4 Smart Strategies for Restaurant Partnerships

 In Operations

How do you create a restaurant partnership?

People like to be social — and they like food even more. Consider the local buzz created around the opening of a new restaurant: features in the local paper, social media chatter and word-of- mouth from excited customers who all like to be the first to try the latest and greatest.

This type of buzz provides maximum impact during the launch of a business, but the local community can also sustain a business through its growth stages and attract enthusiastic investors. All it takes is establishing the right local partnerships.

For hospitality businesses, partnering with local suppliers yields huge benefits. The results of any marketing effect can be exponential because businesses can cross-promote. Also, a successful business that is deeply embedded in the local community is one that is sustainable.

With partners from local farmers to local banks, a well-established business is a beacon for investors. Here are some examples of partnerships in local communities that produce a win-win for all involved.

1. Team Up With Local Food Suppliers

Increasingly, eateries are partnering with local farms to promote the popular “Buy fresh, buy local” trend. For example, a restaurant might use grass-fed beef or locally raised chicken from farmers in the area, and they make sure to promote the supplier on the menu. In turn, the farmer promotes the local restaurants it supplies. All partners benefit from cross-marketing and increased visibility on partners’ websites and in local media.

Take Barrel 21, for example. This popular Pennsylvania distillery and restaurant features local suppliers on its website. The eatery relies on grass-fed beef, milk and corn from local farmers; bread from a local baker; and chocolate from a local chocolate maker. In fact, even “Dan the Fish Man” who line-catches the restaurant’s Alaskan and smoked salmon gets a mention on the site.

2. Partner With Craft Beer Brewers

Many restaurants boost brand visibility by teaming up with local craft beer brewers. There is great demand for new and unique products, and with creative names such as Dogfish Head Romantic Chemistry and Hoppy Ending Pale Ale, you may attract potential investors from around the country.

Often, a one-off beer gets pushed into the main restaurant so that customers can sample a new beer on a regular or rotational basis. Craft beer drinkers tend to spend more and become loyal customers who visit more frequently.

3. Collaborate With Food Cooperatives

In addition to local farms, local agricultural cooperatives can offer valuable relationships in terms of cost benefits and marketing opportunities. Fueled in part by the local food movement, cooperatives are on the rise.

These types of organizations host educational events, informal farm tours, annual meetings and social events for all members and the public. Partnering with a cooperative can also give a restaurant statewide reach that extends to supply chain stakeholders, not just patrons of local restaurants.

4. Get Involved in Community Events

Sponsoring popular local festivities such as holiday festivals, sporting events and cuisine- or culture-oriented markets can be ideal opportunities to increase visibility and goodwill towards and among the public and local businesses.

Restaurants can serve a sampling of their fare, sell products and have their name printed on merchandise for a more permanent reminder of their contribution to the social good. Consumers are demanding more responsibility by businesses, and Millennials in particular gravitate toward businesses that practice corporate social responsibility by giving back to the local community.

Food for Thought

The opportunities for partnerships go much deeper than simply promoting a beer or touting local grass-fed beef. In fact, the possibilities for partnership activities are limited only by the imagination.

Outreach to local communities and businesses is a smart growth strategy with a great deal of potential. Investors know that the restaurant business is a competitive industry with narrow margins. Pursuing ROI from local partnerships can benefit everyone involved.

Want some more advice on your restaurant? Check out “How to Hire and Retain the Best Staff.”

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