A service station and store in Cheshire has outlined how its investment in innovative new hot-holding equipment has increased sales of hot food-to-go items.
Wardle Service Station & Country Store, which forms part of family business HJ Lea Oakes and is located on the busy A51 Nantwich Road, decided to invest in a hot-holding unit from UK manufacturer Flexeserve in a bid to improve the existing set-up it had in place.
Paul Condliffe, site manager for Wardle Service Station, said that for years the business had been using direct heat food warmers for its hot food-to-go, and they had always delivered disappointing results.
“The quality of the food would deteriorate so quickly that, within an hour, pasties would dry out and bread baps would go hard. It was frustrating,” he explained.
“Not only that, but this equipment was not self-service. A member of staff would have to serve every product our customers wanted, whilst also cooking up new batches.
“This solution had seemed to be our only option, but when one of our direct food warmers became faulty, we decided to explore what was available. We were looking for a hot-holding unit that would maintain food quality for longer, free up our staff for other work and enable us to expand our product range. That’s when we discovered the technology of Flexeserve.”
After surveying the site and discussing its requirements at length, Flexeserve recommended a Flexeserve Zone 2 Tier Countertop, Model 1000, which would allow the operator to set multiple zone temperatures to reflect the individual requirements of the items it offers.
The unit was also supplied with customised branding to maximise the visual aspect of it within the store.
Mr Condliffe said the difference it has made has been remarkable: “We’ve significantly reduced the waste from our hot food-to-go operation because food stays at a consistent quality for several hours.
“We have also found that, because the Flexeserve Zone unit is open-fronted and well-lit, customers are drawn to it – and to our hot food-to-go offering. As a result, we’re finding that more customers are buying multiple hot food items, because they can see what’s on offer. To put this into context, our sales of pasties alone have increased from circa 160 pasties per week to about 250.”
The company has since purchased a second unit to sit next to the original one it purchased and is now set to order a third due to the potential returns it believes it can make.
Warwick Wakefield, customer experience director at Flexeserve, said the work it has done with Wardle Service Station demonstrates how its hot-holding solutions can work for businesses of any size.
He commented: “We receive enquiries from a broad spectrum of businesses – from a chain of 2,500 quick-service restaurants in the US to an independent in the Orkney Islands. We offer all of them the exact same help.
“Feedback from operators like Paul is so beneficial because it helps us continue to refine our Flexeserve Solution to meet the needs of all our customers.”