Saturday night is takeaway night in our house so I was very interested to hear about Housebites, a new deluxe takeaway food service which is about to burst onto the scenes today 12 September 2011.
The Problem With Traditional Takeaway Food
Takeaway food is usually easy to order and often quite cheap but it’s often not very good.
And if you have dietary issues, you worry about what’s gone into it.
Housebites Is Different
The unique selling point for Housebites promises:
- the easy convenience of a takeaway with the restaurant quality food delivered to your door
- with the food prepared by personally chosen local chefs
- a chance to interact with the chef
- feedback through social media
Has The Housebites Concept Changed?
A quick search on the Internet suggests that the Housebites concept has changed slightly since it was first conceived and promoted in 2010.
Originally it seemed to be focused on hosted dinner parties or as a public supper club (think Come Dine With Me where you don’t have to do the cooking?).
The video makes it clear that you don’t have to go anywhere – Housebites will deliver their freshly cooked food to you.
How Housebites Now Works
- Go to the Housebites website at www.housebites.com and enter your postcode – it’s London only at the moment
- Browse the menus by chefs in your area by day
- Choose the number of main courses, sides, starters, desserts or drinks you want
- Decide when you want it delivered
- Checkout and pay
- Wait for your meal to be delivered
- Give feedback to the chef and to other Housebites customers
- Come back and order again the next time you want a gourmet takeaway
The Differentiation Factors
This gourmet takeaway service is crossing two sectors:
- good, local food which you have to go out to a restaurant to enjoy
- the easy convenience of a takeaway
This is therefore differentiation by the what and where factors – great food prepared for you but eaten at home.
It’s also building up on the differentiation by who factor as it gives local chefs a chance to build up their own local celebrity status.
Let me explain.
Housebites -What’s In It For The Chefs?
The chefs who have joined Housebites include professional chefs with experience at The Ivy, Fifteen, Le Caprice and Bluebird as well as amateur gifted chefs. Andy Oliver, a 2009 masterchef finalist is one of the people behind Housebites.
So why are good chefs getting involved?
It seems that it’s not much fun being a station chef in a restaurant which is an impression I’ve gained from watching programmes on restaurants on TV. Low pay, boring tasks and being shouted at in the organised chaos of a busy restaurant seem to be the norm.
Housebites gives the chefs a chance to design menus, buy ingredients, prepare the full meal and get feedback from customers while they fantasise about one day owning their own restaurant.
Since the failure rate of new restaurants is terrible, this gives the chefs involved in Housebites a chance to build up their own local reputation and to develop a group of loyal followers.
Looking At The Three New Business Risk Factors
In Will Your New Business Succeed I looked at three risk factors – demand risk, competitive risk and capability risk.
It’s difficult to predict a strong demand for anything in these times of austerity cuts and falling living standards but I think there’s demand for a better priced takeaway service provided the prices are kept in check.
Takeaways have lost some of their traditional custom as people have cut back but also picked up business from those people who used to eat in restaurants regularly.
Housebites have positioned themselves as a middleman between customers who want food and chefs who can provide it. This type of service can work very well (think eBay) but success relies on building up a critical mass on both the demand and supply side.
Housebites may be first but there doesn’t look to be anything to stop a competitor from imitating the Housebites idea and competing harder and faster for customers and chefs.
WeBuyAnyCar.com used brute-force TV advertising and an irritating jingle to drum its brand name into the minds of the public but competitors have jumped on the bandwagon with similar sounding names. Mind you they may well be promoting their rivals who own the number one position in the minds of the market.
It will be interesting to see how much marketing muscle Housebites can put in to build up brand name awareness. It’s started well with a one-page article in the Sunday Times Style magazine yesterday.
On the capability risk, if you make a promise of restaurant quality food to win preference over traditional takeaways and you charge a premium price, then you’d better deliver.
I understand that Housebites selects its chefs carefully and in the London area, it has been testing the concept with offers of free meals. This is encouraging and the social media feedback should reward the chefs who do offer great food.
I suspect that scalability is a potential problem both as the individual chefs get busier and as more chefs are brought on board. The roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings I cooked last night was pretty good, even if I do say it myself. It was even on schedule. I’d have struggled to cook anything else and even professional, experienced chefs must run into trouble when everything needs to be done at once.
What Do You Think About The Housebites Concept?
I hope Housebites succeed because I believe that it is a different business idea which brings benefits to the customers who want to experience better food without having to leave their homes.
What do you think?
Let me know by leaving a comment.