Today, only 4 days away from the great Leamington Food festival, we have been engaged in cooking and creation. Not creation on the great-circle-of-life scale or creation for which we can take any credit, but it happened here, at Jabberwocky HQ, and that is what makes it important.
For some weeks now we have had a large blackboard sitting in the hallway, devouring light and getting in the way of the shoes. It is destined for the van, like so many other things in our lives these days, and will hold the menu and prices for our food offerings. The reason for its size was something we had been keen on right from the start: The need for delicious signage. Food vans come in all shapes and sizes, most are independently owned and run on a very small budget, and this makes it incredibly important, in my opinion, that your offering looks professional.
From what I have observed people make the food decision based on a few key factors: Appearance at a distance, appearance close-up, and the menu. I imagine there is also the possibility that they are a Jabberwocky Enthusiast or hugely attracted to the colour green, but the average punter, it is safe to assume, probably hasn’t heard of us yet. At a distance we are hoping that the Jabberwocky flag, now successfully no longer a failure, will tempt customers in our direction. The next step is probably the most important: the conversion of someone standing 10 feet away having a look into someone 2 feet away wanting to buy.
I have seen a variety of approaches here. Shouting is a favourite of market traders the world over, essentially engaging your 10foot customer in conversation so that they feel politely compelled to step forward. I’m not a fan of this, but clearly it works. There is also the practise of hiding your prices slightly under the canopy of the van, so that the angle only works from close up. Then there are the stalls who possibly didn’t think the whole thing through, with one tiny A4 sign and 7 keen members of staff staring at everyone nearby, willing them to come into range.
Instead we were able to call on the services of our very artistic friend the American, who brought both herself and her bump over and created wonderful things on our giant blackboard. Fuelled by tea and Haribo we watched as the American did wonderful things to the board and wondered if we could now ever change the menu, as it might mean losing this blackboard beautification.
At any rate we have hopefully closed the gap between the 10foot and 2foot customers by providing something visible at both distances and that will enable our menu to do the shouting for us. Not only does this make us look nicely professional, it also means we won’t end the day sounding like Louis Armstrong after an asthma attack.