As a prelude to another long passage, may I just point out that this isn’t intended to come across like a self-aggrandising, image-crafting social media post, for meaningless likes and recognition. It’s arguably a totally selfish undertaking, to put a personal marker in the sand, and to have something to look back on in my Facebook memories in a few years’ time that doesn’t involve a pointless rant about a local councillor, a traffic warden, the Bournemouth christmas market, or Tottenham Hotspur.
5 years ago this month, in 2013, we decided to act on a hunch, mostly devoid of any real business plan, and open what was then known as Chicken Shack. I’m acutely aware that this was, and is, a small concern. We’re not flying rockets to Mars. We opened, and are continuing to open, chicken shops – albeit ‘posh’ ones.
The size of the concern is relative though. I’ve met people that run large companies, in corporate executive roles mainly, that are no more stressed and withered than those running small businesses. In fact, those running small ones often have more on the line – a proper entrepreneurial endeavour – bread-on-the-table type pressure.
“Fail, and you’re well and truly f*cked mate”.
I’m pleased to report that I’ve been there before – failed, and truly f*cked – and it’s not as bad as people make out. There’s nothing quite like not having a pot to piss in, or a window to throw it out of (as my old man would say). Forget about missing the good times – you just long for normality.
Normality doesn’t mean securing yourself a salaried job though. Never. Totally unemployable. Cheers dad, for passing on that gene. Lots of you are of exactly the same make up.
With start up businesses failing approximately 90% of the time, and survival rates for restaurants even more frighteningly low, it was a risky little start-up project. Granted, only £75k or so, and we had clubbed together some cash between a bunch of mates, and so none of us were overly financially exposed. More so was the exposing of our egos if it failed. The Ego Is The Enemy.
We also learned that the saying ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ held firm in its meaning, and in practical reality.
And so we’ve parted ways with partners and learned a myriad of lessons along the way about ‘management’ of personalities, and different characters.
We now stand strong in 2018, with a talented team, having gone through some tough times, and some good times. Growth, and at times diversion – but never declination, or the admittance of defeat.
Streamlined, energetic, optimistic, positive, and cohesive. Some recipes for success there, and I know this because the opposite of these things has bred toxicity, and ultimately the internal combustion of many a capitalist enterprise. 1000’s of established businesses, and start ups with huge potential, have failed purely because of internal fisticuffs over subjects as pointless as ‘power’, ‘ego’, ‘jealousy’, and ‘greed’.
Today we not only celebrate the 5th birthday of our brand and business, but also the purchase of a new local premises.
We expect the future to bring us much of the same as the last 5 years – but these days we package most things positively. Excitement, not worry. Challenge, not chore. Immersion, not imprisonment. Who knows where we’ll end up – wherever it is, it won’t be from lack of ambition or effort.
Recently, C&B hit 100,000 online orders. It’s a nice milestone – but so what? We know we have to focus our attentions on improving efficiency, consistency, and speed, in order to delight our customers long-term. That’s ultimately all that matters, and in this game you are only as good as your next meal – or last meal, according to Trip Advisor!
C&B fans, you have our word that we are dedicated to this goal of improvement, and the daily concerted effort it takes to deliver what you’ve ordered, as you expect it, on time – whether in store, at home, at work, at the park, or even the beach!
Each month we attempt to implement an upgrade. Some are not noticeable to the public, some end up not being noticeable to our teams, or even us. We try, and try again. This year, the simple and effective Japanese business philosophy of Kaizen is something we have employed – consistent, small, incremental improvements over a long period of time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We have a huge list of things we want to do – constraints mainly being time, and at times, cash.
I keep reminding myself that Nando’s is 26 years old in the UK – old enough to be our dad.
Thanks to everyone that has supported us on our journey so far, and witnessed what has been a huge leap from total and utter obscurity, to what is merely ‘obscurity’. Progression.
To those of you that thought we wouldn’t last 5 years – i’ve got some news for you. Neither did we. And so the jokes on you.
Enjoy the struggle, always.
PS – Can’t say where the new site is yet.