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.
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!
Founder | Chief Collaborator
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