Adding value to your business

With customers busier than ever before, fitting around their hectic lifestyles is increasingly important but can also be a lucrative source of revenues for your business. 

Striving in a world where consumer demands require a business to be multifaceted, butchers must ensure they are adapting with the times. With customer tastes and lifestyles constantly evolving, are you offering alternatives to the traditional cuts to keep your clientele engaged?

According to research firm Kantar Worldpanel, the average consumer now spends just 34 minutes preparing and cooking their main meal during the week, down from one hour in 1980. So time-constrained customers are going to want a quick and easy fix.

“Life is busy, more mums are working, more demands are put upon us with children doing lots of activities after school et cetera,” says Julie Haig of Haigs Food Hall in Aberdeen. “People don’t have the same time to be at home cooking in the kitchen every single day like they used to.

“Also, the supermarkets are doing it so well, we all need to keep up, but we can do it better. Being proper butchers and having the butchery experience and knowledge, we really can make these products more interesting and tasty.”

Noticing a trend for international flavours, Haigs introduced six world casserole dishes based on the six main continents, all individually packed in ready-to-cook trays. All the customer needs to do is put them in the oven.

Haig adds: “We are living in a smaller world these days; people travel more and get bored with the same things, they want different things. Our customers love new and innovative products.”

While added-value products give customers what they want, they are also beneficial to a butcher’s business. “First, and most importantly, it is a great way to increase profit on all the cuts – even on your trim,” explains Matt Everest, a butcher at Flanagan Butchers in West Sussex. Utilising social media, Everest is gaining a strong following online, due to his bright and innovative products. “Added-value products are key to any shop display – they give all the counters variety and colour. If a particular product catches the eye of the public, then it could potentially bring you new customers.”

Seasonal events such as Christmas and barbecue periods can provide inspiration, and, although providing added-value products throughout the year is important, there are also opportunities to capitalise on special events. For example, making the most of Halloween, Everest created Lucifers Pit of Hell (pictured right). The chilli beef nests with a spicy centre were created using mozzarella, chilli flakes and buffalo sauce, sprinkled with ghost chilli, complete with devil horns.

Charity events, such as Macmillan Cancer Support’s coffee morning, have also provided platforms. Inspired by Heston Blumenthal, Everest produced his own take on cupcakes.

“As a result of this thinking, I created beef, lamb, pork and venison ‘cakes’, each consisting of a tasty filling and a different mash on top of each one acting as the icing,” explains Everest.

“For example, the beef cupcake has a caramelised onion centre with a horseradish mash topping, and the lamb cupcake has a minted pea centre with a minted mash topping. All the customers were asking about them and the best thing was a lot of the children liked them, because they looked like cakes. Not only did we make  a profit on them, but we managed to raise £455 for the Macmillan charity.”

It might seem like the larger supermarkets are a threat, but Haig says the independents have the potential to give dominant retailers a run for their money if only they’re willing to embrace new trends and requirements.

“Butchers are not under threat from big retailers if they keep their business current, put their customers first and keep quality and service as their main objective,” comments Haig.

Immersing yourself within the added-value category is also a way of securing the future of the industry, believes Everest, who adds: “I genuinely believe added-value products are the way forward when attracting young apprentices into the business, as young people get more creative every year. When they see that being a butcher isn’t just about cutting meat, but actually using your creativity, they could be influenced into joining the trade. Hopefully this would mean that there would be more butchers’ shops on our streets and in our villages. There is no better time to be a butcher than now and added-value products bring the trade into the 21st century.”

January is the time for making New Year’s resolutions and, for many, breaking them. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you start the year off right and set yourself up for a successful and profitable 2018.

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