Overseeing a shared kitchen can sometimes feel like running a kindergarten. One problem tenant can ruin the experience for everyone, especially for the people running the show.
Creating a positive culture in the kitchen is critical to building trust. Selecting members that respect your kitchen and its policies, support others, and contribute to a harmonious community in your kitchen is the dream.
The right businesses for your kitchen will vary depending on your ethos, values, and expectations. It might mean they are tidy, well organized, and pay on time. Or you might favor businesses with similar values to your own.
At the simplest level, you will form stronger, longer-term relationships with successful businesses – which will, in turn, help pay the bills.
With limited space and resources, it’s critical to attract quality businesses. Getting the right clients on board will make your life easier and your kitchen community stronger.
But how to go about it? Let’s explore practical tips and ideas to attract the best quality businesses to your shared or commissary kitchen.
7 Ways to Attract First-Class Food Businesses to Your Shared Kitchen
1. Be The Best You Can Be
When it comes to dating and magnets, opposites attract. But in the world of business, hard-working, diligent business owners want to work with like-minded professionals.
If you put the work in to be the best you can be, you will attract customers with a similar mindset. That means putting in the groundwork to show that you mean business.
Here are some of the areas where clients will be impressed with your attention to detail:
- Clear Policies – everyone knows where they stand when you advertise a clear set of expectations and rules for kitchen users
- Excellent Hygiene Procedures – a clean, safe kitchen is an absolute must and is something that diligent business owners will be looking for when they view your space
- Straightforward Pricing – keep it simple and clear when it comes to your price structures so no one is hit with nasty surprises
- Smart Scheduling Tools – making it easy for your clients to book time in your kitchen not only adds convenience for them but also makes your business appear organized, efficient, and tech-savvy
Check out our comprehensive guide to setting policies and procedures for your shared kitchen in The Shared Kitchen Operations Manual.
2. Send Out The Right Messaging
Fundamental to any business is defining your positioning and identifying what makes your business unique. Once you know this, you can go after businesses where they are hanging out. The Shared Kitchen Toolkit includes a section on Brand and Marketing Strategy, including everything you need to know about understanding where your potential clients already are so that you can tailor your social media platform to fit. Included in the toolkit is a supplemental Social Media Platform Chart.
Different social media platforms attract different people. While food truck operators might show off their latest dishes on Instagram, you might have TikTok influencers booking your space for video shoots. Or are your best customers farmer’s market vendors who use Facebook?
Once you know who you are targeting and what they need from your kitchen, make sure you have a presence on the right platforms. Send out targeted marketing messages and post about specific features that will attract your ideal clients.
3. Build Relationships in Your Local Community
One of the biggest benefits for businesses using a shared kitchen is that they are part of the community of users. You want to build a strong sense of community and a culture of belonging in your kitchen.
Businesses that are active in the local community are more invested in the success of the local economy and more likely to be active players in your kitchen community too. They are also likely to know other vendors which can drive quality word-of-mouth marketing.
Look at local directories or Facebook groups and see if you can host events or fundraisers at your kitchen. Make an effort to stop by your local farmer’s market and talk to vendors and hand out flyers or business cards. The more connections you can make and goodwill you can build up with local people and businesses, the more exposure you’ll get with engaged locals.
Get out there and get involved!
4. Add Vetting Procedures – Know Your Red Flags
One of the best ways to ensure you take on better renters is to filter out unsuitable candidates from the beginning. This doesn’t have to be a daunting confrontation. You probably already have an online contact form that can be used as a filter.
Ask about their goals, revenue numbers, and overall mission on the form to get an idea of whether they would be a good fit before you put any time into a call or visit.
Potential red flags might include:
- Lack of care in written communication – numerous spelling and grammar errors and rushed answers to your questions could indicate a lack of commitment
- No respect for boundaries – avoid potential users who are already trying to negotiate in an unreasonable way or expecting you to answer multiple messages immediately
- Unclear on what they want – If a business owner isn’t sure what they need from your shared kitchen, it could lead to a frustrating relationship
If you’ve been running a kitchen for a while, you’ll know your red flags better than anyone!
It’s better to identify red flags from the very beginning and avoid users who you think will be trouble in the future. Not only will this protect you from time-wasters, it will also improve the quality of the prospective clients so you can be more picky about who uses your kitchen.
5. Consider Increasing Your Rates
If you’re having trouble attracting successful businesses to your shared kitchen, you may be giving the wrong impression with your pricing.
Low-ball pricing attracts low-ball businesses. Serious business owners know that they have to spend money on the right kitchen.
You can still offer financial incentives to attract and give support to the right kinds of businesses, if you want to support local start-ups without much cash for example, but you are sure to attract people who want something for nothing if you set your prices too low.
For more help with setting rates and fees, take a look at Section 8 of the Shared Kitchen Toolkit, our exhaustive free guide to setting up and running a shared-use commercial kitchen.
Our latest Shared Kitchen Industry Report is another great resource which tells you exactly what successful shared kitchens are charging around the country – straight from the horse’s mouth!
6. Get Referrals From Your Best Customers
An easy win that you can implement for free today is to ask for referrals from the customers that are the best fit for your kitchen. They are already your best customers so they’re likely to give you good suggestions for businesses similar to their own.
You’ll probably find that they’re more than happy to help you out as they appreciate the support and guidance you’ve given to them during your business relationship.
7. Get On The Kitchen Door
As the largest network for shared kitchens in the country, The Kitchen Door is where prospective clients are looking for kitchen space to rent.
All you have to do is claim your listing for free, and then add your details. You’ll be doubling the chance of businesses reaching out. Make sure your photos are professional, your features are accurate, and the information you provide sets the tone for your space.
Because the service is managed by The Food Corridor, you know that the clients coming through have likely done their research and know what to expect when renting space in a shared kitchen. That makes them much more likely to become respectful, diligent, supportive members of your kitchen community. In fact, if you use The Food Corridor software to manage your kitchen, you receive a Preferred listing on The Kitchen Door.
Build It & They Will Come
Above all, creating the culture you want in your kitchen will attract more and more businesses that will buy into it.
Whether it spreads through word-of-mouth, referrals from your best customers, or the right messaging going out on social media, once you have a great culture in place, it should perpetuate itself.
It’s worth investing some time and energy into getting your culture right for the long-term success of your shared kitchen. You can start by implementing the tips in this article.
For continued practical support in managing your shared kitchen and maintaining a positive kitchen culture, check out the Shared Kitchen Resources Starter Pack along with The Food Corridor’s range of kitchen management tools and free resources.