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Catering & Food Truck icon Food Preparation Business Plan

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What's For Dinner?

Strategy and Implementation Summary

What’s For Dinner? will gradually gain market share in the four focal geographic markets (Plano, Frisco, Allen and McKinney) by leveraging its competitive edges. These edges are superior attention to detail in the local food service market, a revolutionary food-servicing outlook and excellent nutritional meals at competitive price. These advantages have been unavailable in this market for some time. We will market our services  with a targeted advertising campaign and networking.

5.1 Competitive Edge

What’s For Dinner? will begin with a critical competitive edge: we have no direct competitors in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  By being the first-mover and (for at least a while) the only service of our kind, we will have the initial market buzz that is normally reserved for the first company of its kind into a given market. Our positioning is very hard to match, but only if we maintain focus on our strategy, marketing, business development, and fulfillment of quality and customer service will we be able to continually grow and outpace the “copy-cat” businesses that are sure to follow our market lead. We are aware that the tendency to relax due to lack of competition could weaken our competitive edge. What’s For Dinner? will be operated as if our direct competitors were conducting the same service business that we are in and we will be looking for additional enhancements to our operating procedures from day one.

In addition to our unique positioning, we offer the following advantages to our customers:

  • High quality meals
  • Relatively low prices
  • Time saving meal preparation
  • Reducing mess in customers’ kitchens
  • Reducing stress around meal prep
  • Saving them from that perennial problem of deciding, “What’s for Dinner?”

5.2 Marketing Strategy

As a food service business, our main goal is to provide high quality food with excellent customer service.  Our challenge as a new company is to quickly establish a reputation for such quality among our potential markets. With this in mind, the initial focus of our marketing strategy will be to get our name and reputation out to the public to create “buzz.” Creating brand recognition for our new concept will be the first measurable milestone in our marketing strategy.

 This will be one of the most important factors when measuring success within the first couple of months after inception.  The basis for our ideology is simple; the more people that hear our name and become familiar with our services, the more people will use it. The marketing campaign will involve a targeted advertising campaign, different specials to entice the customers to try our business and a very intense networking campaign. All of these tactics will be used to help gain a loyal clientele aimed at fostering our happy customer base.

At start-up, we will begin a focused advertising campaign toward target segments in our geographical area. We will update our advertising campaign regularly to fill in gaps based on follow-up research: do people recognize our name? Do they know what we do? What is their impression of our services’ costs and quality?Marketing campaigns will work via:

  • Local area newspapers that are viewed by our target market.
  • Homeowner associations’, churches’ and specific groups’ newsletters.
  • Direct mail advertisements/flyers to our target market purchased through a direct mailing company with lists specifically of our target market.
  • Various flyers and pamphlets that will be available at many shopping centers and grocery stores throughout the area.
  • Yellow pages advertisement.
  • Dynamic website.
  • Registered keyword searches that will lead to our website.
  • Various Radio advertisements.
  • Various event sponsorships.

Coupled with the advertising campaign will be a systematic offering of discounted specials to attract more customers. This could be very important to potential customers because the cost of $175 for 12 meals is very appealing to families that have used our service before, but families may be skeptical to buy this much food and invest that much money in something they have never tried.  For that reason, our business will offer periodic specials to families to help limit their fears and open their eyes to the wonderful atmosphere at What’s For Dinner?

What’s For Dinner? will also have a networking campaign that will start with the owner’s contacts and friends attending our first months’ meal prep parties. This will be the “word of mouth” campaign that will feature:

  • Private parties with discounts for the host/hostess of the party. This will encourage them to invite 11 friends that will be introduced to our business and will be return customers.
  • Special discounts to return customers when referring new customers.

5.3 Sales Strategy

In the food service business, as in any customer service intensive business, sales revenue is our lifeblood.  The way in which we present ourselves to our customers and deal with the public will determine the success of our business.  The food service industry is facilitated by repeat business and referrals. In order to continuously compete against other food providers, we need to enhance our repeat customer service business by making this our main sales focus. We cannot expect to have a satisfied customer by selling them one month’s of meals and then never seeing them again. We must make our sales strategy revolve around making the customer’s experience with us the best it possibly can, and further, making every effort to get our current customer base to visit us again.  It is much more expensive to get new customers than to keep the customers you already have. Our customers cannot stop eating, but they could stop using our services. We will be selling our service to our current customers each time they come, in order to have repeat business and new business through their word of mouth.

These are just a few of the ways we will sell to our customers to gain repeat business and word of mouth advertising:

  • High levels of customer service; friendly, comforting and entertaining
  • Good variety of menus from which to choose
  • The best quality of foods and ingredients
  • Creating a fun and social atmosphere for our customers, so they want to return
  • Reminders at each party to sign up for the next month’s party, along with the next month’s menu and samples
  • A follow up and reminder program for our current customers that will be done through email and mail.
  • Focus a specific portion of our advertising campaign on getting our repeat customers to come back and visit us
  • Allow our best repeat customers to get special quantity specific discounts.
  • Enlist a comprehensive and highly interactive e-commerce initiative to help to accommodate our customer’s payment and scheduling options.

The What’s For Dinner? website will serve as a productive and consistent selling tool. Our website will be set up to explain what we offer and the many benefits customers will receive for using our meal prep services. The website will help “close the sale;” customers will be able to register for the meal prep party they would like to attend and accepting payments online. This will be our main source of registrations for parties. The ease of use allowed by the Internet will be key to driving our customer pipeline.  Our sales and marketing campaigns will help focus our customer traffic through our website, so that people can see how easy it will be to interact with our company. This element of efficiency will also help enhance our bottom line by allowing for a 24 hour customer service mechanism without having to keep a customer rep staffed all the time.

5.3.1 Sales Forecast

Through our research of other businesses like ours in Seattle, WA and Omaha, NE, we found that all of them quickly increased their sales over their first year. All of these researched companies went from their first month of 100 customers on average to over 1,000 customers within their first year of business. One company opened in Seattle against two other competitors and now has over 2,000 customers with three different locations.

We are optimistic that What’s For Dinner? will grow and prosper just as these other companies have, but we want to set reasonable forecasts for growth. We have therefore taken a conservative approach in preparing our Sales Forecast Table.

The following table and chart give a run-down on forecasted sales. We have forecasted that sales will increase each month with the exception of the summer months, when vacations and other seasonal activities may reduce purchases. Once we get our first few customers, our sales will increase through customer retention, and gaining new customers through networking. We expect sales to grow incrementally over the first year, reaching profitability by the fifth month of operation.

After the first year of operation, we expect sales to continue increasing, from 10% the first year up to 25% by the third year. As sales increase, we will make modifications to our facility and hire new employees to share in the work. Our proposed location allows room for expansion. Based on our research, and the size of our potential market, we expect to reach close to one million dollars in sales by the end of 2005.

Our direct costs of sales listed here are inventory used up in sales, including the meal ingredients and additional supplies, such as themed-party decorations, containers, napkins, and so on. Fixed operating expenses are listed in the Profit and Loss.

Food preparation business plan, strategy and implementation summary chart image

Food preparation business plan, strategy and implementation summary chart image

Sales Forecast
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Party Fees $857,674 $1,072,093 $1,340,116
Other Fees $24,505 $30,631 $38,289
Total Sales $882,179 $1,102,724 $1,378,405
Direct Cost of Sales Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Ingredients $612,624 $765,780 $957,225
Other Supplies $44,109 $55,136 $68,920
Subtotal Direct Cost of Sales $656,733 $820,917 $1,026,146

5.4 Milestones

The accompanying table lists important program milestones, with dates and budgets for each. The milestone schedule indicates our emphasis on planning for implementation.  What the table doesn’t show is the commitment behind it. Our business plan includes complete provisions for plan -vs. – actual analysis, and we will follow-up often to discover variances and course corrections.

What’s For Dinner? will have several milestones, including:

  1. Business plan completion. This will be done as a roadmap for the organization. This will be an indispensable tool for the ongoing performance and improvement of the company.
  2. Building set up.
  3. Our first meal prep party.
  4. Profitability.
Food preparation business plan, strategy and implementation summary chart image

Milestone Start Date End Date Budget Manager Department
Business Plan Completion 7/1/2003 9/1/2003 $250 Alan Kirby Administration
Site Selection 8/22/2003 9/1/2003 $0 Alan Kirby Administration
Architect Designs 7/20/2003 9/1/2003 $5,000 Alan Kirby Administration
Licensing 9/1/2003 10/1/2003 $500 Alan Kirby Administration
Site Construction 9/15/2003 12/15/2003 $0 Alan Kirby Administration
Website Design 10/1/2003 12/15/2003 $1,280 Alan Kirby Web
Business Funding Secured 9/1/2003 12/30/2003 $0 Alan Kirby Administration
Site Set-Up 11/1/2003 1/15/2004 $0 Alan Kirby Administration
First Party 1/15/2004 1/30/2004 $0 Alan Kirby Administration
Profitability 1/1/2004 12/1/2004 $0 Alan Kirby Administration
Totals $7,030