Partner Up: Jumpstart Your Sales by Cross-Promoting with These 10 Types of Businesses
Pizzeria owners can turn banks, apartment complexes, hotels and hair salons into moneymaking allies.
Cross promotions are a great way to build your brand and increase sales. By developing mutually beneficial relationships with key business partners in your city, you can design cross promotions that will attract more customers and increase check averages, guest frequency and customer loyalty while also boosting awareness of your restaurant’s brand throughout the community.
To get started, create a list of businesses and non-profit organizations within a three-to-five-mile radius of your restaurant. The list should include the names and phone numbers of the decision-makers at these businesses. Then, reach out to these new contacts with your cross-promotion idea. Here is a list of 10 potential partners that can help you boost profits and brand awareness:
1. Apartment Complexes. Speak to the manager of a large apartment complex in the area and offer to provide a welcome kit for all new tenants. Create a “Welcome To the Neighborhood” flier or handbill that features a complimentary menu item to entice the new resident to visit your restaurant. Be sure to offer the apartment manager something complimentary as well. This could be the start of a great partnership.
2. Banks. Wouldn’t it be great if you received a free meal at a local restaurant instead of a complimentary pen when you opened a checking account? Visit your local bank and speak to the general manager. Offer to provide complimentary meal cards for new accounts, and, while you’re at it, discuss bringing in lunch for the bank employees on a specific day and time. By turning bank employees and their customers into brand ambassadors, you can raise your restaurant’s profile and attract new guests that may turn into regulars.
3. Dry Cleaners. A busy dry cleaner sees hundreds of customers a day. Create a complimentary certificate for $2 to $5 off a pizza, print 25-50 and pass them out to dry cleaners in your immediate trade area. Ask the owner to put the certificates on their customers’ orders—they can attach it right to the dry cleaning receipt. Be sure to take a complimentary lunch to the dry cleaner’s owner and/or manager when inviting them to join you in the cross-promotion.
4. Florists. One excellent way to partner with a local florist is to trade gift cards or certificates for flowers. Ask the florist to create beautiful flower arrangements for your tables or provide single red roses to your favorite female patrons on Mother’s Day. Additionally, you can offer the florist’s customers a complimentary appetizer or discounted pizzas when they purchase a dozen roses (or spend a certain amount of money) at the florist. Also consider creating free appetizer cards for the florist’s customers.
5. Hair Salons. Salon stylists are great referrers—they often point their clients to the best restaurants and warn them away from the bad ones. Select a popular local salon—whether for women or men—and show up there with a hot, freshly made pizza. That tantalizing aroma will weaken even the most determined dieter’s commitments, and when you throw in a batch of certificates for discounts of $2 to $5, the salon owner will be thrilled to give them out to customers. Be sure to visit the salon on a busy day (most salons are closed on Sunday and Monday) or before a holiday when lots of customers are sure to be there.
6. Hotels and Motels. If the local hotel managers don’t know about you or your restaurant, how can you expect to get referrals when their guests inevitably ask, “What’s good to eat around here?” Be sure to visit your popular hotels and motels and bring menus and food to win over the manager and the staff at the front desk. Talk with the managers about opportunities for additional cross-promotions, especially if their hotels don’t have food on the premises. Perhaps a direct-dial delivery line to your restaurant would be in order! Create a list of upcoming holidays and local events—such as festivals, major concerts and sports tournaments—that will likely fill up the hotels, then make a deal to provide door hangers with a special offer for their guests at these times. At least, be sure to drop by with menus and introduce yourself to the managers and their staff!
7. Kitchen Remodelers. Remodeling a kitchen can be a very stressful process for families, especially those with children that need three meals a day. Homeowners who are dealing with kitchen remodels have little choice but to eat out frequently. Why not give them a break for choosing to eat at your restaurant? A great way to do this is to partner with kitchen remodeling companies in your area to offer their clients a special deal at your restaurant. Create a free appetizer card or a buy-one-get-one-free coupon, and ask contractors to give them out to their clients during the remodeling process. Do your research, and choose a company that’s well respected and trusted. It is very important to partner with a brand that offers the same quality and reliability associated with your brand. Also consider visiting local home supply stores, meet with the managers of the kitchen departments and offer the discount promotion to them.
8. Real Estate Agents. Partnering with real estate companies and agents can be a great way to build brand awareness with new residents and initiate trial in your community. Realtors are important to your restaurant because they use catering for open houses and have a personal connection to new residents. At the same time, you are important to realtors because catering gives them a competitive edge during their open-house promotions and gift cards provide a genuine thank-you to potential homebuyers. Select snacks or appetizers that won’t spoil after a few hours—such as chips and salsa, breads or cookies—and bring them to the real estate offices. Seek out the office manager and offer to cater their weekly breakfast or lunch meetings at a discounted price or even to provide free catering for the first meeting. This will give you an opportunity to speak to the agents briefly about your planned promotion to new homeowners. Make sure to leave a business card along with regular menus and catering menus for the agents’ perusal. Also try to contact all agents individually about your offer—they are often responsible for providing a meal each week for the office meetings.
9. Taxi and Bus Drivers. Taxi and bus drivers serve as key sources of information to their customers—the drivers know their cities intimately and are often consulted about the best places to eat out. Provide the drivers with free food and menus, and ask them to recommend your restaurant to their fares. Let them sample your specialty menu items so they can tell their customers that your restaurant serves, for example, the best gluten-free pizzas or vegetarian pies in town. Let them know about special late-night or early-morning hours at your pizzeria. Do some research on tour buses that may visit your area and extend special offers to their drivers as well.
10. Wedding Planners. Spring has arrived, and wedding and event planners will be very important people to know as the wedding season ramps up. They need large catering orders for celebrations that they plan for their clients, so building relationships with them is a valuable way to increase sales. Make a list and set up meetings with the wedding and event planners in your community. Bring appetizers and a few signature menu items—along with your catering menus—so they can try your food and make decisions based on what they have tasted. Make sure to mention if you offer full-service catering or if they will need to provide serving utensils, tables and staff. If you have a banquet room, invite the event planners to visit your restaurant and tour the space they would offer to their clients for the occasion. Host a sample menu tasting for all local event planners and wedding coordinators. As they’re leaving, hand out gift bags with catering menus and rental information.
Linda Duke is the CEO of Duke Marketing and author of Recipes for Restaurateurs, a “cookbook” of marketing ideas for restaurant owners. This article originally appeared in longer form in the April 2012 edition of PMQ.