Passing The Bar
According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry will make $1.7 billion in 2012—per day. That translates to $632 billion a year (4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product), more than $650 thousand per location and a whole lot of spinach and artichoke dip.
Of course, if you've ever waited an hour and forty-five minutes for a table at the local Outback on a Friday night, you already know what the dollar figures suggest: Where there are burgers and beer, there are people. Lots of them.
But for bars and restaurants, it's not quite as simple as switching the neon sign to "open" and sitting back as customers fork over hundred-dollar bills in exchange for medium-rare meats. With more than 970 thousand bars and restaurants in the U.S., individual locations must constantly market themselves in order to stand out and earn repeat customers. That makes the restaurant industry an all-you-can-eat buffet of sales opportunity—if distributors know where, how and what to sell. Read on for some food for thought on selling to bars and restaurants.
Location, Location …
The huge variety of restaurant locations can make breaking into the bars and restaurants market a daunting task. Is it better to target the mom-and-pop pizza place or the nationwide chain? The 35-seat cafe or 350-person buffet? The local dive or the upscale bistro? According to Laurie Oftedahl, marketing and product planner for Carlson Craft Binder Division, North Mankato, Minn., it doesn't matter.
"Opportunity exists at all levels of business," she said. "You want to understand that what appeals to a small local business may differ from what appeals to a large franchise or nationwide chain—or should I say, how you present it may differ."
She gave the example of business card holders. Where a small restaurant or bar might give away a personalized business card holder containing a gift card or coupon for discounts on future meals, a large restaurant might use the holder to distribute loyalty cards for frequent customers. "The product itself is the same, but the value for the small business is different than for the large business," she added.