Sandwich Van Licensing

The Street traders license! For some people who operate Sandwich Vans or any sort of food to go truck you may not know what I’m on about here. Well for about 20 years Sandwich Express traded in Cheshire West & Chester council with no license – don’t get me wrong we were governed by the local environmental health so the council knew exactly what our business was about. This leads me to believe that the street traders license was something quite new for our local authority – yes the pound of flesh, their piece of the pie was being demanded due to some court ruling in some far off land that judged that a sandwich van was to be classed as street trading. Personally I think they just saw other local authorities in the close vicinity doing it and like good civil servants proceeded to make some more money for the local war chest.

So why do Sandwich Vans need a license? You may think, as I did, that you are what’s known as a ‘Roundsman’ (A milkman is a roundsman), everyday you go to predetermined calls on private car parks, if you’re organised you’ll have all this documented so you can prove you do the same ‘ROUND’ each day, so naturally you are a ‘Roundsman’ – WRONG!!! When you park up outside any of your calls can a member of the public walking down the street walk up to your van and purchase their lunch on the way to work? “Yes of course, I can’t afford to turn down a sale” – POW!!!! You just became a street trader. No matter how you try to tell the local licensing officer that you don’t sell to the general public he/she won’t believe you – and let’s be honest if the bin wagon stops and five hungry blokes get out you’re going to serve them, yes that’s another trick I’ve heard the council using, asking their employees to trap you into serving them on public property.

I suppose there are a few of you that only serve on private gated land and for this you do not need a license. For example one of our vehicles trade in an area were the street trading licensing is not chargeable (yes they exist), but for one call it crosses the border into a chargeable council area – the call however is a big hotel situated in its own grounds, we park by the staff quarters where no member of the public is allowed – for this we did not need to pay. Round planning is very important, if you trade within close proximity to council borders you could cross into two or three separate authorities, and yes you need a license for each one. At Sandwich Express before we start a new round we check the map thoroughly and contact the local authority well in advance of starting said round.

The cheapest license we have encountered was £366 per year plus any additional vans on £188, this is quite rare as all other authorities we deal with don’t offer any discounts for additional vehicles – Well done Halton Borough Council. The most expensive we’ve encountered is £630 and I’ve been told there are councils who charge more.

Do I think Licensing is a good thing? Yes I do, our type of  business does have an element of people doing the job out of non regulated premises, which lets be honest can be dangerous, if anything goes wrong in the supply chain who are you going to blame for that endless night in the bathroom or maybe worse? As our company grows we always consult with the relevant authority before starting a round and you can get a good idea of what the competition is like by asking how many licenses are currently out in the area, its funny how many times you’re told that there are no other sandwich vans in the area – really? how come I know of 3 that are blatantly advertising on Facebook. Yes there are so many unlicensed vans out there, but is it worth it? for the sake of a few quid a week you don’t have to worry about the licensing officer that will come to your vehicle while you have a big queue and shut you down – how embarrassing and unprofessional.

Watch out for some of the rules that accompany your license, most are not really written for our sort of business, they’re aimed more at the static type of trailer you see moored at the side of roads, like areas where you can’t park to trade or days that may coincide with a big public event. One of the rules you need to be aware of is the 250 metre rule, this says that you can not trade within 250 metres of another business selling the same type of goods – so how many of your calls does that eliminate? You see how this has not really been thought out by the authorities, say you’ve been delivering to a site for 20 years and 200 metres away someone opens up a café, this will mean the council will say you now can’t trade there and believe me the café owner will not let this go (I know, we’ve had one), even if your customers want you there you can not open your door and trade in the normal fashion. See what I said there – the normal fashion, let me share with you the way you can legally overcome this problem. If your customers are happy with your products and want to continue buying them (because the café is a greasy spoon and the owner spends half the day standing outside smoking – told ya we’d had one), all that you need to do is make sure your customers stay in their building, they will know what they want so tell them you’ll bring it in for them, then conduct the monitory exchange on their PRIVATE premises – the licensing officer has no jurisdiction on private property, just make sure no one comes out to your van because just browsing is classed as street trading – there you go 250 metre rule sorted. The only exception is that if the landlord of the café owns the whole site they can ask you not to come on the site, this has nothing to do with your license and is a bugger, but we found away around even that, if you want to know how you’ll have to ask me in the comments below.

My advice – pay the license, work with your local authority to regulate unlicensed vans, if you have to pay why should your competition get away with it? It has to be a level playing field, competition is good so long as everyone is playing by the rules. Licensing departments are now working with the environmental health officers so there is going to be no hiding.

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Sandwich Express Quick History

busy-van

Some people may wonder why I go on about Sandwich Vans and I have been asked “What makes you such an expert?” Well what is an ‘Expert’? I realise I haven’t really blogged about what I’ve done or currently doing, anyone one who reads my blog locally will know Sandwich Express and all the little vans that go around the business parks in the area(pictured above), but when I look on the stats on my page I see that people read this all around the world, and I’m certain this business model is not just in the UK, so to all those non local people who are thinking of doing this sort of business, ask me any questions you like, I will always try to respond as soon as possible. So I’m saying an ‘Expert’ is basically someone who has done something all their lives and knows what they’re taking about – they’ve done it, but in my case I’m always learning, in my opinion you are learning all the time and by talking to like-minded people you will become a ‘better expert’. Read and Share, thank you.

I was recently asked by Jiffy Trucks in Bradford to write a company profile for their new website, the following is a slightly edited version.

history

Pictured above is Sandwich Express – version 1, as you can see fuel costs would have been a lot lower in those days.

My Family have run the same business since 1920 – starting in a small Welsh village in North Wales called Eryrys, John Drury (above left) installed an oven into the back of his shop and started baking bread to deliver to the local community. Then in 1949 Caradoc Drury (above right) moved to Bebington on the Wirral and opened a bakery with a few local shops. The Business moved to Ellesmere Port in 1966 by which time My Dad and his brother Des had joined the business and grew it to 8 shops and a wholesale business – the company was renamed from ‘Drury’s Bakery’ to ‘Patisserie Anglaise’, a name that was inherited from another small bakery that was taken over locally.

1994 saw the start of Sandwich Express an idea trying to combat the ever-growing supermarkets that had been putting high street bakers out of business due to the change in Peoples shopping habits – how funny the internet is doing the same to these supermarkets today.

sooty-van

Pictured above ‘The Sooty Van’ (If you’re old enough to know who Sooty is you’ll understand), I can remember the price we paid for these vans, you could buy 15 of these for the price of the vans we buy today.

With a fleet of six vans the business gained a lot of traction and over the next ten years began to take over the bakery business – looking back on those days you’ve got to wonder how we got away with selling sandwiches on a hot summer day without any refrigeration.

From 1994 to 2008 Sandwich Express only used vehicles like the one above and later some models with refrigeration, I remember always saying we need to look at these specialist vehicles (Jiffy Trucks), another company in the area had a few and were attracting too many Sandwich Express customers. So, in 2008 we bought our first Jiffy Truck – a one year old van pictured below.

first-jiffy

Picture features Julia Cameron who never got that modelling contract and has been working at Sandwich Express ever since.

On day one the takings from the round was doubled – that’s the power of being able to sell from a purpose-built vehicle that offers the customer so much more choice.

A second Jiffy Truck was purchased to replace one of the fridge vans, pictured below.

fresco-nikki

Picture features Nikki Albon who thought about a job at a local drive through car wash but instead took the job of Van Manager and has been with the company for nearly 20 years

To this day, the company is run by my Dad and I, we run a substantial fleet of Jiffy Truck vans and are committed to growing the business. The main kitchen is currently the same building that my Grandad bought in 1966, we have a separate depot to store the vans (see pictures below), and we’ve also opened another depot from where all current expansion is taking place.

depot

.some-vans

Above: Ellesmere Port Depot (Inside & Out)

dad-f3

Above: My Dad at Palmer Sports (Jiffy Trucks Corporate Day out)

Below: Me – I couldn’t fit in the F3 Car (Must stop eating products)

martin-director

Thank you for reading, if you enjoyed please like, share and follow, please fell free to ask any questions I’ll respond as quickly as possible. Also let me know your story, let me know how you’re getting on.

Links

Sandwich Express (Cheshire) Ltd

Martin Drury Sandwich Van Blog

Sandwich Express Facebook Page

Jiffy Trucks (Bradford)

Take a break

If you’re in your first year of running a Sandwich van, let’s say you got it in the summer and have built a nice round and you’re ticking over nicely. You may have added a second van and got a small team around you, and how good was all that time off at Christmas? It’s now January, OMG what’s happened to sales?!

Well there you have it, the single biggest reason I’ve seen for people selling or packing in their sandwich rounds, Ebay always has a rise in vans for sale this time of year – if only there was someone who wrote a blog who had been through this ‘temporary’ downturn for year after year after year. If you can get through the first year you’ve done really well and next year you’ll be prepared!!! Ha ha that’s what you’d think but even after 23 years it gets me every year, I hear it from all my Jiffy owner colleagues “How’s business? I’m sure its worse than last year.” The bigger you get the worse it seem because every van will be down and a lot of little drops makes a big one.

I have a plan, it’s simple – Go on holiday, make your plan of action to save for a short break in January, if you don’t you’ll find yourself calling the managers (or your staff) into your office to cut costs and drive sales, you’ll be doing their heads in, why have you forgotten this happens every year, they haven’t. They’ll be ordering less stock so in February your bills will be smaller and by then sales will have risen back to acceptable levels due to all your customers being paid at the end of the month, and if the Van Manager had pushed sales to get more calls how are the drivers going to fit them all in now everyone is buying again?

So go on holiday, Tenerife is 25 degrees C right now and you’ll even come back with a tan and be raring to go, checkout the picture, I just took that from my sun bed.

I know if you run a van by yourself you’re not going to be able to do this, but don’t worry give me a call and I’ll look after your customers for you while you’re away (I don’t seem to be able to find the big smiley face emoji). Or you could just tell your customers you’re off for a while, they might not mind because they’ve got no money to spend on lunch anyway, and if you sell top quality products they’ll be really looking forward to you coming back and may even spend more.

In Conclusion, don’t fear January – but don’t even get me started on AUGUST!!!

Promoting Business

In this day and age promoting business has never been more important, years ago (not that many years I may add) you only really had TV, Radio and the Newspapers, all of which were so expensive, and still are today. Now we have a mass of social media, and isn’t that so cheap, to the point of it being free, but is it? You need to ask yourself ‘what is the value of you time? Time is valuable because you only have a limited amount of it and it is an impossible commodity to replenish, the simple answer to at is  get someone else to do it for you, but that’s not really the best way because no body knows your business the same as you and they might get it wrong, ha ha there’s the control freak part of me emerging, look for something you enjoy outside of your business and try to incorporate it into promotion.

As you may have noticed here as Sandwich Express we have started to push our logo/brand, we feel our logo, which was created back in 1994 when none of us were thinking about brand awareness, is an actual accurate description of our business – we got lucky no one thought that in 20 years time you would need a logo that basically describes what you do by just looking at it, we’ve never changed it and never will.

Not having the millions of pounds to promote because we are a relatively small company we have experimented with social media. Let me give you an example about 6 years ago we took out a month-long advert on the front page of our local weekly news paper, this cost us £750 + VAT for 4 publications – we were given the huge distribution figures (got to love sales reps) – I have just looked at todays sales of the paper and it says 3420 paid copies, that is a lot less than when we advertised – I wonder why? So lets use todays figures, that means that our month long campaign would have reached 13680 readers, just over 5p per reader. Sounds great I hear you saying, 5p that’s not much, but don’t forget how many other ads are in the same publication, but hey we were smart and put it on the front page, people could see the ad on the news stand without paying for it. So guess how many leads, phone call or new orders did this advertising generate? NONE!!! Not one call, nothing at all, hence the immediate removal of said ad from any future publications in the printed press. Just after this disappointing episode we started looking at Facebook as a way of advertising, we have over 2500 likes on Facebook so why not see if that would work. I spent $5, about £3.50 on a weekly sponsored post, ok we only got 2 phone calls, one of which lead to a new call for one of our vans, so let’s do the maths. Say that 1 call had 2 people spending £3 per day that meant by today that call would have generated approx. £9000 and over the last 6 years I reckon I’ve still spent less on social media adverts than the original £750 I spent on the Newspaper. It works social media is the way forward, hence all the media companies who print the newspaper are diversifying into the social media channels.

But it takes time, just writing this blog has taken me well over an hour, so you must do something that incorporates things that you enjoy doing, for example you may have noticed a few videos I’ve done with a drone I bought before Christmas, its got me interested in video production, I love doing it and yes the Sandwich Express logo pops up from time to time (even the wife’s boutique XBOU has made a few appearances) but that’s brand awareness (link is to a previous blog). I’m a musician and I can compose the simple music that is the soundtrack for the video, thus avoiding any copyright issues when posting on the likes of You Tube and other platforms. All that time spent flying my drone, composing music, does it sound like a waste? No because I love doing those things and at the same time I’m promoting my business.

sandwich-express-logo

There you go, the said logo, what’s it doing there? No reason but you’ve seen it now.

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Requests

Tuesday the 3rd sees the start of the new Sandwich year, we have made a few changes on our vans with the addition of a few new products and the cutting down of a few of the sandwich lines. That has become a bit of a problem with the growth of the business – it’s all very well when you have a few vans to do a massive range of fillings on the rolls, but as it gets bigger the production side starts to feel the strain when one van orders different items to the others, you end up with a production list with 1’s and 2’s of specific products, this is just time consuming and not at all practical. Don’t worry because even with certain items discontinued for next year you can still order specials.

In the ovens there’s also a change, a few of the pies have disappeared but not forever, we’ve introduced a monthly special, a few of these will be ones that were discontinued from 2016, for example the first monthly special is ‘Chicken Tikka Slice’, nothing new but enjoy it in January because it might be a while before it’s on again. You could help us out here and put in some requests for monthly specials on the pies, remember the Pea Supper? I’m sure that’s going to make a return, or what about a Welsh Oggie – expensive but they’re so big you wont need to eat for three days after one – leave our requests in the comments below.

The Christmas Break

Well as usual we have a week long break, apart from our shop that’s still open to take in supplies at the end of the week and maybe sell a few coffees and bacon sandwiches, but let me say a big thank you to our shop staff who are the only ones in over Christmas, and they do a great job of getting the prep ready for the first shift on Monday 2nd.

So what to do apart from eat turkey, chocolate and mince pies? Well let’s do the other job, I’ve been a musician for 35 years now, done some great gigs over the years and what a fill in to earn you some money and keep you active (why I’m not thin I don’t know – oh yeah I eat a lot 😳), this year I’m doing New Years Eve with Paula (The Wife) at Southport Sailing Club and those guys really look after us. Checkout the pic below, Bamberbridge Catholic Club in Preston, great stage.

Happy Christmas and have a great new year, 2017 will see Sandwich Express expanding even further and I’ll even put a few of our receipes up here for you to try at home, but no matter how many Sandwich Vans we get I’ll never put the guitar down.

Ok that blog was done on my phone and I’ve got to go on stage now. First song Caroline by Status Quo – RIP Rick Parfitt Xx

Marriage Tax Allowance Warning

So a few weeks ago Martin Lewis told the nation they could save money using the tax allowance, he was correct,  (I did not see said program) but obviously didn’t explain it too well, in my experience at Sandwich Express (Cheshire) Ltd (full title) people must have heard the words “EASY SAVINGS” but not the explanation of how it works. So due to the ever mounting P6T notifications I have had to change peoples tax code I thought I’d try to explain it in simple terms – here goes.

If you and your partner earn over £11000 per year each then forget it – yes it’s that simple, here is my understanding – your tax code should be 1100L, this means you can earn £11000 per year before paying tax, this is called your allowance, if you earn anything over £11000 say £11010, this means you have used up your allowance and you will be taxed 20% on the £10.

The Marriage tax allowance allows you to transfer £1100 worth of your allowance to your partner, this is why your tax code is reduced to 990N, as you can see 110 points lower than originally (The N is just a code to identify marriage allowance), so now if you earn £11010 you will only have an allowance of £9900 meaning you’ll be taxed at 20% on £1110, but don’t panic because your partner isn’t – they’ve just inherited you 110 point so will pay less tax, as you can see – a pointless exercise unless you’re on the receiving end.

So in conclusion only go down this route if one of you is only earning £9900 per year or less. If you have made the same mistake as a few of my staff don’t worry, it takes a phone call to reverse the whole process.

To read more follow this link – Marriage Tax Allowance

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cheers,

MARTIN DRURY