Business Builders

Boosting Word of Mouth

Spreading Your Own Word of Mouth

Everyone you meet outside of your restaurant is a potential customer. That’s why restaurateur Dan Parisi carries a pocketful of business cards to hand out whenever he runs neighborhood errands. The cards, which feature the restaurant’s address and phone number and a line for a validating signature (to prevent fraud), entitle the bearer to one free pasta dinner or small pizza at Dan’s place. Presented with Dan’s winning smile, the cards have attracted many to try Primo Ristorante for the first time; while Dan’s great food brings them back for more!

Dan Parisi, Owner Primo Ristorante Barrington, IL


Encouraging Hotel Referals

While a strong core of repeat business is critical to a restaurant’s success, a steady flow of guests referred by nearby hotels can provide a dependable business boost. Therefore, pizzaiolo John Abatecola identifies potential hotel “influencers” (e.g., concierges, desk clerks, etc.) and gives them a complimentary taste of his food so they can honestly recommend it to their guests. Following a big phone order from a hotel, John also will occasionally send along a small complimentary pizza to the desk to thank them for their referral!

John Abatecola, Owner Pizza Bella San Diego, CA


Get Regulars to Bring Friends

Knowing that friends often share similar tastes in dining, restaurateur Joe Nawrocki encourages his best customers to introduce their friends to his intimate cafe by presenting them with a gift certificate so they can treat their friends to a nice dinner out. And because the newcomers are accompanied by good friends who already love Joe’s food, their visit is typically the first of many!

Joe Nawrocki, Owner Cafe Piccolo Scottsdale, AZ

Attracting Customers with the Personal Touch

(Restaurant Consultant Joe Bonura)

The personal touch can be far more persuasive than any flyer. Using a reverse phone book, listing homes by street address (available from the phone company), and a local street map, identify homes near your shop. Then call and introduce yourself as the owner to a handful of neighborhood residents each day. Simply inviting five new families a day to try your restaurant gives you the opportunity to make a “personal connection” with more than 1,000 potential new customers over the year!


Increasing Door Hanger Effectiveness

(Marketer Steve Green)

Many pizzerias and restaurants rely on distributing flyers or door hangers to area homes to get their message out. However, the effectiveness of these marketing tools depends on your deliverer actually delivering them to their intended destination (vs. a nearby trash can).

Marketer Steve Green suggests that you measure accurate door hanger delivery by giving the person that distributes them a target address list that also regularly includes several fictitious addresses and ask him/her to report back any addresses that are undeliverable!


Breaking Through Mailbox Clutter

(Marketing Consultant Jeff Slutsky)

Mailed flyers are often ignored as “junk mail.” Give your marketing message high impact by sending it on the back of eye catching picture postcards, the one type of mail everyone reads. Consider the pizzeria owner who brought home 400 Las Vegas postcards and mailed them to neighborhood addresses with the message: “When you want good pizza, don’t gamble. Come to Pizzeria Napoli!”


Group Interviews Reveal Applicant’s True Nature

(Restaurant Consultant Jim Moffa)

Rather than interviewing job applicants individually, Jim Moffa prefers a group technique that helps uncover how individuals interact with others. In this group technique, 10 to 12 applicants meet with two interviewers (one who asks questions and one who silently observes and takes notes). The technique’s effectiveness is partly based on asking a variety of questions, following this general structure:

I. Ask each member to share something special about themselves, which helps them “break the ice” and begin to reveal self perceptions.

II. Ask each to share their most embarrassing or humorous work moment, since revealing awkward moments can demonstrate their sense of humor and whether they’re outgoing.

III. Now pose a different “traditional” interview question to each individual (e.g., “What’s your greatest strength?,” “Why do you want to work here?”, etc.) to see whether they prepared for the interview.

IV. Then present an ethics question for group discussion, e.g., “If you saw a fellow employee taking drugs at work, what would you do?” Inappropriate responses can expose candidates with questionable ethics, and the group discussion shows how each handles peer interaction.

V. Finally, ask applicants to write down “Other than yourself, who among the group would you hire?” to get instant feedback on which group members are well liked by their peers.

Because it’s nearly impossible for a candidate to maintain a facade throughout this kind of interview, the second interviewer can directly observe which applicants listen attentively while others tell their stories and which are persuasive and charismatic, all valuable traits in effective servers and bartenders!

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