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Drone Food Delivery: Why Our Restaurant is Going All In by Brody Sweeney

Note: this interview originally appeared in FastCasual.

Why Camile Thai Kitchen is going ‘all in’ on drones, robots

“We are going all-in on drone delivery, planning to have customers receiving their food by air in the next year at the latest within Ireland, and shortly after that in the U.K.,” said Brody Sweeney, founder and CEO Camile Thai Kitchen, a delivery-focused chain in London with 35 outlets and 12 franchise partners. “Our drone delivery is being provided in partnership with well-known drone delivery startup Manna with whom we successfully trialed this year.”

When the service is live, according to Sweeney, customers may select a square on Google Maps in order to choose their location. After cooking and packaging the food, employees will load it into a drone, which will take off to about 400 feet at 50 miles per hour.

“A text message lets the customer know that the drone has arrived, at which point it drops to 40 feet, and the food is lowered on a piece of biodegradable string into the square selected,” Sweeney told Fast Casual. “The technology works perfectly and it is cheaper, faster and of course far more environmentally friendly, than traditional delivery methods.”

A drone delivery costs about half that of a delivery driver, has no emissions and can fly in 90% of weather conditions and, Sweeney said.

“A food delivery for two people is the perfect weight for a drone delivery,” he said. “Drones could complete around 80% of the deliveries currently made by traditional transport. Londoners can expect the service in around two years, likely starting in the relatively easier to serve suburbs followed by more central locations.

“At Camile, we are confident that drones in the sky will quickly become commonplace, and once the logistics of aviation clearance are automated, other authorities will quickly follow suit.”

Drone technology isn’t the only way Camile’s is looking toward the future. It’s also investing in robotics, which Sweeney explained in detail to Fast Casual. See the rest of the interview below.

Q. Do you have actual dine-in locations? If so, how many?
A.
Before the pandemic we were already 75% for off premises consumption, most of that being home delivered and ordered through our proprietary app. We have 35 outlets across Ireland and the U.K., including six in London.

Being suburban based and delivery-focused was really a winning formula for Camile. We feel very fortunate that during the lockdown there was a high demand for our product and home delivery service, especially in London where we saw a 50% increase in like for like sales.

Due to the pandemic, we decided to adapt our franchising strategy and offer flexible options for business owners with well located but underused commercial kitchens (like restaurants, bars and hotels) in regional towns. This allowed new franchisees who were forced to shut down their restaurant, bar or hotel dine-in premises due to restrictions to survive. The first recently opened in Sligo, in the west of Ireland and cost the franchise owner €40,000 as opposed to the €300,000 required for a conventional Camile franchise. We are expecting to open five or six such outlets in the medium term.

2. Why are you interested in robotics?

A. Camile is bringing robotics into the cooking process to ensure even more automation from the point of an order. If you consider the process of wok cooking, it is very repetitive and easy to replicate mechanically. Camile is working with engineering design consultants and manufacturers in China and Korea, and we plan on replacing our manual wok cookers with a semi-automatic version and are trailing a version of a mechanical wok.

The wok consists of a heated, rotating drum, which allows the ingredients to cook, a rotating mechanism to dispense the cooked food and a further rotation which switches the drum into a self cleaning mode. Adopting this tech means we will be able to redeploy staff away from cooklines into other task areas, such as operations, hub office or our central production kitchen.

Leading in this competitive space means working to redefine the intersection between people and technology. In a restaurant kitchen, it’s all about economy of motion on the line. Speed is everything — whether that’s chopping an onion or flicking a sauté pan — chefs will always try to make sure that every second counts. Camile is adopting this tech to manage the logistics of its kitchens and help it to keep up with larger-than-average delivery order volumes.

If you take into account our mainly delivery-based model, robotics is an absolute win-win for us in terms of efficiency.

Read more about Brody’s franchise model

Follow us on LinkedIn

Camile Thai Picture Conor McCabe Photography.


10 ways to prepare your business for franchising to others by Brody Sweeney

I’m Brody Sweeney, the founder of Camile Thai Kitchen, an award winning home delivery franchise.  This blog is not about my business, but rather some advice for if you’re thinking about franchising, or indeed already involved in it – and want to learn more.

Franchising your business so others can benefit from your winning concept is a rewarding and lucrative way to expand your concept – if you get it right.

There are some fundamental things that good companies do, to give themselves every chance of franchise success. I’ve distilled them below into 10 things you can do which will substantially reduce the risk of it all going wrong.

 

  • Establish a pilot business – test, test, test.

The very essence of every successful franchise is a proven concept. Until your concept is proven, forget about franchising it. You may be coming from an existing successful company owned business, in which case you have half the job done.

But if yours is a fledgling business, then your first job is to get the business model right, and make sure it is replicable.

A good franchise is one where there’s enough customers out there, willing to pay the prices you charge, so you and your franchisee can earn an acceptable profit from it. If you are making too much money, the franchisee can’t, and vice versa.

  • Understand that by franchising your business, you will be running two separate businesses.

Many business people who have developed a successful business think that franchising is something you bolt on to the existing business, like a new product line.

In fact, deciding to franchise your business is like setting up a wholly new business from scratch. The wise operators recognise this, and treat it so.

In my company Camile, we figured out how to run our restaurants as a B2C (business to consumer) business. This involved getting our product range, pricing and marketing right, to make the business appealing to potential customers. This business thrives on thousands of relatively small transactions each week.

But going into franchising is a B2B (business to business) project requires a completely different mindset. Now you’re tailoring your business to a small number of prospective franchisees who have very different requirements than your retail customers. This part of the business has a small number of transactions, for a much higher value.

  • Research your market for similar franchises.

Finding similar businesses who are already doing what you are makes for good shortcuts as you think about and design your own business model. You can perhaps see what their franchise marketing material, their agreements, their website etc. are like before you build your own, and you can be inspired by the good bits of what they do, which you can then incorporate into your own business model.

I have never been one for reinventing the wheel, when there are great businesses out there, who have already done at least part of what you are planning. The important part is having your own USP  (unique selling proposition) and holding onto that – the structural components are bound to be roughly the same.

  • Get a demographic study completed of your target market

In the old days, picking a good location for your business often came down to local market knowledge and “feel”. This may have got you going, but as you grow your network and particularly as your franchisees start risking their money, a more scientific approach will reduce the risk of picking the wrong location.

There are many companies who can assist you in this. Often the works starts with analysing your most successful existing businesses, and why they are successful. Is it to do with the demographics of the area, or the lack of competition, or proximity to a suitable anchor business. Answers to these types of questions can help you get ever closer to the perfect site, and probably more importantly minimise the poor locations (which every chain business has).

  • Protect your trade name.

One of the main assets of your franchise business is your trade name, and prospective franchisees will expect that you have properly protected it so others cannot use it.

This of course implies that you pick a name that is suitable for trademark registration. When we came up with the Camile name (which we did by putting 10 names down on a form and asking 200 people which was their favourite) it had two “ll’s” and was spelt “Camille” – a common French name for a boy or girl – and not trademarkable as it wasn’t unique. However, I realised that if we took one of the “l’s” away  – to make “Camile” – this would be trademarkeable, because it was unique.

  • Write your processes down in a manual.

One of the key things a new franchisee buys off you is your experience in running the business – what to do, and more importantly what not to do.

Capturing all the right ways to do things in a manual serves two purposes. One is to capture good ideas, and ways to do things, so that everyone can share them. Secondly if you share these things with your franchisee through an operations manual, and something is not then done properly, it is clear where the responsibility lies.

  • Seed the market for prospective franchisees.

Getting your first franchisees off the ground is a long drawn out process. It can take a long time. In Camile we started marketing our franchises in 2012, but didn’t open our first franchise until three years later in 2015.

For this reason, you should start seeding the market well in advance of when you actually plan to open your first franchised outlet. Seeding the market means starting to get your name out there in front of prospective franchisees. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Franchise Opportunity websites, limited social media marketing on LinkedIn and Facebook can all help.

  • Do anything to get your first proper franchisee on board

Not everyone likes being a pioneer, and not a lot of prospective franchisees will want to be the guinea pig as you get your new franchise off the ground.

For this reason, you should do anything within reason to get your first franchisees on board. If your thinking long term, then the initial fees in the big picture for a first outlet, may not be so important. And the royalty fees could be staggered, to reflect the newness of the business.

In Camile we’ve done things like given a soft loan to help a franchisee make up a cash shortfall, or discounted the royalty for the early years (never have we reduced the marketing contribution, because we need that to build the business).

  • Be so careful with your first few franchisees

It’s so flattering to have a stranger express an interest in your new franchise that it can be hardc to turn a new franchisee down. In Camile, we currently turn down about two-thirds of prospective franchisees for a variety of reasons.

If your first one or two franchisees are not right for the business, that can mean the end of your franchise before it gets started properly. Selecting franchisees (and vice versa  – a franchisee selecting you) is not an exact science, but I have found the following analogy helpful. Getting involved with franchisees is like getting married in a business sense. Your new franchisee will agree to be with you, in our case for 10 years, so it makes sense to get to know them as well as possible before making a commitment to them. After receiving an application form (the first indication of intent and commitment), we do a discovery day, where the prospective franchisee gets to meet all our team, and see who is running the business. We then do a psychometric test, and follow that with observing them working a shift in one of our branches.

  • Consider using a franchise consultant

After almost 40 years experience in franchising, and understanding pretty well the nuances of the business, if I was starting again, I would use a good franchise consultant to educate me about the business.

There are many things all new franchisors should do – from registering the trademark, to writing operations manuals, to creating a website and franchise prospectus, and a myriad of other details that will be expected and demanded from serious prospective franchisees. A good consultant (and they’re not all good) will give you peace of mind, and make sure you do it right.

I have been involved in launching three different franchises in my career, and like Murphy’s Law, it costs twice as much, and takes twice as long as planned.

Doing it right from the start not only should make it quicker and more cost efficient, but will give you the best chance of getting past your first few franchisees, and go on to develop a larger business.

Good luck and stay safe.

 

Read more about Brody’s franchise model

Follow us on LinkedIn

Camile Thai Picture Conor McCabe Photography.


Camile’s coronavirus covid-19 updates

UPDATED APRIL 16: reopening collections

With the evolving coronavirus crisis, we are reviewing our processes on a daily basis, with health & safety of course at top of mind. Having had time to reflect, we feel the time is right to re-open for collections with added restrictions (whereby guests will not be able to enter the premises). We will only continue to do this if we feel we can protect our guests and staff. This applies to the vast majority of branches – check your local branch status here.

For collection by foot, the following system will be enacted:

1.) Guest arrives at branch keeping safe social distancing on marked areas outside.

2.) Phones Camile to say they are outside (phone number of branch will be on a poster at the door). There will be a table across the doorway preventing guests from entering the premises. Payment must be arranged over the phone or through online ordering – no cash accepted.

3.) Collection order brought to front door put on table and customers name called out

For collection by car, the following system will  be enacted:

1.) Guest arrives at branch

2.) Phones Camile to say they are outside, where they are parked and description of car

3.) Collection orders delivered to boot of guests car (contactless transaction)

 

We are hopeful that this process will ensure a much better and safer process for both our staff and guests. Thanks for everyone’s help and participation in this! Stay tuned for further updates.

 

UPDATED MARCH 26:

We will be switching to a delivery-only service across all of our restaurants for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. No collection, takeaway or dine in services will be available.

 

UPDATED MARCH 18:

We have created a live document so you can keep up to date with your local Camile branch’s procedures during COVID-19.

See changes to your local branch here: Click to view sheet

UPDATED MARCH 17:

We have updated our measures for Camile Dine In and Collection Services.

 

DELIVERY: Our delivery service is operating fully, we want to continue to offer our at home food service to the community and will continue to do so, whilst maintaining stringent safety procedure. “No Contact Delivery” is available by writing this in your delivery notes, or mentioning it on your phone order. Please pay with card where possible.

 

COLLECTION: Our branches are now operating as a collection and takeaway service. If you would like your food delivered to your car, please call the shop when you arrive.

 

We appreciate your support during this time and we’re doing everything in our power to keep you safe.

MARCH 13:

We’re bringing in new measures to make our deliveries even safer in light of global health concerns.

Here’s how. 

FOR DELIVERY. We will no longer accept cash payments for food deliveries until further notice to reduce the hand-to-hand exchange. We are also introducing a “no contact” delivery option to reduce interaction with our drivers. To avail, please write “no contact delivery” in your online delivery notes, mention it while ordering by phone, or wait for a phone call from your delivery driver. 

IN STORES. We are making disinfectant hand wash facilities available through our kitchens, restaurants, and delivery vehicles, with revised training for staff on personal hygiene. Any staff member with symptoms will be encouraged to stay home and self-isolate. If this happens, you will be the first to know.

We understand some customers are very concerned about possible risks, so we are taking this initiative to reassure you and keep Camile the healthiest, safest place to get your dinner.  Thank you!


Camile introduce reusable cups to reduce single-serve packaging use

Camile Thai Kitchen, the healthy online delivery restaurant chain, has announced that they will be launching new reusable cups on a pilot basis for customers. These new modestly priced cups are designed to reduce the use of single-serve compostable paper cups, and so reduce Camile’s impact on the environment.

“While we were the first takeaway in Europe to introduce fully compostable packaging, we know it didn’t go far enough quick enough to make the differences we need,” says Caterina Liverani, Camile sustainability champion and London marketing manager.

“For too long, our industry has been paying lip service to the impact on the environment caused by single-use containers. We know this won’t solve the problem, but it is an attempt to try something different, and show there may be a better way forward,” she said.

Camile has been running a number of initiatives to reduce their impact on the planet apart from reusable cups. In 2019, Camile was the first takeaway chain in Europe to switch to fully compostable packaging, are are certified members of REPAK, and electricity is sourced from 100% renewable energy suppliers. From 2020, Camile are fitting free water refill fronts in all-new restaurants. Most recently, Camile is launching a meatless Chicken dish, made entirely from plants.

For further information contact

Caterina Liverani – Sustainability Champion
caterina@camile.co.uk – camile.co.uk/franchising

 


Camile Thai to open 4th London restaurant in Battersea

Camile Thai Kitchen, the healthy online delivery restaurant chain, have announced that they will be opening their 4th London restaurant, at a new site in Battersea Park Road.


“The new branch will be able to deliver to Buckingham Palace, as well as Kensington, Belgravia, Earls Court and Chelsea,” said Daniel Greene, marketing manager of Camile. “This will be our fourth restaurant south of the river, to add to our existing sites in Bermondsey, Clapham and Tooting Bec – and business is good”.


With 20+ restaurants in the UK and Ireland (and a pipeline of 10+ more) Camile’s fast growing franchise has ambitious plans to develop further in London initially, and then further afield. The home delivery of hot food market is exploding in urban areas around the world, driven by the rise of food aggregators like Deliveroo and Just Eat, and consumers addiction to screens. Greene commented “We are now offering franchises across London, and are experiencing a lot of interest in our online delivery restaurant brand. With some of our London branches exceeding £20,000 per week sales, this is a significant and serious opportunity, for the right type of operator.”

 

The Camile franchise features:
– Healthy and sustainable food, appealing to young urban professionals
(compostable packaging, Dairy Free and Vegan options, all calorie counted to name
a few features)
– Existing restaurants turnover up to €35,000 per week in Ireland (where Camile are
brand leaders) / £20,000+ in  London. most franchisees are opening / have opened
further outlets
– Using the latest bespoke technology to manage the logistics of delivery and user
experience online
– Suits owner operators capable of building their own team
– 21st century restaurant and packaging design

If you’re interested in joining us as we expand in the London market, please contact
Daniel Greene – Marketing Manager
franchise@camile.co.uk
www.camile.co.uk/franchising