The owner had recently changed focus as he was sought out to provide catering services for larger organizations. As the size and frequency of these requests grew, the need for more substantial facilities, equipment, storage, wholesale vendors and capital presented itself. The organization needed a solution that would address all of these concerns and help the owner make good decisions for the company. Additionally, the owner of the organization was a very community-focused individual and Christian. Therefore, in addition to seeking a solution to address the needs of the organization, he sought a solution that would help to serve the community where the catering facility would be housed. Furthermore, since the restaurant and catering industries are very competitive with many different niches that could be served, we felt that their success would be based on how they could be innovative in the industry.
Even though the core of this venture was essentially a restaurant, we decide that an innovation strategy would be an appropriate one for the company, which meant that the company would have a defined process and workflow for identifying opportunities, understanding what solutions and ideas exist in the marketplace finding gaps, modeling, testing and developing new presentations – whether of the food, the presentation, the restaurant space, the service style or the whole restaurant experience. Because of the known high failure rate of restaurants, we felt that it would be imperative to not only have a great space, but also have multiple streams of income.
Since the owner had developed his mission, vision and values statements, we were able to use them as a framework to develop a operational framework for the organization – both what it might look like when it opened in a new facility and several years in the future. Areas we considered included
- Types of products and services
- Markets served
- Average sale
- Financial goals
- Branding/Brand experience
- Community impact
Thorough market research gave us further insight into understanding of his competition, including:
- direct competitors (companies that sell the same or similar products to the same or similar markets),
- indirect competitors (companies that carried replacement products (products people would purchase in place of what he had to offer),
- competitors’ market positioning and branding (how the competition appears to the market)
- market size and growth,
- potential influences on the market,
- demographic information
Having this information assisted us in helping the owner develop a pricing strategy that would work in his market, allowing him to promote the desired level of class and elegance without exclusivity.
This was a unique opportunity such that we were able to build a business plan that allowed the company to get an SBA loan, and were given permission to forebear payments until after the restaurant had been open 2 months. We were able to further assist the restaurant in the following areas:
- Office set up
- Vendor acquisition
- Product development
- Hiring talent
- Fund raising (second round through a micro-loan organization)
- Equipment acquisition
- As a result of our work, the restaurant opened and within a short time had the dining room very busy at lunch, on the weekends and throughout the week.
- Several stories were done on the restaurant as far away as Baltimore, MD
- The chef/owner won several awards for his cooking ability and became a local celebrity
- The business has 3 revenue sources – on site banquet facilities, off site catering and the lunch and dinner business
- The restaurant partnered with outside organizations to provide specialty meals for performers and special guests
- Earned over $100,000 in the first year of operations
- Had an opportunity to expand operations to Atlanta, GA through the support of the SBDC, but declined
- Was well-known for unique events, unique dining experiences, styling of the dining room and unique dishes
- Was the first place in the area to provide patrons with free internet access