Passing The Bar
"Free Things and Saving Money"
You don't just need to know how to present products to a restaurant—you also need to know what products to pitch. Ian De Fabio, restaurant manager at Philadelphia Bar and Restaurant, Philadelphia, noted that hats, T-shirts and other apparel items might seem like a good idea based on their visibility and high perceived value, but generally don't see much use. "Most of them wind up sitting in boxes," he said.
Instead, he suggested items with a high turnover rate, or items bars and restaurants will need on a daily basis. "We use a ton of branded pint glasses, check presenters and coasters, as well as a lot of back-bar promo material such as lighted displays, signs, etc.," De Fabio said. "Glasses and coasters are in high demand because they are used with almost every drink served."
Ron Rosencrans, MAS, president of ProRose Inc., Stamford, Conn., recommended another approach. "Many [distributors] tell us they sell to bars, and want samples of our napkin holder," he explained. "A typical bar can use four to five napkin holders—not much of an order. The distributor needs to come up with items that will drive business at that particular location or chain."
Rosencrans explained that it has to do with competition from the big liquor and beverage companies, whose own branding strategies involve giving bars and restaurants promotional items for free.
De Fabio mentioned this as well. "We constantly have beer and liquor distributors that give us branded coasters and pint glasses. They also give us spill mats for the bar, napkin and straw caddies, etc.," he said.
Competing directly with Big Beverage marketing budgets might not be the best strategy for distributors—given the choice between "free" and "any amount of money," buyers for bars and restaurants are likely to choose the former. "People love free things and saving money. It's the main point of pain for most bars and restaurants," De Fabio stated. "Solve that and you will likely have a customer."