customers. This was a success and I then invested in a full Epos system to allow click & collect on our own app or via Facebook and Google. 

This was an instant success with customers and moved us in line with the national chains in terms of ease of ordering. Not only do customers not have to wait in line on a busy evening, but they get a stress free option of browsing the menu and all of the family can have a look at what they would like.

This is really important because I’ve always seen that chip shops are unique in terms of ordering – opening the shop door and shouting ‘one of each’ to the frier or a voice from the back of the range ‘would you like anything putting in?’. This might even be before the customer has even had a minute to look at the menu. 

When I upgraded to the latest Epos system I wanted to incorporate a kitchen monitor so that the frier could see the orders. So the customer can just look at the menu, come to the till and order what they would like without any shouting across the shop. Similar to McDonald’s, we provide the customer with a receipt containing an order number. This system really makes a difference to the customer experience.

I know a lot of shops are struggling with staffing at the moment so I just wanted to sing the praises of our younger team members. I make a conscious effort to ensure each shift is made up of 50% young staff so as to have a mixture of more mature and experienced staff coupled with enthusiastic young people. 

It’s a great privilege to employ young team members and I’d certainly encourage businesses to look at this age range, but I would say it’s important to have a good interview process, which starts with a CV/application. 

Once employed, presume that they don’t know anything and train them in detail on every aspect. You must remember that even speaking to customers can be daunting for them. I only employ each young person for eight hours per week, mainly over two shifts, as I want them to do well at college and give themselves every opportunity to succeed in life, whether that is to go on to be a doctor or to remain in hospitality and rise to the top.

All in all, what has been a challenging few years for us has also brought us many positives, not least being named one of Fry Magazine’s 50 Best Takeaways, which was fantastic! We entered the awards back in September 2021 but didn’t change anything we were currently doing because of them. My vision of what a modern chip shop is just so happens to be in line with what Fry Magazine and their mystery judges believe in and are looking for.

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