Food for Thought: An interview with The Deli Express
Today we caught up over a cuppa with Lou Atkins – founder and CEO of The Deli Express based in Longwood, Huddersfield – to learn her business and marketing story.
Tell us a bit about why you started The Deli Express?
Lou: In the 1990s I worked for Vodafone as a sales assistant in the Huddersfield showroom, moving up into management opening up the Wakefield store and then back to Huddersfield to manage the then 2 showrooms in the town centre. At that point I fell pregnant with my eldest son Angelo and after during maternity leave, I decided I wanted to try something different. Looking back prior to Vodafone I’d been in and around the hospitality business working for different businesses and it was an area I started thinking about getting back into. It was 2003 at this point and a shop became available near Greenhead Park – here Gusto was born! Gusto was a coffee shop – we opened at a time when there wasn’t the vast amount of independent coffee shops that there are now. In year one we experienced growing pains, but in the second year we started to grow and gained a number of corporate customers resulting in the purchase of a refrigerated van to do the 300 daily sandwiches run to local businesses. In 2007 the café was sold, and The Deli Express was the new brand name for the corporate side of the business. In 2009 I was then expecting my second child Leo, with this came a further restructure of the business to new premises in Longwood where we are now.
What do you do?
Lou: Monday to Friday we prepare hot and cold canapes and sandwiches for corporate clients, catering for meetings, training sessions, Christmas parties or any other type of work celebration. The rest of the time we cater for birthdays, christenings, wedding buffets, private dining and sadly funerals. For events catering for under 20 guests I also have some beautiful vintage crockery providing a different kind of presentation. Sop suppers are also popular for evening events. What I really love about my line of work is how food looks visually, in my spare time I’m always researching and looking for different ways to present food so that it looks great. I’m really interested in bringing as much colour to the table as possible in a move away from the traditional ‘beige buffet’.
What types of clients to you look for?
Lou: So, I’m happy to cater for any kind of event but what I really love is the larger events (50-350 guests) where I get to work on creating something visually appealing on a larger scale. I work to create something that is great quality, exciting and inviting – I use local farm shop produce – even my sausage rolls are coated with the best glaz!
How did you choose My SMART App?
Lou: I’d seen that one of my friends had shared something on social media, it looked interesting as I’d just had the new branding done and was thinking about social. We’d never had a social media presence, but I was starting to understand that I needed set something up so that I could tell the community what I was doing and also to maybe gain some new business. I set about setting up both a Facebook and Twitter page in preparation for using the App.
How do you use the App?
Lou: What I really like about this app is that having selected the ‘food’ tag I am presented with a selection of food related content – i.e. World Egg Day, National Sausage Week, British Catering Awards – all of which are accompanied by an image and have relevant hashtags. I am able to keep the ones I like as they are and delete the ones that aren’t relevant, but the really cool thing is that I can amend the posts to align with my business and swap out the images for pictures of food that I have prepared and served. As I’m also trying to grow my business in the community I’m a fan of using the #HudderfieldHour – using the ‘Custom Post’ functionality I created a recurring post for 1pm every Friday to remind the Huddersfield community on Twitter that we are here and what we actually do!
What value does your business get from the App?
Lou: First and foremost, it gives me a presence on social media without me having to put much thought and time into it. I’ve also gained 2 new customers – a private party and a corporate lunch – both I wouldn’t have done if they’d not seen our posts on social.
Would you recommend the App to other businesses?
Lou: Yes, I always like and share the SMART App posts! It’s a really great App for sole traders or small businesses who want a hand with social media.
To learn more about The Deli Express and its services, do visit: The Deli Express
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