Written by Andrew Crook, NFFF President

Hopefully, your trade is keeping up as we head into the colder months but it is obviously a time of change and something we need to try to manage.  This could be a good opportunity to look at your menu again and see if you can change anything to make service more efficient. Many shops are using customer paging systems to allow customers to wait in their car and be called when their order is ready.  On the whole customers do not want to be in close proximity with other people and anything we can do to minimise the time they are in or around our shops the better their experience will be.  I think Winter, with restrictions, is likely to cause tensions to rise with customers too so we could see an increase in customer complaints and potential aggression, it is going to be a tough time for everyone as the nights draw in.

To help businesses even further we have just launched FishandChipGuide.com.  This website will not only allow members of the public to search for their nearest fish and chip shop but also allow them to order direct from the shop or via one of the main aggregators such as Just Eat.  Members can register and claim their shop for free until January 2021 and non-members can add their business locations for free. This could prove to be an important way to communicate with your customers if we face further restrictions, so we have included a button for them to link through to register to your Mailchimp newsletter.  The more that get involved and the more that share the website to their customers, the more impact it will have on all of our businesses. I would much rather my customers use another chip shop when they are out of town than one of the burger chains and this site will help them find fish and chips and other customers find you!

The VAT reduction is providing an important lifeline during these uncertain times, the New Year could have a slow start so make sure you are able to tide yourself over if trade is slow. It is great that we know we have the 5% rate until the end of March as this means we can plan some promotional activity in the New Year to help. The NFFF will be working to try to get this period extended to give businesses a far enough view to be able to plan their way out of the current situation.

Rest assured the NFFF will be there to help if you need it, we will be working hard to keep everyone up to date with what is going on and we will be the voice of the industry in the meetings that we attend.  It is not all doom and gloom, we have a great product and a great industry so we will come out of this as a stronger modernised fish and chip industry, but it’s by planning now and working together that we will secure our future.