Day 64 – The Puzzle – Documenting Your Journey

Twice in the past 24 hours I’ve repeated this statement “stop using social media as todays money mailer and a place to puke your menu pics. Instead tell your story and become the reality show your community is craving.”

I want you to do me a favor so that you can understand what I’m talking about.  Look up the 3 local restaurants near you right now and go to their Facebook.  

Chart how many posts they made since May 10th and then how many were selling something, not selling something, solid community posts or telling their unique story.


– Selling = Post about WHY to come eat and drink there.

– Not Selling = Happy Memorial Day & NOT SELLING “come celebrate with us”

– SOLID = Community oriented post (ex. one of the posts on Restaurant #1 was a little league team celebrating their big win).

– Telling Your Story = Exactly what it sounds like

The picture above is mine, on the back of a piece of mail that arrived today.

Restaurant #1

– # Of Posts = 32

– Selling = 22

– Not Selling = 6

– Strong Non Selling Post = 4

– Telling Their Story = 0

Restaurant #2

– # Of Posts = 14

– Selling = 12

– Not Selling = 1

– Strong Non Selling Post = 1

– Telling Their Story = 0

Restaurant #3

– # Of Posts = 16

– Selling = 15

– Not Selling = 1

– Strong Non Selling Post = 0

– Telling Their Story = 0

I’m not going to go any deeper than the numbers above.  If you can’t see the opportunity that exists and how BAD your competition is then that’s your fault. 

Day 51 – The Puzzle – I Was Wrong About Building Your Brand…Kind Of

The fact is BRAND drives sales.  

Brand makes customer acquisition 1,000,000 times easier, but most of us never make it to the level of brand that we need for that. Especially local restaurants. 

Think about it this way.  When Apple announces a new iPhone there’s ZERO sales pitch and in many case no info, yet their customers FLOCK to buy it.  When Nike rolls out a new Air Jordan shoe, same thing.  People line-up to buy the shoes sight unseen.  When Tesla showcased an insane cybertruck to it’s fans, they had 1 million pre-orders in year one and 2 million by year two!  NONE of that happens without a BRAND that people love and support, and building a brand takes a LOT of marketing.

And I know what you’ll say along with that “Matt we are not Apple, Nike or Tesla”, we’re a small independent restaurant. I get that, but honestly you have it much easier.  You don’t need to sell people worldwide, you just need to dominate a few miles around your restaurant.  Y

S0 why aren’t customers rushing to try your new dish, your new trivia night, etc?  It’s because your brand is not big enough and you don’t command the level of respect you need to get those lines.   You’ve never consistently done the leg work on the streets, through digital marketing and in your store.  Yes, you’ve had spurts of hustle, but it can’t happen occasionally, it has to happen ALL THE TIME and when you see traction you go HARDER!  You never stop!

For years I’ve been preaching the reasons you need to build a brand and I’m here today with my tail between my legs to tell you I was wrong.  You don’t need to focus on building a brand, you need to focus on DRIVING SALES and then allow the marketing that drives sales to slowly build your brand.  What I know is possible for all of you, simply isn’t on your priority list and it took me 9 years to realize that. 

I’ve been wasting my time with so many restaurant owners, trying to get them to do what I want with regards to social media.  Every 10th client will listen and see massive results and that’s what I would always lean into.  But then one day I thought “Matt, that means 9 are not listening, or don’t give a shit.”

So that forced me to sit back and re-evaluate our company goals. It made me ask myself a deep question, WHY don’t restaurant owners care about building a brand.

The answer, you need sales now.  They need relief from the pressure of not having money to pay themselves and their bills.  The restaurants that have taken my advice to heart are in a much different financial position.  They have the room to breathe, and that gives them the patience to focus on building the brand.  

David Scott Peters always says in his seminars when asked what owners should focus on first, marketing or operations “BOTH.  It’s the chicken and the egg.  You have to do both.”  And as I sat in Las Vegas at his most recent Restaurant Transformation Seminar I thought about what he said and realized that when owners ask that question they are talking about marketing that drives sales NOW, not in 3-5 years like branding will do.  

So with that we changed our company tag line to “Drive Sales & Build Brand.”  We decided to go all in on creating a restaurant marketing platform that is focused 100% on driving sales. 

But the good news is, that when done right (how we’ll show you), you’ll also be slowly building your brand.  And my hope is that after a few years of consistent sales growth and a renewed belief in marketing that you’ll say “I get it, I have the time and breathing room and NOW I’m going on all in on my brand.”

See you tomorrow,


Day 50 – The Puzzle – Building A Platform That Drives Predictable Restaurant Sales

This was a note I made in my journal:

“We need your help to build a product that helps you drive predictable sales on demand while you accidently build a brand” … at least that’s what I meant to write 🙂

I made this note as the headline of the video I want to make for a survey to send to our restaurant clients.  The goal is to find out what they love, like, don’t like and hate about our services.  But it was to also give them a vision for the changes we want to make.  We are taking Repeat Returns Software and Restaurant Marketing That Works, my restaurant agency, and combining them into the Ultimate Restaurant Marketing Platform.

I want a platform that allows restaurants to plug in their current sales and their sales goal in 24-36 months and have numbers spit back at them of what it will take to get there.  As in “you need 3,546 more loyalty members to hit that number.” 

I want a platform where a restaurant can go in and create a campaign that will drive a predictable result every day, you know “I need $1,000 more in dinner sales today…CLICK.”

I want a platform that automatically creates a marketing plan every day for 50% of your database, so they are on a specific path based on their use of your restaurant.

I want a platform that is easy for you to see your ROI in every funnel.

I want. a platform that you trust, one that creates massive belief in your eyes for the power of marketing.

I want a platform that when the clock strikes MIDNIGHT your marketing dashboard creates a plan for the next day where 7% the customers in your database are in a funnel for that day.  That would leave 51% to be marketed to that week with a unique one off program and you’d have your bases covered 52 weeks per year FOR YOU!

I could go on and on about what I want, but at the end of the day I’ll need to merge that with what YOU WANT!  What restaurant owners want in order to get what they need, SALES!

Day 49 – The Puzzle – An Exciting Restaurant Promotion, The Money Bucket

Today I was reminded of a time 8 years ago when I was at a clients restaurant running what I call the MONEY BUCKET promo! 

I’ve been doing this promotion with clients and my own business for over 20 years and I can remember EXACTLY where I learned it from.

The year was 2000 and I was working two jobs.  One for WGRR as an advertising “account executive” AKA salesman and the other was my side hustle of building our boat dealership through online marketing.  Yes ONLINE MARKETING in 2000 🙂

The money bucket came from WGRR and our sales manager Kim Wiest.  We would have a sales event once per year called the One Day Sale where we would do our best to liquidate our first quarter inventory in November since radio sales was relatively soft after the holidays.  We’d spend a few weeks prepping our clients for this one day sale and then the day of DIAL FOR DOLLARS!  

In November of 2000 Kim broke out a paper bag and loaded it with CASH.  She would walk around the office and let you reach in when you closed a deal.  That was my first big one day sale and I dominated, I was #1 out of our 4 stations by a big margin and I got to reach into the money bag A LOT!  And that memory stuck with me.

So a few years later when I was looking for a way to spark the sales team at our boat dealership I turned to the money bucket. And then around 2010 when I was looking for a way to help some retail clients of my marketing agency, I did it again.

Since 2010 the Money Bucket promo has been a staple with my clients.

In episode 173 of my podcast, Restaurant Marketing Secrets, I did a deep dive into how we did the Money Bucket at Backyard Grill in Houston Texas, CLICK HERE to listen and get a tad more insight.

So WHAT IS THE MONEY BUCKET and how can it be used to increase my restaurants sales, because that’s what we all aim for.


– You create a promotion

– You get some cash

– You get a bucket, bag or box

– You let customers or employees reach into the “money bucket” as your CTA, call to action.


– Drive traffic from your marketing

– Create excitement in the restaurant

– Incentivize and reward customers and employees.

Here are two examples of how you can do this.

First example, this is for your customers to drive enrollments in your VIP or loyalty program.  You create a marketing campaign and let your customers and following know that on a particular day and time when they visit and sign-up or PROVE they are a member they get to reach into the money bucket.  Ideally you create a video of you with the bucket and some cash and then use that on Facebook to get their attention.

A few notes:

– Pick a time and day when you’ll be busy, it’s a HUGE in-store excitement promo

– Don’t use big bills, I found that a $5 and $50 create the same amount of excitement at the table

– Have one person dedicated to this, no other job at that time

Ok, then you’re going to walk around to every table in the restaurant and let them know “we are letting current members or new signups reach into the money bucket for some free cash, are you game?”

Second example, this is for your employees.  Create an intenal contest like whoever sells a dessert today gets to reach into the money bucket every time one sells.  This is a great way to build excitement with your team and around the money bucket.  

Lastly, when you do this for your customers, make sure to post some pics and videos on Facebook to PROVE that you did this and excite people for the next time you do it.  I have done this across many concepts and it’s NEVER not worked.  Customers and staff, LOVE IT!


OH, and the YouTube video below is a VLOG we did around one of our trips to see a client where YOURS TRULY did the money bucket for the client, so scroll down and watch.