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The Sarnie Business day 2 – Of bikes and branding

First day on the job, and new entrepreneurs Lauren (@LaurenDouglin) and Scott (@ScottHudson), have been presented with branded bicycles to get The Sarnie Business off to a racing start. But mechanical panics, security services and off-brand bags may just put a spanner in the works.

The sarnie bikes

Scott: The bikes look great. They go with our branding and the look that we wanted for the business. They’re vintage bikes with wicker baskets and straw and a wooden box on the back and that goes with the classic, homemade, old school kind of feeling that we wanted to get across. But they’re old and heavy, difficult to handle on the narrow streets round here, especially at lunchtime when there are so many pedestrians around.

Lauren: I’m pretty sure my tyres haven’t been changed since 1918 so they very quickly went south and I got a puncture. Plus the fact that I haven’t ridden a bike in about 17 years. I was so nervous and within the first ten minutes I was in a bush – it wasn’t the best start.


The sarnie bikes

Security struggles

Scott: We had flyers so that people could call us and we’d deliver to their office on our bikes. But we’ve realised that the offices round here are very much closed. You can’t just walk in, they have security and they’re not very sympathetic to people coming in selling sandwiches.

Lauren: And people weren’t very keen to do point of sale as it turned out. I’m standing on the corner with a bicycle, selling sandwiches and most people just didn’t want to know. We’ve got branding, the matching shirts and everything, but I think it was still just a bit too random for people.


Perils of packaging

Scott: We realised that with our plain paper bag packaging, you couldn’t see what was inside and I think that was a turn-off for a lot of people. So asking people to give you cash, on a street corner, when they can’t really see what they’re buying – it’s one step up from begging really.

Lauren: Knowing where you can take the bikes, knowing which doors are going to open. Making sure you can work around the vendors who’re already in that space.


Profit and (mostly) loss

Scott: Today, technically, we made a loss, though we did make some sales. We lost £45. Our start-up money was £500 and we spent £60 on ingredients. Each sandwich costs us about £1.50 and we sell them for £3. We’re hoping to get down to £1 because the advice from Mel was to keep the costs to a third of the selling price. That would include overheads of course and today we didn’t really have any overheads, like premises, just our time.


The sarnie bags


Lessons learned

Lauren: We need to establish better relationships with local businesses. We’re going to use our social media more to make connections and advertise in the local area to try to bring them to us instead of the other way around. And because we’re so new in somewhere that’s got so many established businesses, we have to find a way of standing out and we haven’t really done that yet.

Scott: It’s not so much about the branding it’s about having brand identity, showing what’s good and different about what we’re offering.



The brains behind the sarnies, Suzanne Cullen from Gustatus, talks sarnies, service and sales.


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