How do I sell my services to restaurants?

How do I sell my services to restaurants?

For an WRA Allied Member vendor, there is nothing as exciting as an under tapped market.  The question for many revolves around how to create brand exposure within the target audience.  It’s a compelling question, and  one that rarely has a simple answer.  Marketing is both an art and a science, and understanding best practices can be difficult, especially if you are unsure of the “ins and outs” of the target industry.  In the restaurant business, creating relationships with owners and operators is an endeavor that requires concentrated attention.  Below you will find a few ideas that help some vendors polish their appeal and get their foot in the door.

Clarity: Send your message in a clear and compelling way. The owners and managers who run restaurants want your services to be spelled out to them concisely. Our industry is fast paced, and vendors often only have a single chance to get their message across.  Rather than say, “I prepare tax returns.”  Provide more clarity in your message.  “I save my clients on average 13% on their taxes by seeking out every legal opportunity to pay less!”   Your message is clear, it includes an appealing metric, and it clearly defines the benefit that a potential client will receive from you.

Caring: Potential clients look for vendors who care.  Marketing is most effective when you have a passion for your service and absolutely know it is effective.   Often, owners will choose the vendor who they believe actually cares about them and their success.  There is deep value in a caring vendor who considers themselves part of a team.  A plumber who is committed to making restaurant’s systems work because he cares about the restaurant’s ability to function will get called back again and again.  Communicate how much you care, it’s marketing that you can’t fake, and restaurateurs know that and pay close attention to it.

Congruency:  Be what you say you are. If you make a claim, make sure you can come through on it.  Vendors who make promises in their marketing, and then fail to back it up with effective service and results never get called back. On top of that single experience, word will spread that you have great marketing materials, and that’s about the best you have to offer.

Competency:  Remain highly skilled at what you do.  Stay up on the latest trends in your industry and do what is required to be on the cutting edge of new developments in technology and services.  Attend training sessions, read trade magazines, become a member in an industry association.  Being the clear leader in your field is one of the best marketing vehicles out there.  Trust is a huge marketing tool, and restaurateurs trust vendors who demonstrate clear expertise and competency.

Charisma:  The vendor who actively attempts to engage with their client on a personal level often is the most trusted.  Charisma is often displayed in your silent language.  Do you look interested? Do your questions show that you are listening to your prospective client? Do you provide your leads with the opportunity to ask their own questions?  Do you have resources that you can point the client towards if what they need does not fall within the scope of the solutions your business offers? All of these add up, and contribute to the “persona” that your business projects.  Is yours charismatic?  It should be.  Often clients, when faced with a choice between two vendors who are virtually the same in most respects, choose the vendor who they simply liked best.  Be likable, engaging, and show that you care about finding a solution for your client’s needs.

Consistency:  Saved for last, consistency is the number one best marketing tool ever.  Think about the restaurants that you like to frequent.  One of the most often heard comments about a high functioning eatery is this, “They consistently deliver outstanding food!”  It goes both ways, and the restaurateur who receives consistently excellent service from you will be a customer for life.

As far as marketing strategies go, be consistent with that as well.  Never stop thinking about your marketing efforts, it’s easy to do when business is booming, but in a downturn, your marketing machine must continue to be effective, so develop a pace and stick with it. That way you are not struggling to get things restarted when unexpected issues arise. Be consistent in your marketing.  Be on stage, all the time. Be successful!

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