Blame It On The Location

Location, location, location.

What if your cafe location is wrong?

One of the most important criteria in the foodservice industry is putting your business in a strategic location. Old school restaurant startup consultants will gather as much data on location as they can, including government vehicle counts and even spot counting in person at possible locations. I’ve even known one consultant that would sit at a possible location for several full days over a period of time, with a counting clicker in hand, counting by the hour.

So what do you do if the business has a bad location? We turned to two folks in the industry for a little advice.

From Claire Fountain, a talented pastry chef at Bread Alone in Hudson Valley NY (rated the top independent bakery/cafe in the USA in 2010), comes this bullet list:

  • First I would make sure everything else was financially in order…like keeping overhead low so even if foot traffic isn’t heavy at first you’re losing too too much
  • I would make sure my product was spot on.
  • I would market heavy …but smart.
  • and make sure word of mouth is working in my favorite.
We then turned to William Bender, a long time restaurant consultant and member of FCSI (Foodservice Consultant Society International). Here’s what Bill has to say..
An owner has to set the vision for the business in what I call the FutureView. This is easy to say and most of the time difficult to achieve. The owner must attract and retain a team (talent) to execute the plan to reach the goals of the business.

A priority for owners should be to focus on the location with a four-walls marketing perspective. Focus on everything starting at the property line outside to every inch of the buidling exterior and interior. The owner must be the driving force for the quality of the operation including; Solid brand/concept (read menu/products), Operating standards (QSC), Environment (facilitities look and feel), the employee experience, The guest experience (ServPoints Sequence of Service/brand delivery). A strategic marketing plan is essential for every restaurant/business.

When a brand/company executes at the highest level they can be successful. This requires good leadership wirh courage, training & developing the team, connecting with team to make everything Better, Special and Different (marketing) for guests/customers.

And here’s the real kicker mentality for dealing with poor location
There is no bad restaurant location.
First, a point to make. My friend Bill, old school hospitality operations expert, states he’s never seen a restaurant or cafe fail when the kitchen/production area was spotless. Ever.
We’re coming up on the political campaign season here in the States. If you want to get your business thriving, rip a page out of the political campaign manager’s playbook. It’s your business. Campaign the heck out of it. Here’s Bill’s and my bullet list:
  • Get off the property! Get around town… and network.
  • Talk to people. Talk to the doctor and dentist. Talk to hotel managers nearby. Talk to anyone who owns a business nearby – or, who works at nearby businesses.
  • Carry business cards and gift certificates with you at all times – distribute often.
  • Attend business and chamber of commerce events. Bring samples!
The mentality you must have as a business owner is that you are constantly campaigning for your business. Every person who deals with other people in the normal life is a prime target to build a relationship with. That manager of the quick-oil-change place down the street? Go drop $20 – but also bring him some samples and get into a conversation. Joke around with him… build the relationships.
You have to get off the property and get the word out. There is no bad location. It’s what you make of it.
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Categories: Operator Solutions

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