There are plenty of tour companies out there.
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Jeff Swedarsky, however, has found a nice niche in the touring industry. We interviewed Jeff to learn more about how he started his company, DC Metro Food Tours.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
DC Metro Food Tours provides a selection of guided food tours in historic Washington DC neighborhoods.
During the tours, our customers sample specially created dishes at various locally owned and operated restaurants while learning about the history and architecture of the area. Our walking tours bring together food, history, and architecture in a unique way.
Where is your business located and when did you start the business?
We are based in Alexandria, Virginia. I started the company in September 2007. We launched our first tour in April 2008.
Before I started DC Metro Food Tours, I was working as a project manager for the government. This is my first business.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
There are many tour companies in the DC area. I do not try to directly compete as a historic tour; rather, I focus on what I do best -- food.
I developed my tours to give customers a culinary experience in historic neighborhoods around our nation's capital.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
I expected it would require an amount of hard work, but underestimated what it would take to ensure my business followed my strategic goals.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I would have launched the company several months earlier in 2008.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
I had a low marketing budget, so to make the most of it, I utilized the Internet for the majority of my efforts. I believe it has worked effectively to drive business to my company.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Make sure you do the right research and determine if your idea can be profitable, and not just time consuming.
You also need to be ready to invest yourself completely in your business, and make the according sacrifices to ensure its success. This is true with many businesses, but especially with a service based business.
Excellent advice. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. Good luck in growing your business. For anybody who is planning on visiting Washington, you should definitely consider going on one of Jeff's tours. What a great way to get to know a city!