Industry sector:

Sandwich bar: Customer profile

The range of sandwiches, fillings and other products you offer, the location of your sandwich bar, and whether you decide to target the upper or lower end of the market will determine who your customers are likely to be. Your market research should help you to identify any gaps in the local market and the type of customer you should target. You may have several different types of customer, including:

  • working people buying their lunch - particularly if you're situated near to a business area with many offices or an industrial estate. You may build up a core of regular customers but to retain them don't forget that office workers expect to be able to order in advance by phone, text or online and that they will find free wi-fi on your premises
  • shoppers - if you're located in or near to a busy shopping area you're likely to be busiest on weekends and you may rarely see the same customer more than once
  • students if you're near to a university or college
  • holidaymakers if you're located in a tourist area
  • business people who require sandwich platters for business lunches and members of the public wanting platters for functions
  • other retailers if you wholesale ready-made sandwiches

Estimating the average spend

When estimating your income, you need to make an estimate of how many sandwiches and other food and drink products each customer might typically buy - and how much they're likely to spend on each visit. As part of your market research you could check out what customers normally buy when they visit other sandwich bars in your area. Does it vary depending on the time of day, day of the week or time of year? Use this aspect of your market research, and your proposed pricing policy, to estimate what the average spend per customer is likely to be. Recent research showed that in London the average price of a sandwich was about £3.50 while elsewhere the average was a little under £3.00. On average, people spend a little over £6 on their weekday lunch. The typical average lunch spend varies around the country, with Londoners spending £6.60 and people in Manchester (the cheapest) spending £5.50. At weekends people will spend more, with the average spend being around £7.00.

Special offers and discounts

To attract customers to your sandwich bar, and to encourage them to visit more often and buy more when they're there, you'll probably offer some special deals from time to time. You could, for example:

  • offer a 'meal deal' where sandwiches, crisps and a drink are cheaper when purchased together
  • operate a loyalty card scheme whereby customers receive a stamp every time they buy a sandwich - or equivalent product - and receive a free sandwich and drink when they have collected a certain number of stamps - say eight or ten
  • offer introductory discounts on new products
  • give discounts to students and pensioners

If you have any trade customers you'll probably offer them a discount as a matter of course. How much discount you decide to offer will depend on your pricing policy and on the level of local competition. If you offer sandwiches wholesale to other retailers it's usual to offer them a limited or full sale or return option.

It's important that you keep a close eye on any special deals you offer to make sure they're working for you. Don't forget that special offers and discounts can affect the average spend per customer.

Make sure that any staff you have are clear about what special offers are available at any given time. They'll need to know who's eligible for a discount and how they can get. Think about how much discount - if any - you'll allow to your staff and what if anything they can eat on the premises free of charge.