Restaurants Embracing Cause Marketing & Social Fundraising

Restaurant Cause Marketing: In an October 2014 National Restaurant Association news announcement titled “For restaurants, charity begins at home,” the Association cited research estimating the restaurant industry donated nearly $3 billion to charitable efforts in 2013.

Corporate responsibility within the restaurant industry has evolved beyond grandstanding– as restaurants of all sizes see multiple benefits from actively supporting charities favored by their patrons.

The “Edelman goodpurpose 2012” study projected that 72 percent of U.S. consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t.  

Given this, as a restaurant owner, manager or marketer, you should be asking: What causes should my restaurant support?

A 2014 “Statistica” survey of restaurant customers in the United States, listed these as the “Top 5” types of charities they would like to see restaurants support:

1.    Those that fight hunger (48% of survey respondents)

2.    Those that help poor families (41%)

3.    Those that help children (28%)

4.    Short-term disaster relief (28%)

5.    Those that fight diseases (26%)

Here for your inspiration are examples of three philanthropically-inclined restaurant chains who’ve run cause marketing programs to benefit charities in those top segments:

Wendy’s Campaign for Foster Care Adoption
In 2014, 90% of Wendy’s restaurants across the U.S. participated in a national campaign to sell Frosty Key Tags. Purchases of $1 Wendy’s branded key tags raised funds for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and provided customers with a free Jr. Frost with any purchase through the end of the year. Touting the tagline “Every child deserves a childhood,” Wendy’s Forever Family campaign resonated with customers, raising more than $4 million for the foundation and helping 4,000 children in foster homes to find homes, thus far.

Denny’s & Team Up for “No Kid Hungry
Since 2011, 1,600 Denny’s restaurants nationwide have run annual coupon sales campaigns which have raised $1.4 million for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry, the leading nonprofit focused on ending child hunger in America. Last summer (2014), Denny’s expanded its initative by teaming up with T-shirt fundraising site The campaign began with a nationwide contest for Denny’s employees to submit compelling t-shirt designs to spread the word about No Kid Hungry. Three final t-shirt designs were selected, and put up for sale for $10 each on a #DennyNKH-branded t-shirt fundraising web page. Encouraged by social media, and driven by active participation by Denny’s franchises, team members and customers, Denny’s raised $18,000 from t-shirt sales alone and revenue from donations jumped 30% over the prior year. Beyond raising money, management at No Kid Hungry claim that the t-shirts also helped raise spirits and public awareness about the more than 16 million American children struggling with hunger. Denny’s is continuing the t-shirt fundraiser in 2015.

Chili’s More Hope Campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
The fall of 2013 marked the 10-year anniversary of a partnership between Chili’s Grill & Bar and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, a globally respected leader in the treatment childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Timed to coincide with Childhood Cancer Awareness month each September, Chili’s restaurants across the country as well as in Puerto Rico have participated in the company’s Chili’s “More Hope” Campaign, offering a number of in-restaurant and online giving opportunities designed to raise funds for St. Jude.  In 2013 and 2014, Chili’s raised more than $5 million for St. Jude and to date, has raised more than $54 million. This effort surpassed their $50 million commitment and did this two years early. In 2015, Chili’s and the Create-A-Pepper campaign is extending their partnership with St. Jude beyond the month of September and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and taking part in the St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign.

Cause marketing and social fundraising isn’t just for large, national restaurant chains. Embracing and supporting the causes and issues your own patrons care about can let you “do the right thing,” while also enhancing your connection to customers, fostering loyalty, repeat business, and favorable word of mouth referrals.  Why should your restaurant do this?

Just Be Cause.


This guest post written by Andrew Moss, President of t-shirt fundraising site (Newton, MA)


Book Review: Insider’s Guide to Intellectual Property for Restaurants

Last year, I published a guest post by Andrei Mincov about trademarking for restaurants.

Today, I’m giving a shout-out to Andrei’s new book, From Faceless to Legendary: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Intellectual Property for Bars, Cafes and Restaurants.

Many restaurant owners think that intellectual property might be important for other industries, but is largely irrelevant for theirs.

In his new book, Andrei shows that IP is not just about groundbreaking inventions owned by multi-billion-dollar transnational companies or about popular music pirated by the masses.

From Faceless to Legendary has nothing but practical advice that relates to your bar, your café or your restaurant. It covers three main areas where restaurants, willingly or unwillingly, deal with intellectual property.

The first chapter is about building and protecting that, which the public uses to tell your restaurant apart from all of your competitors. It’s about protecting your brand through trademarks.

The second chapter is about various content you end up creating and using in your business. Who owns your website, photographs, marketing materials, and apps? Just because you paid for them does not mean you own copyright in these assets.

Finally, the third chapter is about protecting your recipes and other confidential information through trade secrets.

Every single example in this book is taken from the restaurant industry, so you can relate.

Unlike Andrei’s previous 360-page book on intellectual property for all kinds of businesses, this one is short and sweet. You can easily gobble it in a couple of hours.

A book like this removes any excuses for neglecting intellectual property as something too academic.

Get it at and, as Andrei puts it, be legendary!




Restaurant Marketing: Top Newsletters You May Have Missed In March & April

Restaurant Marketing: Here are the top WOW newsletter issues you may have missed. The WOW newsletter is "intelligent restaurant marketing for intelligent restaurant owners and executives.

WOW has been quoted as a better read than Nations Restaurant News for marketing and building your business. Subscription information is at:

1. The Apple Watch Story & How It Affects Your Restaurant

2. Why You Should Start An Annual Tradition

3. Google's Smackdown

4. Be An Inspirational Restaurant. Start With "Why"

5. Keep Your Marketing Grounded & Focused

6. Think You're Customer-Centric? Try This!

WOW is a concise, to the point, no BS, 35-second read; great insight into building your restaurant or retail business. To subscribe and get 4 issues per month, click here.


How to Create a High Performance RestaurantTeam in 90 Days

Wow Team Building Master Class: Denver June 15-17
Over my many WOW issues, I've written about the importance of building a championship team – something I know you're acutely aware of.
The challenge is that developing the right team is a hit or miss venture. It's stressful, it's expensive. Turnover hurts everyone in your restaurant, including your customers.
Unfortunately, there was never a class or a course on "Best Practices For Developing a Championship Team" to teach us the right way on how to do this.
Until now, that is.
Imagine if you could:
1. Hire the right people right away – and keep them.
2. Increase staff productivity – leading to greater profits.
3. Have a team that runs like an orchestra – all in-sync, all providing great customer dining experiences – and all building your sales and profits – and even performing perfectly while you're away on that long-overdue vacation.
You don't have to imagine it.
Now you can have the perfect team you've always dreamed of having.
This is a special invitation to join Bill Marvin The Restaurant Doctor and I in Denver – June 15th-17th – for our Team-Building Master Class – "How to Create a High Performance Team in 90 Days" – two and a half days of intensive learning and interacting with other restaurant owners – building the team you've always dreamed of having.
Our Team-Building Master Class is the third piece in our SFA series for impatient restaurateurs. In our first two programs, we've already proven (to some initially skeptical operators) how easily they could increase both sales and profit by 20% or more within just 90 days. (Those classes are coming up again in October and February.)
I urge you: Don't miss this one.
For this intensive and focused Master Class, we're only accepting a limited number of attendees. Register now before this limited number of seats are claimed by others (maybe your competitors?).
Click  to get the whole story on this exciting new Master Class.
You'll leave Denver being able to create the high performance championship you've always dreamed of having.
Again, get all the details at


Restaurant Marketing: How LEDs Can Increase Your Sales.

Restaurant Marketing: The number one rule for increasing liquor sales is:

Situate premium products where they are visible to patrons and easily accessible by employees, with plenty of inventory on hand to meet increased demand.

Lighting is a critical but sometimes under-emphasized component of any sales strategy. It affects customers’ perceptions of liveliness, coziness, and brand value, and a high quality lighting design has been shown to encourage patrons to linger and shop more.

The best lighting designs consider the cohesion of ambient and accent lighting. Ambient lighting is the backbone of design and uses consistent light levels to ensure that patrons can see the space and navigate through it safely. Along with natural daylight, ambient lighting is created using direct and indirect fixtures that shine directly onto surfaces or bounce light off of walls or ceilings.

Accent lighting is precisely what you need to increase liquor sales and here’s the science behind it:

  • Studies show that people prefer facing walls that are spotlit. It’s no wonder, then, that so many customers belly up to the bar; a well-lit space behind the bar gives patrons an enjoyable drinking/eating environment, allowing attentive bartenders to upsell.

  • Lighting affects people’s moods and emotions, and creating the right atmosphere increases spending.

  • High contrast lighting enhances visibility and levels of attention while simultaneously lowering energy consumption.

  • People prefer cooler light (5000 Kelvins) to warmer light (3000 Kelvins), finding cooler light to be brighter and more arousing. Similarly, light with a higher color rendering index (95 CRI) is more pleasurable than a lower color rendering index (75 CRI).1

But science can only get you so far.

When it comes to sales, you have to follow the trends: clear (not translucent) hand-blown glass with a warm-colored bulb inside; an uplit back bar; directional light for feature displays; and, of course, LEDs.

LEDs are ideal for full-service restaurants, which have “among the highest electrical costs per square foot of any building type.” True, the up-front costs are greater, but LEDs’ small energy consumption and long lives mean fewer replacement bulbs to be purchased and labored over. They also emit more light per watt, show truer colors, and are better for your health.

LED-lit shelves boost a product’s visibility along with its attractiveness by drawing a patron’s attention to striking pops of light. It’s important to choose the right colors to increase sales: red creates urgency to make quick decisions and is associated with energy and vitality; yellow and orange have high visibility and grab attention; and while royal blue is effective for impulse shopping, never (ever ever) use blue for food because it suppresses appetite.

Once you’ve installed eye-popping, cost-saving LED accent lighting and liquor displays, the final step to increasing sales is to create a signature cocktail that will keep customers coming back. We recommend pouring it into a unique glass that isn’t used for any other drink, high-quality alcohol, and a lot of experimentation!

— Guest post written by Charlie Wilson of


Restaurant Marketing: Effective Strategies for Acquiring New Guests in Your Community

Restaurants spend a lot of money every year trying to attract new guests. It is by far the largest portion of the marketing budget. Data collected from Tuee using over 30,000 data points, indicates that new guests only account for about 25% of a restaurant's total business on average.

What does this mean? It is not saying that attracting new customers isn't important, but perhaps you should be careful about spending too much time on it, if the effort does not equal the reward.

This unfortunate reverse example of the 80/20 rule, whereby about 80% of your efforts and marketing budget goes to only about 20% of your revenue generation. Think about that! Now think about how you can get out of this debacle, because new customers are important to keep your restaurant alive. Nonetheless, something that accounts for 25% of your revenue should probably only receive about 25% of your time and money, right? Keep reading if you want some quick and affordable ideas on how to attract new guests to your restaurant.

1. Partner with other local businesses
Many restaurants have successfully used other businesses to market their restaurants. Most often these other businesses are looking to create mutually beneficial relationships and are more than willing to work with you.

For example, your upscale restaurant could partner with a flower shop – let the flower shop include a subtle and stylish note on the table decorations in exchange for free or discounted flowers. An extension of this used to attract guests could be a "dinner for two" which includes keeping the romantic single rose that adorns the table.

Other ideas include go to the local bakery for a supplier. Granted it may be a little more expensive, even after negotiating a price, but let them put up a sign in the store to "Visit Mike's Seafood Restaurant for great meals using our signature bread" and you can make sure to mention them in the menu or a table card: "Tomato and Basil Bruschetta served on Mama's Home Bakery baguette slices."

2. Host Local Community Events
Get to know the local community and host some local events. This will allow the people locally to get to know who you are and earn you some brownie points as a business that helps out the community. People are often inclined to dine at businesses they have seen active in local community events.

For example, a sports bar/restaurant might partner with a local team to be their designated after-game drink location for their once-a-week games. No matter the sport, no matter the level. This will attract a few core customers who are likely to become repeat customers, but it will also bring a few new tag-alongs with each visit. Many of these customers are then likely to come back even when there is no game.

Other ideas include sponsoring a local high school sports team. Any restaurant could see if there is a rotary club you can work with or a PDA meeting that wants to avoid the monotonous classroom or gym for their meetings. You could also put a little more skin in the game by sponsoring a local high school sports team. Connect it to a healthy children initiative in your area. Let people know that your restaurant is a place where healthy food/living can be expected. Viola - successful marketing!

3. Host Combined Events with People who have a following
One of the best ways to promote your restaurant to new guests is to work with a well known local individual and provide them with a place to reach their audience. If possible, allow an influential person to host their event at your restaurant.

For example, if you are trying to attract affluent people and young professionals, you could host a comedy night and invite local comedians who will benefit from the exposure. The night itself should be profitable and the event will draw the right kind of crowd to become repeat customers.

Other ideas include having local associations do their weekly or monthly meetings at your restaurant, like the real estate group, or even the local restaurant association.

In conclusion…
These are mostly give and take strategies that are mutually beneficial. What in life isn't a give and take, right? Give 80% of your marketing budget to 20% of your business or spend a few hours in meeting local businesses to set up relationships that will pay dividends for a long time to come. The restaurant business is a human business. Don't let that stop with the server-guest interaction.

Get to know your guests and find out what they want. Many want a trusted source to recommend places, a partner to interact with in the community, and a venue to socialize with their friends and associates over a drink or good food.

This guest post written by Vikram Rao – co-founder of Tuee - redefining restaurant guest relations.



Restaurant Marketing: Top Newsletters You May Have Missed In Jan. & Feb.

Restaurant Marketing: Here are the top WOW newsletter issues you may have missed. The WOW newsletter is "intelligent restaurant marketing for intelligent restaurant owners and executives.

WOW has been quoted as a better read than Nations Restaurant News for marketing and building your business. Subscription information is at:

1. Understanding The Profit Value Of The Dining Experience

2. Why You Should Stop Hunting For Customers

3. The Best SEO Tools For Your Restaurant's Web Site

4. The Importance of Your Female Customers

5. Building A Monopoly Of Trust In Your Market Place

6. The Huge Illusion Of Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty & Spending

7. The Importance Of Starting An Annual Tradition

WOW is a concise, to the point, no BS, 35-second read; great insight into building your restaurant or retail business. To subscribe and get 4 issues per month, click here.


Restaurant Marketing: How to Increase Your Bottom Line by 20%

Just Get It Done - Master Class for Restaurateurs

Your Bucket of Money
Money Bucket Leaking Has Holes in It!

Even as your sales volume increases, the odds are good that your restaurant still isn't as profitable as it could be.

How long will you let the bleeding go on?

When you seek to make more money, you probably look for ways to build sales.* Putting more cash in the bucket is an important first step, but unless you also patch the holes, the money will keep dripping away instead of going into your pocket. We'll show you how to find (and fix!) those leaks once and for all.

SFA 3.2: Profit-Building Master Class
How to Increase Your Bottom Line by 20%
in 90 Days
March 30 – April 1, 2015 – Nashville, TN

Here's What You'll Do During Three Powerful Days in Nashville:

  • Re-structure your business model to consistently deliver enough monthly profit to pay all the bills, provide a return on investment and support your desired lifestyle
  • Have a plan to generate at least 20% more bottom line profit within 90 days
  • Right-size your menu and turn it into a highly profitable money machine
  • Lower your food cost by at least 10% without cutting product quality
  • Be able to track your food cost … every day … without taking an inventory
  • Learn to spot theft and make your bar operations more profitable
  • Discover how to raise wages (and lower payroll cost!) without compromising service
  • Secure 90 days of one-on-one coaching to help you be more productive and meet your goals
  • As a bonus, you'll even pick up a few targeted ways to build sales volume!

Meet Your Mentors If you really have to think long and hard about whether to invest a few days (and a few dollars) to discover where the leaks are, tighten up your controls, streamline your systems and put 20% more on the bottom line forever, you're just not ready for this class.

Click Here to Get Details

SFA 3.2 will put a smile on your face and more money in your pocket. If that's your idea of a good time, you're about to become very excited!

* Building sales is still important, that's why we made it the focus of our first Master Class last November. We promised attendees they'd learn how to increase their sales by 20% in 90 days … and with our individualized coaching support, they're on track to do just that! (The point: We deliver on our promises.)


New Profit-Building Master Event For Restaurants

Bill Marvin, the Restaurant Doctor and I held our first Master Class last November in New Orleans.


It was focused on Sales-Building and the promise was that the attendees would be able to increase their sales by 20% in the first quarter of 2015. With the workshop and our 90-day coaching support, they're on track to do just that.

Getting more cash in the till is an important first step, but it's only the start. The real measure is how much of that money makes its way to the bottom line.

Our second class in the SFA series – see our website to see what that means – will be held in Nashville from March 30-April 1.


It will concentrate on Profit-Building and promises you'll be able to realize a 20% increase in your bottom line profit within 90 days … if you're willing to Do the Work!


Here's What You'll Gain from Three Days in this Master Class:

  • You'll be able to re-structure your business to consistently deliver enough monthly profit to pay all the bills, provide a return on investment and support your desired lifestyle.

  • You'll see how easily you can generate at least a 20% increase in bottom line profit within the next 90 days.

  • You'll right-size your menu and turn it into a highly efficient money machine.

  • You'll be able to track your food cost … every day … without taking an inventory.

  • You'll have a plan to lower your food cost by at least 10% without cutting quality.

  • You'll learn how to spot theft and make your bar operations more profitable.

  • You'll be able to eliminate most of your overtime costs without compromising service.
  • You'll have 90 days of one-on-one follow-up coaching to help you stay on track and meet your goals.


As a bonus, you'll even pick up a few targeted ways to build your sales volume!

If you have to think about whether you want 20% more profit, you're not ready for this class.

Click here to get the whole story on this exciting new Master Class. It will put money in your pocket and a smile on your face. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, we predict you're about to become very excited!


Why You Should Work With Me: The Best New England Patriots Deflate Promo Ever

Restaurant Marketing: Here's why you should work with me to build your sales – either as a coach, one-on-one or in my executive Think Tank

On Tuesday 1/20, I gave one of my restaurant clients – a small chain located in New England – an idea for a unique promotion – the best deflate-gate promo.

Immediately he put it together, customizing it for his restaurants. Just two days later – Thursday – he introduced it to his staff and restaurants.

On Friday, stories about the promotion were all over New Hampshire TV stations and newspapers. Along with interviews, my client probably received well over $50,000 in free publicity – just from this one idea that I gave him.

This is what I do; this is why you should work with me – either one on one coaching or in my executive Think Tank.