Survival of the Fittest​

Is it just it just me or does there seem to be a food business closing as quickly as one opens? I wonder if the new owners of the proposed exciting addition to the local area have actually done any research and have a plan and a vision in order to survive?

Did you know that 59% of new businesses close within the first year? That, however, doesn’t seem to be putting potential newbies off from opening and trying to be a success. I decided to look at what key ingredients are needed, to get past year 1 and then establish yourself within the local food scene.

Location

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Although it’s not a guarantee; if you get the location right and do your research then that is a good start. How many times have I walked around our beautiful city and thought “that would be a great place for a restaurant?” Maybe prospective restaurants need to seek my advice…(obviously, for a small fee, I would be more than happy to oblige. ;).

Foot-fall is always a factor especially if you are new and unknown to the area.  It helps if potential customers ge the opportunity to walk past and peer in. They then will become curious and wonder what you are all about.

Finally is there anybody else doing what you do? Give us an example I hear you shout, ok hang on I have a gem which is very recent. A cornerstone of the food scene especially here in Clifton is http://www.bravas.co.uk who just nail what they do. Their reputation is so good, it’s pretty hard to get a table at the best of times. Two newbies have tried to copy them and have both failed. It is no coincidence that Polpo and Pintox both opened in the exact same premises serving tapas along the lines of Bravas but both closed within a year of opening. One could argue that the location they had was actually better than the current one that Bravas fills. If you are going to go toe to toe with someone established, make sure you are so much better.

Have a USP

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Ok, so this is key for me when launching a new business. Will people just come in because you are new? In a world that seems so busy that people are running around from one social outing to the next, you need to have a USP that will make people want to come and see you.

Come on then what is a great USP and give us an example, ok hang on then here I go. Pinkmans on Park Street pretty much started with a product and grew from there to what is now one of the “Sunday Times” top 25 bakeries in the UK. Whether you visit or go online, their doughnuts are very visual. They have unique  flavours and it is certainly a hook which pulls people in. As well as this, they have so much more to offer. Trust me, if you haven’t been here yet what is wrong with you?

As the uncertainty around the big B (I refuse to mention the word as I am so bored with it all), people are more and more price driven, so an offer which looks attractive for both your wallet and your taste buds will often drive people in. Although it has gone up in price The Cowshed lunchtime offer really hits the mark. They have a great price point and amazing food. You leave the restaurant often thinking “how did I just eat 3 courses for £13.95?”

Experience

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For me, this is where most establishments get it wrong. Do they invest in training? Is the owner/operator present and leading from the front? Have they actually employed the right mix of team members? Is the decor right? All great questions and if you miss one of these the chances are your business will struggle and you become a statistic.

It’s incredible that 75% of consumers will only go somewhere that offers an “experience”. A recent great example of an experience is my recent visit to a fairly new restaurant in Bristol called Pasture. The whole journey from start to finish was exceptional and for me they have set the standard going forward with my own personal expectations.

On entry, the host was actually pleased to see us and informed us that although early, we could go to our table or have a drink at the bar. Upon hearing this, we decided to take her up on her offer and take in the atmosphere of the bar. How many venues get this first contact wrong? We knew we were in for a great night and they did not disappoint. The team certainly contributed to the overall atmosphere which in my opinion was electric and I for one didn’t want to leave.

So come on food venues, give us the experience we crave when dining out, is that really too much to ask?

Conclusion

There are so many more factors when opening a new business and trying to establish yourself in the already saturated market, however, if you follow these three easy rules then I am sure you will be there for many years and become part of the food scene wherever you are.

Remember once you have decided upon the location, focus on creating your unique  USP. This is what will make people crave you and want to visit. The hard work is getting them through the door, so why then drive them away by not offering the experience? Employ great people who are actually pleased to be working there. Invest in them and be a visible leader and touch as many tables as you physically can. Easy right?

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