If your catering or dining business is hungry for more customers, it could be time to conduct a market audit. This will help you identify any gaps in the market that your startup could potentially fill. When it comes to food customers are looking for more than just to fill their tummies. Your clients want an experience, an expected level of service, and that something special that no other eating venue has. What can you offer?
You might want to explore the different types of food that other restaurants, cafes, or diners are offering. Some of the biggest buzz words on the internet right now relate to diet or food. Use keyword searches to see which ones are trending in your area right now. Perhaps Paleo is big? What about Organic, or Vegan? Home-grown foods are very popular too, especially in restaurants. Do you have the capacity to grow some of the produce you sell?
Use a local business directory to find the companies you’re competing against. Dig a little deeper and see if you can find their menus. What are they offering that stands out? And which dishes are they pushing hard as Chef’s Specials, or Dish Of The Day? These are the foods your competitors are doing well with. What you need to figure out is what is missing.
Your competitors have undoubtedly invested a lot of money in their premises. So book a table and see what they’re offering! Is there live music, or music of a particular genre? Is it a diner style, or a formal restaurant setting? Is the decor in good condition, or does it need an overhaul? Start filling out your SWOT analyses for each venue just as you would do for your own business. Don’t forget, this document should be updated regularly!
Ask Your Customers
Regularly survey your customers. You might group them into regulars and first-timers. You need to check you are meeting their expectations. Make sure you ask what they expected! Why do they come to you? What kind of food would they like to eat here? Qualitative and quantitative data is essential here so you can get a rounded view and useful answers to work with.
Focus groups go a step further. You can get a conversation started about your local area and the provision of eateries for your community. This might help you identify what people in your region are looking for. It could even suggest a clear gap in the market that you could fill.
Setting Up For A Change
Sometimes a business needs to pivot to serve that market. This can feel like an enormous upheaval. It might also incur costs. It is important you fully analyse the potential of that market, and perform the relevant cost setup analyses. Don’t forget your SWOT analysis too. When you start something new, your competitors are going to watch what happens. But if you’re successful, they might want a slice of that market sector pie.
New equipment and resources and even new premises might be required to enter this new market. Sourcing new restaurant supplies might be necessary, especially if you need to take your menu in a whole new direction. Care and attention to food prep are part of your business. But if you’re providing mixed menu choices, some foods must be prepared and stored in a different way. Perhaps your approach to cooking or baking needs to change too?
Launching your new business should be a big event. Use social media and your website as well as the traditional offline media approaches. If you’ve found some useful data or information that could make a great local news piece, then use this in your PR campaign. Get some press attention, and offer a launch event that will help your community network.
It’s not always a good idea to manage a launch event on your own. You will be in the spotlight so you should be available. Draft in some extra help, and leave it to a PR company to take care of the event details. Plan, organize and prepare!
Ironing Out The Wrinkles
Every launch and relaunch generate excitement. If you’re not fulfilling that expectation, then reviews won’t be great. Of course, you can take any negative comments with a pinch of salt, or you can use them to develop and improve your proposition. Don’t forget – tastes change. You will need to keep up with these changes and deliver what your customers want. What more can you offer to give your business a boost?
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