Competition Comes Snooping! What Do U Do?

Business By Monkess Updated 26 Jan 2009 , 6:42pm by Deb_

Monkess Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 3:05pm
post #1 of 22

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Does this happen to you guys? Happens to us all the time, last night this guy walks into our restaurant with his teenage cousin..orders food and then proceeds to tell me when I am passing by he owns the new place in the adjoining plaza! O..K..A..Y... and then he bombards me with q's about the legality of 2 washrooms, the handicapped washroom,where do you print thesse lovely menus, where do you get the pictures on the walls, where this and where that!!! HELOOOOO!!

Whats worse is that this happens pretty frequently, we have a unique concept and interesting menu and people find us intriguing..that is good I guess but sometimes it drives me nuts, because we dont go nowhere to snoop around. Sure on the occasional day off, we eat out and I will look at things closely but I dont go to a place to investigate...you know what I mean? Sheeshh...the stress....just venting! icon_rolleyes.gif

21 replies
rvercher23 Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 3:16pm
post #2 of 22

That's crazy.....They probably saw what competition they had and were obviously jealous!!!! LOL, some people! My husband is a chef so where ever we go he finds something wrong with everything, always watching and looking at everything, I tell him he is just jealous that it is not his restaurant. Shake them off!

costumeczar Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 3:19pm
post #3 of 22

I know a guy whose hobby it is to turn in unlicensed people to the health department, because he gets a percentage of the fines that they have to pay if they get caught and he's the one who turned them in. I'd tell these people to ask the health department if they're asking you about any legal issues, and just tell them that you get everything else online and you can't remember where if they're asking you where you bought things.

bobwonderbuns Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 3:25pm
post #4 of 22

"Thank you sir for your kind comments. We love our little place too. The pictures? Oh you can get them here and there. The menues? Well you'd have to shop around for someone who can provide you with the style and designs you want. The bathrooms? That's why God made health departments." icon_lol.gif

sweetcravings Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 3:34pm
post #5 of 22

Ok I may be really be off here but..what's wrong with the questioning? I guess i see it as harmless. Flatterring. Curious.

On one hand I can see how this line of questioning during a busy service is definitely annoying since you are busy trying to provide good service but I don't know why it would be so offensive.
I often walk into places and think..cool concept..love this, love that..I've never seen these sorts of things before, wonder where they get their stuff from? I don't think i've ever right out asked the questions though. I don't think in the middle of a busy service is an ideal time to ask these things. Perhaps it would have been better received had he said something like this, "welcome neighbour, i have a new place down in the other plaza. I really love what you have done with this place. It's so interesting, i've never seen this sort of stuff before. Do you think we could go for a coffee sometime? I'm always looking for unique, good suppliers too." .... If even with that approach you would have been offended i would just kindly say, "thanks for the kind words. I really am busy these days with the place and find it hard enough to get any free time for myself. I found alot of my stuff..online etc.. If you look around you'd be surprized the stuff that is out there." This way it's not being rude and he will likely get the point you are not willing to share specifics.
I dunno I see this in a different light. Maybe i'm too innocent. I don't have a place of my own either so I don't have experience with this sort of thiing. To me it's kinda like CC. We have tonnes of new decorators here looking to learn, find good resources. Why not share your wealth of info? If you are providing good food, service you have nothing to fear. People go where they are treated well. JMHO..Hope i didn't upset you with my outlook on this.

classiccake Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 3:59pm
post #6 of 22

I think it is aggravating when someone does that to a business. I want to say, "Hey, I used my brain and my time and figured this out for myself!" I would just be vague, or TRUTHFULLY say, "I don't have time right now to talk, I am in the middle of working. There are wonderfull resources online that you can access anytime." and move on!

I think this situation is different than a forumn where people go because it is set up to be a learning tool...that is what you expect here. If you don't want to participate than that is your choice. But coming into your business with drilling questions is rude. If he really wanted to have a serious discussion, he should have asked if you felt comfortable talking to him and when would be a good time.

summernoelle Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 4:15pm
post #7 of 22

I get it on pricing.
I also get it for recipes-other bakers actually call or email me for my recipes! Do you really think I am stupid enough to give those to you? No way! For all I know one of my former customers wants to use you because you are cheaper, but wants the cake to taste like mine. And they are always peeved when I say no. Like I am rude or something to not just fork over confidential, hard earned info about my business.
I did give a recipe to a client once when they asked, but I probably shouldn't have, because I have often wondered if she gave the recipe to another baker, trying them out. icon_sad.gif I remember not wanting to do it, but she was someone who I liked personally, and was trying to be nice. Not too smart.

Sweet_Guys Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 4:21pm
post #8 of 22

I don't know...I kind of agree with sweet cravings....If you approach it from the sharing and working together concept, then you will both flourish...I kind of see it as the live version of what this site is all about...If Cake Central weren't around, none of us would be even more wiser than we were when we first joined...Here's an opportunity to make your competition part of the team of providing great sweets to your area...Who knows, you may even pick up some ideas from him to help expand your business.

Paul (& Peter)

indydebi Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 4:32pm
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by rvercher23

My husband is a chef so where ever we go he finds something wrong with everything, always watching and looking at everything, I tell him he is just jealous that it is not his restaurant. Shake them off!




icon_lol.gif My family hates going out with me because I look at everything thru a biz-owner-caterer's eye. I'm looking around for great ideas I can "borrow" .... I'm dissecting the food with my taste buds to figure out what's in it and how they made it. My 16 year old finds it funny when we see a restaurant commercial advertising the newest-and-greatest new food on the market, and I tell her, "oh, I can get you some of those on my next GFS truck order!"

Heck, when we go shopping, they get irritated when I pull a dress out of the rack, hold it up and say, "Wouldn't that make a pretty cake?" icon_lol.gif

On the issue of competition checking you out ... consider it a great compliment. One, just because they ask, doens't mean you have to answer. Two, I find there is plenty of business out there for all of us, and I have a wonderful relationship with other bakeries, caterers and restaurants. We're always sharing info on supplies and suppliers, and we also refer our overflow business back and forth to each other.

Just because two businesses are competitors, doesn't mean they have to be enemies. thumbs_up.gif

Deb_ Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 4:51pm
post #10 of 22

It is absolutely the biggest complement when your competition checks you out, and you should do the same thing.

I don't get the "secret recipe" thing. Just because you provide a recipe doesn't mean the person can duplicate it at your skill level. You do need some talent and knowledge to bake.

Same thing with my hairdresser peers. Some of them WILL NOT share color formulas that they have "invented". My response to that is if you're that narrow minded you won't be getting very far in your career.

If you know you are putting out an A 1 product and giving A 1 service, you will be successful. It's not because you clam up and refuse to share "your secrets" with your competition. That's not thinking with a business head at all.

classiccake Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 4:59pm
post #11 of 22

I am not questioning the idea of sharing info...I love to talk shop. I just think it was rude of him to come in during serving hours and expect to carry on a conversation. That is like someone coming to you when you are loading the van to go deliver cakes and expect you to converse. There is a time and place for everything and I think he should have asked if there was a good time to talk.

donnan Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 5:20pm
post #12 of 22

I think there is a lot of difference in sharing ideas and recipes on Cake Central, than your competition from right down the street coming in your place of business to snoop and "borrow your ideas". It would also be different in you went into a bakery in another town to get ideas. You would think that would be a given "understood". It's just called good manners!
donnan

Deb_ Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 5:45pm
post #13 of 22

I do agree that sharing recipes and ideas here is quite different than someone walking into your restaurant and asking you. But, this guy didn't ask for recipes, he asked about menu printing, pictures and restroom requirements.

All pretty neutral inquiries. You never know, by answering briefly, but nicely, he just may be able to help you out one day.

All I'm saying is most of us don't even know when our competition is checking us out, they may send a relative to buy a cake or cookie from us and call us for quotes.
I think when someone walks into your business, introduces themselves as your new neighbor down the street opening a business, and than asks questions........he's not such a threat. If he were he wouldn't have told the OP who he was.

Monkess Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 6:26pm
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Quote:

Just because two businesses are competitors, doesn't mean they have to be enemies



Very true Debi. There are 7 other restuarants in my plaza and we all go over to each others for a cuppa all the time, one guy eats dinner at our place 4 times a week! So I am all for professional kinmanship and do feel rather flattered that practically the whole town has shown up over the past 4 years to "check us out!" Nonetheless it does get tiresome to have your antenas up plus in this post I was more miffed at the seemingly innocent Q&A this guy was putting me through in the middle of dinner service!
On another note Debi, I think all caterers/restauranters/bakers must always analyze every morsel that goes through those lips...I thought I was wierd and over analytical but you make me feel normal!!! icon_biggrin.gif Don't you just love that feeling when you guess every pinch of seasoning and replicate it down to a T?!!


Quote:
Quote:

If you know you are putting out an A 1 product and giving A 1 service, you will be successful. It's not because you clam up and refuse to share "your secrets" with your competition. That's not thinking with a business head at all.




Thats right, however sharing or not sharing recipies is a matter of company policy. I am sure from the big chain corporate honchos to the small mom and pop diner someone must have a business head despite adhering to strict no share policy. Personally, I have broken that rule just last week when a woman broke down paying for acake, because her 6 year old son, who was born with numerous allergies was going to eat something sweet fo rthe first time. I promptly wrote out our recipe so that she can make it for him more frequently! So there is reason and sincerity beyond rules and THAT I would think is thinking with a business head.
Also the only reason he identified himself is because my DH knows that he is the new owner and he knew the DH could be around. As for checking out through the family-lol...been through that so many, many times..sometimes they are on the cell phone, some have even taken pictures on their phone-of the place and the food icon_confused.gif

Quote:
Quote:

I just think it was rude of him to come in during serving hours and expect to carry on a conversation



Classiccake, my sentiments exactly! I mean unless the place is totally dead and you are sitting there twiddling thumbs! (wont I love that moment of solitude!)

The worst ever was this woman last month who opened a new place about 1 mile away...she comes in asks me 15 odd questions about the prices of cakes, how much time I need, how my bc can be made without meringue powder(?), do we deliver blah blah blah..and then informs me she is taking classes at Michaels because she wants to start them at her pizza place! And the only reason she fessed up was because she wanted recipies!!! I was miffed that she went about it in such a long, languid way and made me waste 10 odd minutes, trying to answer questions thinking her to be a genuine customer....and even after that God bless my sanity and calm, I directed her to CC to iron out her newbie questions! icon_rolleyes.gif

Deb_ Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 6:59pm
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkess




Quote:
Quote:

If you know you are putting out an A 1 product and giving A 1 service, you will be successful. It's not because you clam up and refuse to share "your secrets" with your competition. That's not thinking with a business head at all.



Thats right, however sharing or not sharing recipies is a matter of company policy. I am sure from the big chain corporate honchos to the small mom and pop diner someone must have a business head despite adhering to strict no share policy. icon_rolleyes.gif




Your OP never said he asked you for recipes. I'm saying you're success is determined more on your service and product, not by refusing to answer questions from your competition.

You're just now bringing up the recipe asking thing, that's not what the original post was about. Your OP also said that you don't go snooping around and now your next post says you do go to all 7 other restaurants all the time for a cuppa.

You are totally confusing me. icon_rolleyes.gificon_confused.gif

Monkess Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 7:26pm
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly27

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkess




Quote:
Quote:

If you know you are putting out an A 1 product and giving A 1 service, you will be successful. It's not because you clam up and refuse to share "your secrets" with your competition. That's not thinking with a business head at all.



Thats right, however sharing or not sharing recipies is a matter of company policy. I am sure from the big chain corporate honchos to the small mom and pop diner someone must have a business head despite adhering to strict no share policy. icon_rolleyes.gif



Your OP never said he asked you for recipes. I'm saying you're success is determined more on your service and product, not by refusing to answer questions from your competition.

You're just now bringing up the recipe asking thing, that's not what the original post was about. Your OP also said that you don't go snooping around and now your next post says you do go to all 7 other restaurants all the time for a cuppa.

You are totally confusing me. icon_rolleyes.gificon_confused.gif


He never did ask me for recipies, I was bringing up the recipies asking thing by way of example of a "secret" just like several others did.
Also as per my OP I do not go about snooping...but yes, indeed we do visit the other 7 restuarants all the time, just like in my OP I said we all go out for a bite but NOT to investigate...The motive is to eat out and ofcourse just like Debi said we look around and learn but I do not visit a place be it in my neighbourhood or otherwise with the motive of investigating it out.
I hope you are less confused now!

Deb_ Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 8:01pm
post #17 of 22

Well, maybe this guy's motivation was just innocent like yours is. Heck, I'm trying to follow the 43 page thread on cake disasters forum, so if I'm confused it's probably from that icon_lol.gif Seriously though, you should be flattered by his interest, he obviously holds your business in very high regard. Good luck icon_wink.gif

summernoelle Posted 26 Jan 2009 , 12:48am
post #18 of 22

I brought up the recipes, because I consider those hard earned and I don't like people just emailing me saying "Oh, I really need a great recipe. What do you use?" There is a lot of competition in my area, and it can sound stingy, but it took a lot of work finding ones that worked for me and taste great, and I'm not sharing with the woman five miles down the road. If that makes me a jerk-sorry!

Deb_ Posted 26 Jan 2009 , 1:49pm
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by summernoelle

I brought up the recipes, because I consider those hard earned and I don't like people just emailing me saying "Oh, I really need a great recipe. What do you use?" There is a lot of competition in my area, and it can sound stingy, but it took a lot of work finding ones that worked for me and taste great, and I'm not sharing with the woman five miles down the road. If that makes me a jerk-sorry!




Oh, so that's where the recipe thing came from......I'm pretty sure that nobody used the word "jerk" here though. I did say that even if you do share a recipe with someone (not saying you should), that person still has to have the skill to produce it successfully.

I've given friends (clients) and family members recipes that I have a lot of success with and they always seem to call me saying "what did I do wrong".

One of my poor nieces, cannot make icing for her cutout cookies, even if her life depended on it she can't do it icon_confused.gif I keep thinking, gee, it's not THAT difficult to mix ps, milk or water, and extracts together, what could she possibly be doing wrong? icon_rolleyes.gif

No, I would not give recipes to my close competition, I agree with that. But, my friends and family even if they're paying clients, I will share with them. But, most of them don't like to bake anyway which is why they buy from me. icon_smile.gif

I don't have a problem telling another baker where I purchase something from though. thumbs_up.gif

-K8memphis Posted 26 Jan 2009 , 2:51pm
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I know a guy whose hobby it is to turn in unlicensed people to the health department, because he gets a percentage of the fines that they have to pay if they get caught and he's the one who turned them in. I'd tell these people to ask the health department if they're asking you about any legal issues, and just tell them that you get everything else online and you can't remember where if they're asking you where you bought things.




Is his name ktbug????

Chef_Stef Posted 26 Jan 2009 , 4:47pm
post #21 of 22

I run my husband's business as well as mine. It is a unique niche business and one of the largest of its kind in the country. We get people all the time trying to find out *how* we do it, and they admit they're wanting to "get into it" as well. They ask: Where and how do we get our inventory? What machine do we use? Can they come check it out? Where'd we get it? How much do we sell? Can they buy from us in large quantity, for resale, to get started?

I'm always amazed that they think we'd consider letting them have ANY of this information. Yes, here's a list of our vendors, relationships only WE have, built on years of trust (back to grade school actually). Here's our machine and where to order it, and our P&L statement. And sure, you can come watch how the whole operation works so you can try to get into it and kick our butt. icon_confused.gif

Um. NO

When I have these people on the phone, I tell them nothing, and in a nice way, I let them know that there's no way in livin heck that I'm sharing this info with COMPETITORS. Usually I tell them: 1. They can't come on the property to see the machine, due to liability issues. 2. We get our inventory "from local vendors". 3. For volume, I give them a number that makes their jaw hit the floor, and 4. We aren't in the wholesale business. "Thanks for calling." -click-

It's a compliment that they're asking how you do things, because they want to imitate you. They see your business as a successful model of what they should have; but business is business, and you can't afford to give your secrets away. Trust me, they're not trying to be your buddy. Be nice to them, and politely give them nothing.

Deb_ Posted 26 Jan 2009 , 6:42pm
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I know a guy whose hobby it is to turn in unlicensed people to the health department, because he gets a percentage of the fines that they have to pay if they get caught and he's the one who turned them in. I'd tell these people to ask the health department if they're asking you about any legal issues, and just tell them that you get everything else online and you can't remember where if they're asking you where you bought things.



Is his name ktbug????





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