The Secrets to Ghost Kitchen Success
Ghost, dark, cloud, virtual… there are several different names for the secondary, online-only kitchens that can be set up within your existing restaurant. No matter what you call them, these entrepreneurial ventures represent excellent opportunities to turn a profit using only your existing staff and space. If you’ve read our recent blog post on the subject, you know exactly how much earning potential a virtual brand represents. Today, we’ll tell you the five things you need to know before starting your ghost kitchen.
1. You’ve Got to Find Your Niche
Strategy is key for any ghost kitchen operation. Before anything else, be sure that your new brand will occupy a unique niche in the market. If you start up your town’s ninth Italian restaurant, you’ll be competing with an array of existing businesses – many of whom already have their own loyal customers. Instead, do something different.
Even specializing in a singular menu item can capture searches (for example, your Mexican restaurant can moonlight as a delivery-only burrito business).
Here are some strategic questions to consider before starting your ghost kitchen:
- Who is your audience? If you’re in a college town, spin up a brand that caters to students. If you’re in the middle of a business park, design a menu that’s convenient and more elevated.
- Are there any specialty diets you can accommodate? Vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free folks, and keto evangelists are all on the hunt for new options that fit their dietary needs. Create a menu that’s tailored to those with these restrictions.
- What is lacking? Does your town need a burrito place that’s open late? An Indian restaurant that delivers through major apps? A sandwich shop with better ingredients than the top chains? Think about what you (and your customers) would like to see in the area.
2. You Should Design a Delivery-Friendly Menu
Once you’ve decided on your cuisine, you have to figure out which dishes you’re going to serve. While you’re putting together a list of menu items, it’s important to think about what will work the best for delivery.
Remember that delivery customers want delicious food that arrives quickly. They’ll be annoyed if their order takes a long time to show up, has leaked or spilled, is cold, or is incorrect. You can address many of these concerns by deciding on dishes that are quick to prepare and package for transport.
Other factors to consider:
- How long does it take to cook this menu item?
- How many ingredients are required?
- Does it require any specialty ingredients not used in other dishes?
- How complex is this dish?
- Can your kitchen make it consistently delicious every time?
3. Be Sure to Do the Math
Your ghost kitchen is much more affordable than a standard brick-and-mortar business. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider finances. Before starting your ghost kitchen, create a spreadsheet to determine your costs, including any fees incurred from delivery apps, advertising, or ingredients. Factor this information into your prices to ensure that you turn a profit.
4. Take the Time to Create an Attention-Grabbing Brand
After your food, the next thing to consider is your brand. Potential customers will vet your restaurant based on how trustworthy and legitimate it appears online. If you’re not a graphic design wizard, you may benefit from working with the professionals. Build out your delivery app profiles in full and create additional online presences, like a website or social media accounts. By sporting a beautiful, attention-grabbing brand, you’ll attract more hungry customers.
5. You’ll Need to Strategically Schedule Staff
Scheduling is something that many delivery-only restauranteurs fail to consider. You may assume that your business’s existing staff can handle more orders, or that you can cook up deliveries during slow times. To those owners, we say: beware the delivery rush!
Uber Eats tells its drivers that peak hours include lunch and dinner – not surprising. However, the windows they give for these meals are 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm. DoorDash tells drivers to brace for the dinner rush as early as 4:30. This is probably a much wider spread than you see in your dining room!
While your sit-down diners may be meeting at an agreed-upon time for a business lunch or first date, those ordering on apps aren’t in the same boat. Remember that food delivery is often a matter of convenience. Your customers probably include people who can’t get away from work, are studying late into the night, or don’t have time to prep dinner. Schedule your staff to accommodate orders at these unconventional hours.
Your Partners in Culinary Conquest
The On Demand Company helps you to launch successful ghost kitchens. Our experts can use cutting-edge analytics and industry trends to identify the best path forward for your restaurant. We’ll take care of everything: research, menu creation, financial analysis, graphic design, management, and ongoing optimization.
Interested? Let’s chat.