Design a restaurant app like Yelp for restaurant owners.
+2 votes
in Product Design by (725 points) | 428 views

4 Answers

+2 votes

Design a restaurant App like Yelp for Restaurant Owners.

So I want to clarify that Yelp is meant for people to review restaurants, discover new ones, and is also a mini social network for reviewers. If I were to design one for restaurant owners, it would not make sense to do it in reverse (ie review for restaurant go-ers). I think it makes sense to design yelp for restaurant owners where they can review contractors, wholesalers, and interior decorators.

I’m going to go through a user story for a restaurant owner looking to start a new restaurant or improve an existing one.

Restaurant Owner gets an idea to start a restaurant -> finds partners -> looks for financing -> looks for a location -> looks for decorators/contractors -> looks for wholesalers -> looks for staff -> executes -> opens the restaurant

I think yelp can really help restaurant owners find potential partners to open the restaurant. Goal of this app would be to connect restaurant owners with companies in the restaurant industry to help owners open/improve their restaurants.

I want to identify some painpoints, although, I haven’t been a restaurant owner myself, so I am thinking of painpoints you get from googling and/or using craigslist.

1. Owners have a tough time finding reviews from likeminded individuals for companies in the restaurant business
2. Owners have a tough time comparing quotes from different wholesalers/contractors
3. Owners have a tough time discovering new businesses to partner with
4. Owners may be opening a new restaurant in a new area that they are not very familiar with
5. Owners want a way to connect with wholesalers based off of their list of ingredients

Here are some solutions to those problems

1. We will start a review website meant for administrators of restaurants. To ensure this, we may add some sort of background check to make sure this review website is filled with people that are in the restaurant industry and not just the general public.

2. We can create sections of the website where the owner can enter some ideas (ie: here are the ingredients I need, or I want to redecorate this area) and it gets promoted to nearby contractors and wholesalers to bid on.

3. This will be built in to the review website. But I want to make this more specific, we will also add in reviews for financiers and a way to apply for financing from great partners.

4. We want to add in location awareness and a map so we can have reviews from all around the country. We can also add a knowledgebase that keeps track of things like population to restaurant type. Contractors to restaurants, etc, so people can know if it makes sense to open their restaurant in a specific area.

5. I kind of solved this issue already with number 2. To bring this up another notch, we want to add in filters for specific food types. Like for fish, where is it raised (sustainable, ocean catching, from japan)

For a MVP, I want to rate it based off of Impact, differentiator, goal, and cost.

1. This will have the most impact and differentiates it from other websites. It also reaches out goal and has the highest cost (it’s essentially building the backbone of the app). There are risks with signing up relevant individuals as the population for restaurant individuals is much smaller than the general populace.

2. I think this impact will be high and differentiates it from other websites. It reaches our goal a little less since our goal did not originally state finding the best deal amongst contractors, however it does connect you with relevant businesses. The cost will be relatively high including finding contractors who are interested in this kind of system.

3. I think impact will be medium and differentiation is high. It reaches our goal but cost will be high for similar reasons to number 2.

4. Impact high, Differentiation is medium. Goal is high and cost is medium. Location awareness is a pretty integral part of the app.

5. I think adding specific filters for wholesale delivery of food is very important for the restaurant industry. Impact is high, differentiation is high, goal is high, and cost is is probably medium as it’s adding additional fields for wholesalers to fill out.

If I were to build a MVP, I would focus on recruitment of restaurant industry insiders, contractors, and wholesalers to build out the network. I would also build out 1,2,4,5 due to their relative high impact on owners and differentiates it from different websites.

In summary, if I’m building a yelp for restaurant owners, I want to focus on building a review website for contractors, wholesalers, and any other businesses that can help a restaurant owner improve their restaurants. i will build a review website and also a bid system allowing owners to discover new partners based off of their needs.

I like that you put the focus on solving the problem for the aspiring restaurant owner, and in doing so, incentivized the contractors, wholesalers and other parties in the ecosystem the same way Yelp has incentivized its business users.
+2 votes

I think you articulated the painpoints and goals really crisply

My one feedback is it may have been nice to narrow in onto a specific usecase a bit more deeply, and go deep on the design of the use case. E.g. wholesaler ingredients – should the restaurant search using photos of existing products, is there a negotiation feature so the restaurants can go back and forth with supplier? etc

by (281 points)
+1 vote

1. Clarify
Restaurant owners- Are we talking about people who already own a restaurant (in which case operations are set up, they have active customers) or aspiring restaurant owners (have an idea, motivated to open a restaurant, in which case use cases will be very different). Aspiring restaurant owners can be categorized further into people who want to open a restaurant and are committed to it, and people who are toying with the idea, and want to validate if it makes sense for them.

I’ll focus on people who already own a restaurant.

2. What?
Yelp is a platform that allows a user to discover and review places of business and services. A Yelp user can find services around a preferred location, make a decision on which partner to go with/which restaurant to eat at based on ratings, friends reviews, and non-friends reviews.
A Yelp-like platform for Restaurant owners can solve many use cases-
– A restaurant owner wants to learn from best practices, scout for suppliers, improve operations
– A restaurant owner wants to expand the restaurant by opening new locations, finding franchise partners, etc
– A restaurant owner wants to manage its reviews, have one-on-one chats with customers, manage reputation
– A restaurant owner wants to list itself on multiple online directories to amplify discoverability and manage listings
and many more..

I’ll go with use case 1. A restaurant owner wants to learn from best practices, scout for suppliers and improve operations

3. Target group-
A restaurant owner can be of multiple types-
– The owner has multiple restaurants in multiple locations (national and international) with a big brand, large marketing budget
– The owner has a small restaurant mainly attracting local community with low marketing budgets

Given the use case of improving operations and learning from best practices, I’ll focus on the second group as that group is expected to gain the most out of the platform.

4. Summary: I’m designing a platform for small and medium restaurant owners with low marketing budgets, influence on end to end operations of the restaurant, to be able to learn from best practices and scout suppliers to improve operations and increase profitability.

5. Success Metric
I’ll measure the success of the platform I’m building by trying to measure exactly how many restaurant owners are able to grow their business because of the help provided on the platform. This is an audacious goal and we can measure success by breaking this down into smaller operational goals-
– Adoption- How many restaurant owners are signed up on the platform.
– Activation- How many restaurant owners have used the platform/logged-in at least once after sign up
– Engagement- How many restaurant owners use the platform at least once every month

All success metrics should take into the account the market size and potential opportunity. Absolute numbers will only give half a picture.

6. Platform design-
Where? – Given the high smartphone penetration and user behavior to look up things on mobile, I’ll design the platform on Mobile. Also, the success metrics of adoption and engagement are easier to achieve on mobile because of the high penetration and user behavior.

This platform will be a two-sided platform.

To meet the use cases, the restaurant owner should be able to –
– Find suppliers for ingredients, furniture, cutlery/crockery, etc
– Rate and review suppliers
– Get important information about the supplier like products and services offered, location, prices, reviews, years in business.
– Reach out to suppliers directly and explain their pain points/needs

The suppliers should be able to-
– List themselves on the platform
– Answer questions/comment on reviews/connect with potential customers (restaurant owners)
– Manage their reviews/ratings
– Collate their reviews/rating from all online sources to be available on the platform
– Add photos, website. other details in their profile

To meet the use case of helping restaurant owners learn from best practices, there could be a different tab called “Get inspired”
– We could get restaurant consultants. successful restaurant owners write blogs on topics that may help other restaurant owners
– There could be a way for restaurant owners to reach out to consultants to for short-term consulting assignments to help in the operations

We could also introduce a forum where restaurant owners can interact with one another and share their experiences, ask questions, etc

7. Potential risks-
– There might be little to no motivation for resturant owners to help each other in a forum, as it could be misconstued as helping competition. This isn’t a big risk given that most resturant owners are serving their local community, and they may not be in direct competition.

0 votes

Structure is:
1. What?
2. Who + Use Cases?
3. Problems
4. Solutions
5. Proposed Solution + MVP

What do we mean by App like Yelp?
Do we mean crowdsourced reviews? Discovery of restaurants and businesses?
Ordering / Delivery aspect?
I’m going to include all of the above in my thinking.

Who + Use Cases
Restaurant Owners are:
1. busy
2. they hire people
3. they buy ingredients
4. they buy supplies and equipment
5. they decide on decor
6. they decide on the business model (fast service + cheap, slow and expensive, etc)
7. Manage the schedule of employees
8. Scout location of a restaurant
9. Promote and market a restaurant
10. They have to handle accounting and finances (including payroll, taxes, benefits)
11. They have to get paid by diners with a point of sale
12. They rely on restaurant critic reviews and things like yelp + word of mouth for promotional purposes and to drive business

There is also restaurant owners who are also the chef:
1. They evaluate & buy ingredients
2. They cook
3. they decide plating and how a dish looks
4. they decide a menu
5. they have to recruit a team of chefs
6. they QA all of the food

1. Hiring is tough **
2. Managing a team of hourly employees can be difficult
3. Managing a schedule for hourly employees is difficult
4. Accounting and Finance is difficult for restaurants when you consider tips, taxes, payroll, benefits
5. Point of Sales costs is a big tax on the business
6. Promoting a restaurant is costly
7. Finding the right suppliers can be tough – how do you know who to trust? **
8. Keeping an eye on the competition is hard
9. Keeping track of trends in other cities and geographies is difficult
10. Understanding your clientele and their tastes can be difficult
11. Training employees for great service is hard **

How do we narrow down this list of problems?
Let’s think about Pain + Reach + Market Opportunity (see the ** for the areas to emphasize)

1. Discovering emerging trends on which restaurants are hot or up and coming is hard
2. Buying / selling restaurants is not an efficient process today
3. Share customer complaints and best practice of how to respond
4. Share a bench of staff that can be called on or hired on short notice
5. Provide reviews of staff – a LinkedIn for restaurant workers
6. Yelp for restaurant suppliers (ingredient suppliers + cooking equipment suppliers)
7. Share restaurant best practices in a user-generated community
8. Share recipes
9. Share marketing materials and templates

The overarching concern for a lot of these is why would restaurant owners share proprietary info that they view as a competitive advantage?

Criteria for grading these will be:
Reach, Impact, Cost, Confidence
Giving each a score, the highest confidence and highest reach solutions may be:
– buying / selling restaurants and discovery of hot and upcoming restaurants (from a restaurant owner’s perspective and not consumer)

An MVP might look like yelp but restricted to only restaurant owners.
– Restaurant owners describe the back-of-the-house activities of the restaurant and what makes it cool or efficient (without giving away trade secrets).
– They’re incentivized to do this because there could be an industry award
– An additional incentive is it increases the value of their business if they ever want to sell one day
– We could add in a buy / sell marketplace component as this scales to facilitate the buying or selling of the restaurant (location, menu, brand, clientele real estate).

Questions on my Answer
1. Do you think I should combine the who with the use cases?
2. Did I come up with too many use cases?
3. Are my problems specific enough? Should they be more focused?
4. Should I narrow down to a single problem before I start brainstorming solutions?
5. What do you think about my prioritization rationale of the solutions?

Hi Wookie,
Thanks for submitting your answer. Love how clean and organized your answer is:) Before I answer your questions, here is my overall feedback:
– I would expand on each solution a lot more. You’ll want to be very clear on how your solution addresses a pain point / use case. Describe how they work, how they solve a problem, etc.
– After listing our the criteria, you can put all solutions in a table to evaluate them based on your criteria. It’s a great way to quickly do the evaluation
Now here are the answers to your questions:
1. Not necessarily here because your user group is clearly defined by the exercise
2. I would keep the number of use cases to less than 10 so that you have time to also prioritize them right after listing them. Prioritization helps you focus on what really makes a big difference (focus on the most painful problems)
3. Your problems need a lot more detail in my opinion. Describe how they work and how they solve the problem that you think exists.
4. Not necessarily. I personally like to bring down list of problems to 3 after prioritization. It helps me focus on most painful problems. As a PM, you are always prioritizing user stories so you’ll want to show your ability to focus on what matters.
5. The prioritization criteria are fine. I would just describe / show in detail (maybe in a table) how you’re evaluating each solution.
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