Food Start-Ups: 10 Key Points You Should Consider
In this dynamic, instant and impatient world that we live in, people place convenience in their day-to-day lives at a premium. This aspect can be seen in almost every facet of our lives.
What’s more, even though technology, ever improving systems and lifestyles allow us to complete tasks faster and therefore focus on more things than was previously possible, we seemingly never have time for the humdrum things that are part of our daily existence, always wishing for more hours in the day.
Given this scenario, it’s no surprise that there are a whole slew of food start-ups sweeping across the land, offering great food, a variety of cuisines, and you guessed it- convenience in abundance!
Now, if you are in the process of setting up your own food start-up, or indeed thinking of setting one up in the foreseeable future, here are 10 pointers to keep in mind:
#1: Always include delivery charges
As we have previously established, the busy office going crowd and the upwardly mobile set do not have a minute to spare to prepare their meals for the day.
They would much rather order food from restaurants or food start-ups, and are willing to pay a premium for the privilege, and this includes a delivery charge.
Earlier, the food start-up was willing to bear this cost on behalf of the customer. Now however, the upwardly mobile and cash flush crowd are willing to take this burden on — as long as it makes their lives simpler and easier.
Therefore, any food start-up should go ahead and charge a delivery cost, thereby enhancing their own profitability, and increasing their chance of survival, especially right at the start.
#2: Choose your demography and area of delivery carefully
Location forms an integral part of the marketing mix of any business, and this aspect can hardly be ignored by food start-ups, as well. In keeping with this, the food start-up should focus on areas that suit its target demography.
Questions such as “Are my customers here?”, “Is this the right location for my business?” should be mulled over. Furthermore, food start-ups will be well served by focussing on areas and delivery areas where lots of online users exist.
#3: Go slow on tech right at the start
Given the society we live in, it is hardly a wonder that start-ups in general, and more specifically food start-ups are not immune to the craving and yearning for immediate results and instant success.
Therefore, businesses tend to throw everything they have into tech, hoping to swim rather than sink. Now, this is far from ideal and should be avoided. For instance, hold back on that yearning to go with a food ordering mobile application right from the word “GO”.
Instead, invest your energies into web applications, stabilise your operations, learn from your shortcomings, and then and only then translate this into a well-thought out and more complete mobile app experience.
#4: Outsource your technology needs to a best in class vendor rather than investing in an in-house unit
Sometimes, I think it’s possible to be overly involved in your business. While some may think this is something to admire, it’s not always the case.
In this vein, often the manager of a food start-up may want to take up too much himself or herself, and accordingly wish to set up all aspects of the business in-house, including the technology wing. This may turn out to be counterproductive to the enterprise.
Rather than following this model, it will be more profitable to outsource your technology needs to a vendor. This model will prove to be less capital intensive, and you will be placing this responsibility in the hands of an expert.
Moreover, it will be one less thing to wrack your brain over, and if you have been in business like I have, there is no dearth to the things that keep you up at night.
#5: Carefully choose the business flow or model that suits your startup best
Before you take the plunge and begin business, it’s in your best interests to take the time to figure out the business flow and model that suits your business best.
To this end, do spend some time looking at other businesses and adapt and adopt from them, and readily integrate your learnings into your very own food based startup.
Besides this, it also pays to be more open minded and flexible in your approach, and thereby be willing to change some aspects that aren’t working at the drop of a hat.
#6: Don’t over complicate! Focus on simplifying the overall customer experience
We’ve often noticed that some food start-ups take great pains to offer some crazy concepts or offers which are designed to provide customers with a unique experience, and end up complicating the customers’ overall experience in the process.
Unfortunately, this also inadvertently alienates customers, which may eventually lead to them distancing themselves from your business. Now, this is most distressing! To avoid this, never overestimate the customer, and more importantly their attention spans.
Remember, you have just a few minutes to grab a customer’s attention. Therefore, use this opportunity wisely, and stick to providing simple concepts. Or failing that, provide your concepts and ideas in a cogent and succinct manner.
#7: At the start, employ a manageable product line
Right at the start, it’s important not to over extend yourself. In keeping with this, it’s important to rein in your product line. Accordingly, it will definitely help to focus on dishes, cuisines or menus that you are comfortable with, and products you are confident about.
This approach will help you win over customers at the very beginning, and if they are pleased and satisfied with the services and products you offer, they are likely to stick around for the whole lifespan of your establishment. Once you have a steady customer base, you can then push the envelope and start to increase your product line.
#8: Proper marketing plan: Use digital and social channels
The success of failure of many a business depends on three words — marketing, marketing & marketing. Marketing executed well can make all the difference! So, make sure you have a great marketing plan in place before you jump right in.
You should also take the time to integrate digital media and social channels into your food start-up’s business plan. Remember, that’s where your customers spend most of their time, and this is where you can reach out to them effectively and efficiently.
Digital and social campaigns also allow you to measure effectiveness and reach, enabling you to chop things that aren’t working, and change accordingly.
#9: Focus your energies on food quality and customer service
There are some things that just don’t change, and one of these things is that the ‘customer is king’. Therefore, provide him with food and services that are especially royal! Never ever lose sight of this.
This is the very backbone of your food start-up business, and if you don’t get this right, you might as well forget about everything else in this piece.
#10: Customer feedback is key
Listen to your customers. They are always saying something, either to your face, to your delivery person, to you on your website, or even on the various online and social channels.
Do not get disheartened by negative comments or feedback, instead, apologise for bad experiences quickly and regularly. Also, try and stay away from being too defensive, this comes across quite aggressive.
Furthermore, listen to your customers, plug in any gaps and readily take up any changes they suggest. Being accessible and flexible in this regard is paramount.