Temporary Business Transformation: How to set up a new food operation quickly during COVID-19

By Phil Scoble

Introduction

During the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, many businesses are looking to quickly change what they do or adapt what they do to make the best of a bad situation. Some are adding completely new elements to their businesses, some are changing how they deliver it, and some are dealing with massive surges in demand. 

Whatever your business, if it involves food then we can help with advice on how to add new kit, or hire some kit short term to get you through these difficult times..

Just a couple of small changes could allow you to create a new income stream to add to your cashflow during the crisis…right now, any little helps.

Temporary business transformation: Food producer/ Farmers

The key in choosing the right kit is what the need is for your business: if you are moving raw food to pubs, cafes and food manufacturers, then simple refrigeration is in order and perhaps some display refrigeration to show off your wares.

If you wish to sell raw meat, fish or vegetables, a vacuum packing machine could be a quick and hygienic way to prepare it for sale – this also gives customers confidence in your professionalism. 

If you are creating a new retail space in your premises, make sure it can be made presentable and is very clean (although food safety regs remain, they are relaxed at the moment, but customers will still judge a mucky on unsanitary sales space). 

If you don’t have space in your own premises, or your premises is inaccessible to the public, perhaps you could work with those you supply already. 

A number of initiatives have been started during the crisis where pubs have turned themselves into local shops, selling produce directly from their suppliers – could you collaborate with your list of customers and help your business and theirs? It’s a simple process to add some display refrigeration to a premises and they could be up and running in minutes – if you can supply them.

Temporary business transformation: Cafes

If you are changing from selling freshly cooked food to selling takeaway, consider buying some heated serveries to reduce your production time for each dish. 

If you are going to be delivering hot food, consider a delivery bag or box – possibly a heated bag would be a good option too.

If you are thinking about offering food for cooking or heating up at home, consider a blast chiller to protect your customers and your business from food poisoning. If you are considering this route, a vacuum packer will, again, boost your business’ reputation and protect you and your customers against unhygienic practices.

Also, consider adding a significant retail element to your business – do your existing suppliers offer household items such as cleaning materials, loo rolls or perhaps even tinned goods? You could help their business and yours at the same time by adding some more unusual items to your order.

Temporary business transformation: Pubs

Adding a takeaway could, hopefully, be a quick and easy pivot for your business. Adding a pizza oven allows you to boost your offer quickly. Pizza is a very profitable food which can allow you to offer a very wide menu without adding hugely to your stock. 

Pubs can also offer roasts for takeaway. To make it easier, you could invest in a hot servery if you don’t already have one to make plating up efficient, and a delivery bag can help ensure the food gets to customers in the best possible condition.

Temporary business transformation: Coffee Shops

Could you offer takeaway/deliveries on sandwiches, paninis, cakes etc? If you have some production equipment, try batch cooking soups, stews or pies to sell as ready meals – which you can pack professionally with a vacuum packer

If you don’t have production kit, a professional convection oven, such as a Blue Seal Turbofan could be a great addition – and one which is relatively cost effective too. We have ovens in our Approved Used fleet that can be hired for as little as £10.50 a week.

Temporary business transformation: Takeaways

If you are an existing takeaway, chances are you’ve been getting hammered over the last month – and probably seen your production times shoot up, putting your reputation at risk. 

There are simple ways to add capacity to your business. For pizza businesses, if you are using a conveyor oven but think you don’t have enough room to add more, remember most conveyors are built to be stacked – so you can add another without worrying about taking up more floor space. 

To add to your productivity, think about a dough mixer and dough roller to reduce the work you need to put in to make your pizzas, saving you time and manpower too. Also, a refrigerated prep counter can help speed up your food preparation by keeping all your ingredients to hand. 

If you depend on fryers and are at capacity, it’s also a good idea to look at either a countertop version  – if all your floor space is currently used up, or, if it’s not, look at a slimline freestanding model – such as the Blue Seal Fast Fri FF18

 

Conclusion

Adding some new equipment to a business for a short period could help it make it through this most difficult of times. 

Taking on some kit can free up workers, give you a new platform to build a business from, or help you to bring your service to a new group of customers in a new way.

Look creatively at your setup and think what one thing might make the difference, what would facilitate you making a change that would boost your cashflow now and in the future? 

For more information on the outbreak and what you can do as a business owner, here are some information links from the Government: 

Symptoms and what to do about them: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Advice for different sectors: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

Advice and help for businesses: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

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