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Great Small Business Models


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No, I'm n ot talking about (usually young and attractive) people used by small business for photo shoots, catwalks and the like. I am talking about small business set ups that exploit an opportunity that brings value to their client base and the community; and better still when more than one complimentary small business band together to add value to each other as well as the community. I really admire these and their entreprenuers and this evening, I found a little doozy.


Below is a map of where I live:


The red circle to the left - Halse is where I live. There is the New Inn (https://www.newinnhalse.com/), which is the local village pub. This is a community pub. The establishing committee and the current committee are committed to keeping it as it is - a cross between a local boozer and a gastropub (i.e. a pub with fancy cuisine, and plush surroundings, not a pub that give you gastroenteritis or similar problems). As such, it suffers an identity crisis. And, because it is committee run. making any changes, like providing part of the menu, such as burgers (which I have to admit are very good, there),  Fish and Chips,. and the like as take-away options, is off the table (apparently, they are scared the over-staffed chefs will throw a hissie fit and leave...)


The red circle to the right, is Bishop's Lydeard and our closest village. While our village has about 200 odd residents, Bishop;s Lydeard has a population of about three thousand. It is about 2 miles from Halse to the centre of the circle, with the main town tho the right (East) of the circle. The reason I put the citcle there is the Woth West corner of that citrcle is the industrial estate and the location of the businesses I am going to discuss. TYhe only take away options we have is at the 45 decree on the arc of the Bishop's Lydeard cirtcle, which is a Chinese take away. When we first moved in here, it was, by UK rural standards, reasoinably good, though pricey and of course, they only accept cash (don't need to declare everything to HMRC is my guess).  However, I am thinking it changed hands not too long ago, because the prices are the same, but the food has gone so far downhill, it cannot be inflation. So we (and many others we know) have stopped going there.


Also within Bishop's lydeard is a Co-Op (sort of a 7-11, but better), and while they don't do takeaways, ready means (TV dinners) are very good in the UK. The Co-Op does them, but the Co-Op does OK ones, at best. The Green circle at the bootom (about 3.5 - 4 miles, I would guess from Bishops Lydeard and therefore sayt 5.5 - 6 miles from us) has a BP service station, with a Marks and Spencer (upper market foiod). The Marks and Sparks bit does ready meals (which tast excellent, and reasonably fresh, but I am sure loaded withg sugar and salt). I will admit, the sausage rolls (from the BP side of the business) are the best I have tasted, but they are definitely laced with salt and sugar.. and pretty fatty no doubt.

The green circle to the left of that is the options for take-away/ready meals we have. To the right of the circle is a Chinese take-away - which we have tried twice - the second one giving them a chance in case we had an off-night on the first try.. Nope.. it was exactly the same. To the left of the circle is a mini-shopping centre, which has a Co-Op, a decent (by UK standards) fish and chip shop, and a new bnurger place. The burgers are the best take away burgers I have had, but at the same price as a pub, Outside of these, there is not much areound. To the west, it is about 7 miles to get to the next town (Wivieliscombe, whihc has a F&C and Chinese (and a Co-Op). to the north, it is about 10 miles, if not more, to Williton, to the South, forget it; and to the east, the main town, Taunton, but you are looking at a further 3 - 5 miles to the nearest and no so dearest take away establishments.


There is a reason for there not being too much around - the population can't support too many, especially with the fixed costs of shops, the business rates (50% of lettable value), insurances, salaries, etc. However, a local brewer and the like. As wed had a tough day today, we decided we would do take-away. With the Chinese places off the list, and not wanting fish and chips nor possiblky the world's mos expensive (but godd value for money) burgers, I was settling on one of the better ready meals from Marks and Sparks. But, plan C turned up which turned into Plan A. In the industrial estate of Bishop's Lydeard s a small independen t brewer, Quantock Brewery (The Quantocks are the hills to the easty of Bishop's Lydeard: https://www.quantockbrewery.co.uk/).


They had turned a run of the mill brewery at the edge of an industrial estate into a seriously busy venue to have a pint or two with your family and friends. I could not understand how, in the summer months, how sitting in the car park of what is a factory in an industrial estate when the various local pubs have excellent beer gardens seemed a better choice. Virtually all the local pubs server their ales, bitters, and IPA, and very fresh, too.. And in the Autumn and winter eves, their car park is fuil and punters are in the actual brewery having a pint or three... while enveloped in the smell of brewing hops, which, turns me off my pint.


At least I couldn't understand it until now. You see, in their car park is a small mobile pizza van on these nights. Now, I have had pizza from these sorts of vans before, and for them to even claim it was pizza was a most imaginative stretch. But, I thought, hey, let's give it a chance. There's not much else around. Three was a small queue of two in front of me. While I was waiting to place my order, a man came out of the brewery, grabbed four pizzas and went back into the brewery. As I was to learn when I went in after ordering the Pizza, he and his famiily were chomping on the pizzas while mum and dad were enoying a brew.


The van had a wood-fired pizza over. Apart from that, it looked like a normal food van. The menu was simple - margheritta, pepperoni, quattro stagiionni (4 cheeses), some fancy vegetarian, and an asian pork pizza. I ordered 2 margs and 2 pepperonis. £42, thank you very much and an hour to wait. I was prepared to wait because the take away options are so thin, we all wanted something different. In addition, I had my daughter, and could burn time taking her home after a day of horse riding with her friend, chatr to the partner a bit and return. Which is what I did. And even then, I had enough time in the car park to take a good look at what was going on. In the time I was there, there were probably about 20 customers, each picking up orders; and I would estimate an average of 3 per customer, as about an equal number of poeople picked up 2 and 4 pizzas. One customer picked up 20 pizzas (I kid you not - how they knocked them out in realitve quick succession I will never know). About 50% of the customers took their pizzas back into the brewery, and the remaining took them presumably home.


For the brewery, whcih does not brew food, it provided a reason (and imho after tasting their pizza, a good reason) for punters to stop and have a drink waiting for their pizza, or actually an informal and not too expensive night of dinner and a couple of drinks. So, the brewery sees an uptick of by the glass sales, which is their best margin, thanks to the pizza.


And I did some quick maths. They easily sold 100 pizzas this eve.. Defintiely more, but for keeping the maths simple, let's assume 100. The lowest price pizza is the Marh at £10; the pepperoni and 4 cheeeses are £11, the fancy veg was £12, and the fancy Asian was £14; But again, to keep the maths easy, lets assume they are all £10. That would give them £1,000 this eve. I spoke to the operators (husband/wife) and they work three days a week - Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at different pubs, but the same settijng - fair way from take-waways for the locals; in the car park of a drinkiing establishment that doesn't sell food, and not too many decent alternatives at their price point around either. And Thursday night's are their lowest volume night But for the maths, let's assume it is the Thursday night volume. So,they customer face three days/week for £1,000/night gives them £3,000/week, which gives them £150k./year (they don't work 2 weeks between Christmas and New Year). Pizzas cost bugger all to make, so I am assuming a cost base ex. depreciation of 1/3, which means they net £100K a year. Let's assume a day a week for book work, maintenance, and the like; and a 4 day week brings them £100K/year. Of course, it is gfoing to be north of this, but they are not going to be working all day and night, like I and other small business owners have and continue to do. I did verify with them, and they do have at least 3 days a week off, where they are doing what they want to do.. They only take 2 weeks a year because they are never burned out.


Yeah, like everyone, they have their challenges and business life isn't all smooth sailing. They have been booted out of places at a whim of the property owner (they don't pay rent, because their value proposition is to bring more people into the establoshments buying more drink). They have had unplanned maintenance which has cost the king of a small nation's ransom which they tell me to make it up, they will work another day a week for a bit at one of their sites.. the great thing is they have plenty of time in the kitty to do it when they need to.


Are they going to become millionaires? Probably not, but they seem to have struck a balance of earning a nice income out of their business, giving them enough time to enjoy life, working iwth other businesses to mutually improve their and the others, and filling a gap that, albeit being take away food, does meet the needs of their community.  And all credit to them.



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What that coupe has  done is called "market research" - the very thing that you have shown in your explanation. There is always money in food, if it is better than what you can cook for yourself. Population is also a factor, as well as distance. I see that it is about 12 kms from Halse to Tesco's in Taunton. Would a Pom go that far for a pizza?


I was told not to bother with Chinese in England as it was not up to scratch compared with Australian fare. I suppose being somewhat rural, curry houses are not thick on the ground. Perhaps an Aussie would find their pizza a bit below standard, but for a population that can get a serve of baked beans with a Macca's Big Breakfast, anything would be an improvement.




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11 hours ago, nomadpete said:

Find the niche.


Find it at the airpark.



I have the niche, and it is aviation related; the airpark would be right and the block of land is about right (could use an extra 1/2 acre). The location is right, and Toc is a retirement candidate for me, although I do prefer a coastal location (Merimbula would be preferred, but for my nice, I don't think it is quite right), so will be looking at other towns on the south NSW coast as well.

9 hours ago, old man emu said:

I was told not to bother with Chinese in England as it was not up to scratch compared with Australian fare. I suppose being somewhat rural, curry houses are not thick on the ground. Perhaps an Aussie would find their pizza a bit below standard, but for a population that can get a serve of baked beans with a Macca's Big Breakfast, anything would be an improvement.

About the best place to get Chinese in the UK is China Town and last time I went, which was admittedly about 20 years ago, only a couple of restaurants were up to that in the respective Chinatowns I have been to in Aus. However, some of the take-aways are quite good in London for takeaways, although one near where we used to live was hdeoulsy expensive. But, in general, the Orental based Asian cuisine is not a patch on what is on offer in Australia (well the citites, anyway; I recall driving between Melb and Sydney and many of those smaller country town Chinese restaurants were questionable at best). There re a few curry houses in Taunton, and two in Wellington (which form our place is practically equidistant, but with the country lanes to get there, is more of a pain). One in Taunton I ate at some time ago was very good; but it has since been sold and I hear has gone downhill a bit. One has been closed due to being found guilty of emplying illegal immigrants (and by that, it means they facilitated bringing them in from India) The others, I have no idea about.. My family aren't the most ardent patrons of Indian food, and as I am in London every week and work newar Briock Lane, I have access to some of the best on offer.


On pizza, if you avoid the chains suich as Pappa Johns, Dominos and the like - and the shitty sliced stuff they serve up in Leicester square, it is very good here.. better than most in Aus when I last had a pizza there by an indepdent Italian family owned shop. In fact, the ones last night, as simple as they were, were well worth it.. the cheese was buffalo mozzarella, and the base just tasted yummy, what not too think or thick, and still crispy.


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