I was walking from the parking lot to my office in Liberty Village, something I’ve done every day for the past 12 years (damn I’m old). I spent the walk thinking about everything from who designed this part of the city, to who decided that skinny jeans were a good idea. As I tried to imagine myself in skinny jeans (a hard no), I thought about breakfast and quickly decided to turn back across the street to a restaurant on the corner. It was then that I was almost taken out by this dude driving a metallic green PT Cruiser (still don’t get it). Luckily for me, I wasn’t fully committed to the egg bread (not allowed to call it challah) breakfast sandwich; otherwise I would have gotten a face full of side view mirror. But what this incident did do was to get me thinking about indecision. More specifically, how indecision relates to small businesses and how they are desperate to not only survive but to effectively market their services and products.
This restaurant of the egg bread sandwich, a former Druxy’s with a horrible new name (Little House of Deli) offers devastatingly average food at a steep price. When they were under the Druxy’s banner, the food was still average but they had the equity of the Druxy’s name. Namely, they had the cache of being a Druxy’s, so you knew what you were getting. It wasn’t particularly inspired food, but it seemed to taste a lot better because it was a province-wide chain. You trusted the ingredients for the most part and you rationalized the price point. But what are they to do now, as they don’t seem to have a plan? They took some of the ideas from Druxy’s (menu, décor) but have not put any effort into creating a niche! Under their new name, will old customers be able to rationalize spending money on that same crusty service coupled with non-descript roast beef and truly inedible pickle shank? How will Little House attract new customers?
To survive, the restaurant will have to rely on one of two things: the motor memory of their past patrons (i.e. I go to this restaurant for food that happens to be on the corner), or word of mouth. Their current signage is basically non-existent, so new patrons will either not know it is there or be wary of some mom-and-pop restaurant that may or may not be there tomorrow. The inside looks the same minus the Druxy’s logos. It’s the same place, same staff, same suppliers; it just doesn’t have that name behind it. So what is their recourse?
They could just keep on plodding along and maintain the status quo, with the risk of going under, or they could make some major changes. Obviously, the latter is the better option. The first of these changes would have to be to increase their signage and start to market the Little House as a prime lunch destination as opposed to a fall back. Secondly, they need to develop some cache. Be known for something! Best coffee in Liberty Village? Best baked goods? Freshest bread? Cleanest bathroom? It doesn’t really matter as long as they are known for something! Lastly and most importantly, they need to capitalize on their bread and butter (pardon the pun) and optimize catered lunches for businesses. Own that. Market that idea. Don’t be another sandwich shop. Become the go-to for business lunches that are delivered to the doors of waiting millennials who are fed up with Uber Eats.
I may have been almost killed by indecision, but a stronger marketing focus and a decisive business plan might save the Little House of Deli…why does it remind me of Seinfeld?
Author: Elan Packer