Tale of two lemonade stands growing into huge corporate
How to Compete with Other Lemonade Stands
Lemons, sugar, water, ice: Lemonade is a pretty humble beverage, but when the dog days of summer hit, an ice-cold cup hits the spot like nothing else. It’s no wonder the lemonade stand is a favorite choice of young entrepreneurs. But beware! The competition can be tough, but you can learn how to set up the best lemonade stand.
Planning Your Lemonade Stand
Perform market research.All businesses use market research before beginning a new business or providing a new product. You will need to do this to find out whether your idea of a lemonade stand will be worthwhile and to determine your competition. After all, you are planning to open the best lemonade stand.
- Take a survey. Ask friends and family what they think of the idea first. Then expand your survey to include how much they would spend on lemonade, what kind of lemonade they like and the best place to set up a stand.
- Get information on the cost of a lemonade stand. You will need to determine if you will purchase a pre-made stand or build one yourself. It can be as easy as a used table with a tablecloth or something fancier. Research what others are doing and use the internet to find ways to build one. You want your stand to "stand out" from the others.
- Check out your competition. Walk or ride your bike around to see if there are other lemonade stands. Observe to see what they're selling and how you can improve on what they are doing.
Choose the best location.As they say, location, location, location. You will need to do some observation to find out the best place to set your stand up. If you choose the correct location, your business will be very successful. People don’t look up lemonade stands in the phone book, so you have to make sure they can see you.
- Determine foot traffic. Watch to see if there are people that walk where you are planning on setting up your stand. Many of your customers will be other kids, so you will want to find a spot that kids play near so they will spot you easily.
- Decide if you will stay in your yard or near your apartment. If you're lucky, you have an area right near your home. A yard serves well, or an apartment area.
- Check to see if it's okay to set up your stand near a playground area if there is one near you. Kids love a cold glass of lemonade when they're playing.
- Other options. If your home doesn't give you enough customers, consider a spot near a store or at your parents' place of business. Of course you'll have to check with your parents to get help. You'll have to get permission from the business before you set up shop.
Set the right price.The price you set for a cup of lemonade should depend on three things: the cost of your supplies, the amount people are willing to pay, and the prices offered by competing lemonade stands. You may need a little help with this step.
- Determine the best recipe. You want the best lemonade in the area. Find several good recipes and try them out with your friends and family. Think outside the box. Maybe you want to try flavored lemonade using strawberries or blueberries. Be creative. If you’re trying to compete with other stands, it’s going to be important to offer something that sets your lemonade stand apart from the others. There are many recipes online.
- Make a list. A detailed list of all the ingredients and supplies you will need is important. You may need an adult to help you do your pricing. Look for sales and coupons in your local newspaper, and consider buying larger quantities of supplies to get the best deal. Remember, you want a good product for a good price in order to compete with others.
- Determine what other lemonade stands are charging. You can find out what people are willing to pay by experimenting with the price you charge for a cup of lemonade, but the easiest way to set your price is to see what other stands are charging, and then charge about the same or a little less (maybe even a little more if you offer something better than they do). If you can offer the same quality at a lower price, you’ll get more customers. More customers means more profit.
Find your niche.So you’ve got the best lemonade in town, but what if other stands have lemonade that’s just as tasty? Set your stand apart from the crowd by providing something a little different.
- Develop a special talent. Do you have a special talent, like juggling or telling jokes? Use your talents to make a name for yourself, and customers will buy from you just to see "the kid who juggles the lemons" or "the girl who tells a joke with each cup of lemonade."
- Think about your community. You might also donate a portion of your profits to charity. Not only is this a nice thing to do, but customers may also be impressed with your generosity and social responsibility.
Advertise your stand.Competition means advertising. You want to get customers to come to your stand, so you need to find creative ways to let people know where you are. Your best advertising will be your location and word-of-mouth from satisfied customers.
- Write up signs to stick to trees or posts in your neighborhood, especially if your stand is just off a main road. Make sure the signs are colorful and easy to read.
- Ask a friend to stick a couple brightly colored signs on himself or herself and have him or her ride a bicycle around the neighborhood, advertising your lemonade stand.
- Place a large colorful sign on your stand. You want to attract the most customers, so you want to be seen. Include what you're selling and the prices.
Opening Your Stand
Set up the most attractive stand.Your stand will probably rely almost entirely on people who stop in while driving or walking by, so you want your stand to look as clean and attractive as possible or they won’t stop. Most importantly, keep your stand and the area around it neat and sparkling clean.
- Have everything ready. Before you open for business, check to see if you have everything you’ll need. If you aren’t very close to a source for ice, use a cooler to have ice easily accessible.
- Provide a trash can for cups and napkins. You may consider purchasing cups that are recyclable, and then provide a recycling bin. Customers will be impressed with your "green" thinking.
- Make your lemonade stand bright and colorful. Color attracts attention! It’s easy to decorate paper cups to give your customers that little “extra” fun when they buy from you. Add some color to your stand with helium balloons or other decorations. Be creative.
Provide exceptional customer service.To be competitive, you'll need to provide the best customer service of all the lemonade stands.
- Be accommodating. If a customer doesn’t like the lemonade for some reason, listen to them to find out why, apologize, fix the problem, and offer them a free cup or refund. Unsatisfied customers may become your best customers if you impress them with your desire to "make things right."
- Be prepared. Your customers don’t want to have to wait for their refreshing beverage, so always have enough lemonade and other supplies ready. Make sure you can quickly and accurately make change for customers.
Greet customers with a smile.When they come to your stand, chat with them while they’re there (if they want to chat), and thank them for their business. Make it a point to remember repeat customers’ names, and greet them by name or title (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.).
- Think about offering a special price to returning customers.
- Offer a free cup of lemonade to very young children if the parent is purchasing.
- Be sure to thank them for their business. Again, this will help your business grow.
Look and act like a business owner.No matter how badly your day may be going, you always want to look like you love selling lemonade and that the lemonade business is booming. Customers don’t want to hear about your problems, they want the best lemonade.
- Keep a neat, clean appearance. Make sure you have clean hands at all times. You may want to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer near by.
- Serve with a smile. If business is good, and you have a line of customers, apologize for the wait and show that you’re working hard to serve people.
Pay attention to quality.If you make great lemonade, people will come back for it and choose your stand over others. To make your own lemonade, you can ask your parents how, or you can find tons of recipes on the Internet.
- Listen to your customers’ comments or complaints once you start selling. Adjust your recipe if needed. You are trying to provide the most refreshing lemonade to your customers.
- Make sure you give people enough ice to keep the lemonade cold, and don’t serve lemonade that’s been sitting out for too long. It's best to serve it fresh and cold.
Keep track of your sales and experiment a bit.You can learn a lot from running a lemonade stand, and the more you learn the more money your stand will make.
- If you’re not selling much lemonade, figure out why. Some factors, such as the weather, you can’t change, but others, such as price and type of lemonade, you can.
- Use some trial-and-error to make your stand the best it can be, and learn from your mistakes—when life gives you lemons make lemonade.
- The best lemonade stand will have customers coming back for more.
- If business is booming, and you’ve always got a line of people waiting for lemonade, consider hiring a friend to help you. If you can provide faster service, customers are more likely to come back. You’ll probably have more fun with a friend, too.
- If there is competition, put "gourmet" or "secret recipe" on your sign
- If you locate your stand away from your house, you need to make sure you can easily access your supplies. Be sure to bring coolers to keep extra ice, for example.
- Put ice, slices of lemon, or even mini cocktail umbrellas in your cups, and use pretty but disposable cups. Recyclable cups will have you being able to advertise "green".
- Make your signs big and bold! 'Official' street signs like stop signs are much larger than you probably realize. Thin letters (such as letters you might draw with a magic marker) are not readable from the road. Consider drawing each letter as an outline and filling them in with a bold color like black or blue. As an alternative, cut letters out of construction paper and paste them to your sign.
- If your stand does really well, you can open up additional stands managed by your friends. Don’t put your branches too close together, however, or they will be competing against themselves. Each new stand should reach new potential customers.
- Weather can make or break your lemonade sales. If it’s unseasonably cool out one day, or if it’s raining, you might not even want to open your stand.
- Think up new recipes that taste good.
- Make a drive thru for driving customers, or at least ask those in a hurry if they want a lid.
- Try to put your stand at an intersection on the road. People going left, right, forward, or backward will see you.
- Give customers some choices, such as strawberry or peach lemonade. Sell baked good, candy, or other sweet treats to go along with your tasty drinks!
- Be sure to properly advertise your stand. Post signs throughout your neighborhood.
- Take feedback from customers, family, and your friends. Ask them if it needs to be sweeter, less sweet, too hot, etc.
- Sometimes somebody else nearby will be able to sell the same quality lemonade at a lower price than you can, even if you try to cut the cost of supplies. This may be because their parents are paying for everything and don’t care whether the stand actually makes enough money to pay for the supplies. In the business world, this is called a "subsidy," and if your parents don’t also "subsidize" you, you can’t compete. It’s not fair to you, but if you can’t match the price and you can’t find another good reason for customers to buy from you, you may not be able to stay in business. However, you can try to sell different products such as other drinks and food, as stated in one of the steps.
- Make sure to set up your stand in a safe location. This is especially important if you go somewhere other than your house. Always check with your parents, and if they say "no," to a certain place, understand that they’ve got a good reason. You may also have to check with the owners of the location where you plan to set up your stand if it is not going to be in a public area. For example, if you want to setup a stand in the parking lot of a store, you may need permission from the store owner/manager. If you plan to set up a stand in front of somebody else's house, you may need permission from the people living at that house to do so.
- Don’t badmouth your competition. People don’t like it when you say bad things about other kids, and they might feel sympathetic for your competitors if you do. Instead, take pride in your own stand and make sure people know that you make great lemonade.
- If you’re selling food, you’ll want to check on your local health ordinances (rules). Restaurants, street vendors, and other businesses that sell food have to meet strict standards for how they prepare their food, and they have to get special licenses from the city or state government. Lemonade stands almost never have to worry about these laws, because officials typically don’t worry about very small businesses run by kids, but if you’re selling food or if your stand gets very big, you may run into trouble.
- DO NOT vandalize or intentionally sabotage your competitors.They have as much as every right to sell lemonade just as you do.
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