Is Your Business Listed Among The BEST In Your City Or Town?

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 11/13/2018

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  Paul Schlossberg
The question in the headline is really meaningful for companies in our industry. We cannot be the "choice of last resort." We must become the preferred place where people (our shoppers) go to eat and drink.

Looking forward we need to think carefully about how our companies and our industry will achieve "best of" standing among the alternatives available to the shoppers we serve. There'll be more about that later.  

You've seen those "best" lists. There are "best" restaurants, hotels, airlines, and so many more categories. Travel for work consumed often much of my time. There were many years when business had me on the road at least three weeks each month for three or four days.

My personal objective was to make my travel enjoyable when it came to hotels and dining. That did not mean expensive or extravagant. It meant finding the best value for the money and not overspending. To accomplish that you must be very well informed about what the options are in each city.

Travel is also one of my passions. Over these many years of travel we've encountered many interesting and important discoveries from "best of" lists. There have been a number of direct connections to our industry. There are many things we could learn from other businesses – even if they were not directly competitive with our industry.

In my online file system, accumulated in the last two years, are 105 "best of" articles. Most of those relate to restaurants and travel in the U.S. and international destinations. Some of those articles relate to our industry – onsite foodservice specifically.  

Recently there were two "best of" articles which captured my attention. One detailed the best in college foodservice. This interested me because colleges and universities have been among the prime target markets for the products sold in my corporate roles and while consulting with clients. Obviously colleges are very important operating locations for many of your businesses.  

Niche.com posted a listing of the 2019 Best College Food in America. It is included within their review of colleges on wide range of factors which might influence prospective students to make a college choice. The top five colleges for food are:
1. Virginia Tech
2. University of California – Los Angeles
3. Bates College
4. University of Massachusetts – Amherst
5. Washington University in St. Louis

That top-five group was particularly interesting to me. One of our sons did his post-doctoral work at UMass and our youngest graduated from Wash U.

The other article was in USA Today and featured pizza, "Best pizza in every state: TripAdvisor's top-rated pizzerias." Pizza is a category where people will have strong opinions about crusts (thin or thick) and toppings (deep-dish, sauces, cheese, meats, and more). Originally from Brooklyn, NY, we grew up with really good pizza "joints" on the corner in every neighborhood. My pizza preference is usually thin crust with pepperoni.  Home Slice Pizza here in Austin, TX was one of the 51 pizzerias featured in the article. We had great pizza and good service. It's easily the best we've had locally.  

How do we get to be the best?

1. You should go through the college list very carefully. If one of your clients shows up on the list, you would be well-advised to personally congratulate the management team. Get out of your office and visit some of the nearby campuses on that list. Observe how they merchandise what they sell. See how they have diversified their menu offerings. What can you learn from what they are doing?

2. Get out and find the "best of" in your local area. We've said this before. Go out for pizza, burgers and more. See how you can learn from and adapt what others do well. How would do similar things to fit your operations and meet the needs of the shoppers you serve?  

3. Build your own "best of" resource file. Among my usual sources for restaurant and hotel suggestions (in no particular order) are: Yelp, Trip Advisor, the Food Network and big group of travel-related and food magazines. Most of my reading is done online. Some of my best restaurant finds have come from Eater. It's one of my favorite websites and news sources for restaurant ideas. They publish a range of lists of restaurants for cities (and local neighborhoods) all over the country. One of the most useful listings is the "38 essential restaurants" they assemble periodically.  

If you want to be the best, you've got to see and sample the best. Remember that experiencing the best does not always mean it was the most expensive. Some of our favorite meals have been very inexpensive and exceptionally low key in style and service. We will share a few of those experiences in upcoming postings.

Focus on being the "best" food, snack and beverage provider you can be for the people you serve. If your shoppers see you as the being the best, you will be in good position to sell more stuff.



» Paul Schlossberg is president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX, area, he can be reached at Paul@DFWConsulting.net or (972) 877-2972 or www.DFWConsulting.net.