Mediterranean Sandwich Factory Business Plan Part 1

This section will go in the appendix as examples of how to do a new business plan. What I am using here is the early setup for a plan I started to promote my new brand, MSF. The business plan is NOT YET completed, but after it is completed by the end of 2015, it will end up towards the end of the book, in the appendix. It’s meant to be both an example and an inspiration to those that want to start their very own brand of new restaurant(s), and do it in a whole new way that’s never been done before.

 

“Just like a script, you need to keep a business plan to yourself. ” Preity Zinta

There are many books out there you can get to specifically help you write out a well-organized business plan.

What I used here, and what I highly recommend to anyone are the following three books 

1) Business Plans Kit For Dummies by Steven D. Peterson, Peter E. Jaret (2013)

This book is very easy to read and understand. It gives you great guidelines and writing principles to follow to plan a write business plan that will serve you well for years to come.

2)  Start Your Own Business, Fifth Edition: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media (Oct 2010).    This volume is a bit more in-depth reading. It talks about the subject matter in more detail and the stuff you’ll need to know and how to do your homework. 

3) Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur (Jul 13, 2010) Business Plan

This book was written from several authors and experts done in collaboration from all over the world. It’s a great resource for brainstorming ideas and to open your mind up and help generate the open minded thinking you’ll need to do in the early stages of development. It’s very fun and creative.

This business plan is not yet done but is a great example of how to get started on an idea. This is for my own pet project, Mediterranean Sandwich Factory, a specialty sandwich shop that as inspired on my trip to Europe. When I was in Italy many years ago (in 2005 to be exact), I witnessed so many people waiting in lines at amazing sandwich shops all across the country. There were eager to eat, get their hand-made cappuccino and a delicious, hand-made sandwich.

They also had a machine for making fresh orange juice. I was truly inspired. I thought, well, if these Italians can do it, we can do it even better. I had a dream of opening shops that make fresh bread and our kinds of sandwiches, the freshest pizzas and salads, and a clean and amazingly fresh eating experience. I have yet to open the first store, so this plan should go in the Appendix section of the book to help give people amazing ideas of what could be. It does not have anything to do with Zankou, but it is a future concept I am very, very excited about and something I have been working on and researching for many years. This is what it takes to open a restaurant. Literally years and years of research, contemplation, and experimentation before you open the doors. 

That being said, here are a few questions and answers and a nice way I got the business plan for MSF started. Remember, this is a document that is alive and growing, and this is only the first part of it. It is in no way complete or ready to go. I would never get funding with this Business Plan because it is neither full nor ready. That being said, I hope it gives you great ideas and keeps me motivated for a bright future as well. Here goes:

  • What problem do I solve for my customers?

Mediterranean Sandwich Factory (herein referred to as MSF) solves one problem. There is no one in the marketplace today that serves Armenian and Italian style Panini sandwiches under the same roof. Also this new concept where European style, organic coffees and teas will be combines with sandwiches and salads to provide an amazing dining experience for customers at fast-casual prices.

That is to say, more specifically, we will offer world class, pressed Panini sandwiches from the entire Mediterranean pallet, something that has never even been attempted before.

We will offer Armenian –style sandwiches such as cured pork (we call it Basterma), Armenian sausage sandwich (we call it Soujoukh), as well as Italian sandwiches the whole world loves including but not limited to martadella sandwich, pastrami on rye bread, a new take on the classic BLT, an amazing Greek sandwich and salad, Armenian style sesame bread (we call it manayish), and hand made pizzas at night.

2 of the names of the sandwiches we have already experimented with and made under various commercial environments and have already trademarked for use with this new brand, exclusively. Those two are the Traditional Armenian (the basterma sandwich) and the Mediterranean Melt.

The menu will vary slightly throughout the day offering breakfast sandwiches and fresh orange juice in the morning and fresh coffee made through a gourmet 3rd party vendor we will hire. We will switch to hand-made pizzas by the slice at night. We presume this will sit very well with fast-casual consumers who love to have pizza by the slice after parties, clubs, and events in places such as Hollywood and San Diego.

Having a varying menu adds spice to the brand and variety to the consumer.

We will also bring in local produce, always fresh and crispy that we will use to make the sandwiches and salads with. We will outsource the bread baking to the top companies that are making bread in the Los Angeles area. We will meet with all of them and work with those companies that are best at what they do, specifically. For example La Brea Bakery is known for their crisps. They make the best dried/cheese bread in the world. For lavash wraps we will use a Glendale-based company we have worked with before.

We will outsource the bakery section with fresh made cakes, cupcakes, and Armenian-style deserts made fresh every day.

  • Who is my typical (target) customer?

My customers will be people that love Zankou Chicken and also love Urth Café. IT will be something of a hybrid between the fast-casual food that Zankou offers and the European –style café that Urth Café offers. Working in the industry for over 25 years, I think I have a fairly clear concept of who we are going after here. We will be going after people that want that amazing, European café style experience without paying the excessive Beverly-Hills style prices of some of the more expensive cafes. The average ticket price should hover around $17-25 per person if they drink coffee and have one desert to share. I do not plan on offering teas although this may change later after we get the chefs and full kitchen crew.

I plan to offer glasses and cups and standard quality silver wear. I also plan on offering plastic and high quality goods for takeout.

  • How will I communicate with my target customer?

Well, I plan on hopefully finding the perfect location.

This would guarantee a lot of foot traffic, exposure, and a lot of potential customers seeing the signs and becoming customers. I also plan to use the Zankou Chicken brand name in the beginning to garner a huge response from our crowd of thousands of customers.

Since I’ve been the Director of Marketing for Zankou Chicken for many years, I have developed casual and professional relationships with a lot of people that can be very beneficial to the brand, particularly in the first 2-3 months when word-of mouth and hype is very important for the success of this brand.

I will also post on the Zankou Chicken Facebook page, Twitter, and other social media. We have a growing email list and I will send out an email blast.

In addition to all of this I will send out a press release, place ads in the local papers, possibly place an ad in Los Angeles Magazine (repeatedly), and hire a couple of models to market this new brand, in person, in the close vicinity of the restaurant itself.

  • What products or services will I provide? What products or services do some customers EXPECT for me to provide that I don’t plan to provide.

This is in interesting question because ideally as a business manager and entrepreneur of course I would love to provide everything people ask for, however we all know it is impossible to please everyone, all of the time.

Let’s get a few things out of the way and talk a little bit about what I DO NOT expect MSF to do or be.

I do NOT expect MSF to be

  1. the cheapest sandwiches in LA (we are not going after the value-first consumer)
  2. the fastest fast food in the world (speed of delivery is not what we are going after)
  3. all things to all people. This is not for families looking for great deals or kid’s meals. It’s for affluent, European food loving upscale crowd that doesn’t mind waiting for high quality, hand made food.

I also plan to NOT provide free delivery, although I do plan on providing delivery with third party companies such as Grub Hub and LA Bites to take advantage of their built in customer base.

I plan on adding a nominal fee for delivery as a charge to help cover the cost these businesses charge us (typically from 10%-25% of the sale is what they charge).

I DO plan MSF to be

  1. a fantastic hybrid where people can have that European style café experience at more reasonable price.
  2. The best, highest quality hand –made sandwiches in LA. They will be in French bread and crispy, with a nice, thin olive oil layer to make them super crispy and also Zankou’s trademark garlic sauce. We will make this or purchase it from Zankou.

Speaking of Zankou, we will serve beef shawerma and chicken shawerma but we will NOT be using Zankou’s trademark term for chicken shawerma, Tarna, which will stay exclusive to Zankou Chicken only.

We will also NOT be using Zankou Chicken in any of the menus, on the web site, or anywhere else other than to say the owner of this brand is also co-owner of Zankou Chicken. We will always speak positively of Zankou Chicken.

We will not be serving whole chickens or whole chicken, chicken plates, kabobs or rice. We do plan to have the shawermas and falafel, tabouleh and hummus, as these are universally recognized dishes loved the whole world over. Our version will be a little different, and will be served in high quality dishes and silverware with greater emphases on presentation and marketing.

  • Where will the business be located?

I have 3 locations in mind , and depending on the exact spot I find and future negotiations with the landlord it will be in one of the 3 following locations:

  1. a) Old town Pasadena   b) Ventura Boulevard in the valley or   c) Venice Beach walkway alongside the Pacific Ocean

Of course the goal is, God willing, if the first location is successful the other two locations would follow.

  • Where will I buy the products I need?

We are in negotiations with the local chicken and beef vendors in LA. We are also speaking to produce vendors, the bread manufacturers and the dry goods distributors.

At Zankou Chicken we work with local businesses for beef and chicken, LA poultry for Chicken, and IFS for dry goods. Of course I will speak with all of the Zankou Chicken distributors first before I look elsewhere.

  • What hours will I operate?

From 10 am to 10 pm. Possibly to 11 pm if it’s busier at nights.

  • Who will work for me and how will they be paid?

I plan to hire an amazing chef from Cordon Bleu. I also plan to hire a few of our resident chefs from Zankou Chicken since they already know the kitchen and how to make amazing food and sandwhiches.

It will be a hybrid of old and new employees.

I will hire friendly, smiling, young staff to run the POS system and greet the customers. I will also hire the best people to do our accounting and I already have a very reasonable legal team I currently work with to help with all legal matters, one step at a time. They are the ones that helped me get my Trademark. The name of the firm is Ourfalian and Ourfalian based in Glendale, California.

  • Who will handle critical tasks like selling, ordering, bookkeeping, marketing and shipping?

Well, we don’t need anyone for shipping since like I said we will outsource delivery to the top 3-4 companies that deliver to people all over LA. These are Grub Hub, LA Bite, and there are a couple more on the west side.

I will do the marketing and social media at nights myself, at least initially. I will then hire a firm to do the social media as well as handle customer service. I might possibly hire them from day#1 just to make sure everything runs smooth.

Grub Hub would help a lot as they have an amazing online ordering app as well as an easy to use web site where we can get orders from.

I will also create an amazing web site to market the company from and where I can place links for people to order from Grub Hub and LA Bite.

I will create the web site right away as soon as our research and development is finished. When we know what the menu will be, we will create the menu board first and then the web site.

We have already purchased the domain name

www.meditereaneansandwichfactory.com

I will also purchase the abbreviated form of this

www.msfcafe.com

www.msfcafe.org

www.mfsrestaurant.com

As soon as the business and web sites are open for business.

  • How will I advertise and promote my business?

I have been advertising and marketing Zankou Chicken for years.

In addition to this I have a Certificate in Marketing from UCLA. My passion is advertising and marketing in the right way, on a tight budget, and getting amazing results.

In once sense a major reason I am creating this brand in the first place is I felt restricted sometimes within the Zankou Chicken brand. Since it has many shareholders and the brand itself is over 50 years old, we’ve always been limited in what we could do.

We never featured anything racy or somewhat controversial to market the Zankou brand, because, in a very real sense we never had to.

This brand is different because it is so new and fresh, and just like a new and fresh business I can market it and advertise it any way I want. That is not to say I will do foolish or racy things, however I do plan to spend much more in marketing and advertising IN RELATION TO TOTAL INCOME than Zankou ever did.

More specifically, I plan to spend at least 5-10% of gross income (profits) on marketing and advertising every month so that my brand and café can continuously grow. I always felt the need to do this and had a difficult time convincing others whereas now I do not have to convince myself because I know if it is done right it will benefit the company and we can grow much faster. Just like fuel is to a car, marketing is to a business in the sense that it helps it go and in some cases go much faster.

I will promote the business through social media, possibly doing some nice YouTube videos, direct marketing through the mail (sending people the menus), and hiring people to stand on the street and market the product through taste testing since I plan on opening in a very high foot traffic area.

I do NOT plan to do TV advertising (cheesy), coupons (they devalue the product), Groupon (it cheapens the brand), and radio commercials (too expensive).

Instead of this I plan on doing some nicely made magazine and newspaper ads, direct mail value offers (not cheap coupons), and ways to market through word of mouth.

  • What are the competition’s strengths and weaknesses?

Well for this question I want to use two examples. One is Urth Café on Melrose and the other will be your typical New York Pizza-by the slice hole in the wall joint.

I plan to compete with both these types of businesses.

In the case of Urth Café they market to the organic coffee, health food crowd. I also plan to target the health food and organic crowd as well as the “VEGAN” crowd which, in my humble opinion, Urth Café largely ignores.

Urth also does not target the Armenian / Persian/Arabic crowd. This new brand will do that as well as the Italian and Euro-café loving crowd. We will have that Arabic and Armenian style wraps and sandwiches the LA fast-casual crowd has no grown to love over the last few decades.

We will also go after that old-school Hollywood, artists, actors, and trend setting crowd. The place will have that kind of urban, new feel that only a brand new brand can provide. And since this brand is a hybrid of European and Mediterranean, it will keep thousands of customers happy.

We will have at least 3-4 Vegan sandwiches

We will also have vegetarian slices of pizza. The problem with NYC pizza places is they are all the same. People get the pizza because they are open late and usually in a convenient spot. I will find an amazing Pizza chef and we will make all the ingredients from scratch. People will love it and will talk about the amazing flavor everywhere. They will get it because it’s the best damn pizza in LA not only because it’s there and it’s convenient.

My competition’s strengths are usually their brand names, but we will quickly become a famous and much loved brand name in LA because we are offering something no one else is.

12) How are we different from the competition?

From the moment someone steps into MSF they will know this is a different café than anything they have ever seen.

The décor will be modern, clean, and amazing because I will design it myself, from scratch, from the bottom up. No detail will be left unattended. The furniture will be modern and elegant while at the same time durable. The wall itself will be a work of art as I will have photography behind the entire wall.

I created large posters for Zankou on the walls. IN this case I will have a few of the best-selling sandwiches with posters on the walls in frames and the frames themselves will be backlit, glowing a nice ambient light for all to see.

The outside glass will also be glowing in a nice ambient light with beautiful pictures of people’s faces (faces are psychologically known to attract people) as well as delicious shots of the food.

The music that will be playing will be Italian and Spanish guitar. It will also be Greek and a few nice Armenian and Arabic songs but songs that are mellow enough to be appreciated by an international crowd.

I will install the highest quality Bose speakers and will only play from CD’s for maximum sound quality. I feel as though iPods and internet radio just do not provide that maximum acoustic I am going for in this unique brand I am creating.

People will see oranges being squeezed fresh from the European-made Zumex machines. They will smell the fresh coffee. They will see the amazing deserts and cupcakes lit behind the glass enclosure as they are waiting in line.

They will order and get a number; or if they choose to eat there in our fine dining area they will be treated to personal service as we will bring the food to them.

In one sentence this is how we are different from our competition:

MSF : the best hand-made sandwiches and salads on earth (trademark).

I will create a catering menu specifically tailored for parties and corporate events which we can easily outsource the delivery to. This catering menu will have specifically tailored pricing strategies made for the delivery crowd. In other words this catering menu will be built from the ground up exclusively for delivery and takeout. The prices there will be all inclusive and have a 20-25% markup built in.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to make the freshest, healthiest, and best tasting hand-made sandwiches, pizzas and salads in the world (used to be just in Los Angeles). 

Our Goals

Our goal is to create an amazing, European style café experience for our customers. The inspiration comes from the cafes of Italy and the Mediterranean, where fresh sandwiches, coffee, and fresh made orange juice is enjoyed by the local community.

We will take pride in carefully hand-crafting each and every sandwich, which will be a unique experience for every customer, taking care to catering it specifically to their wants and needs.

Our goal is not to be the fastest or cheapest sandwich place. We will take our time making the food we care so passionately about. It won’t be cheap because using the lowest common denominator and outsourced ingredients is what our competition does best. We aim for a much higher standard than our competition.

Core Values

We will create a positive workplace atmosphere where we will encourage both customer and employee feedback. Specifically we will meet periodically with our employees and actually encourage them to speak their mind and garner feedback from them about what is and is not working. Constructive criticism will not only be accepted but encouraged. This is vital for the health and wealth of the company as well as the well-being of the team. The self confidence and self-esteem of the team will grow when people realize their thoughts and ideas are always being taken seriously.

We will listen to employees and customers because that is the number #1 rule of marketing, to actually listen to what the people that care about your brand are saying. We will reward feedback that increases gross sales and decreases cost. We will not punish innovation or ideas given from people, no matter how crazy they may sound.

Growth Philosophy

We will promote employees based on performance evaluations and offer growth within the company. We will all work hard as a team, as a cohesive unit in everything we do. If we make mistakes we will all pay for it. If we win victories we will celebrate together. This will encourage teamwork, growth, and unity. Our plan involves growing and adding future units but also maintaining that local Los Angeles flavor and not growing too fast as that may lead to a dilution of quality in both staff and food.

Our Products

Food is both art and a science. It is art in the sense that there is always something new a chef can make in the kitchen: a new salad, a fresh new concept for a sauce, a new variety of ingredients for an entirely different kind of sandwich. Experimentation is key to a successful kitchen because that is where we may find the next huge hit.

It is also a science because the food has to always be fresh, maintaining the right cooking temperatures for different cuts of meats. The salads and vegetables must be fresh and the right consistency. It is the accurate and precise melding of art and science where we will find our success.

We will offer the best hand-made Mediterranean sandwiches and salads in the world. We will also have fresh orange juice in the morning, possibly a few breakfast sandwiches with eggs and Armenian style sausage (called soujoukh), Manayish (which is an Armenian bread with sekhter), and many kinds of great salads including Fattoush, a lemon and olive oil salad with mixed greens and hearts of palm, Tabouleh that is mixed fresh for every order, Beef, Lamb, Chicken, and Turkey shawerma, fresh and hand-made Lavash wraps, organic coffee and fresh made deserts we will bring in locally every morning.

Just as each sandwich and salad will carefully be created from scratch per order, so also the sauces for the sandwiches and the dressings for the salads will be made fresh every morning before the lunch time crush.

In the evenings we will transition to selling more pizza by the slice format. This will be great for the after-club and after party market.

The bread will be outsourced from the finest bread manufacturers in Los Angeles and made fresh every morning. Some cuts of the breads (as in the lavash) will be made exclusively for us.

Our Customers

I feel it is just as important to state who we are not going after as who we are going after. We are not going after the cheapest customers nor the crowd that want the food fastest. We are going after the health conscious consumer that wants a customized experience and the highest quality, European –style food. Our aim will be nothing short of every single customers’ complete and total satisfaction. We will aim to please them in every way possible, from the quality of the food to customer service and décor. This organization will be built with one thing in mind: the total and complete satisfaction of the fast-casual food consumer.

Our customers will not mind paying a little more for the high quality, delicious experience they will receive at our establishment. That is why the price point will be a bit higher than Subway or Quiznos. We are not going after their customers. We are creating an entirely new category in the fast-casual food space.

Delivery

We will create a separate, delivery-only catering menu. This menu will be used by companies such as Grub-Hub and LA Bite to deliver our food to offices and others who do not wish to drive. Contained within that menu will be a variety of offers with a price that matches the 20-25% surcharge these companies charge against our orders for the premium ordering and delivery services they provide.

Marketing

We will allocate certain funds to be used per month specifically for marketing and advertising. This will pay for magazine and newspaper ads, coupon campaigns, social media posts, and possibly even making and uploading high quality videos on YouTube at an inexpensive price. We may also use some guerilla marketing tactics such as flier distribution, hiring attractive sample passers at busy areas where pedestrians walk, and other creative endeavors.

Our marketing will be cutting edge and precise, using high quality graphics online on our web site and on our paper menus. The paper menus will be available at the store and a one-page version will be created so that it can be passed out.

Coke vs Pepsi

At Zankou Chicken, the brand I co-own with my family, we have been using Pepsi exclusively in the United States for over 30 years now. And not one year goes by without a few requests from customers for us to have Coke instead.

I intend on using Coke for this new brand. I have 3 reasons for doing so:

  • Currently Coke sells about half of all the soft drinks in the world. Pepsi sells about a quarter of all the soft drinks in the world. So Coke is beating Pepsi in raw sales by a wide margin. Regardless of personal tastes, numbers don’t lie.
  • Coke has an amazing new machine they have installed in certain high class movie theatres and a few franchisees. It dispenses over a dozen flavors from the same nozzle, all with the push of a button. This kind of slick marketing would work very well with my new brand.
  • Pepsi does not have the kind of cutting edge bottles Coke has. I intend on selling more bottles than Zankou does because I intend on installing a nice display case with many refrigerated drinks that are FACING the customer, something we currently do not do at Zankou.

7 Guiding Principles of Mediterranean Sandwich Factory

  • Provide a positive and exciting work environment. Innovation will be rewarded and honest mistakes will not be punished. True innovation and creativity is not possible without trial and error, however deliberate mistakes will be accounted for.
  • We will use the freshest and best ingredients on earth. We will continuously seek out better ingredients to keep our customers thrilled and always wanting more. They should be excited and smile every time they visit us.
  • Each store will have a great team as its foundation. This team will compromise of individuals with totally different and unique sets of strengths and weaknesses that effectively balance each other out, maintaining a healthy PH balance for the company. We will build our team up morally, financially, and spiritually. We will not tear each other down.
  • We will always put the customer first. If we made a mistake we will make it right and not lay blame on the customer.
  • We will be involved in local school fundraisers and other not for profit activities that help raise awareness about our brand while at the same time helping raise funds for the local community organizations that wish to partner with us.
  • We will strive to ethically and morally reduce costs while at the same time look at profit and loss statements routinely to make sure the organization remains profitable.
  • We will continuously engage in extra ordinary, unique marketing strategies. We will engage in guerilla marketing tactics and pool great ideas from our associates regarding our marketing practices. We will have fun marketing and assertively be a counter to Corporate America . Our ads should excite our team just as much as they should result in positive ROI.

Remember, writing the business plan is just like a map. It exists to help you, but it will never do all of the work for you. Think of it as guidelines and working principles that are subject to change. This is not like the 10 commandments, written in stone. It’s more a flexible, altering strategy guide before a long hike or adventure. Things will happen that will force you to change some things, and that’s OK. A solid business plan is always better than just relying on luck or the “we’ll make it up as we go” attitude many people have toward starting a new business. 

I never had a business plan. I did, actually – I’m lying. My business plan was to get lucky, and I did; that was great. And then my second business plan was to get lucky again, and there, I faltered.  Val Kilmer

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