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Why do takeaways fail? A Christmas Ghost Story

As we head towards the festive period let Cheap Takeaway Menus be the first to wish you season’s greetings. As usual we’ve thoroughly enjoyed bringing takeaway menu cheer throughout the year. Our takeaway menu design team have been singing away as they create top quality, low cost takeaway menus. Printer Claus and all our takeaway printing elves have been busying themselves to produce cheap menu printing for all of our customers, checking it twice to make sure it’s of the highest quality, and all year we have been spreading cheap takeaway menu good cheer in the form of advice and special offers for all the little takeaways across the land. 


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But… there are some takeaways which lose their way before they even get started and others who forget the spirit of service and good food on which they were built and slowly become something else, driven by complacency, before they disappear altogether, never to be remembered. Others manage to survive and thrive because they care; they take advice and put in effort. This is the story of how these things could come to pass.As we head towards the festive period let Cheap Takeaway Menus be the first to wish you season’s greetings. As usual we’ve thoroughly enjoyed bringing takeaway menu cheer throughout the year. Our takeaway menu design team have been singing away as they create top quality, low cost takeaway menus. Printer Claus and all our takeaway printing elves have been busying themselves to produce cheap menu printing for all of our customers, checking it twice to make sure it’s of the highest quality, and all year we have been spreading cheap takeaway menu good cheer in the form of advice and special offers for all the little takeaways across the land.

 

The ghosts of takeaways past

There are takeaways that once were, but are no more. They lived brightly, but did not last. Their takeaway menus floated away on the breeze and no one remembers their names. They haunt the high streets and trading estates of the land. Some people know that there used to be something in that empty building, or faintly recall what was there before that charity shop opened, but they can’t quite picture what it was. Or some have a faint recollection of ordering takeaway food over the phone but not being sure exactly where it was coming from and being told they couldn’t come and pick it up.  For the most part, though, customers no longer remember.

But we remember, and we can tell you why they aren’t there any longer.

The successful takeaway is crafted from more than an idea; it’s a fully rounded plan. It has built-in contingencies, it is a stack of research before the sign goes up, it is a takeaway menu designed to attract, to please and to keep pleasing. It is a business created to last. The dream is only the beginning.

There are the long forgotten takeaways which never really had a chance. These are the ones which had no hope of growing into a popular, productive, and profitable concern. These Tiny Tims were hobbled by one or both of the following: they were ‘delivery only’, or they were located off the beaten track, hidden away never to be passed by.

A takeaway receives approximately 30-40 per cent of its orders as delivery orders. That means a whopping 60-70 per cent is collection, over the counter, or footfall opportunism. Unless you’re building in a 60-70 per cent smaller outlay when you start up (and if you are then paradoxically you’re too business savvy to actually be the sort of person that would) then you’re on a loser from the get go. You’re going to need all the same equipment and stock. You’ll probably need more drivers than other takeaways might, you’ll need to invest heavily (extremely heavily) in advertising, marketing, and menus. Cheap Takeaway Menus can help you with that, no doubt, but believe us when we tell you that in our experience it won’t be enough to keep you afloat. The only things you will be saving on are rent and front of house. This will not be enough. Bewaaaaaare! Oblivion awaits the delivery only…

Even if you’re not delivery only, location is a MAJOR factor. It is possible to make a less desirable location work for you, but look around. Are you needed? Is there a gap in the takeaway market there? Is there pedestrian traffic of any description? Is there anything going for the area that you can use to your advantage. Research is the way to go. Saying ‘Bah! Humbug!’ to proper research will condemn you to something like Jacob Marley’s fate – weighed down by the inability to pay off your initial investment.

 

What about the others? The takeaways who have managed to avoid an early demise. Is it all plain sailing after that? Oh no, most certainly it is not, for we have not yet visited the most frightening place of all for a new takeaway. A place which not even the glossiest takeaway menu or most desirable location will steer you away from. The terrifying place which many new takeaway owners dare not visit, out of ignorance, laziness, or a simple lack of business sense. Many a shining prospect has been dashed upon the rocks of…costing! Woooooooo…(scary, right?)

One of the first things a new takeaway needs to do is work out how much to charge for their tasty fare. What the spectres long since departed from the high street did was this: they decided to open, let’s say, a pizza takeaway. Then what they did was they went round the local area and collected takeaway menus from everywhere that sold pizzas. They worked out the average cost of a pizza for the customer. For example, £5. Then they said, ‘Okay, let’s sell our average pizza for £4’. All well and good, undercut the competition, it’s nothing personal, just business. ‘Marvellous,’ says the customer and starts buying from the new shop. The next new Pizza takeaway does the same and so on… Before long it’s all one big Fezziwig party until the figures…start…to…not…add…up… And quickly the bony finger of fate is tapping on the takeaway window and beckoning into the beyond.

The other takeaways had worked out that it cost them £1 to make a pizza and they needed to mark it up 400% to break even on overheads and salt away a tiny profit. They knew how to cheat fate and play the long game. A takeaway business is for life, not just for Christmas.

You MUST work out how much it costs you to make every single dish on your takeaway menu. Ingredients and overheads, the variable and fixed costs, the lot. If you don’t, your takeaway will fade away, and fast. 

 

The ghosts of takeaways present

There are some takeaways which have thrived by doing everything right so far. They are examples of everything that Cheap Takeaway Menus considers a success because they have followed advice, been thorough and creative, both with their set-up and their continuing business. Their takeaway menus, provided by us, are second to none. Their food is wonderful. But right now they are heading towards the end. They just don’t know it. They are…The Trading Dead.

Like we said, a takeaway is for life. You need to really want to work for it to succeed because it’s going to put up a fight if you don’t give it the attention it deserves. These poor takeaways heading for the endless sleep don’t realise what’s happening until it’s too late. They have been trading successfully for a while now, and the initial investment of capital which got the whole endeavour going has finally been paid off. They think everything that follows is gravy. They’re almost right.

This is when they start to cut corners. Changing suppliers, putting prices up, buying poor quality stock and poor quality takeaway menus, downsizing staff, reducing effort; all to maximise the profits they now see as completely theirs. But this does not work. Food quality drops, service quality drops. Overall quality will drop off a cliff. Bad news spreads faster than good. Customer numbers will dwindle away. They don’t care about your ‘clever’ business plan to reduce costs and increase profit. All they know is that the food isn’t as good as it was, it is never delivered on time, and if they go to collect it, the friendly and conscientious atmosphere of the place has gone, replaced by a new, cold and mercenary outlook.

Don’t skimp because you feel you can. You’re wrong. Your takeaway was successful because of the work you put in and the service you offered. If you change any one of the ingredients that made you popular, you better make sure that you’re doing it to make yourself even more popular. Selfishness does not work in a competitive market. It’s always in the customer’s favour, so that should be your approach. You can be smarter than the customer knows; you NEED to be smart about it. Success might mean increased profits, but it does not follow that increasing your profits leads to increased success. Good food and good service are the two things you control completely. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can get complacent and still win the race. That way lies doom. Dooooooom! 

The ghosts of takeaways future

The future landscape of takeaway food is a desolate place. Takeaways are a thing of the past; they went the way of the dinosaur. What happened was this: 

 

  • The quality of their food dropped because they didn’t care about it in the same way.
  • The takeaway menus they bought were not up the task because they didn’t seek out the best quality and price.
  • They didn’t cost their food properly so they could undercut competitors.
  • They bought poor quality stock or were constantly let down by shoddy suppliers because they thought saving money meant the same as increasing profit.
  • They set themselves up in a poor location without researching it so nobody knew where they were and nobody came.
  • They thought ‘delivery only’ was a good idea and forgot that it usually only accounts for less than half of their business.
  • They didn’t maintain their licenses so they got fined and shut down by the council.
  • They didn’t keep their premises and equipment clean and hygienic so they got fined and shut down by the council.
  • They didn’t market their business so they weren’t in people’s minds.
  • They didn’t keep their frontage tidy and attractive to pull in passing trade.
  • They didn’t distribute their takeaway menus properly so nobody knew who they were or what they were offering.
  • They didn’t follow advice.


They did any one, all, or a combination of these things. And now they’re all gone, and no one remembers them…

But wake up! Look out of the window, look how bright it is out there. The future isn’t written, it doesn’t have to be like that. Hooray!Takeaways fail, sure, but they don’t have to. Takeaways are a business but they should also be a labour of love, and who doesn’t want the best for someone they love. Heed the warnings of the past, don’t take the present for granted, and the future will never be bleak. It took Scrooge an entire novel to learn that lesson. Here it is on one page!Always keep the spirit of a good takeaway, throughout the year. And may good business sense and great takeaway menu printing bless us, everyone. 

But wake up! Look out of the window, look how bright it is out there. The future isn’t written, it doesn’t have to be like that. Hooray!Takeaways fail, sure, but they don’t have to. Takeaways are a business but they should also be a labour of love, and who doesn’t want the best for someone they love. Heed the warnings of the past, don’t take the present for granted, and the future will never be bleak. It took Scrooge an entire novel to learn that lesson. Here it is on one page!Always keep the spirit of a good takeaway, throughout the year. And may good business sense and great takeaway menu printing bless us, everyone. 

Merry Christmas!!!

Remember

Good menu design makes you money!
Cheap menu printing saves you money!

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About the Author

Kevin Moyse

With over 19 years creative marketing experience Kevin has a wonderful knowledge of takeaway restaurant industry and specialises in creative takeaway menu design and printing.

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