How do I market a Restaurant Bookkeeping service to restaurant owners and managers?
Hi I want to build a restaurant bookkeeping business and have excellent skills and experience. I do not know where to find my potential clients or how to attract them. Any ideas from people who have experience in this are would be greatly appreciated!!!
Here is some general advice that may vary depending on where you are located.
-Put together a fixed "package" deal. Many restauranteurs are overwhelmed with bookkeeping and need help. Yet, first they need to understand the complete package and costs, and how having organized books will save them money. Create some sample restaurant reports. Include a start-up restaurant package, so new restaurant owners can start off on the right foot.
-Make an investment by taking a booth at the closest large restaurant show i.e. Jacob Javits, NYC.
-Reach out to restaurant accountants, who will always have clients in need of bookkeeping services.
-Advertise through the local restaurant association, perhaps give a % off deal for an introductory period.
-Target the kind of restaurant you want to work with, (white tablecloth, fast food, or mom & pop). Make that your speciality and create a niche. By saying, I work with x, you give your services definition.
-Identify those restaurants and go visit them. Have a drink, speak to the bartenders or managers about the business and then decide if you like the business. If so, go after it.
- Study all the different POS systems. Try to meet the local venders of those companies. If you become an "expert" with the specific system, those venders will recommend you.
-Go to local charity events/food shows where they have chef tastings. Speak to the chefs, give out your card.
-Be careful. Don't deal with restaurants who deal in cash. If you are handling the books, you do share in the liability.
I think besides the great advise that you already got, I would add a few things that might not be as obvious in the beginning but will make a lot of sense down the road. I'm sure some of them are already used by you but I will list them anyway, in case you haven't thought of them yet. They are simple, yet powerful things you should consider that will boost your business:
1. Create a full MosaicHub and LinkedIn profile
If you want people to help you, you need to have a full profile, show a picture of yourself and some details about you and your business. I'm sure you have it on LinkedIn (most people do) but it's important that you have a full profile even here. You never know what might come out of it. Somebody in your area might have the same target audience and could potentially introduce you to their clients (if it's in no competition people tend to be willing to help).
2. Join a local networking group/ go to networking events
Again, something that you may have considered or are actually doing, but it can't hurt to mention it here. Local networking groups usually working on referrals. They help each other out by referring customers onto each other. Groups such as BNI are very good but there is plenty of lower cost networking groups similar to BNI Find a group that is suitable to you. I would also encourage you to go to local or national food trade fairs, beverage trade fairs etc. You can find lots of restaurant owners/ managers there. If you don't want to be an exhibitor, just visit and walk around, talk to people.
3. Local food markets
Upclass restaurants tend to shop in local farmers markets or visit wholesalers quite often. Find the f&b wholesalers in your area, talk to farmers, they usually have a good clientele of restaurants that regularly buy from them. Ask them to introduce you and maybe provide a referral fee or commission for contracts signed.
4. Joint ventures
Find somebody who's target market is restaurants and hotels. To give you an example, this is exactly my target market (wrong country though) but many training/ coaching and consultancies that are focusing on the hospitality industry might be a good fit for you to join forces with. Again, it's all about networking and building trust. But if both of you could come up with a combined offer/ marketing campaign then you both would win. Think this way: We train your staff and because we like you we provide you with Tim, who will give you a free assessment on your finances and can help you with anything bookkeeping related issues. Or the other way around: If you have a client, you could always say, as a thank you for signing up with me as your bookkeeper I arranged for a free training session with company xyz to help your staff to improve on their upselling skills etc. You can word it more nicely if you wish, but I hope you get my point. Think vouchers that you could give away from other suppliers that could come in, as an added benefit if the customer wants to hire you as their bookkeeper.
5. Join groups on linkedIn such as restaurant groups, hotel groups etc. Take part in their discussions. You may pick something up there as well if you are active.
In the end it's all about being pro-active and getting yourself out there. Make sure people can find you and the services that you can offer. If you don't have a website, create one. You don't have to get a 10K $ website done. You can easily do it yourself with wix.com or wordpress. Just make sure you are visible and create a buzz about your business.
Companies you could use for joint ventures are:
Food market sellers
Training/ consulting/ coaching companies with similar target market
When you consider joint ventures you need to keep in mind that this is not only a "take from them" but a "let's help each other" attitude. The more you give, the more you will get out. It's also great if you create marketing materials together, you can both save money on that if done the right way. Just make sure it's a good fit.
I hope this is a bit helpful to you. Good luck with your venture.
Have you done a customer profile yet - for instance are you targeting fast food places or high-end restaurants? Are you planning on providing an online or offline service?
Once you know what your sales pitch is and can show potential customers why they should choose you to do their bookkeeping, you should look at your local restaurants. Call them up, speak to the owners and make an appointment to actually go and see them. Also consider your current network, contact those in the restaurant industry or those with potential contacts and tell them about your service.
You are going towards a tough audience. Owners of bars and restaurants are known to have little or no time for bookkeeping and are least expected group to change existing solutions they already use.
I assume you want to provide full bookkeeping service and not some kind of automated software solution. So you are selling yourself/your team along.
Good referrals from existing clients will help for the bookkeeping service to grow. so don't hesitate to ask existing client list you want to expand the service if they could recommend you to someone or give you a hint where to go and give you the thumbs up on using their name while you do the contact. This kind of business referrals usually bring most direct results.
1.) What does your business plan say your goals are and how you are going to achieve them?
2.) Have you clearly defined your target audience? Is is local, regional, or national? How far are you willing to travel if necessary or will you provide some form of web-based service? Are they independent restaurant owners or individual stores of a restaurant chain or the entire chain?
3.) What is your USP (unique selling proposition)? What makes you different? Is it industry experience, longevity experience, using generic software like QuickBooks or specialized restaurant accounting software? How do you eliminate a restaurant owners' pain points?
4.) Do you have testimonials from your current client base?
I'm concerned about your restaurant industry knowledge because you — even as an accountant — should know of the two most important industry trade associations: the National Restaurant Association and the Illinois Restaurant Association.
Each of these associations have opportunities for service providers to the industry to become members, advertise and network with your prospective clients. As a member you would have access to the member book/listing which would give you the restaurant name, owner and other pertinent information.
If you didn't want to become a member there are trade magazines and list rental services that you can obtain contact information through.
Most restaurants are members of the local chamber of commerce, as such, I would recommend you start with the Evanston Chamber of Commerce and work your way out to the other area chambers.
Morning Tim! One truth I have discovered over the last 20 years of offline and online marketing is that the process of marketing is always the same, just different products/services. You might want to take a look at this page of information explaining some software that does this for the owners, in fact you might consider something similar for your service. http://www.opentable.com/opentable-restaurant-management-system#/increase_bookings
Basically, you need a contact hub for the owners, managers, and consumers so they can interact with one another super easily. Then focus on traffic driving techniques to bring the exposure up in the search engines. Press releases work real well as long as they are written with engaging content.
Let me know if you would like some consulting with what to do, where to start, and how to go about the action. I offer free consults.