Restaurant Startup Tip: Who’s the Competition?

RestaurantRestaurant entrepreneurs, whether you’re opening up a bakery, a bar, a pizzeria, a food truck or something else in the food service industry, you’ve got to keep in mind who your competition is. The competition is just as important as your own restaurant, if not more important when you startup. One Fat Frog has a few tips for those opening a new restaurant business.

There are four main things to keep in mind when you’re checking out the competition: price, location, size and food/services.

It’s important to be aware of the socioeconomic status of your customers or clients. Keep in mind of who the customer will be and what type of money they will be spending. Keep prices in a reasonable range. Offer deals every other week or mail out a freebie to draw in a new customer. Restaurant customers won’t just settle for a free slice of pizza without being tempted to buy a soda to go with it. Once the customer is drawn in for your better price or free item, they’re bound to make a purchase that goes along with the advertised food item.

Are you the first restaurant that customers are going to visit in the morning, or are you an afterthought? Are you going to be welcoming a dinner crowd for fine dining or a quick pit stop during a lunch break? You need to establish this so that you can choose a location that fits with your restaurant business. Starbucks is located on the right hand side going to work whereas Boston Market is located on the right hand side coming from work.

Along with the time of day your customers will be visiting and dining, consider the shopping center or free standing building in which you’ll open your restaurant. If it’s a pizza shop, then you don’t want to pick a building that’s right next to a gym. People want to eat healthy and skip the pizza. You might want to choose a shopping center that’s near a Dunkin Donuts or family fun center where people aren’t always counting the calories. Keep in mind what customers you are targeting, when they will be dining at your restaurant, and how they’re going to get there.

How much square footage do you REALLY need? You could work out of a 1,800-2,000 square foot space for a pizza shop and have outside seating. Or open up a fancy Italian restaurant in a small space by having some nice, comfy seats and tables outside with some Al Martino playing on speakers. Decorate fences with white lights and take advantage of the free seating outside. Get creative and work with the space you choose.

What services do you offer, and how well do you present them? Anyone can have a restaurant, but it takes some wit and quick thinking to set yourself apart from the competition. Let’s take McDonalds and Burger King for example. Both fast food restaurants sell fries, but McDonalds is more popular for their fries because of the texture and taste. Burger King’s fries come with meals because what hamburger -serving fast food place doesn’t ask, “Would you like fries with that?”

Your restaurant might be selling the same meal as another, but what sets you apart is the service and the way the food is presented. The Frog advises you to give customers a variety to choose from. Don’t have just one type of pizza, have ten. Give them five free toppings instead of three, but add a small delivery fee. Reward the customer for choosing you over the competing restaurant.

Remember to keep these tips in mind when you’re opening up a restaurant, pizzeria, bakery, bar, food truck or any other sort of food service business. Keep calm and cook on.