David and Claire Hamilton opened the Ashdale Chippy in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh fourteen years ago. They run a supermarket and deli counter together with the takeaway. Breakfast starts at 7 am. Their motto: ‘People eat with their eyes’ so keep the food and menu board looking good.
Name? Name of Business? David Hamilton, Ashdale Chippy, Enniskillen
When did you open there? We’re going fourteen years now.
What kind of services do you offer customers? We’ve a takeaway and a supermarket here, interconnected, with a deli counter in the supermarket. My wife, Claire, manages the takeaway and I manage the shop. We’re open 7 am until 9 pm daily.
What’s on the menu? Breakfast is a big part of our business – we do fries and breakfast baps. And then we’ve a full chip shop menu all day long, with fish, burgers, kebabs, pizzas.
What’s your bestselling item (besides chips?) The kebabs – lamb and chicken – do very well.
What fish do you serve? Cod
Do you do deliveries? Yes, we started 6 months ago, using a small local company. It’s still a small part of the business – about 5 percent – but I think there’s potential to expand.
How many staff do you employ? 3 fulltime and 10 part-time
What, in your opinion, makes your shop unique to your customers? Good food and good customer service
What do you most like about the job? I give my wife credit for the success of the takeaway. What I like is that there’s a good buzz about the place all day long.
What’s your customer base? Mostly local and there’s an industrial estate nearby so we get a lot of workers in as well.
What’s the busiest time of the year? Autumn through to Christmas is always very busy, I’m not sure why maybe with the darker evenings people prefer to eat out.
What is competition like in the area? We’ve a Chinese half a mile away but round here it’s not so bad. In Enniskellen centre, there’s a lot of competition. On the main street alone, there must be five Chinese, three pizzerias and two chippers. But we’re a bit out of town, so it’s fine
What’s the biggest challenge facing you in business at the moment? Rates are a challenge – they went up again in March. And VAT remains very high – 20 percent.
Is there anything the government could be doing to make your life easier? They need to lower VAT and lower rates. I’m always keen to start new businesses but the way it is there’s absolutely no incentive to expand.
You’re in business 14 years now, have you noticed any difference in the way people eat? I think people are eating out more than they used to, which is great news for us obviously! We’d have customers coming in to eat twice a day. There’s more healthy eating as well – the deli counter which has sandwiches does very well
If you could invite someone famous to dinner who would it be? Juergen Klopp, the Liverpool manager
How do you manage the work-life balance? I don’t! I would say both me and Claire are overworked and underpaid. But I’m used to hard work.
Have you done anything recently to help grow your business? We’ve worked with Kepak to put up a new menu board, and that’s been brilliant. People really respond to the photos. We put it up six weeks ago and I’d say takings are up 10 percent.
What tip would you give someone coming into this industry? Be prepared to work hard
How do you advertise new menu items? We’ll be doing a leaflet drop shortly to advertise the new menu board. We also have a Facebook page, which Claire manages, which is growing nicely.
Do you have a business motto? People eat with their eyes: presentation counts