Extract taken from 'Starting Your Own Sandwich Shop' - Andrew Johnson
Viability of the Business - Part 2
There is another way to learn a great deal about the sandwich trade in a short space of time, which I mention in the section on preparing a business plan. Pretend that you are looking for a sandwich shop to buy, and visit those that are for sale.
The proprietors will tell you virtually everything you want to know, its like a free education. It’s a good way to find out the profit percentages on sandwiches, cakes, cookies and cool drinks in your neck of the woods, this is relevant and handy information to have. You might feel a bit guilty about wasting the owners time, but its all part of the business game, and it could happen to you one day !
When I first started out, I lost count of the number of sandwiches I bought and took home for complete dissection, carefully noting the construction and portion layout of each. I even took photographs for future reference ! It was the best way of learning about sandwich creation, labeling and packaging, and I thoroughly recommend you do exactly the same.
Try and get hold of as many menus as you can, from the shops you visit. Not only will this give you inspiration for your own menu, but it will help you get a feel for the pricing structure in your area.
Another source of information that you should use is the internet, the data available is staggering, visit the websites of sandwich shops and take note of any ideas that you could use, copy, or modify.
Sandwich and Snack News
A very useful periodical for those in the trade, available only on subscription and published every second month. Give them a call and ask for a free evaluation copy, you can reach them on 01235 863008. Information on trends, hygiene, and the sandwich industry in general are their stock in trade. You could pick up some useful tips and ideas, so its worth considering a subscription.
Before too long, your knowledge of the sandwich trade is going to be pretty extensive and you will have a fair idea if the business is really for you, and whether you would like to run a similar setup. You should also be considering what your unique angle would be, to stand out from your competitors.
As you carry out the research and answer the question raised you should be forming an idea of the kind of operation you would like to establish, now its time to get creative.
I used to draw floor plans and shop layouts, complete with where the equipment would go, and attempt to visualize how the shop would look when finished, even down to the type of lighting to use. This type of creativity is vital in the embryonic stages, let your imagination run wild. Remember , you are not committing to anything by jotting down your drawings or ideas, the purpose is to just put pen to paper. This very act brings the project closer to reality, and makes it more real.
Don’t limit yourself to slavishly copying other peoples ideas, by all means use them for inspiration, but add your own special creativity into the pot, its all part of the fun to add your own special ‘something.’