There is a lot of talk buzzing around about competition. In truth, there is plenty of room for competition, even coop-petition. Competition keeps businesses relevant, innovative and sustainable. No competition? Prepare for a ghost town effect.
Let’s talk about the controversy in North Kansas City, Missouri where I live, work and play. First, a disclaimer. The opinions about to be addressed are my own, as a private citizen and resident of North Kansas City, MO, as a business owner, and as a marketing and public relations professional. They are in no way affiliated or attributed to any client, business, or professional entity other than my own.
You might ask why I put a disclaimer. For good reason. What I am about to say may not be popular with some. I moved back to North Kansas City because of the great amazing town it is, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of Kansas City. This food truck drama is ridiculous.
Argument #1: Food trucks are taking away business for heritage and new brick and mortar businesses in North Kansas City.
Why it doesn’t hold water:
A. Helen’s JAD is as heritage as it gets and SHE has a food truck in the Pod.
B. There is as much foot traffic to those businesses as there has ever been in the past (would you like me to video tape it?)
C. Look at the map and look at where those businesses are located in relation to the Pod. Way off the beaten path (literally!) and would take determination and effort to get to.
D. On that map you will see Subway, Jimmy Johns and Jersey Boys all within a block of each other. No one is complaining about that. You see Paul & Jack’s, Cinderblock, and Johnny’s Backyard all backed up to each other, with STAGES, and while not the best decisions in my book… the city didn’t intervene. Would you like me to go on about business competition?
Argument #2: The Pod is on public property and should be on private property
Why it doesn’t hold water:
A. The city is in control of the permits allowing them to be there. It can be as loose or as tight as they want, limiting use in the permit.
B. Food trucks pay for the permits to be there and follow all of the health department and other regulations.
C. Having it on private property actually takes revenue and control away from the city.
Here are the problems. Business requires innovation and vision. Inherently there is competition. there are 1,000 students and 20,000 workers in NKC every day …. not to mention residents. We are in NO danger of not having enough venues to serve them. If people aren’t going to a business one of a few things is happening.
1. The food isn’t as good as the owners think
2. The location isn’t ideal (notice where Tay’s is… hard for students to cross Armour there)
3. Their pricing is off or more than they can afford
4. Their service is bad
Instead of looking at the competition…perhaps owners should look at their business model, their marketing, their pricing, and their customer service.
Lastly, the city of North Kansas City has an issue that they will have to tackle. They have spent tens of thousands of dollars re-branding the city to entice millennials to move here, work here and hang out here. North Kansas City has always been a gem in the middle of a metro area. The re-branding was in an effort to rejuvenate and sustain the city. If the food trucks are turned down this evening, they will have sent a clear message that the re-branding effort was for naught.
This is as much a branding decision as it is a business decision. In order for the city to come out ok on the other side, a decision has to be made about whether or not the city really believes what it previously decided to embrace as a branding message.
Side note: I was interviewed by the New York Times but didn’t make it into the article. Maybe I was too outspoken.
~Mindy Hart, 2015