How do I find my niche?
If you want to find a niche in the marketplace, visit similar venues and consider what you do and don’t like about their business.
You should find things you admire as well as things you cannot stand. If you are lucky and observant enough, you might spot a gap in the market which you can exploit.
Brown explains that the sandwich business has got a lot tougher since he began in the mid 1980s.
He said: “When I started in 1985 there was a gap in the market as there were no sandwich shops apart from in London.
“The only sandwiches available were poorly made and wrapped in cling film.”
For Brown the answer was clear; set up shops outside the capital that provided high quality freshly made food, and he was bound to find a hungry market. His example is a good one to follow.
Making a profit
Like most new businesses, you should expect to have to work hard.
Brown continues: “The hours are also long - you start at 6am and work until 4.30pm.
“People often aren’t aware of how much work you put is involved, they think that it’s just a bit of cheese and bread – there’s so much more.
“The standards in industry now are so high, anybody who doesn’t put everything will just fail.”
In order to make a profit you must research the business really thoroughly.
Knowing the prices and costs of everything that your business will have to pay is vital to your success.
Get accurate costs of all ingredients, packaging and overheads such as utilities, staff costs and other bills.
Plus, don’t forget the one person who never takes no for an answer – the taxman. He will always want his slice and won’t accept sandwiches.
Work out how much all your products are going to cost to make and how much you are going to sell them for.
Compare your prices to other businesses and undertake some first-hand research to see if people are prepared to pay the types of prices you plan on selling your goods for.
It is vital that you get feedback from the right people. If you are going to be selling to commuters then ask people near a railway station; if you are targeting students, check out your local university.
Once you have got your pricing sorted out, work out how many sandwiches you are going to have to sell to cover all your costs and make a profit on top.
If the figure is in the hundreds then you are probably not far off. But if you are going to be selling tens of thousands of sandwiches, you might have to think again.
Look for opportunities to take more business. Consider doing catering events, parties and deliveries. Go and meet the other businesses in your area; many of them could be a source of extra trade in the future.
Getting to know people is all-important, and building a rapport with your customers is essential - both for repeat business and for extra business.