With so many choices and offerings out in the market – from ethnic cuisines and fast casual eateries to unique dining experiences, it’s more challenging than ever before to capture today’s consumer. How do you pick and create a concept that will position you for success? First off, ask yourself some important questions. Is my concept proven or unique? Why will this concept do well in this location? What will I do to stand out and draw consumers to my business?
As you embark on choosing a concept and a plan to make it happen, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Decide upon a Theme and Make Sure It Resonates with Your Market
What kind of menu and dining experience do you want to provide. Do you want your dining to be casual or upscale? What kind of food will you serve? Do you know if the community is ripe for this concept? Researching different themes and listing the pros and cons for each after getting a feel for how your idea or theme will fair in the market is a good place to start. Launching any business involves emotional investment and can include a fair amount of bias. Creating a focus group that enlists the help of members of the community can help you maintain a neutral view of potential restaurant concepts and which ones will be well received and which ones won’t.
Identify Your Target Audience
Knowing who your customers are is crucial to choosing a viable concept since they will be the ones you’ll be serving. What customers do you expect to dine at your restaurant? Are you targeting families coming in for a meal or workers getting off their shift for a brew? Your target market and potential customers can greatly influence your concept through such details as hours of operation and seating capacity. Gathering demographic details on your customers can also help you solidify and vet your concept for success.
Research the Competition
Once you know your customer base, see who your competition is in the area. Analyze other restaurant’s prices and see how they retain customer loyalty. See what types of customer service is being offered and observe the type of menu that is being served. If you have a similar concept to your competitors, make sure your concept knocks it out of the park with a unique dining experience or other value-added differentiators such as offering a menu that incorporates fresh ingredients from local farmers.
Keep Up-to-Date with Food Trends
Some foods will be timeless classics like burgers and tacos. However, most food trends will come and go. Keep track of what types of cuisine are in style through food magazines and other media outlets like Food Network that reach your target market. By keeping up with the latest food trends and adjusting your concept to map to those, you’ll stay current, fresh and relevant.
Create An Actionable Marketing and Business Plan
Once you’ve collected the data to make sure your concept is going to work, you need a business plan. Make a budget. But be sure to not under or over estimate. A detailed but simple business plan will give you an advantage in avoiding pitfalls such as problems with zoning, licensing, and permitting. It should also include the cost of equipment and design.
Promoting your new restaurant should also be a key element of your plan. So, you’ll want to be sure to allocate some of your budget to PR, web design and social media marketing.
A well thought out concept and plan to execute it will be an important driver for your success. Don’t neglect to make it a priority.