Analyze the Marketplace

A foodservice business must do more than offer good food and service to survive. A successful business must make marketing a top priority. The right marketing can help a foodservice business keep current customers and attract new customers. A business must plan and research locations, menus, customers, competitors, and trends. Managers spend hours planning the marketing for a business, even before the doors are opened to its first customers. This section will tell you how this is done.

Marketing begins when you create a new business. You must analyze the marketplace as you plan the business. The marketplace includes the location, the people, and the atmosphere of a particular geographic area. New business owners must research each of these factors to predict whether a new business will succeed.

For example, suppose that you wanted to open a pastry shop. To analyze the marketplace, you would look at several different areas where you think the shop could be located.

When you consider possible locations, you might ask yourself:

• How busy is this location at mealtimes?

• Is this location convenient and accessible to a large number of people?

j What products and services will I offer?

• Does this area have a need for this type of foodservice facility? Is this service already being provided in the area?

• How much does it cost to rent or purchase space at this location versus other locations?

• Is this area showing signs of growth?

• Does this area draw from a multicultural population?

Marketing Strategies

Marketing affects the location of the foodservice operation, what food products are offered, how items are promoted, and who presents the product. Many foodservice operations go out of business within one to five years because they fail to take all of these factors into consideration. A marketing strategy or plan of action, lets you know how your area will respond to your business.

Market Research Investigating the marketplace is an important step for new business owners. What marketing information does this picture show?

However, marketing strategies must be well planned, or you may get incorrect information.

Several basic marketing strategies can give you key information that you will need to operate your business. This can give you the best possible start toward profitability. To be successful, you must analyze the location, the customer base and its diversity, the competition, and trends.

Location

The location you choose for a new business is one of the most important choices you will make. It does not matter whether you choose an existing building that you will update or simply an empty lot. You should carefully look at the location before any construction or renovation begins.

Many businesses fail because they do not think about traffic patterns. Customers want easy, convenient access to their food choices. What if a new highway is built, or an existing highway is closed or rerouted? If it is difficult to get to a location, chances are customers will find another restaurant.

Questions to Ask Business owners can start by asking questions about the location, such as:

• What physical locations or structures can I afford?

• How much money do I need to spend on the physical structure?

• Should a new structure be built, or should an existing structure be renovated?

Customer Base

Next, business owners must analyze their clientele and their target market. The clientele are the people who will be the business's main customers. This strategy involves examining what type of people you want to attract as customers. Are they, for example, businesspeople, young and health-conscious, or families? Perhaps they are looking for familiar foods and flavors from their cultural heritage. A specific type of clientele is called a market segment.

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