In a commercial space where supermarkets and local delis are vying for the butchery’s market share, how do you run a successful stand-alone butchery? Like any specialist retailer, the butcher has to continually carve out a skilled space which needs to be researched, marketed, and developed, backed with expertise and consistent enthusiasm. So what does this actually mean for a successful butcher?


Market research

Butcheries tap into a vast market with a wide array of meats. In order to understand exactly what your market needs, you must conduct local market research and ask them about their preferences. Here is a good place to ascertain if they like braais and barbeques and ask where they normally acquire their meat, for example. Armed with this information you will be able to gauge the size of your market, its buying habits, income levels and personal tastes. You will also need to get a good sense of the competition in order to understand what you’re up against.


Identify your competition

A top butcher needs to be well aware of what the competition is doing. Supermarkets have a lot of purchasing power so your butchery needs to remain competitive and offer your customer what the supermarket can’t. Rate is an important factor for butchers. Many customers are less interested in the rate and rather value quality. This will often be the deciding reason why a customer will choose a butcher over a supermarket. Here your main competitors will be other delis, dedicated markets, farm shops and farmer’s markets. This also often comes down to the meat’s provenance, what kinds of meats are being sold as well as the butcher’s character.


Location and premises

The location of your butchery is really important. Setting up shop close to residential areas or leisure spots, will encourage ongoing steady streams of business. If you are not very close, then it is essential to offer a speedy delivery service. Ideally though, you want to be close to a good road network to encourage drop-ins. It’s also so important to choose a hygienic location with good security and steady water supply.


Best equipment

A smoothly operating butchery requires specialised refrigeration, prep areas and retail space. You will also need trays, carts, a cold room, cabinets and display equipment. The area needs to be well designed and hygienic to allow for meat cutting, sorting, packaging and serving. This needs to be maintained regularly and remain within the health and safety standards.


A good supply chain

A good butchery is only as great as its supply chain. Here you need to identify farmers or meat suppliers who have a reputable production process. Meat has a short shelf life, and so it needs to be stored at the correct temperature and be up to code. A good idea might be to get your own refrigerated truck for private deliveries.


Staff management

The type of staff you have will depend on the nature and size of your butchers. You will likely need people in sales and accounts, as well as staff in butchering and prep. It is always a good idea to hire highly trained butchers in order to provide a top quality service. A professional butcher needs to understand the required machinery and is highly skilled, so cutting corners here will result in poor quality and loss of business. You customer may be very specific about how to prepare their cuts and so your staff need to understand their way around this. Sometimes customers even ask how they should prepare and cook their meat, so it’s a real value-add if you are able to engage with customers and advise accordingly.


Meat origins

More than ever, customers have a “farm to table” attitude and want to know where their meat is coming from. Great butchers are well known for their relationships with the farms they buy from and are generally more transparent than supermarkets. Here they will be aware of the slaughter technique and other ethical considerations. Customers really care about this and will likely select a small butchery (over a supermarket) because of clarity on the meat’s provenance as well as ecological and ethical merits.


Kosher and Halal meat

A nice way to extend your offering is by selling Halal and Kosher meat. But if you go this route it really comes down to a question of bigger picture as you may need to dilute your offering in order to sell it alongside your “Western” selection. Also this meat requires specialist slaughter and preparation techniques, which may not be compatible with your provenance standards. This highly specialized area needs to be backed by consumer-confidence so if you would like to go this route, make the decision early on, and ensure you set up your butchery in the correct way. As well as locate yourself within Jewish or Muslim neighbourhoods.


The bottom line

In spite of mass market butchers, specialist standalone butcheries still have an important piece of the market. Carving out (and keeping) that space comes down to small daily steps that will keep your business top of mind, while you service an important customer need. For more information about how a Merchant Cash Advance can help grow your butchery, contact us today.


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