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6 Tips For Running a Sandwich Shop

By Maria Hickey on November 12th, 2021

The humble sandwich is a national favourite, with almost £400 million being spent on them last year alone. The sandwich industry, worth an estimated £8 billion a year, is potentially a very lucrative one to get into, but is also one of the most competitive. By opening your own sandwich shop, you’re not only competing with other cafes and restaurants, but also with supermarkets, bakeries, workplace canteens and any number of other establishments.

If you’re looking for success in the ever growing world of bread-bound grub, we’ve got 6 tips to help you make your shop the pick of the bunch.

  1. Regularly engage with your customers
  2. Hire the right staff
  3. Be a proactive manager
  4. Leverage food technology
  5. Invest in marketing
  6. Have enough funds in reserve

1. Regularly engage with your customers

In the service industry, the customer is king, and your sandwich shop is no different. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure every decision you make is focused on your customers and how they’ll be impacted.

So, who are your customers? Are you serving busy commuters? Relaxed retirees? Young families meeting for a bit of chill time? Whoever your customers are, they’ll have very different and specific needs, so it’s imperative you know them through and through. Consider what they require from your business. Are they quickly popping in for a takeaway sandwich on their lunch break, or are they more likely to sit in and savour every bite?

Keep an eye on what products are selling well and think about how you can build on that success. Talk to your customers and figure out which products they love and which they avoid. By doing this kind of direct customer research, you can cater your business precisely to your customers.

2. Hire the right staff

Teamwork makes the dream work, and with a competent and trustworthy workforce behind you, you’ll be on a roll.

Hiring the right staff for your business is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a business owner, and it’s important you find the right people for the job. In the service industry, politeness and efficiency are invaluable skills, so you’ll want to make sure any potential employees fit this mould.

You’ll also need to think about whether your staff will need training. Food preparation is an industry where very high standards need to be met and maintained, so you’ll need to be sure your staff know exactly what they’re doing, especially when using professional kitchen equipment. It’s also recommended that anyone working in or around the kitchen takes a course in food hygiene and handling.

3. Be a proactive manager

As a business owner, you must endeavour to always act on the front foot. By working as a proactive manager, you can ensure you’re always one step ahead of the competition.

Keep an eye on what your competitors are up to and consider how you can set yourself apart. What products do they offer? What are their best sellers? Get an idea of what kind of experience they’re offering and how you can surpass it. You may be able to offer a unique twist on a product they can’t, or your customer service could be superior. Whatever it is, focus on developing these areas to give yourself the best chance possible for success.

As well as local competition, be on the lookout for what the big chains are doing. Are there certain products they’re pushing that you could offer an alternative to? Could a focus on local ingredients be the way forward? While they may be on a different level financially, the big sandwich chains are still competitors, and there are a number of steps you can take to beat them on a local level.

You’ll also want to be aware of the current and upcoming food trends, as you’ll want to make sure you’re serving what people are looking for. But this is also true of other wider industry trends. Over the last decade, there’s been a significant move towards convenience and food-to-go. There’s also been a notable shift towards ‘healthy eating’, along with the emergence of veganism and free-from alternatives. By keeping on top of what’s going on in the industry, you can make sure that your business is offering what customers want, sometimes before they even know they want it.

4. Leverage food technology

In a sandwich shop, you not only have a food production business, but also a retail establishment, meaning there’s a wide range of technology available to make your life easier.

Consider your day to day operations and where technology could be used to increase productivity or make things run smoother. The first port of call for most retailers, and one of the most useful, is a dedicated point of sale (POS) system. A good POS system streamlines the payment process, allowing you to quickly process transactions of all kinds, manage inventory reports and even automatically apply discounts if you’ve got a promotion running.

You may also want to look into Order and Pay at the Table technology, giving customers the ability to, well, order and pay at the table using QR codes. The pandemic saw a huge boost in requests for this option, with 34% of restaurant goers now saying that contactless or mobile payment options are an extremely important part of their dining experience, and 33% saying that being able to pay at the table directly was extremely important to them.

Behind the scenes, there’s a plethora of kitchen equipment out there which could benefit your business, depending on the products you’re focused on. For a sandwich shop specifically, a toastie maker or griddle is a must. You may want to consider an espresso or beans-to-cup coffee machine, as well as a water boiler for serving hot drinks. This is an easy way to entice customers into your shop, luring them in with the intention of buying a cup of tea or coffee, and then tempting them with a sandwich accompaniment.

5. Invest in marketing

Marketing is one of the most important investments you can make as a business owner. As much as you improve your products, focus on your decor and hire the perfect staff, if no one knows your sandwich shop is there, what’s the point?

Figure out who your target audience is and where they are. If your focus is commuters, consider a poster or flyer campaign close to travel links like train and bus stations. If you’re looking to target a wider audience, consider online marketing or a social media campaign.

It may be worth looking into setting up a website, not only for advertising purposes, but also as a way to let customers put in orders remotely for collection, or delivery if that’s something you offer. This may seem daunting, but there’s a bunch of great website building tools out there which make the process simple. There’s also Google paid ads, which gives you the chance to bid to put ads on the front page of Google.

While marketing is incredibly important, it can be a complicated process, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be worth looking into hiring a marketing agency, who will take care of all the hard work for you.

6. Have enough funds in reserve

Running a business is a risk and unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict if and when things may go wrong in the future. It may be a dip in sales, damage to your premises meaning you need to close for repairs, or issues with suppliers, but you’ll be able to rest easy if you’ve taken the time to prepare in advance. By making sure you’ve got enough funds in reserve to see you through, you give yourself the best platform to go back at things once the hard times have passed.

It’s also important to make sure you’ve got the right insurance in place for your sandwich shop. With sandwich shop insurance, you can be sure that whatever happens, whether it’s accidental damage due to extreme weather, or legal trouble due to an injury on your premises, you’re covered.

To make sure you’ve got the best coverage possible, give our comprehensive comparison service a go and find the best insurance policy for your business.

Maria Hickey

For more than 20 years, Maria has worked in the insurance sector and has extensive underwriting and customer service expertise. Maria is an experienced Senior Underwriter with a particular specialism for shop, office and surgery related insurance.

All articles by Maria Hickey

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