The NFFF Quality Award - Should I Apply?

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As with all industries, the world of Fish and Chips has plenty of awards and accreditations on offer. It can be difficult as a small business owner to know whether or not to invest time, money and energy into a process that ultimately may not bring any benefits back to the business. So its natural to ask yourself, when it comes to the National Federation of Fish Friers Quality Award - should I bother to apply? The answer is yes! and here is why:

First and foremost the award is not a competition, its a kite mark for quality, and that makes all the difference when it comes to the assessment process. When your business is assessed for the award the NFFF sends an industry expert to your chippy, usually its someone who has had many years experience in running successful Fish and Chip businesses themselves. That expert will turn your whole business inside out - they cover everything from preparation and storage through to fire safety and staff training, customer service and marketing. When it comes to the core product its not just the cooking method or the taste of the food which is assessed, but things like management of the frying medium, your packaging, and even a measurement of how long it all stays hot when its served! But remember, this isn’t the X-Factor! The assessor isn’t there to judge the worthiness of your business, they are there to promote an industry standard. Even if your business fails the assessment (and virtually all businesses will at least come away with less than a 100% score, especially the first time) you will be given a shed load of advice and guidance. I cannot stress how valuable that is - to have an expert, a proven, successful Fish & Chip Shop owner and Fryer, with a wealth of knowledge, giving you all the advice and guidance you could ever hope for - for absolutely every aspect of your business! Even if you don’t reach the Quality Award standard, you will be able to take the advice you receive and use it to make countless improvements to your business and your product - a transformative quantum leap for any Chippy owner.

 Black’s Chippy consistently use the Quality Award logo in their print and digital marketing.

Black’s Chippy consistently use the Quality Award logo in their print and digital marketing.

What if the business is already at the required standard to get the Award, where is the benefit? These are two fold. Firstly, because the Quality Award is a kite mark, both existing and potential customers can be assured that your Chippy is turning out quality food, prepared in a safe and hygienic environment. That means a lot, especially to new customers, and especially when money it tight (as it is for everyone these days). We have all experienced the disappointment of getting a takeaway meal as a treat, and then it simply not being very good quality, or even just cold - what a waste of money! What a missed opportunity to have a decent meal! The Quality Award is a way of reassuring that first-time customer that their money won’t be wasted - that your food will be hot and delicious, that you are worth risking this week’s takeout budget on!

Secondly, it is a marketing opportunity, and its one that the NFFF will help you to exploit. When you achieve the Award not only will you receive certificates and stickers, and digital copies of the logo etc, but also help in crafting a Press Release to share with local media. It can be a great opportunity to increase public awareness of your business - and a photo of your staff being presented with an Award for quality by a local celebrity or community figure in the local press can be a real boost even if people don’t read the article itself.

 Matthew from Black’s Finest Fish and Chips is presented with the NFFF Quality Award by John ‘Gilly’ Gilmore from BBC Radio Lancashire.

Matthew from Black’s Finest Fish and Chips is presented with the NFFF Quality Award by John ‘Gilly’ Gilmore from BBC Radio Lancashire.

Matthew put Black’s in for the Quality Award within only a few months of opening the shop, he says; “Like all new businesses we faced a lot of challenges in those early months. I was new into the industry, and the Chippy is the first business I’ve ever owned or run - I was working hard and striving for a high standard, but I had no way of objectively knowing if I was succeeding in achieving it. Moreover the business is located in a quiet village outside of two large towns - its generally considered ‘a bit out of the way’ to go to for Fish & Chips. I needed to find a way of letting people know that the shop not only existed, but was worth a punt on a Friday night.”

“We passed the assessment first time which was very reassuring that we were on the right path, and soaked up an incredible amount of expert advice from our assessor in the process. With help from the NFFF we drafted a press release and arranged for a local BBC radio personality to come and present the certificate to us - which unexpectedly led to me being interviewed live on air, talking all about the business and the award.”

“The response was fantastic, with hundreds of people from the area coming and giving us a try - based solely on the promise of the Quality Award: that these are Fish & Chips that won’t disappoint! Now we try to incorporate the Quality Award logo into our marketing wherever possible.”