Collaboration for the Hospitality Sector

Collaboration for the Hospitality Sector

The first blog in our guest series has kindly been written by Dave Plunkett from Collaboration Junkie.  Dave specialises in helping brands get high quality referral leads on a consistent basis by building a strategic partner programme.  Today, Dave has focused his expertise on how collaboration can achieve this specifically within the hospitality sector.

Collaboration for the Hospitality Sector

It’s been tough times for many sectors over the last year or so, but one of the positives that I think we can take forward has been how much more collaboration between businesses we’ve seen – with new or improved services being offered that has enabled businesses to not only survive, but in many instances thrive, despite the climate.

That’s the great thing about collaboration and partnerships, you can create something far greater than the sum of its individual parts, meaning the long-term benefits are huge.

But one of the hardest hit sectors has clearly been hospitality, they’ve had to jump through more hoops then most, and yet have still had the harshest restrictions placed upon them.

And they’re not traditionally great collaborators.

So, whilst I’m doing my best to support my local (I’m sat in the beer garden while I write this actually), I thought there’s maybe more I could do, and so I thought I’d come up with a few practical tips for pubs, café’s, restaurants, and takeaways on how they can leverage collaborations and referral marketing.

So here goes

Refer a friend

So, this is one that everyone can take advantage of, but I’m always gob smacked by how few establishments do.

There’s nothing more powerful than a word-of-mouth referral, so why not encourage more of them into your business?

A simple way to do this without seeming overly salesy is to offer something to everyone involved.

How about giving out a raffle type ticket after your customers pay the bill. The prize can be whatever you wish – a free glass of wine with each main course ordered, or a free desert if 2 courses are ordered, whatever you choose and is right for your own business.

If the ticket’s redeemed by the friend of the customer who referred them then the customer in turn gets the same offer when they hand over their stub.

It means you’re not only attracting a new customer but encouraging repeat business from the original one as well – all at a cost you’ve been happy to cover.

It can be a really cost effective marketing strategy and one I’d encourage everyone to utilise in some form or another.

The drunken kebab

Who doesn’t love a cheeky takeaway after a couple of drinks?

So, if you’re a running a takeaway and there’s a pub local to you who doesn’t serve their own food (or even if they do but the kitchen closes early) why not see what you can do?

I’m not talking about just dumping some flyers on the bar though, that’s not really adding value to anyone.

Remember, the secret of any successful partnerships is value all round.

So, can you run a special offer for people who have come via the pub?

For those pubs that don’t offer food maybe even run a priority delivery service?

You could ask them to personally recommend, leave the special offer flyers on the bar or at table, or maybe even see if they could include your details on their receipts?

And of course, see what you can do in return.

Can you promote them in your premises or maybe include flyers when you bag up orders?

The customer gets some much-needed grub and feels special because of the offer. The pub looks good in their eyes because of this so builds customer loyalty, and you get extra business.

Winner!

Cabbie collaborations

Especially relevant if you have the opportunity for a good amount of transient trade, your local taxi firms could be a rich source of customer referrals for you.

Again, a simple offer (think if it as a marketing cost, but one that guarantees you a paying customer) can be the reason why it’s relevant for the driver to mention your establishment by name when they’re asked, or maybe even have your materials displayed somewhere in their vehicle.

You might need to sweeten the deal with firm themselves on this on this one, be that in cash or a tab, so make sure there’s a way of tracking their referrals, it could be as simple as a bespoke flyer, card or code to quote to claim their offer.

Yes, there may be a cost to it, but it’s business that you may otherwise have never had had, so as long as it’s profitable for you why wouldn’t you explore this avenue?

Go where your audience goes

I’ve given a couple of specific examples, but the same principles apply to any business or organisation that has contact with your target market and is an appropriate match.

Offer something of value to the audience, and something of value to the organisation making the referrals and you’re well away.

Café owners – why not approach your local primary schools or nurseries? Most of them have some kind fund that requires donations so can you offer a small % of orders over a certain size for anyone that comes through their recommendation? They may be able to include you in their newsletter on social media channels – which is great exposure for you, without any upfront fee.

Time waits for no man

Any service where the customer has to wait for a period of time could also be a great source of new business.

I know I’d rather sit somewhere nice with some refreshments then in a garage waiting room while my tyres get changed.

Who is local to you where you can capitalise on their captive audience?

In it together

So, my final suggestion is to look at where you can collaborate with similar local businesses to take advantage of one or more of the above suggestions more fully.

It takes a bigger leap of faith sure, but people have different tastes and preferences on any given day, and by combining your efforts where you may lose out on an individual customer on a given day, the overall impact will almost certainly be a more positive one.

So, there we have it, my starting suggestions for how look to leverage word of mouth referrals for your business. I hope you find them useful, and I hope the summer is a successful one for you!

Dave Plunkett

Founder | Chief Collaborator

07904 330628

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collaborationjunkie.com

PS: If you’ve found this useful why not connect on LinkedIn.  Or if you know someone who this might be useful for, do them a favour and let them know.

COVID19 – 6 ways to find opportunity in crisis

COVID19 – 6 ways to find opportunity in crisis

There are lots of tips around on how to survive today’s somewhat dystopian circumstances. For businesses of any size, the focus must be on managing cash carefully, looking after people and understanding how the restrictions affect trading.

But, where there’s crisis, there’s opportunity (to quote Einstein) and for many businesses, this peculiar event could be their making. Here are my top tips to find the opportunities that exist for you.

1.   Authenticity and vulnerability are not just buzz words

Honesty is the best policy, so the saying goes. These days though, it’s about so much more than telling the truth. Trust of official bodies, including brands, is at an all time low and many more of our interactions happen on digital pathways than face to face.

Social media gets a lot of criticism for presenting a falsely positive reality but there have been some very honest and extremely vulnerable posts recently which have attracted massive engagement. Showing vulnerability is key to gaining the trust of others and doing so can be very powerful for you as well as your audience. Don’t be afraid to say the bottom has fallen out of your pipeline. Perhaps you’re using all your new-found free time to help others. Why not share this and keep those genuine conversations going. Lots of your contacts will be in the same position and will appreciate your candour.

2.   Build goodwill among existing clients

Here’s a novel idea: why not pick up the phone to your clients for a chat? Everyone will be feeling cut off and many are likely to have a little more time to talk than usual. Showing concern by having a chat could be a valuable way of nurturing the relationship and they might be thinking you’re either flat out or closed. You can let them know what you’re able to do or how you can help.

The way in which you show up now, as a supplier or service provider will set a standard by which people will judge your business in the future. It’s an excellent opportunity to really delight your existing customers. Think about all the touchpoints you have with them (which will have changed given current restrictions). Make sure any that have disappeared are replaced with an alternative and look at what you can offer to your clients which may help or support with the challenges they may be facing.

3.   Pivot your business if you can

There’s lots of new coverage of our larger manufacturers tweaking their production lines to help with the shortages of ventilators and hand sanitiser. It’s also possible for smaller businesses to react to the crisis with new ways of working. Many of those who provide a service have been easily able to take this online with the help of Zoom or Skype and other businesses are keeping their audiences engaged with newsletters which help them to adapt to a limited way of life.

For those who’ve been left with nothing to fill their days, look for a contact who might have been left in the opposite situation. Some industries are busier than before – could they use your help and support? You could also turn to community. I know of an investor who is helping a café deliver veg boxes using wholesalers thus helping them stay afloat which is generating much needed cash for their cafés that are not allowed to open at the moment.

If there’s really nothing you can do differently, do make sure you communicate what you have done to your audience. This page on the PWC website shows they are responding to the crisis and puts them in a positive light as an organisation that cares about its people and is intent on doing the right thing.

4.   Look after number one!

Paying attention to self-care is critical at times like this. No matter how resilient you are as a person, this type of experience will increase your stress levels. Make sure you set aside time to recharge and allow your mind to process everything that is happening. Your business is nothing if you are too stressed to run it and your people will thank you for being able to stay calm in the face of crisis and make the right decisions.

5.   Develop your skills

If you’ve always shied away from giving webinars or showing up on social media through video, why not take this opportunity to improve your skills? Investigate what running a webinar involves. Can you pull your network together to share advice and ideas? As well as bringing the possibility to make a real difference to people, you will be generating useful content for your social media channels, letting people know you’re still there and willing to help.

6.   Be ready for what comes next!

We’re not talking about further measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, but rather the point at which life can return to normal. We will get there eventually and, when we do, the businesses that have made good decisions and used their down time wisely will be the first out of the starting blocks. Being ready for this means maintaining your profile online with social media posts and having an up-to-date website, looking after your people so they want to continue working with you after the crisis and gearing yourself up for a potentially quick ramp-up in activity. Let’s face it the filing will probably still be the last thing on your list but it’s the perfect time to get this done too, physically and virtually. Get that CRM updated and be ready for the future when it gets here!

There’s no doubt about it, these are unusual times. But I want to leave you with a quote by John F Kennedy which provides food for thought in how we might get through to the other side:

“The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”

Here are some useful links with information about the virus and how it impacts small businesses and start-ups.

https://www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19.html

https://www.cbi.org.uk/coronavirus-hub/latest-information-and-insight/

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