​Battered but Unbeaten: Charlie Collins on Winning Customers and Cutting Costs

​Battered but Unbeaten: Charlie Collins on Winning Customers and Cutting Costs

Posted by Emma on 2nd Mar 2024

In episode 147 of the Ceres Podcast, the return of Charlie Collins, who previously appeared in episode 62, brings an insightful exploration of the resilience and strategic adaptation required in the challenging landscape of the hospitality industry. This episode is a must listen for those interested in the dynamics of business turnaround.

Charlie Collins, celebrated as the last person to win the Drywite Young Fish Frier award in 2020 before COVID-19 dramatically impacted the industry, shares his journey through the difficult times that followed. Winning the prize was a moment of pride and brought an initial surge in business, but Charlie candidly discusses how a combination of high pricing and the pandemic led to a significant downturn in trade. The conversation delves into the critical moments of realisation and the strategic decisions made to navigate out of financial distress.

Key insights from the episode include:

Menu and Cost Management: Charlie explains the balancing act of maintaining an extensive menu while cutting costs. The episode discusses the pros and cons of this strategy, touching upon operational adjustments like the scrutiny of electricity and gas usage, menu size reduction, and negotiating ingredient prices. The focus is on how these changes have positively impacted cash flow and customer perception.

Shifting Customer Perception: The challenge of altering the perception of being expensive while offering good value is dissected. Charlie provides a regional perspective from Leicester in the East Midlands, emphasising the difficulty in maintaining constant footfall amid these perceptions.

Adapting to Delivery Services: The significant role of delivery services in the current business model is analysed. Charlie shares insights into the proportion of sales derived from deliveries, operational logistics, profitability considerations, and the necessity of delivery services for modern fish & chip outlets.

Staff Management and Motivation: Addressing the contemporary challenges in staff management, including dealing with higher wage expectations and the shifting attitudes towards work-life balance among younger employees. Strategies for handling wage increases and fostering a productive workplace culture by leveraging individual strengths are discussed.

Effective Marketing Strategies: The episode covers Charlie's innovative marketing approaches to boost business. Emphasis is placed on the efficacy of using enticing offers, the selection of social media platforms, and targeted email marketing campaigns during slower business periods.

Charlie Collins' story is not just about the struggles but, more importantly, the strategic pivots and hard decisions that have led to a gradual but promising business recovery. Episode 147 of the Ceres Podcast is a compelling narrative of resilience, adaptability, and a nuanced understanding of market dynamics, making it a valuable listen for anyone interested in the realities of running a small business in today's challenging economic climate. Encouraging listeners to tune into this episode not only offers them insights into overcoming adversity but also serves as an inspiration for entrepreneurs navigating similar challenges.