Day 40 – The Puzzle – What’s This Blog About & How Will It Help Restaurants With Their Marketing?

This week I was in Las Vegas speaking to a room of 100 professionals in the restaurant business.  Owners, GM’s, Kitchen Managers and Marketing Directors.  were in the room and many had questions.  So I decided to change it up a little.  I sent them a survey to find out what was on their mind and after getting rid of the duplicates we listed out the 14 questions and tackled every one of them.

The 14 questions are WHY I’m doing this blog and my podcast every day.  These questions are the PUZZLE pieces that you need to systematically grow your restaurants sales and FIND the promised land.   My goal with my content is to help you build your PUZZLE as it relates to marketing your restaurant. 

FYI, here are the 14 questions:

1.  What are the first steps in marketing for a new business?

2.  How do we create offers for new customers without discounting the product?

3.  How can we incentivize returning customers to buy more, without skewing our costs too much?

4.  How can we better track customer metrics and target them based on their actions?

5.  What are the efficient ways of capturing data from customers who’ve never eaten at our establishment?

6.  How to create authentic and engaging content, especially on social media platforms like Instagram?

7.  How do we avoid over-emailing & posting on social media to the point where customers ignore us?

8.  Where will AI fit into our marketing strategies?

9.  Is Facebook only viable for older marketing demographics now?

10.  With limited resources, where should I focus my time and money?

11.  How can we track the results of our marketing strategies?

12.  What is the best way to promote a small town local business?

13.  How to market special events like wine dinners and catering effectively?

14.  Can we automatically text people once they give us their number from a reservation, or do we have to legally ask them permission1.  ?

Day 39 – The Puzzle – Restaurant Loyalty Done WRONG By A MAJOR BRAND

Here’s what I love about restaurant marketing in 2024, EVEN YOU, the “little guy” can beat the BIG DOGS!

Yes, the mom & pop restaurants and small chains are on the exact level playing field as massive chains like Dunkin Donuts.

This week is my birthday and this morning I got a strange random email from Dunkin Donuts and it got me thinking

#1 – I’m a member of their loyalty program?  Since when and why don’t I recall seeing any past emails.

#2 – This is REALLY my birthday offer?  

#3 – If I am a member and I know it’s been at least 8-10 months since I visited, WHERE are my “win back” emails and texts? 

So that got me hunting for emails and I found 3 tied to this rewards program.  As you can see above from the screenshot of my gmail inbox I have 3.  The first was from 2019, the second on the day before my birthday last year and the third on the day before my birthday this year, TODAY!

Now I’m not here to slam Dunkin for their bad loyalty program, because once I logged into the portal, it looks like it’s really well thought out from a rewards stand point.  BUT who the hell is WATCHING?  Who’s paying attention to make sure it’s working.  And this is relatable to me since we are in the process of adding a brand new account analyzation team for Repeat Returns.  A team that looks for issues like this inside of restaurants programs to make sure they are running correctly and programs are optimized.  

You’d think Dunkin would have a MASSIVE client success team handling this.

Marketing isn’t always about wins or losses, it’s about if you’re even watching.  And in this case a member of Dunkin’s loyalty program is a GHOST, or a MINO….

 “Member In Name Only”

Meaning, my name is in there but nothing happening.  If I did in fact join in 2019 then there should have been at least 20-30 emails the past 4 years.  They have my birthday and they have that message programmed, where’s the rest?

NOW onto the lame ass Birthday offer.  

The offer they sent me was for 3x points for 2 days around my birthday.  Now there’s a few ways to look at this and honestly, no matter how you look at it, IT’S BAD!

First, I’ve not used ANY POINTS in 5+ years as a “member” so why would points even matter to me?  You should be working your butt off to simply drive a visit and a FREE DONUT is what’s going to make that happen.

SECON, let’s imagine I was a hard core Dunkin customer, then yes TRIPLE points is legit, or is it?  If I’m that loyal of a customer that I care that much about triple points, why in the hell would you not give me a FREAKING FREE DONUT!

My friends, the streets are lined WITH GOLD!  The big brands have no clue what they are doing and this levels the playing field for all of us. 

Day 38 – The Puzzle – Restaurant Loyalty – How To Drive Sales Increases

Loyalty marketing for your restaurant, let’s talk about a deeper WHY and HOW to use it correctly. 

First – Loyalty programs apply to a very small, but powerful segment of your customer base.  Research shows that only about 15% will become members of your loyalty program and within that group of customers 50% of the members will make the vast majority of the spending. 

Second – Your going to see a HUGE spike in signups when you start, massive momentum in months 1-3 and then THE BRAKES!  Loyalty programs early members are your best customers.  They are commonly called “early adopters” and the bad news you run out of them fast.  PLUS your staff loses excitement to get new signups and 

Third – The second point above leads to the biggest reason restaurant loyalty programs fail, lack of consistent traffic.  Your program is like a Ferrari, but just like every other car…IT NEEDS GAS!  At the end of this blog post we’ll talk about that more in depth. 

Forth & todays main topic – Loyalty programs should NOT be used to push discounts and promos.  It should be used to push your best customers to spend more money per visit and visit more often.  They should be incentivized to support you in more ways than other customers.  And COUPONS are not the right incentives.

The screen shot above tells a really cool story.  The right side of the image is a report dashboard inside of Repeat Returns Smart Offers system.   Smart offers are a segment of the loyalty program within Repeat Returns, and honestly one of most powerful parts. 

Smart offers are designed to take the very best customers and get this to take a VERY specific action.  In this case, a dynamic email was sent to a segment of the loyalty members.  

DYNAMIC EMAIL = This is an email sent to a list of customers that is DIFFERENT for each segment of customers. Meaning, this email had a segment of customers who typically spend under $30 and a segment that spend under $40.  The “spend bump” incentive that each of them saw was different, it was based off of their past. 

SPEND BUMP = The email for the customer that spends $30 would have said “When you spend $40 or more this week get double points.”  Whereas the email for the customer that spends $40 normally had the incentive bumped up to $50.  The idea behind this type of loyalty email is to get them to buy something on their next visit that they may not normally buy, like an appetizer.  That gets them to a higher spending thresh hold, which then gives them their “bonus loyalty points.”  PLUS you’ve now introduced a new menu item that you hope they really enjoy and start buying more in the future, which drives up your check averages. 

In the example above the Repeat Returns Smart Offer got 94 customers to visit that week (2 came twice) and $3,810.  These EXACT customers normally would have spent $1,700 on the same visits, but with this new incentive they now spent $2,121 MORE!!!!

That my friends is LOYALTY!  

We drove our best customers into the restaurant to spend more than they normally would and WITHOUT A DISCOUNT!

That $2,100 is aprox $1,500 in net profit to your restaurant. 

Now last but not least, I mentioned I’d talk about gaining more traffic to your loyalty program. I want you to imagine that this same restaurant had DOUBLE the members it currently does. Common sense says we would have gotten double the net profit.

That my friends is why you must have your 8 restaurant funnels running, so you can put gas in this Ferrari. 

Day 37 – The Puzzle – How You Can Dominate Birthday Marketing At Your Restaurant

This one is tough for me to digest, how can we as an industry stand to benefit so much from an event like a customers birthday, but SUCK at marketing to get more of them?

There are a few days every year that many consumers mark on their calendars to go out to eat.  

One that budget’s don’t exist.  

One where the party size is much larger than normal.

Yes, you guessed it, THEIR BIRTHDAY.

What’s even more timely for me is the fact that my birthday is this week.  So with birthdays being top of mind, lets build the ULTIMATE restaurant birthday marketing funnel

1st – The OFFER!  This is your marriage proposal to the client, it’s you asking for a 1st date…it’s can’t SUCK!  

This week I’ve gotten 6 Birthday emails and 4 have had a STRING attached.  It’s my damn birthday, don’t give me a coupon.  Below are two emails I got that were 100% free, exactly how it should be.  Heck, one email I got was a free dessert when I spend $50 or more, at a restaurant you can’t talk out of for under $75.


2nd – Your digital nurture.  You should have email and text messaging hitting the customers 3-4 times during the month around their birthday.  I wouldn’t stack these on top of each other though. I’d think about an email 14 days out, then a text 7 days out, text the morning of and email later afternoon.  This way you touch the at different times.

– FYI, the text the day of SHOULD not promote your offer.  I think it’s best to have a great Happy Birthday graphic, say enjoy your big day and sign off the restaurants name.  

3rd – Targeted Facebook ads. You can target customers the week of and the month of their birthday.  You can use these ads to double dip.  First, they serve as a reminder for the customers who are already a member of your program.  Second, they gain new customers into your birthday program. You could spend as little as $1 per day on these ads, though I’d recommend $5 per day.

4th – PICK UP THE PHONE!  Scroll down and check out the message from a clients manager about a birthday call he’d made.  Let’s say you have 5,000 members of your restaurants birthday program who’s phone number you have.  That’s 100 or so calls per week, 20 per day. If you spread that across a few people it’s LIGHT WORK!  And 75% of the calls go to voicemail and it’s a simple voice message “Hey Mary, It’s Matt from your favorite pizza spot, Matt’s Pies. Just calling to say happy birthday.  We hope you have a great Bday and if you decide to celebrate with us we’d love that, you have a free dinner with your name on it.  Happy Birthday.”

It’s as easy as that and I will tel you this, the customers will be BLOWN AWAY!  You will be the only restaurant calling them and many times the ONLY PERSON calling them at all.  

5th – You’re NOT DONE!  Once they are in the restaurant, WOW THEM!  Every guest who’s celebrating a birthday should get a birthday card which includes a gift card for their next visit.  I’ve had restaurants tell me when they started doing this, others at the table would say “holy crap, how do I join?”  It’s a WOW experience and that simple gift card will go a long way for your best customers.

ALSO, don’t forget to check out the text below that a clients manager put in their internal system about the response from simply CALLING a customer on their birthday week.

In episode 603 of my podcast, Restaurant Marketing Secrets, I dive into this topic more…have a listen CLICK HERE

Day 36 – The Puzzle – How To Grow Your Restaurants Catering, Loyalty, Charitable and Special Events Marketing

Today we’re going to talk about how to grow your catering sales, build your loyalty program, drive traffic to special promotions and have massive success with your restaurants charitable efforts. It all starts with having the marketing funnels built for each of these efforts, but MORE IMPORTANTLY having traffic to them.  And that traffic is likely going to come from your best customers, you know the frequent ones. 

For years I have railed on the ineffectiveness of Restaurant Loyalty programs due to the lack of consistent traffic after the initial launch.  Loyalty marketing companies make restaurant owners think their problems will be solved by having an app or loyalty program and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Loyalty programs are like having a Ferarri with a quarter tank of gas, you’ll only get so far.  BUT if you could have a full tank all the time, why not?

Well, the same goes for Catering sales, special events and charitable efforts.  You need to have a steady flow of new customers into that marketing funnel every month and you must have a solid nurturing program to make the magic happen. 

GROWLER SALES – Let me give you a really good example, back around 2015 one of our clients, Hofbrauhaus Newport, wanted to start selling Growlers and Crowlers.  So they did what everyone does, they put up some in-store signage and trained the staff on how to sell them to customers.  And guess what happened, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!  They did not sell. 

So they turned to Matt Plapp 🙂 In our marketing meeting I rolled out MY digital plan.  I had compiled a list of our top customers who were in the Stein Master Program, our newly created Loyalty Program and customers who engaged with our email marketing the most.  I did made them an offer they could’t refused and put them into a marketing funnel that included email, text and Facebook retargeting ads.  The result, over 2,500 growlers gone in a few days.  

CATERING SALES – Next let’s talk about the text above that I got from a client of Restaurant Marketing That Works & Repeat Returns.  Now I want to talk about a few items before we go any further. 

Marketing customer acquisition is made SO MUCH EASIER when you have a great brand.  People often blame the lack of success of advertising on the ads, the platform (like Facebook) or the company doing the work, but many times it’s the lack of momentum their restaurant has in their marketing.  PLUS there are many times marketing companies like mine take credit for success that is as much a product of a strong brand as their ads.  

This text message is a product of a great combination.  Yes, our ads are working amazing and this restaurant owner got 650 catering leads in 30 days.  But the reason our catering marketing worked that well was due to the hard work this restaurant owner has put into community marketing over the years.  

The next part of the success here is the fact that his catering sales, from these leads, has skyrocketed.  That my friends is a product of the catering marketing funnel.  We have emails, ads, texts and in this case a client willing to make the phone calls. And these phone calls are not all about selling the his next catering gig, it’s to build a relationship.  

This program and the other funnels mentioned above, like charitable marketing, are all a product of the frequent customers and brand ambassadors that you’ve already developed over the years.

See you tomorrow,l


Day 35 – The Puzzle – 8 Restaurant Marketing Funnels You Must Have

8 must have restaurant marketing funnels.

FIRST, what’s a marketing funnel?  A marketing funnel is the path you take customers once you know who they are.  In your restaurant you have customers walking in every day and spending money with you, the problem is you don’t ACTUALLY know who 90% of them are.  Yes you may know them to see them, but digitally you don’t have their name, email, phone and birthday logged anywhere.  And that’s a very dangerous path to take.  In my 25+ years of working with restaurants in marketing the craziest thing I see as their marketing plan is “Hope & Pray”.  They hope customers had a great experience and pray they come back.  

First, make sure you also check out episode 599 of Restaurant Marketing Secrets where I deep dive his topic as well. 

NOW, let’s dig into the items you’ll need to build the ultimate restaurant marketing plan through these 8 marketing funnels:

1st – You must have a restaurant marketing platform that does the heavy lifting on the marketing side. 

2nd – You need a marketing plan for each funnel.

3rd – Inside the marketing plan for each funnel must be a SOLID call to action, the massive WHY that makes customers not question clicking or commenting

4th – Train your staff of the importance of gathering customers data to fill these funnels at the points you control, like in-store and out in the community.

5th – Time to analyze the results and make adjustments.  

Your main customer acquisition funnel is going to help you fill each of the 1st four funnels:

– New Customers

– Frequent Customers

– Lost Customers

– Customer Birthdays

In your customer acquisition funnel you’re going to ask ONE simple question that has three answers “how often do you visit the restaurant.”  Then you’ll give the three possible choices:

– “I’ve never been” = NEW CUSTOMERS

– “I come all the time” = FREQUENT CUSTOMERS

– “I don’t come often” = LOST CUSTOMERS

It’s also a great idea in this customer acquisition funnel to gain their birthday, and now you’ve knocked out four tasks in one.

OK, lets dig into these funnels and a few specifics

– New Customers – By knowing they’ve NEVER been you have the chance to WOW their brain with specific language like “on your first visit”, “when you stop by for the first time.”  The brain catches these things and the fact that you’ll be one of the only businesses using this tactic will help you stand out in the customers mind.  You also want to include items like directions, menus and videos that take the on a journey through your restaurants brand, since they’ve never done business with you.  You also want to give customers who’ve never been to your restaurant more than one reason to visit.  Research shows that by giving them a few offers, you increase their likelihood of visiting.  We suggest four offers: high value free offer, bogo offer, dessert offer and appetizer offer.  This allows to relate to many needs they may have an not pigeon hole yourself into one opportunity with these new customers. 

– Frequent Customers – For these customers you don’t need to four offers.  They already love you.  This is just your chance to finally gain their contact information and reward them with a nice bonus.  PLUS, like new customers, they language should change and let them know you know they are a big supporter. 

– Lost Customers – Treat these customers just like a new one with regards to the “ethical bribe” you’re going to use to drive their visit.  You want to use language like “we miss you” and “where have you been.”  On top of that, the same type of emails and texts to reintroduce the restaurant are very important.  

In tomorrows blog, we’ll dig into the last four funnels: Catering, Loyalty, Specialty & Charity

Day 34 – The Puzzle – Converting Facebook Fans & Website Visitors To Customers For Your Restaurant

The Instagram comments never let me down!  This week it was @jaymckinley123 telling me we couldn’t do what we’ve been doing for around 10 years…HMMMM


Here’s how the story goes.  Back in 2015 Nick, a client who owned 3 restaurants said “Matt I can’t deposit likes.”  This comment was in response to me showing him how we’d grown 1 of the restaurants Facebook following from 3,000 fans to 39,000 fans.  To put this in perspective, his 3 restaurants did about $24 million in annual sales and I was in charge of an advertising budget over $1 million annually.  When I started helping them as their marketing agency and consultant we spent 99% of the budget on Radio, TV, outdoor and direct mail coupons.  WHY?  Because that’s what they’d been doing for years and I don’t change things until I understand what we have.  By 2015 I’d been able to work in digital marketing.  We were DOMINATING Facebook with Live videos weekly that yours truly was doing for them.  We’d also been collecting a ton of customer data in-store through a Kiosk I bought and started building loyalty programs to funnel their best customers to.  

BUT, they had not yet me move much of the paid advertising money over to Facebook and YouTube.  I won’t go down that road, for that you can watch the YouTube video below about how we built this company into a nationwide powerhouse for marketing restaurants from this conversation. 

So let’s break down HOW your restaurant can take Facebook comments, website visitors and people you find through paid Facebook ads and turn them into a customer database, but more importantly drive SALES. 

First, to do what I’m talking about here, you need to have a tech stack for your restaurant that does some fancy stuff.  We have all of this built into Repeat Returns, so it you want it done for you, simply ask us. or CLICK HERE.  And on top of that, you could really use help from a marketing expert or some education.  In case you don’t know about the Restaurant RGA Guide, CLICK HERE. It’s an amazing training from ABR U!

Now back to the blog 🙂

1st – You need to have 3 items in place outside of the tool to make this magic work. You need to have a website pop-up, the Facebook Comment Growth Tool and paid Facebook ads.  All 3 of these items will have an offer so good people would feel stupid saying no to.  Once they engage it will start the process of gaining their data and driving them into the restaurants. 

2nd – The stats below tell the story.  This 1st picture is of one of our BEST restaurant clients.  This owner has 1 pizza restaurant and he listens to every we say and he takes massive action.  These results are from aprox 2 years.

– The 1st line shows where 6,548 customers opted into his marketing program that we built through paid ads on Facebook.  That drove 2,145 visits and $60,000 in sales!  

– The 2nd line is exactly what it says, his website pop-up.  This gathered 2,045 customers information and drove $35,000 in sales from 1,185 visits.

– And the next 3 lines are all through comments on Facebook Comments. We gained 1,986 customers into their database and 835 of them visited and spent $24,567.

Now keep in mind, ALL OF THIS is only the front end of the customer journey. I can call you that these customers are responsible for HIGH six figures in annual sales and millions in lifetime sales.  By the end of 2024 we’ll have all of our systems built into Repeat Returns (new name coming soon) and we’ll be able to show the customers entire journey. 


I don’t think I need to dive deep into the #s below.  This is the 2nd restaurant I spoke about in the podcast that inspired this blog (link below)..  They have worked with us for about a year and take some of our advice.  But, as you can see, they still have great results and are ROI positive.  

So now that I’ve 100% squashed the online hater and proved without a reasonable doubt that you can show Facebook conversations, meaning taking customers from Facebook and depositing cash in the bank, let’s look at the big picture.

Below is a screenshot of our Restaurant Customer Acquisition dashboard. This shows the lifetime numbers that this customer has received through this program on the FRONT END. So in 1 year we were able to build a database that was 46% new customers and 22% lost customers.  When you take the $38,000 in total sales and pull out ONLY the new and lost customers along with the food cost, that part of the program drove aprox $18,000 in net incremental PROFIT plus gained a boat load of customer data.

That’s it, that’s all I got for today, see you tomorow.


P.S. I did a podcast on this blog post, check out episode 598 of Restaurant Marketing Secrets for more insight on how you can do this for your restaurant.  CLICK HERE

Day 33 – The Puzzle – Bad Restaurant Reviews & Negative Comments On Social Media

Bad reviews for your restaurant, how do you handle them?

Hate online and on social media, how do you handle it?

Facebook groups where anyone and everyone can throw shade your way, how do you handle it?

Let’s face it, we all get it and we all are going to continue to get it.  If you’re taking ANY ACTION in life critics are coming your way.  And on top of that, none of us are perfect every day, so guess what we actually WILL GIVE BAD service and products.  

So here is the secret, you must have this mentality as it relates to the actual review…DON’T CARE!  STILL DON’T CARE!

And when I say that, I’m not saying you’re going to ignore the review and what you can learn from it.  I’m saying you can’t let it affect you AT ALL. It can’t make your mind wonder. It can’t make you question your team.  It can’t make you have stomach pains.  You have to accept that every day, you’re going to either make a mistake and get a bad review, or made someone mad who gives you a bad review.  It’s a simple fact.

Let’s take the review up top for example.  This customer bought your pizza through a 3rd party delivery service.  They said it wasn’t edible.  If this was my restaurant how would I handle this?

1st – I’d comment something like the following ” CUSTOMERS first name, I’m sorry.  This really stinks and I’m as upset as you are, we 100% take responsibility for this and want to fix it.  I have a few questions about this order that I’d love your help with, if you could call me at 888-888-8889 (your cell phone #).  Thats my cell phone and I’m the owner.  3rd Party services are something we are evaluating to see if it’s a great idea for our restaurant, since we can’t control the time they pick it up and the delivery time sine they are not our employee.  Also, you mention “thinner than usual” which leads me to believe you’ve dined with us before and I want to know more about your past experiences since this is the only review I see from you.  Please call my cell # above so I can make sure your next pizza is taken care of and we can rebuild your trust in our company.

– For this reply you are simply trying to tell your story and make them 100% right.  75% of people will not call you, they will not reply. BUT a lof of customers looking to try you for the first time will look at your response and be blown away.  

2nd – You need to get with 5 friends and order your pizza from Uber Eats (specific to this instance).  Have you tried our product through these 3rd party apps? And not from your own account, your employees will see that.  From other people’s accounts, this will allow you to mystery shop your restaurant and understand if there’s an issue you need to address in your restaurants operations.  

3rd – Keep a chart of your bad reviews and add this it.  You need to see if there are any trends, anything to approach your team about.  

4th -Don’t raise a red flag on this to your team.  Imagine if you scream this from the mountain tops to your team and it’s 1 out of 100 instances. Is it worth putting doubt in their mind?  Now if your chart from point 3 above shows a trend, of course you’re going to IDS this (Identify, Discuss, Solve).

And then YOU’RE DONE!  Don’t beat yourself up, worry about what others think, etc.  Move on. Bad reviews, orders gone wrong and hate are all part of the game.  And yes, I understand it’s tough to stomach, but we all must get used to it. 

In episode 588 of my podcast, Restaurant Marketing Secrets, I discuss this exact topic…HAVE A LISTEN, CLICK HERE!



Day 31 – The Puzzle – My Dream For America’s Best Restaurants

Where we are today with my three companies: America’s Best Restaurants, the merger of Restaurant Marketing That Works & Repeat Returns and ABR University is the product of many hours of conversations with restaurant owners and marketers since 2008, but the van in the picture above has more significance than anything else.   

The van was a turning point in, investing in our future.  I started our company in 2008 as Driven Media Solutions, LLC.  The goal of DMS was to help local business owners manage and implement their marketing while embracing the digital marketing coming down the pipeline.  I still recall the conversations in 2008-2010 with restaurant owners about the importance of being on the website “Facebook” and them looking at me like I had three heads. 

Then something magical happened, I convinced 34 owners to give me absolute control of their marketing, including 9 restaurants.  I had 6 Independent restaurants and 3 franchise locations from around 2010-2017.  On June 22nd, 2011 I hired my first employee, Ashley.  This was something I said I’d not do three years earlier when I launched DMS.  I wanted to be a “one man show” and no responsible for anyone else.  

Now flash forward to 2015 and I realized Ashley and I had stumbled upon some marketing magic with Facebook marketing. We were able to use targeted ads and engagement on organic posts to get consumers to give us their email, cell phone number and birthday in exchange for a one use promotion at the restaurant.  This allowed us to use that information to FINALLY drive trackable sales to the restaurant and funnel specific customers into the loyalty program we’d set up.   Over the next 4 years we would change our name to Restaurant Marketing That Works, write 2 books and scale to 5 employees.

But I was still had a massive problem.  I was quite scared and lost.  I knew I was right on the marketing side of things.  I knew that I had what restaurants needed and I could help them like no other marketing company in the US, but how do I get them to know, like and trust me?  Also, how do I do this with 5 employees, this is going to be EXPENSIVE.

In 2017 I had an idea that was the product of a brain storming session with another restaurant marketer, it was the first time I’d thought of creating America’s Best Restaurants.  I had the idea of a brand like Yelp that consumers would visit to find restaurants, but a brand that was not hated by the restaurant owners themselves.  What if I could kill two birds with one stone.  

WHAT IF I could create a media company dedicated to helping independent restaurant owners gain attention from consumers and on the other side of the equation help restaurant with marketing.  

WHAT IF America’s Best Restaurants became a place that consumers would find the local restaurant in their backyard, but the restaurant owner controlled what they saw online.  We would take the power away from the consumer, you know with their crazy reviews and terrible pictures.  BUT we had to be that third party that made sure to only let the right restaurants into ABR. 

It was a great idea, but I had no money, no team and no idea what the heck it was going to become.  But I did it anyways…on a shoestring budget.  

I bought, because I could not afford the DOT COM version. I did all of the videos by Zoom, which sucked and I had 1 of my team members spending 10 hours per week helping me reach out to the restaurant owners to set up the Zoom Interviews.  

I did this for about 3 months and realized they all SUCKED!  I stopped doing the Zoom interviews because it was not doing the restaurant any justice and honestly most people at that point were not familiar with digital interviews like that in 2018.  So in 2019 I tested doing a few in person, like the one you’ll find at the bottom of this page.  I had no clue what I was doing, except helping the restaurants tell their story.  I also had NO AUDIENCE, I mean maybe my parents :). These were AWESOME, but I did not have the time to run our company, especially as it doubled every 6 months and drive around the country to film interviews.  I also realized I would never achieve any sort of volume with this model and so I STOPPED!

In the Summer of 2019 I STOPPED and told my team we’d come back to it down the road when we had time and money. 

Well that time was in 2021.  During 2020 when the restaurant industry was stopped due to the pandemic I couldn’t help but think “WHAT IF” I’d not stopped.  What if I’d kept going with ABR, would I have been able to help these restaurant owners more?  That was on my mind for a while and finally in April of 2021 I said LET’S GO and we bought the 1st ABR Roadshow Mercedes Sprinter.  This was a HUGE purchase for me. It was scary.  You see at this point, the company had never really made any purchases, outside the building I’d just bought…that’s another story, who buys a 9,000 square foot building with only 1 other employee who works in office 🙂

So, we bought that van and hired two people, Ryan and Austin, to be on the ABR Roadshow.  Now today we are sit at 34 people on that team and we’ve spend…..err invested $4.5 million in the building of America’s Best Restaurants and the ABR Roadshow.  

That van made me get uncomfortable.  It forced me to invest in something that was an idea, that was NOT going to have an ROI for many years to come.  And here we are today with millions invested and massive momentum company wide in every division.

In episode 591 of Restaurant Marketing Secrets I spend 12 minutes and 33 seconds telling the crazy story that started the ABR Roadshow, HAVE A LISTEN…THAT MEANS TO CLICK HERE 🙂

BY THE WAY, CLICK HERE to watch the FIRST ever in person America’s Best Restaurants in person interview, this was filmed on my iPhone on the way back from the NRA Show.  

Day 30 – The Puzzle – Finding New Customer For Your Restaurant

What if you could take your restaurants customer database and use it find more customers just like the VERY BEST ones in there?

Well you can, it’s called a Lookalike Audience within Facebook.

Three of the best sources you can use to create these audiences are:

– Your Customer List (the finer tuned the better)

– Your Facebook Video Views

– Your Website Visitors.

Why do you want to do this?  It’s pretty simple. You take these sources and in Facebooks ads platform your can use them to create what’s called a “lookalike audience.”  This allows you to find people JUST LIKE the people in that list/source and then run ads to get them to visit your restaurant, join your VIP club, cater an event from your restaurant, etc.  In episode 590 of my podcast, Restaurant Marketing Secrets, I spoke about this GOLDEN opportunity.  CLICK HERE to listen on Spotify.

Ok, so let’s talk about how I would use each of these sources to find customers for a restaurant. 

1st – Your customer list.  I HOPE you have a way to identify who your best customers are.  Meaning you’re using a product like Repeat Returns to drive trackable sales at the customer level and associate it to their name, email and phone number.  If you are, then you can take that segment of your customer list and upload it to Facebook.  Then you create an audience that looks JUST LIKE THEM and target the best zip codes around your restaurant.  Once you create that audience you’re going to take them into a “Restaurant Customer Acquisition Funnel” with an offer so good they’d feel stupid saying no to.  And now you’re building a brand new customer list for your restaurant that will dryve new sales.  Another huge benefit about ads like this is when customers who look JUST LIKE your best customers engage in the ads, Facebook and Instagram optimize them. Meaning, the algorithm uses machine learning and AI to find more people just like the best customers in your rewards/loyalty database. 

2nd – Facebook Video Views – You should be using video marketing on your Facebook page to engage your customers.  And when you do use videos you can create lookalike audiences based on their engagement of your video.  As an example, lets say you’re a restaurant that’s decided to partner with America’s Best Restaurants and the ABR Roadshow to have us feature your restaurant.  You can take the people who watched 50% of that 12 minute video and create an audience of people who look JUST LIKE those highly engaged viewers.  Then you do exactly what I said in #1, you target them with an irresistable reason to visit your restaurant.  

3rd – Your Restaurants Website Visitors – There’s this amazing tool that way too many restaurants are ignoring called the Facebook Pixel. It’s a simple line of code that you install on your website and it gives you the ability to create audiences based on who visits your website.  As an example, let’s say your restaurant offering catering and has a page on your site for catering business events, wedding, etc.  Well, if you had the pixel on there you could not only target the people who visited that page with an ad “looking to cater an event”, but you could create an audience that looks just like those customers are target them as well.

I could give you 50 other ways to leverage this tool to drive sales into your restaurant, it’s that powerful. 

Below is a pretty solid video on the topic. I don’t personally know the author, but he covers the topic pretty well. 

See you tomororw,