By Mark Plumlee
Teamwork makes the dream work! Collaborations and strategic partnerships are powerful tools that can help your restaurant build community, increase local awareness, and boost revenue for all parties involved.
There are a lot of fun and easy ways to create partnerships, and by aligning yourself with like-minded businesses, you increase your reach, attracting attention for your restaurant from a whole new crowd.
Host a pop-up
Have you hosted an event lately? A pop-up can be any type of one-day or even short-term event at your restaurant. For example, you might collaborate with another local chef with a “kitchen takeover” in your restaurant. This could be a one-time event, a series with rotating chefs, or you could host a follow-up event where you do a similar takeover in their kitchen.
Or, you could offer up your kitchen to an up-and-coming food truck business that might not yet have a brick-and-mortar location as a way to combine your customers and get your guests excited to try something new.
Not only does a pop-up give your staff a little reprieve, but it shakes things up and creates a sense of novelty for your customers, as well as encouraging a fun and engaging ambience.
While it might seem odd to welcome “the competition” into your space, it’s actually a pretty progressive move that shows the public how community-minded you are. Plus, events like these inspire curiosity, which can bring more people through the door. So be sure to advertise with flyers and on social media to bring more attention to the event!
Offer a tasting menu
Your restaurant probably sources products from a local business or two. Consider creating a tasting menu centered around these relationships!
More and more, people are interested in and concerned with the quality of their food and where it comes from. An event with a local provider or providers helps create an experience for customers that fosters a sense of community and gives people an inside look into what makes your restaurant tick.
For example, if you source your produce from a local farm, you could create a special menu centered around seasonal produce. You might even invite someone from the farm to speak to customers about their business, methodology, and philosophy.
An event like this can help build the relationship between you and your provider, as well as create a stronger connection between you and your customers, resulting in increased customer retention and repeat business.
Partner with an alcohol provider
Drinks make dining out extra fun, so why not partner up with a local alcohol provider? Similar to the above idea, this involves creating a tasting menu or dishes that are centered around partnerships with local providers. But in this case, it’s a provider of wine, beer, or spirits.
There are a number of ways to approach this type of partnership. Here are just a few:
- Create recipes featuring the purveyor’s products — for instance, beer-braised brats featuring a local beer or chocolate wine cake made using products from a local winery.
- Design a menu of dishes designed to be paired with the provider’s products.
- Create a one-time-only event where customers can get cut-rate deals on the provider’s products, such as a bottomless mimosa brunch featuring local sparkling wine.
An event like this can help shine the spotlight on both of your respective offerings with cross-promotion and increase customer retention!
Get involved with a local charity
It feels good to do good! Partnerships with a local charity can be a great way to generate awareness for a good cause and for your restaurant – it’s a win-win.
There are a number of ways to collaborate with a local charity. For instance, you could offer up your establishment as a venue for a fundraising event. Or it could be as simple as donating a portion of your sales to the charity in question. If you go for the latter, be sure to let customers know! Make a note on your menu and consider adding a QR code that invites customers to learn more.
No matter how you approach it, partnership with local charities is always a good look. Not only does it give you good karma, but it can help contribute to a great cause.
Host a competition or challenge
Food competitions and challenges make for fantastic marketing opportunities, and they never fail to generate hype and bring in customers.
Once again, there are many ways to approach this type of event. Here are just a few ideas:
- Offer a heat-seeking challenge in partnership with your favorite hot sauce provider.
- Host an eating competition featuring a local provider’s products.
- Host a competition that includes other local restaurants. For instance, you could host a chili-off featuring local chefs and have customers vote for their favourite.
No matter how you go about it, food competitions and challenges are an engaging and fun way to attract customers. And you never know, you might create an international sensation. After all, Nathan’s famous hot dog-eating contest started as a marketing ploy!
Stop, collaborate, and listen…
Collaborations and partnerships can help you create memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences for your customers. Not only can collaborative events help generate buzz, but they also have the potential to give your sales a big boost. Plus, they can be a lot of fun for you, your staff, and the business you partner with. Everyone wins!
Mark Plumlee is the Sr. Editor for MustHaveMenus, a DIY design and digital marketing service for restaurants, and has written for CRFN and many foodservice publications on food industry trends and technology.