We looked at the who. We looked at the why. Now let’s talk about the where.
As a business owner, you NEED to know your area. Be familiar with how its laid out, what’s going on, what the strengths and weaknesses are of your market. The better you know it, the better your chance for success.
Doing a little market research
Larger companies will spend huge amounts of money studying a market to see if it can be successful. They’ll do focus groups and analysis and all of this to determine things like what kind of money can they expect to make, what kind of prices they pay? I knew a guy who realized how much money the big tobacco companies spent on market studies, and so whenever they raised cigarette prices he knew the market could bear a price increase from his business as well. Knowing the landscape of where you are will help you tremendously. Sometimes it will help you succeed, sometimes it will help you know when it's not a good time to be in the market.
If you ever pay attention to forums in social media, someone will ask ‘how much can you make with Grubhub” or with whoever. Almost always, someone’s going to answer, it depends on your market. Some cities pay a LOT higher than others, although cost of living is also higher. So you need to know what’s happening where you are.
Here are seven things that you want to pay attention to in your market.
- The first one is the big one, almost big enough to be an episode of its own.– know how your community is laid out. Get to know it as well as you can. How are the streets? What are the major neighborhoods and suburbs? What are the best ways to get from one area to another? How are your streets numbered and named? What is the zero line – where street numbers go up from there both ways going east/west or north/south? I learned that it helped to know the street numbers of the major streets in my area – Wadsworth is about the 7600 block west, Quebec is about the 7600 block east… things like that. Because when you know these things, it’s kind of creating a map in your head. How are the odd and even addresses determined? One of the best things I ever learned was from a colleague shortly after I moved to Denver – he taught me that you’ll always know the odd number streets are on the north and the west. How will you know? Boulder is north and west of us, and Boulder is kind of odd…. It was corny but it worked! While we have GPS, the better we already know the layout in our own heads, that often gets us a head start in planning where we are going. With delivery offers showing you a map of the pickup and dropoff, you want to be able to glance at that map and know where you’re going and how far that will go. Some of that just comes with experience, but until then, study the area, get to know it well.
- Second: where are the restaurants? More important: where are the restaurants where most of your deliveries will come from? Where are they most tightly clustered? Which ones are busy? Which restaurants are good ones and which ones are slow? Again, most of that comes from experience but pay attention. Know the restaurants in your market and know the best places you can be to guarantee getting good orders.
- Who are the players in your market? Most major communities are going to have Grubhub, Postmates, Doordash and Uber Eats. And then there are the others like Bite Squad, Deliv, Caviar. Look them up, and even if you’re not ready to sign up for them, see if they’re taking couriers. That can tell you if the market is saturated for them, if they have too many people doing delivery right now. Are they offering big signup bonuses? Might be a good time to jump on for a short time but be ready for it to slow down. Who is busy? Get on forums, chat it up with other drivers you meet while waiting for food. Get to know which apps are hopping and which ones are slow.
- What is the traffic like in your market? There are times where it’s horrible. When is it the worst? And when it’s at its worst, just HOW worst is it? Are there times when most of the traffic flow goes one way but it’s not bad going against traffic? Does bad traffic make it impossible to get across the busier roads? What are the areas to avoid at what times? I know in my market, I know good alternate routes where I can get around the traffic – and then there was the year I lived in the DC area and… there is no such thing as alternate routes. They’re ALL horrible, at ALL times!
- What is parking like? This is obviously going to vary by what part of town you are in. Often in the suburbs, parking isn’t an issue at all. There are large parking lots, streets are wide open. But then you get into more densely populated areas, or commercial areas where parking is almost impossible. Are there alternative ways to park? In some areas you can use loading zones if you’re only there a few minutes and others will tow you in a heartbeat. Where are the places where you know you can find a place to park immediately, you know you have to walk a block or two but it’s still faster to do that than drive around looking for parking? Again, I know this varies by market – I’ve learned my way around the parking in Downtown Denver pretty well, but some larger cities… there just is no way around it. I can’t imagine trying to do delivery in downtown Chicago for example.
- What’s going on in your market that you need to be aware of? Is there major construction to avoid? Are there certain events that you know will create problems? Major sporting events can really screw you up. Growing up in Lincoln Nebraska, we had no concept of traffic except for massive traffic jams 6 or 7 Saturday mornings a year. Are there other events? I’ve been trapped by the St. Patricks parade and the 420 festival here in Denver – things where I should have paid better attention to the events.
- What is the makeup of the residential areas? You’ll find some places are harder to deliver to because of the parking. Some places, you have apartment complexes or condo towers – do they have places to park temporarily? Some areas they’re more spread out – it’s easier to get the food to the customer but the trade off is often a longer drive.
There are probably some other factors that people run into. The main thing is, get to know what your community is like. Know its layout, study it well. Know what’s happening with the different delivery companies and keep an eye on the pulse of those companies so you can know your options if you need to adapt.
What are some factors about your market that stand out? I want to make this a conversation, so I’d love to hear from you. We have a blog post that is a semi transcript (I’m never word for word on this thing) at Deliver On Your Business.com, and you can comment there. You can always go to our contact page, and there you can email or you can leave a voice mail by clicking the microphone in the middle of the page. Let me know things that are unique about your market.
Tomorrow, we’re going to take some of what we talked about a bit further. We’ll start talking about your sources of revenue. Where’s the money coming from people? Even more important, how much do you need to make to make this worthwhile? Show me the money!!!