In order to maintain and increase your market share you need to know how you compare to your competition. A Competition Analysis will help you excel.
A Competition Analysis involves a systemized approach to "checkin' out" the competition. Your customers do this every time they make a decision to dine out. They weigh all the relevant factors and then they vote with their wallets. The information you gain by conducting the Competition Analysis will help you to understand how and why your customers are making these decisions.
Get out and drive your trading area to determine who your competition is—or send key management employees to collect the data. This can be a real eye-opener for them!
For each competitor, you will need a record of such things as estimated volume, number of seats, hours of operation, promotional activities, number of menu items, and their price points. Make notes of their strengths or weaknesses as well, such as available parking, decor, condition of their restrooms, and child-friendliness.
Visit the restaurants at different times during the day. What you experience at lunchtime may differ greatly from the "performance" at dinner. If possible, pick up menus from each restaurant you visit. Then, once you have gathered all of the information, make honest comparison of each of the restaurants. Examine how each is different, and how are they similar to each other, and to your own restaurant.
Look at the competition from your customers' perspective. Conducting a Competition Analysis is an extremely worthwhile exercise. It will help you identify and define your market, focus on your core business, and refine your niche. It's a trade secret.