1. Identify all businesses in the geographical area you intend to serve which sell the same types of products, or offer the same types of goods or services, which you plan to offer. Write down their company names, and describe what they do which competes with what you intend to do or sell.
2. Do your best to determine how many dollars’ worth of business they do annually and how many employees they have, etc. (e.g. count the cars in the parking lot at 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM).
3. Write down the competitors’ locations, street addresses, and estimate the size, in square feet, of their facility(s). Describe their facility and its features in writing for future reference. Plot their locations on a map.
4. Drive past their locations to observe the physical location closely. Write out a complete description of what you see. Include your impressions and comments on the quality and appearance of the operation and its convenience to public customer access, and any other opinion or comment you may have about the overall operation. Note every detail you publically observe during normal business hours.
5. If you are planning to open a restaurant of any kind, you will want to identify all restaurants within a 1 mile radius of your planned location which you believe offer any true level of competition to your business. You may wish to visit competing restaurants, try their food, and make notes of your impressions after you leave.
6. It will be very helpful for you to (legally) determine the pricing levels of the products or services competitors offer which could compete with you. If you are observing a retail or wholesale “point of sale” operation, you may consider going inside to buy an inexpensive item for cash, while you publically observe the operation. Large retail operations regularly employ “comparison shoppers” who purchase items from their competitors. You may wish to budget for such expenses.
7. Research every competitor by using the internet. Visit their web sites to determine what is shown there. Any information which is open to the general public for observation on the internet is available for you to access and use.
Getting to know your competitors can help you develop a more effective plan for your business!