here it is.........

Okay Gentlemen & Ladies,
Im going to put this out on the table I need pros and cons. For those who know me and those that dont last year we started a pizza, chicken & rib place which is growing slowly but surely has took alot of time and hard work. I had a customer come in awhile ago and tell me he was opening up across the street chicken ribs & fish(which is also in my menu.)
Today he comes in & hands me his menu & told me he got his building permit today and hell be open real soon and walked out. I opened up the menu and its almost identical to mine except hes not doing pizza , hes delivering using my same exact wording and everything.
Y would he be doing this and what should I expect or do?

oh yeah & he has added gyros to my menu…

holy cow! That stinks, what a jerk. Well, first I would like to know. Does he have the experience? I mean, if he is just one of those who think they can wing it, then whatever. Time will win out. You may lose some customers at first but they will know the real deal soon enough. Especially because he is obviously a jerk! Know what I would do? When he is opening do YOUR store up with balloons etc. all that a grand opening would do but just have a small sign that says congrats to my neighbours. I bet you will have people coming into your store wondering whats up and when they find out all the whoopla is that you are giving congrats for opening to your neighbor they will think your a really great guy! Lol! Not to mention that you will draw attention to your store by creating curiousity, but minimizing his attraction.
If he puts up 10 balloons, id put up 20 if he puts up 20 put one of those HUGE balloons on your roof.
Maybe that is just a little to mean?..NAH!

Time to go Dumpster Diving, maybe send someone over and drop a couple of pregnant mice or cockroaches inside his store.

Today he comes in & hands me his menu

Is it a professionally printed menu or just something he ran off on his inkjet? If it’s the finished product you have a great advantage in knowing now that he’s stuck with 10,000 of those and you can change more quickly.

That’s unlikely though. If he’s just now building then you have months to prepare. I would make it my goal to be in his pristine new building within 18 months. Obviously he’s putting a bunch of money into this if he’s starting with a building. Since nearly no one has that kind of cash he had to borrow it. Also most people are totally unrealistic when they make projections and business plans for a restaurant. Assuming he’s a normal person going into this you can expect him to fail on his own within 12-18 months but I would make it my life’s work to accelerate that process.

Start right now. Build loyalty with your existing customers. If you don’t already have a loyalty rewards program, start one. Offer aggressive bounceback coupons to get them programmed to come back to you. Build your customer database. Challenge all your employees to get accurate information on every customer in your POS with every order. Make sure you religiously run your 30, 60, 90 day postcards. Use the (evidently I can’t use the word for when a state runs a gambling operation where stupid people pay $1 for a chance to win millions) promotion that’s in another post right now to show appreciation for your top customers. It will get them talking about you and build the relationship. Start educating them about why you’re the best. Use box-toppers that detail the quality of ingredients you use and how they compare to others.

And when he does open, be nice. Be prepared for a drop in sales. Your customers will want to try the new place but if you’re truly better they’ll come back. But if you get into a war with him you’ll both loose. Have some cards preprinted to send out to your database with a strong offer. Time it for about 3-4 weeks after he opens. Forgive them for their fling with that other restaurant and let them know where their home is.

Finally, do your best to figure out what his marketing plan is. This is your best chance to undermine him. I will not admit in a public forum to stealing a competitor’s doorhangers. But I’m certain that it has happened. If he’s closed on Mondays run a special on that day. If he’s open until 9:00 PM stay open till 10:00. If he doesn’t deliver emphasize your delivery. Whatever your local advertising medium is, lock up the front or back cover now. That will keep him off of it.

Fight him to the death!

Well first off he used to be a McDonalds manager (supposedly) he would go to stores that werent doing good and boost up sales. Right now he owns a catering biz that does all the fairs in our area. Thats why he added Gyros & funnel Cakes.He told me he will make 2-3 thousand a day…
Second the menu he brang me was so unprofessional I dont understand y he would bring it to me. Half of it was handwritten , and it was a photo copy. Which makes me think hes crazy because I would want my best to go to my competition not a photo copy handwritten.I know he copied my menu because he used my wording and my minimum 4 delivery. Which shocked the hell out of me.
Third y would he want me to know what he is doing I would never give no one my menu until I was opening or I had a finished product…That puzzles me…

It’s all intimidation. What is funny about people like that is they are obsessed with themselves and their greatness. This is actually his WEAKNESS. So remember that always. When he comes in stand tall to him. I would be bold and direct. I would be assertive not aggressive. I would tell him I don’t have time for this.

What an idiot…he came and GAVE you the menu. So you have plenty of time to look it over and see what areas you can excel in.

You had mentioned a minimum on deliveries. Start now…change your minimum to 5 bucks. Most people order way more than that but you will still make money and more than likely if you look at your menu everything comes up over 5 bucks except maybe sodas or a dessert. It becomes a perception. Where we are the other pizza place demands you buy at least a medium pizza. The other has an 8 dollar minimum. Ours is 5. People call and ask what our minimum is we say 5 but pretty much anything they can order will be over 5 bucks. It is the perception.

Also you need to stay in the front of your store shaking hands. You need to make yourself know when in public. If you get an oil change chit chat with them and somehow let them know who you are. If you go to the local store engage in conversations with people. I know for me I feel loyalty to my regulars and I feel these little things helps them be loyal to me. Be part of your community. Ask your customers questions. Know who they are. Make sure they know you are thrilled they have come to your place.

I would be careful about bad mouthing the guy when he leaves. It brings negative energy to the clan. They need to feel you have the confidence you should to serve better food and have greater service than this guy will ever have. Part of his intimidation is the fact as humans we behave a certain way. I am sure when he left there was at least an hour of discussion at what an idiot he is. And he is but why waste your time discussing it with everyone. I wouldn’t engage in the mental war… until it is time.

I would say things to my crew like…sure we both will serve the same items but I have you and our service can’t be beaten.

The other thing you might want to be careful about is maybe there is a mole in your store…or one coming.

I would spend the next few months getting a game plan. The shock of all this will and needs to wear off. You already have a year under your belt and we all know how difficult that first year is. Imagine his first year and take comfort in knowing how much harder it will be for him.

We know the guy can’t be all that…he didn’t even have an original idea about his place so have faith in what you do and who you are. I would start saving even if it is just a tiny bit to cover the costs when he opens. He will take some business for a time but your customers will come back.
I would also talk to your distributor and make sure they aren’t dealing with him and if they are what confidentiality do you have.

Hang tough…

my take is he wants you to give up and but your place for a song

Hey UP23, don’t worry. I’m in my sixties and have had a couple rollerskating rinks, cafes, trash companies and computer repair service. COMPETITION is good! Don’t panic, and don’t spend any hard earned money to out promote him. You know why? People always go to a new place for a few reasons. First is to see what it is like. Second, they need the change. Trust me, if anything is wrong with the place, it will only get visited twice by the customer. If they like it, you’ve lost that particular customer half the time. If they come back to you full time, you’ll pick up on average 7 of their friends.

My experience is, "when a new place opens you really feel it for the first 30 days. Then by day 45, you’ll be up 50% of what you lost originally. Usually by the 60th day, you are back to full strength. Just one of my experiences, I had a very small roller skating rink. Floor size was 70’x138’, small. I was renting the building and was doing very well. Man from out of State opened up right across the street from me. 90’x180’ floor, disco lights, A/C, a first class operation. I close the first 15 days for painting and some maintenance. The next 25 days I only opened on the weekends, claimed I had health problems, withdrawls! Of corse I didn’t tell them the withdrawls were because of my bad poker playing in Las Vegas!! ATM withdrawls. Should have just hung a sign on the dorr, “Gone Fishing”. Month and a half, it was back to work time. Did some promotions, raised my entrance price by $0.50 and just out promoted the man. Eight months later, they offered me the building as he decided to move back home.

That is just one time. Mind you, I’ve had a few restaurants and the same thing has happened except it was a major chain restaurant. Within a year their building was up for lease.

Best advice I can give you is to, sit back and wait! After you noticed their crowds starting to thin out, now you spend your money wisely. It is a win, win situation. If you don’t hurt him, both of you’ll grow. :lol:

Like others have implied, and said, I suggest doing what it is you do. Keep doing it, and use this time to fine tune and improve every aspect that yuo can. Do some surveying about food quality and value, Maybe do a few more promotions or marketing events to increase your public perception and reputation. Just make normal, considered business decisions for the benefit of your business. I fully believe that as soon as you allow another store to dictate your business plan, they have defeated you.

That said, you can’t totally ignore the possibility of a direct competitor right next door. The suggestion to infiltrate the community is always a good one in my opinion. Getting out and involved in civic events, community group stuff, charity, festivals, sponsoring little league team . . . whatever it is that feels right for your store. Again, this is something that is good for your store no matter what, so have a plan that includes costs, goals and anticipated results. Do it for your business and not because someone is coming to town. Sure the competitor maybe be motivating timing and getting your attention, but you gotta do what makes sense for your business right now.

Next idea is to start chewing on a guerrilla marketing idea I got from a Big Dave article. Start thinking now how it could work for your shop, and you have a year to lay it out.

He offered the No Bad Pizza Guarantee. Basically, if any customer goes to the competitor to try their food and finds it not as good as yours, then bring at least half of it to you and you replace it free of charge. “No customer should be subjected to inferior pizza (chicken, ribs, etc.)”. Sure, you gotta track it so people aren’t playing games; you’re protecting your customers, not subsidizing their ongoing poor decision making. You have to be sure your food is superior, you have to have confidence, and you have to be willing to shell out some food few the 1st couple months. I see it as a way of acknowledging that people will try the new guy, and assuring your customers that they will be welcomed back to friendly arms. You step up to show that you are not flustered, and that you will still be there, serving spectacular food and prodiving outrageous good service. If you don’t have both of these . . . this promotion would not be so great.

Try finding out who owns the building and see if he truly is doing something there. If he bought the building it would be on file with city hall and you have a right to ask(freedom of information act). If he hasn’t even gotten that far so far he may just be a crackpot. You mention half the menu is half hand written, unprofessional and photocopied. This should tell you that he may be light years away from opening or may just be blowing smoke up your a… for whatever reason. If I were you I would be prepared as others have suggested but I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it yet, especially if there hasn’t been any deals on the building. Also, if this place has never been a restaurant and he is going to do fryer foods or grill it is going to cost him a bundle of money and time to get it up and running with hoods, fans, equipment, etc. Good luck!

Yeah… i remember you said you had alot of problems opening with the fire marshal, health Dept, etc…

Everything you experienced will start on him also, unless he can pay everyone off!

yeah this guy has alot of $, he owns 20 houses, big realestate guywhen he first came in here about 6 months ago he was telling me he was thinking about opening a store and I was telling him it was expensive. He was picking my brain then, he decided to pull out a check he had just gotten 4 180,000.00
I looked at him and said y would u show me that. He must have some sort of vendetta against me what I dont know.

UP…I still think he may be a crackpot. Why show you a check for $180k? Also…I get checks for that amount in the mail everyday…they aren’t real…just offers that look like checks with everyone trying to get me to refinance my house. I can’t see why someone with 20 real estate properties and that kind of money would want to open a restaurant. You know how hard it is and how much work it takes, not to mention taking on the challenge of opening up right across the street from you. Why not try calling his bluff. The next time he comes in wish him the best of luck, explain to him about the huge investment and hassles with the health department and other entities and give him a monetary figure and time frame that it will take to get up and running and then tell him if he is really serious you will sell your place to him for that amount and he won’t have to worry about all the hassle and he will also have the benefit of inheriting your customers. Make the offer as sincere as possible but at the same time very profitable for you. Even if you don’t want to sell your place this will at least put out the feelers to see if he really is serious. If he is, he may rethink all the time and work that will go into a new place and either a) accept your offer that will put profit in your pocket and give you an opportunity to stop your struggles. or b)he may just back off after realizing he can’t bs you anymore, because if he really wants a place, and all costs being equal he would take one that is up and running versus starting from the ground up.

i know people that went to florida who tried flip houses… it was great for a while, but the market turned for the worst and these people went from riches to rags. Lost everything… don’t be impressed by what he is showing off. Wait till he opens and sees what its like to run a place. Wait till his help doesn’t show up, his help steals from him, etc…

He’ll be scratching his head for months maybe years…

When he starts going into his pocket deeply every week to keep the place afloat, he’ll learn his lesson.

This does sound like a nut or a jerk or both.
IF he actually tries to open, it will be more than 6 months, he’ll spend too much, etc. He may come to try to get you to run it for him when it keeps losing money. The earlier post regarding offering to sell (legit or not) is a pretty good idea!

In CASE he actually gets something going (maybe hires an intelligent manager or something), you should prepare competitive advantages - for instance, NO PIZZA???

Why would someone buy chicken from him when chicken is HALF PRICE WITH A LARGE PIZZA? See what I mean?

Real estate deeds are recorded with the Clerk of Superior Court, rather than City Hall, and can often be accessed online these days . . . after enough time has passed to get it recorded and digitized.

If you wish to pursue this line of research, you can even check with the tax assessor’s office to find out who is taxpayer of record. Quicker and easier.

One of two scenerios apply here:

  1. Total and complete WHACK JOB…fuggetaboutit but keep the business the best it ever was;
  2. Admires what you are doing and thinks he can do better. Don’t let him.

I had a guy and his punk in my store every lunch to watch my rush. They had a vision of doing what I did but I feel after they saw my dedication, time and excellence, they decided against it. They could not get close to where I went and with all their money, their desire was not present.

Keep working, improving and take this worry off your plate. Just observe.

PD