Trust and Permission – Gatekeepers and Goals

Lets take a pre-meditated turn off of our beaten path, and forge a new direction that creates surprise, builds trust, and forges connections.

road trips

You are the marketer, the story teller, the ambassador, the person responsible for the way your restaurant interacts with the public. You have lots to share, and lots of motivation for your community to love your place. So how can we improve our ability to break through, to create lasting loyal customers out of those that we encounter with our message? (P.S. it doesnt matter if online, in person, or in print)

We get there by building trust, and getting permission. 

Think about it, how can we invest the time/energy/money in producing a piece of marketing material, whether a website, email, or old media ad without having cultivated an audience that wants to hear about it. The days of barging into peoples attention span are over.

The Art of the Want

Everything your business does to communicate with your community is intensely personal to you, but not to the community, don’t forget that. It is really not about what you want, if it was you would just send out a postcard to everyone’s house that said; “I want you to come eat at my restaurant tonight.”  The want we are after is the want of a guest to hear more about what you are doing, to hear about what you are doing in the future. You have to earn that want, by delivering what you promise in a way that builds trust.  Everyday my goal is to build trust, forge connections, and create surprise in the way my businesses interact with our guests. That goal is the fertile ground where the want that drives my business grows. 

Forge Connections… Why use the word forge? I say that because once you create them they are iron clad, for good or for bad, these are the stories that people associate with you and your business, they are the stories they tell their friends and family, but most importantly they are the stories they tell themselves.  Recently a woman called the restaurant early in the morning while I was doing some work in my office, when I answered I could tell she was stressed. She had forgotten to order a gift certificate for her Boss’s sister’s birthday that was that day. She was going to try and get someone to come get it from the restaurant and deliver it for her, and wanted to make sure we were there that early. So I said: “I can tell you are stressed, I hate that feeling, why dont you let me deliver it for you.” She was stunned, relieved and thrilled. I got the information for the delivery address and her address to mail a receipt. I took a ride and delivered the certificate, then swung by the woman’s office and delivered her a gift card valid for a martini on my tab that read: “I think you could use this today.” She was floored, and a connection was born. I guess you can say I forged a connection and created surprise all at the same time. With that I had permission to communicate with her in the future, and the best part? It was fun. You have to do something different, something original, something you create, for it to resonate and help you reach your goals. 

So today I suggest you invest in your creative soul and use it to help you build Trust and Permission. They are intertwined, and they represent the gatekeepers to your goals.

I am Spirocks on Twitter.

Embracing Change to Improve Your Restaurant’s Business


You don’t read about marketing to gain insight on maintaining your status quo, you read to learn how to improve your restaurant’s business. All of us seek out ideas, strategies, and technologies that can affect change on the success of our business. That success could be the bottom line, the well being of our employees, or the satisfaction of our customers. In any light it is improved success that we are after.

To get there we seek change, and must lead our teams to accept, embrace, and crave it.

This change after all is not change for change’s sake, it is based on several analytical studies, among them:

  • Our Organization’s Data from successful sales and failed leads.
  • Interpretation of Market Opportunities and unfulfilled demand.
  • Employee and Customer feedback from the POS interactions.

So the change I speak of is another way of saying improvement or strategic positioning.

Am I supposed to do all this for my restaurant?

If you want to improve, yes you are.

  • You should be using the sales data on menu items to sort through the winners and losers, you should be tieing that data into the food cost of each menu item so you can emphasize the winners and work on the losers. Also how many private dining requests came in last month, how many did you book, what was the reason that those that did not book decided to go elsewhere?
  • You should be looking at your city like a consumer; to decide if there is a market opportunity. Like a town that had lines out the door for Sunday breakfast might cry out for an affordable brunch.
  • You should be constantly getting feedback from employees about what the customers are asking for, what they are loving, and what they were not so keen on.

Yes, these things will guide you to the points of change that you need to make, to keep your business getting better, growing, and becoming more successful.

Did someone say #Brunch today? Andolini's gets it going at 11am... #Andover

Employees often resist Change, your job is to lead them through it.

One of the hardest parts of doing something new is that it is unproven, and those who rely on a paycheck based on the current way of doing things often resist and/or subconsciously sabotage the new process. An entrepreneurial leader is one who will face the unknown, take a leap of faith in the decision that was made, and have earned the faith of the company’s employees so that they too believe and will work toward a successful change.

You must build an environment that allows you and your employees to connect with each other over the opportunity ahead of you, an environment that is sustained by trust.

Your employees are your most valuable resource, the genesis of your organization’s strength, and the greatest determinator of your success. You should engage them in the changes you make, let them take part in the determination of what ultimately is the final change, and also reap some of the benefits of the success you foster together.

In this way you are not their Boss, you are investing in them as a partner, and you engage with them on a level of mutual dignity. That should be the goal.

Next: Explain the Change to Your Audience.

Your audience, in truth, is a combination of the following groups:

  • Your current customers
  • The potential customers that exist in your market
  • Your employees

Some of your current customers may be adverse to change and the unknown that it brings. They may be attached to something that is changing or taken out of their comfort zone for another reason by the change. It is important to be clear and direct, avoiding ambiguities and outlining the positives of the change.

On the other hand your potential customers first need to hear about the change so that they know about this new offering that is aimed at them. When they hear about it, you should have the reasons outlined why they will love it, told from their perspective. Why is this what is missing from their lifestyle?

The employees are your ambassadors, they will be face to face with customers when they are asked what the Change is all about. If you do not give them the information they need, your change will be a muddled mess of interpretations not based on anything other than speculation. This is a major fail on your part.

Here is an example of how I addressed a major Change at my Restaurant to all these groups:

In Short, Change is a Challenge which when conquered results in Success.

What does your business need? I would love to talk about it.

I am Spirocks on Twitter.

I Got Sauced

i got sauced

It started out all in good fun. I wanted to open a place that made a really really good burger, crispy wings tossed in original homemade sauces, some hand cut french fries that you think about later in the week, and a small curated selection of craft beer cans. A fun, vivid, graphic vibe; bright colors, big tvs, funky names, and unapologetic ideas like a burger named: The Fat Kid. (A burger with every topping from every other burger including an over easy egg)

We would hire inspired cool people and have fun chipping ideas around, like making a hotter sauce by growing our own ghost chiles and coming up with a banging burger special each month that everyone loves. There is an infectious vibe in the crew and it resonates through the names and ideas that we toss around. I will never forget the way one of the main studs in the Sauce crew told me about an order for an extra patty fat kid burger. Harrison Starkweather (love that name) told me that someone had just ordered a Two Patty Fatty. Loved that.

Business blossomed as the team came together, more and more customers fell for our big ideas for simple food. We embraced spice and found a legion of heat seekers that wait for the next insanely hot sauce to come out. It isn’t always easy to grow, we had to tinker with the tiny space, adjust our food prep schedule, replace computers, and adjust the distance we would deliver to a few times. But we always have had a mojo, and some very talented chefs putting their heads together. Between Mike and Pat and Spencer the food is always under a close eye, and while we may be a fun loving group we take good food very seriously. I love a place that has no snobbery, no air of arrogance, but that just dives right into the fire to make something the best that they can, that is the goal of Sauce, and we try to get closer every day.

In Short; I Got Sauced, and I want to get the world Sauced too.

Some Recent Pics:

Burger of the Month Oct 2014 – The North Beef Burger – roast beef, northshore style bbq sauce, horseradish mayo, cheese & onion strings.

Home Grown Ghost Peppers:


I am Spirocks on Twitter.

Learning Teaching Motivating

“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.”

Stanley Kubrick


I am Spirocks on Twitter.

Tip: Consistently Communicate with Customers

Marketing a restaurant is a game of consistency, you can’t post/email thirty two things in the next 15 minutes and then take two months off. You know that. Yet it is still likely the case that you find yourself with gaps in your communications, lapses in the connection with your customers that helps drive business through your door. What you need is a plan, a system that helps you simplify, and I have one for you. 


See What I do on Instagram and Twitter by following @spirocks on both. 

Restaurant Marketing Simplification System:

First you need a base that you control, a place where you can guarantee the rules won’t change and affect all the work you have put in. That is your website/blog, and I spelled out the reasons here: ( Don’t Just Rent Your Friends ) If your restaurant website does not have a blog section, you should make that project number 1.

  1. Create a Blog on your website: Your blog is going to be the place where you create the content that is spread throughout your social networks and email lists.
  2. Create a Mailchimp Account. Great news; they are free up to 2000 contacts so you can try this out with no risk. Mailchimp allows you to send RSS campaigns, which means that once you publish a blog post you have Mailchimp automatically create an email from it and email it out when you want, like say 10am on Friday. That’s it, email campaign done. 
  3. Decide the frequency with which you wish to contact your email list. Once you have that plan, all you need to do is create a post before the date and time (give it an hour early) you set in Mailchimp and you are done. Most people find creating a blog post a less cumbersome process than creating an email and best of all you kill two birds with one stone. 
  4. Social Network integration via Mailchimp allows you to connect your restaurant social accounts and post to them at the same time.

So there you have it a simple way to create great content once, on a platform you control, and get it distributed free to everywhere it needs to be.

How frequently to post to your social networks:

In addition to the above, I suggest having a plan for social media only posts, as you should post to them more frequently than you email. So say you have a new special every Tuesday, share a picture of that with a simple one line description.

One great place to do this is through instagram, where you can take a photo of a special appetizer for example and share it to not only instagram, but also facebook, twitter, flickr, and tumblr all at the same time. Maybe I will write another post on that if you are interested.

Got any tips on how you streamline your restaurant’s online marketing? I would love to hear.


I am Spirocks on Twitter.