As a new member of Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), I was pretty excited to attend their recent Independent Operators Workshop. You might be wondering, “Why would a marketing, public relations geek get excited to attend such a workshop?” The main reason is simple - a workshop of any kind is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. This is especially true when you have a panel that is living the topic.
In my line of work, the job changes on a daily basis. Marketing today is nothing like it was when I first started, so needless to say, continuing education and experimentation is crucial. Attending workshops not only helps me stay in the game but more importantly so, I get to hear the questions that my persona has. I can assume I know what my future clients are looking for and what is important to them, but you know what they say about assuming. Lucky for me, my clients always tell me what they want and need, so I have a pretty good idea about what my future clients wants and needs are. But again, there’s always something to learn.
I was excited to hear that reviews are finally getting the attention they deserve. At least the panel mentioned they were pretty important, which they are, and more than most realize. The panel consisted of Bobby Lambert - Beach Diner, David Mariotti - One Ocean Resort, Barry Adeeb - Saltwater Seafood Company and Matt Mannick - Forking Amazing. This panel was very insightful. And no, none are clients, they just happen to be very relatable.
You often hear folks give the advice of “be transparent and inspect what you expect,” but this panel elaborated with examples of how they did just that. Much of the advice was aimed toward leadership and this advice can be applied to any industry. Much of their advice was told to many times by my mother as I was growing up and again as an adult. Does this sound familiar? “Don’t say it, do it!” “Lead by example.” “Be dedicated,” and most of all “Be bold in your leadership.” None of them said be above your peers, if anything they advise you to be humble and find the experts. Surround yourself with peers that can help you navigate the muddy waters.
The panel took a few questions from the audience and I chose my favorite from each member:
- How important is marketing to your business? Mannick gave a great smile and gave many examples of how he uses Facebook to market his restaurants. “We are cutting back on print - digital is huge and social media is very cost-effective,” said Mannick.
- How important do you think reviews are? With one simple answer, Mariotti simply stated, “Reviews are huge.”
- Adeeb chimed in on reviews with this hard knocks response, “If you want a real reading of how your business is doing - look at the purity on YELP and TripAdvisor.”
The next quote I am going to share with you came from Lambert. It almost states a 'duh' moment, but how many folks forget this simple marketing tactic? This is why I think he said it. He simply stated, “The more people that can taste your food, the more money you will make.” Makes perfect sense right? Much of what was said made perfect sense. I look forward to attending more of these workshops and one day, maybe the panel will take a Yelfie with me.