Industry sector:

Sandwich bar: Services offered

Although your sandwich bar will probably be open for most of the working day, in many areas you're only likely to be really busy for a two hour period around lunch time - this will be your peak sales period each day. It's a good idea to be fully prepared for the lunch time rush when speed of service can be vitally important. You'll want to be able to serve as many customers as possible during this period and you don't want potential customers to be put off by the sight of long queues.

As the freshness of products is key in the sandwich trade - both from a hygiene and presentation point of view - you'll probably use the morning to make most of your pre-packed sandwiches, fillings and any other products that need advance preparation. This can enable you to serve more customers and avoid the build up of queues at peak times. You may decide to provide your customers with an ordering service by phone, text or email. You can make up these orders during the morning, in good time to be delivered or collected.

The afternoon is likely to be much quieter, although you may get some late lunchers and, later on, some customers looking for an afternoon snack. The afternoon can be a useful time to make up any fillings and other products that can be safely stored for a day or two and to generally catch up with cleaning, stocktaking, ordering supplies, bookkeeping and so on.

Made-to-order sandwiches

You can offer your customers pre-packed sandwiches which you prepare and package in advance or you can offer made-to-order sandwiches. You may, of course, decide to offer both. You could make up a range of sandwiches and display them in a chiller for customers who are in a hurry and offer made-to-order sandwiches for people who have a bit more time. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, but your market research should give you some idea of which would be most popular - and profitable - in your particular location.

If you plan to make sandwiches to order, it can be a good idea to time yourself making various sandwiches to find out approximately how long it will take you - or a member of staff - to serve a typical customer. This will give you a rough idea of how many customers you will be able to serve in an hour.

Running a delivery service

You might decide to run a delivery service and deliver sandwiches to local workplaces in time for lunch. If you do, there are two options available to you:

  • making up a range of sandwiches 'on spec' before lunch time and taking them and other products to places where you expect there to be demand - such as local offices, factories and so on
  • providing your customers with an ordering service by phone, text or email and then delivering orders in time for lunch

Generally your delivery driver will collect the money when the sandwiches are delivered - or sold on spec. You'll need to make sure that you have trustworthy staff and good record keeping systems in place. You'll also need to make sure that whoever makes the deliveries has a cash float so that they can provide change.

Minimising wastage

It's essential that the ingredients you use are fresh and in peak condition. It's inevitable that you'll suffer some wastage each day because almost all the ingredients you'll use are prone to spoiling very quickly. Wastage may also occur during the preparation stage if your staff are careless or inconsistent with the amount of fillings used. Try to minimise wastage by training staff in correct handling techniques, cold storage procedures, efficient use of ingredients and portion control. Some wastage will be caused by the fact that you won't sell every single item every day and some stock can only be kept for a day or two at most. To cut down on this type of wastage you may reduce availability and run down stock after the key lunch time period. It's a good idea to reduce the price of unsold sandwiches towards the end of the day to try and get something for them rather than throwing them away.

Other services

Think about whether there are any other services you could offer to attract customers away from your competitors. For example, maybe no other outlets in your area offer eat-in facilities (remember, though, to ask your local council for guidance on the legal requirement in your area for the provision of toilet facilities for eat-in customers ). You could have some tables outside, although you'll probably need permission for this from your local highways department. You could provide wifi internet access by setting up your own hotspot - this is very popular with sandwich bar and cafe customers.