Asking for a lead from restaurant personnel can be a valuable resource. Two brothers who are executive chiefs opened a restaurant which I was lucky to entertain at. They came from a family that owned and operated restaurants. There were many nights we would have conversations about restaurants and their owners. The brothers would have knowledge about any given establishment and would say, “That owner is a jerk,” “or my cousin’s family owns that restaurant.” These two brothers had restaurant connections that could help me obtain another restaurant.
At another restaurant I work, the owner has been in the restaurant business all his life. Mom and Dad started a business forty plus years ago and now all three kids have a restaurant. They all run the same chain of restaurants, but each kid runs their business slightly different. They too have connections. So when you present yourself to a restaurant and if decline, ask if they know of another restaurant that could use your service. Recommendations from one restaurant owner to another will get your foot in the door faster.
After working with a restaurant for six months to a year, ask the owner if he can recommend your services for another restaurant. Inform them you are “expanding your business” and would like to find a restaurant out of his area, so not to compete against their restaurant. Restaurant owners are business people and understand the need to expand customer base to be successful. Asking for recommendation will ultimately make management consider expanding their restaurant entertainment to other nights.
One owner I approached asked me what days I have available. After I told him Monday and Tuesdays he said, “How about we try Tuesday nights here? We’ll keep Fridays and add Tuesday nights.”
We tried it for six months, but the program never fully took off and Tuesday nights were canceled. But I was able to increase my revenue and advertising (passing out business cards) for six months.
Waitresses work more then one restaurant. Over the years, several waitresses I have met work two restaurants. (Tell them “you need to make more money” and would their other restaurant do a kids night?) Wait staff understands this need to make more money and presenting the question in this format helps in getting their assistance. Wait staff, like owners, have friends and families in the industry. They are easily able to give you valuable leads and a contact person.
Over time you will build a relationship with customers. Ask these individuals if they have any “contacts” that they could recommend. Being in the right place at the right time doesn’t have to be 100% luck. Create some luck for yourself and talk with customers. They may have leads not only to restaurants, hotels, event planners or even corporate accounts.
Asking these three groups for assistance in the right dialog can bring a wealth of information. Once you have this information, follow through and call upon the lead. This way you can quickly report back to the person who provided you with the lead. By your prompt response, it shows the individual you respect their input and will make them think harder on providing a better lead next time.