The restaurant industry is a competitive, but profitable, sector of business. Many entrepreneurs and start-up companies aim to build their own restaurants or create a service to be used in the restaurant industry. As someone competing in business competitions for the development of such services, I have conducted independent research concerning what features and aspects of new products most appeal to restaurant owners. Through an interview with owner of Yama Sushi, Don Lee, and his employees, I was able to better gauge what a start-up business should prioritize.
A business or service aimed towards restaurants should be created on the basis of addressing what this market wants or struggles with. Through the interview, I found that problems many restaurants have difficulty addressing are employee-centered issues. The need to hire, train, and fire employees (like waiters, chefs, and hosts) is one that requires extensive funds and time. Additionally, restaurants sometimes need to address the problem of dishonesty from employees doing inadequate work or stealing money from the business. Another problem that requires attention comes during busy work days and the difficulty of managing outside and inside orders. This is paired with the problem of being properly attentive to all customers when workers and hosts are given many responsibilities. Yama Sushi also stated that starting a business is one of the largest issues, with most restaurants failing within the first few years of creation. For this, businesses need quality food and good marketing to get off the ground.
A restaurant-centered product should also recognize the restaurant’s available funds and want to make as much money as possible. The owner of Yama Sushi said that he would not use a service if it was too expensive and would prefer a commission based system, which is applicable to delivery services like UberEats and DoorDash. Hypothetically, if a new delivery system were to be created, restaurant owners would be interested in integrating it, regardless of its new creation and little popularity, if it had smaller commission costs.
When surveying restaurant owners, I also found that restaurants are more open to products and services that are easy to integrate in current restaurant operations. A service that requires access to point of sale (POS) software and other systems is one that takes more time to install, so less intensive products that still are effective and beneficial for the user are most appealing. Parallel to this appeal is the feature of having available free trials or prototypes to test the system prior to its installation. This same principle applies to delivery services or businesses that provide ingredients or food; the restaurant has to first test the quality and success of the new service, so giving restaurants the ability to test the business before full partnership allows them to better gauge if they want to continue purchasing the product in the future.
When putting these features into consideration, it is important to effectively market them in a clear and well projected way. A start-up must establish its target market to determine how to best advertise to them; this includes finding the best platforms and the best methods to use. Newly-created businesses struggle to find customers willing to use and test out the product and service, so offering free trials to local markets and restaurants will help build a reputation before expanding to larger groups.
Through surveys and interviews with businesses, I found that online research alone is not enough to properly find a market’s wants or needs. When developing my product for competition, I began with extremely different ideas from those I have now, and this is largely due to the changes and additions suggested to me by real business owners and restaurants. Creating a successful business is built on catering to the customers’ wants, and this is a pivotal part in making a start-up.
Lauren Yu, Grade 10,
Brea Olinda High School