Understanding How Constraint Theory Affects Business

Business ConstraintsYou all get a treat today, a case study by financial executive, Charles Seeman.  Without further ado…

So you have always loved cooking and have always wanted to open a little restaurant or coffee shop. Now you have achieved your dream and are ready to open up a little restaurant how do you ensure your restaurant will be profitable?

Well one thing to think about to ensure that your new venture is profitable is to be mindful of how constraints limit your ability to maximize your earning potential. For example, every restaurant operation suffers from a constraint on the limited number of tables for customers. A second typical constraint of operating a restaurant is the limited number of meals that can prepared at any one-time. Read more of this post

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Using Market Research To Replicate Restaurant Successes

Restaurant

Tom’s Restaurant in Manhattan was made internationally famous by Seinfeld

When a restaurateur has a successful restaurant, they typically want to open up another one.  Often times, the owner sets up a new restaurant similar to the previous restaurant.  Many times, the new restaurant has a similar type of food, atmosphere, and price range.  She may also place it in a similar type of location like in a shopping center.

One of the things that the owner may overlook is the success of the actual location and surrounding populations demographics and psychographics.  Here are some things to do some research on when looking at new locations for new locations.

  1. Get a clear understanding of the trade area: This is the geography that a typical customer will travel to come to your restaurant.  Most neighborhood restaurants draw customers from a one to five mile radius of the site.  However, unique concepts could draw from much further.  
  2. Match demographics and psychographics to the concept: Make sure that the trade area population can support the restaurant, financially and psychologically.
  3. Location, location, location:  This is always true regardless if you are setting up a new restaurant or buying a home.  For a restaurant, being near a strong residential population, a strong retail area with lots of traffic, and strong traffic generators such as movie theaters, hospitals, or a tourist attraction.

Unless you have a very unique concept, the success of most restaurants are heavily determined on its location and the daytime and residential population of the trade area.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

An Evening with Dan Cathy

Dan Cathy

My college days that seem so long ago.  Back then, I had a professor of mine that I admired greatly tell the class that he was teaching that we should always take advantage of the opportunities to hear influential people speak, even if you disagree with them.  His reference at that time was when H. Ross Perot came to speak at campus.

Ever since then, I have actively tried to do what was recommended to me so many years ago.  I have seen a number of political figures (all levels of government, including presidential candidates), leaders of businesses, sporting figures, and television journalist.  Last night, I had the opportunity to listen to Dan Cathy, COO of the hugely popular burger-alternative fast food restaurant Chick-fil-a.  He also is the son of the founder Truett Cathy, the chain’s founder. Read more of this post

Looking Beyond Demographics

PeopleI always enjoy the opportunity to spread the word of how market research can help any business.  Last Friday, I had the opportunity to do it again.

During the conversation I was having, we started to talk about a restaurant that my friend is currently working with that is trying to figure out what kind of food the restaurant should serve.  The discussion quickly turned to the conversation of who lives in the area, in other words the demographic profile of the geographic area. Read more of this post

Getting On The Tech Bandwagon

Business and TechnologyI have had a realization within the last week.  And that realization is that not everyone, including business owners are on the technology bandwagon.

Last week, I wrote about the reasons why restaurants should have a mobile website.  And I posted the link to the blog post on the Restaurant Network LinkedIn group to share my blog and opinion.  Typically when I do this, I will get a fair amount of traffic to this blog and occasionally I will get a comment that reiterates what I have stated or thanking me for the post as they got something new out of it.  However, as of the writing of this post, there are 23 post.  And not all of them agree with me. Read more of this post

Why Restaurants Need A Mobile Site

Smartphone Restaurant MenuI read a great article from techcrunch.com that talked about the number of independent restaurants that do not have a mobile website.  Nor do they have menus on their sites.

The market research behind the article shows that only about 12.5% of full service restaurant chains and 95% of independent restaurants have a mobile website.  Also is the consideration that 50% of all restaurant website hits come from mobile devices like Android phones or the iPhone. Read more of this post

Differentiation Is Key

The ability to differentiate your business from your competition is directly proportional to the success of your business.

Strategically planning out a thoughtful differentiation, both offensively and defensively, was a common subject heard by food service professionals attending the 2012 Chain Operators Exchange, or COEX, last week.  This can be done through a number of avenues.  Leadership, convenience, service, marketing, and operational efficiencies are all realistic possibilities for businesses.

Pintrest Red Logo

Copyright 2011 Pintrest

One way many restaurants have been attempting to differentiate themselves has been brought on the the recent success of Pintrest.  A recent nrn.com article highlighted that the restaurant industry can use Pintrest, which is all about the pictures, to give restaurant users a “wide latitude in communicating menus and philosophies.”  Ideas that were highlighted in the article included posting pictures of your restaurant’s food, pinning complementary industries photos.  However, further discussions included getting engaged with those liking what you are putting up.  This is where the value for social media can be realized.  By providing followers useful information, recipes similar to that which you sell, and commenting on followers post and pics, you become engaged with the customers that are already interested in you on a completely different level.

What are some ways that you differentiate your business from your competition?

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

The Research On Menu Reading

Some things that amuse me…rhinos (hence the name of my company), the E-Trade baby commercials (see the superbowl ad), and stories about market research actually being used in industry (hence this blog post).

customers reading menuI came across this article from eater.com and corresponding draft report about how people read menus in restaurants.

It was generally believed that menu reading was generally started on the upper right half of the menu, “the sweet spot”, then went in a scattered approach. However, the study showed that people tended to read a menu like a book.

In the past, many restaurants place the items they hope to sell the most in this “sweet spot” area. Although, this approach is a strategy, it is typically grouped with colorful text and highlighted boxes, all of which menu designers use to catch a diner’s wandering eye.

Now last week I blogged about newer research methodologies and biometrics, or eye tracking, was one of them. However, the scan pattern that has been used by a number of restaurants had little actual data behind it based on the report provided by San Francisco State University researcher Sybil Yang. “The restaurant industry has been piggybacking off past research,” said Yang, without having the resources to test ideas like the sweet spot. “It’s like a bad rumor that just kept perpetuating.”

There was, however, a “sour spot”. It was where ever the salads ended up being on the menu.

How does this go with any recent menu changes that you have made? Would you change your menu layout or offering based on this?

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

 

Growing Your Restaurant’s Business Without Growing Your Restaurant

Businesses are always looking at ways to grow their business.  This is essential for survival.  Those in the restaurant industry are no different where it seems like new restaurants are opening up every day.

Restaurant Growth

Courtesy NRNonline

In an article from last fall, Nation’s Restaurant News published a special report on 10 ways a restaurant can grow its business without physically growing its building.  All 10 are touch points that the customers can experience when they are interested in dining out.  They range from increasing traffic to customer satisfaction. 

Here are the 10 that the online article highlighted.

      • Online: Make a connection
      • From the curb: Dress up your outdoor décor
      • At the counter/In the lobby: Make your greeting count
      • At the bar: Tap your sales keg
      • At the table: Get a rave review
      • On the menu: Fine tune your food
      • In the kitchen: Show off your chef
      • At the drive-thru: Rev up sales
      • In the dining room: Make guests feel at home
      • Out the door: Leave a lasting impression

The article goes into further details and even some examples how restaurants have grown their business without expanding.  Many are ones that would not increase cost or only to a slight degree, which is something independent restaurant owners like.  Obviously, not all will work for every restaurant.  But some can be considered universally possible.

What are some ways you have successfully grown your business without physically growing the location you are at?

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

Segmenting To Understand Your Customers

segmentation Businesses need to understand their customers.  Now I know this is not an Earth shattering concept.  However, a number of businesses do not know who their customers are. And, in turn, they do not understand how to attract their customers.  By segmenting your customers, you can learn more about them and how to attract them.

I tell my retail and restaurant clients and potential clients that “birds of a feather tend to buy together.”  But in order to grow your customer base, you need to get a good understanding of who your core customers are.  To do this, you need to understand not only the demographic components of who your customers are, but also the psychographic components of who your customers.  Here are examples of each.

Demographic Components:

  • Marital status
  • Age group
  • Children
  • Household size
  • Location of residence

Psychographic Components:

  • Types of magazines read
  • How news is received
  • Activities participate in
  • Types of vehicles driven

Once you are able to understand your core buyer in both demographic and psychographic components, then you are can start to develop strategies to find more similar potential customers.

How have you segmented your customers?

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

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