- What makes a great destination deli? Jackie Mitchell finds out...
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Reflect the local area by offering a range of regional specialities. This will appeal not only to tourists and visitors, but also your regular customer base. Working with local producers is crucial to sourcing and identifying new and unusual products. Alice Evans from Broad Bean Deli says she’s always receptive to local products, although finds it time-consuming to buy from lots of different ones, so works with Fine Food Angels, a smaller wholesaler which helps the buying process. Regular tasting events are a good idea so that customers can try the product first-hand and meet the person behind it. At Broad Bean Deli, tastings are held in six to eight week blocks with a different producer every week. The producer comes in one day for a few hours to talk to customers, explain how to use the product and give out literature. Then the deli promotes that product for the rest of the week. For example, a milk producer talked about the family dairy, the welfare of the herd and the milk, while a husband and wife cheese producer came in with cheese samples, explained how the cheese was made and how to serve it. “We find this works well,” says Alice. “It’s vital for customers to meet the producers.”
For Westmorland Family, which runs motorway services in Cumbria, Gloucester and Scotland including farm shops, delis and restaurants, stocking and using local produce is essential. Even as a ‘rest stop’ for drivers, the company believes in reflecting the tastes of the region and sharing local specialities with customers. Tebay Services works with over 70 local producers in Cumbria, while Gloucester Services is involved with 130 local producers. Julie Mills, commercial director, says, “This ensures our visitors get a genuine taste of the region. We have a team of experts sourcing produce from our surrounding communities. We believe in nurturing new suppliers so hold regular Meet the Buyer events where producers can meet our buyers and get some advice. These have been a huge success.”
As a destination deli, it’s essential to have a selection of foodie gifts and souvenirs on sale year round. Vhari Russell from The Food Marketing Experts suggests looking at non-food items as they may have a bigger margin and there’s no best before date. “This way you can offer a point of difference. It is also key to think green – can you work with someone like Terracycle to offer a green recycling point to increase the reason for customers to visit?” At Broad Bean, there is no parking outside, “so we make sure goods that are local to Ludlow are clearly labelled as potential gifts because customers are looking for something easy to carry as they’re on foot,” says Alice.
Great customer service
As part of creating a ‘destination’ it’s crucial to hire the right staff who can talk passionately about the products. As Edward Berry, consultant from The Flying Fork, says, “You’ve got to convey passion at the front line and staff must know about ‘upselling’ – for example, this chutney would go well with this cheese. People like being sold to – it makes them feel special.” Sangita at Delilah Fine Foods says, “Customers expect expert knowledge from staff. Each staff member is knowledgeable about one particular area – for example, it’s cheese for me and someone else for coffee. People ask us how to use products and for recipes so we have to be able to supply that information.”
For the article in full download the April issue here.
Image: Westmorland Family