Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Want a sandwich?

I was in Oakland, California over Spring break and one of the things on my to do list was to drive across the bay to San Francisco and pick up a sandwich from Ike's Place. Why would anyone drive an hour, pay for expensive parking, and then line up for an hour (I didn't know about the line until I saw it) just to get a sandwich? This place must have some serious competitive advantage in its industry seeing as there are Subways on every street corner selling footlong subs for just 5 dollars. Plus Ike's sandwiches are like $6~10? What is going on?!

After experiencing Ike's for myself, I decided to compile a list of features that makes Ike's as popular and successful as it is.

#1 Variety
- Ike's has a menu of around 200 different sandwiches consisting of every different combination of meats, veggies and sauces. Add-ons are also available for an extra fee, which enables customers to compose their dream sandwich if not something very close.
- There are also a large number of vegetarian and vegan sandwiches for those with dietary restrictions.

#2 Store Layout
- Instead of having a walk-in/sit-down area like many sandwich shops, Ike's uses their limited space for food prep alone. This creates two benefits:
1) Rent is cheaper because less space is needed to begin with.
2) Customers must line up outside the store, which basically creates a constant advertisement for anybody walking or driving by the store. In the short period of time (45 minutes) I was standing in line, several people walked by the store asking about the food and how good it was. Everybody was like "It's unreal, you gotta try it." This could never happen if the line was inside the store.

#3 Bread
- Ike's offers various types of bread just like Subway, but they also offer a type of bread called DutchCrunch, which might be the one of the best things that have ever happened to my mouth.
This new type of bread is innovative and extremely delicious. And apparently they bake all their bread right after you place the order!

#4 Taste
Obviously, a place this popular can't just have lots of variety and good marketing. Ike's definitely makes some great tasting sandwiches. It might have been one of the best sandwiches I've ever had. If I lived by Ike's I would definitely be a regular.

Founded in the entrepreneurial hotbed of San Francisco, Ike's Place is an example of a business that has found a competitive advantage in an industry dominated by larger companies like Subway, Jimmy Johns and Quiznos.

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