How I used a sponsorship contract to save a restaurant from bankruptcy while also increasing sales and raising awareness for all parties involved.
This is the story of a desperate restaurant owner who nearly went bankrupt until he was demonstrated the power of the community potential of a local basketball club.
Starting a new business as an immigrant is difficult enough, especially if you don’t speak the language very well. And, to make matters worse, COVID and all the restriction measures for enterprises were introduced.
Desperate for a solution, he decided to close the restaurant and advertise in the window that he will sell off every dish at 50% off.
When I passed by his place about lunchtime and saw the sign, I decided to go in and give it a shot. The setting was lovely, and I was excited to eat the authentic Himalayan food advertised on the menu. The waiter was pleasant, and the owner’s wife ran the bar. There were only a couple of other guests at the restaurant with me, which isn’t enough to turn the place into a lucrative business.
I asked the waitress to bring me a couple of their best traditional meals because, as a fellow traveler, I like learning about different cultures through their food. And I wasn’t disappointed because the cuisine was amazing, a true delight that I savored till the last bite.
When the other guests had left and the restaurant was vacant, I asked the waitress if I might speak with the owners. She walked to the kitchen, perplexed because she assumed I wanted to complain about something, to ask her father to come to the restaurant since a guest wanted to speak with him.
The man approached me humbly, and I offered him a seat at the table and asked if I might invite him to have a drink with me and discuss about his business problems. But first, I had to pay him the complement he deserved for the delicious lunch he had prepared for me. It was truly exceptional.
Then he told me his story and why he couldn’t get anyone to come to his place. It was simply because he couldn’t communicate with people due to the language barrier, and the locals were unwilling to try an unusual new food place. The pandemic also did not assist to ease the process, and they eventually ran out of money and, worse, faith in their talents.
I asked how much money they had left and if I could assist them.
He stared at me, tears streaming down his cheek. He began writing a figure on the napkin and handed it to me, revealing the figure of US$2,038.41, which translated to the amount of money they had left. We finished our drink, and I promised him I’d be returning tomorrow with some good news for them.
I went to city hall and sought to speak with the municipal secretary. He invited me to his office and asked what he could do for me. I described my proposal to him and requested for the contact information of the decision makers of the local sports clubs basketball, football, and baseball, knowing that those are the magnets that attract the majority of people from the local community to their weekend games.
I was given the phone numbers of the main people, and I immediately contacted them to see if they would be available to meet with me that day so that I could bring them money for their club. They were initially intrigued, but when they learned that they may obtain money for their club, they decided to meet.
So, I approached each of them and asked them three questions:
- Are you willing to try new sponsorship strategies in order to raise more cash for your club?
- How many people are you expecting to see at your primary game event this weekend?
- Do you sell food at the event, and how much money does it generate for the club?
They all agreed, and they provided me the figures I asked for. So I chose the one with the most average attendance, which also had the highest turnover in terms of food sales on matchday.
I described my plan to them, and we came to an arrangement for the upcoming weekend’s event, which will take place in four days.
The next day I returned to the restaurant owner and informed him the arrangements I made for him. I asked him to work on a couple of different snacks that he could offer on the weekends’ event and how many of them he could produce using his pantry food stock. To make things even more difficult, I asked him that no treat should cost more than $5.
He told me that he already has two savory dishes and one sweet treat in mind that may meet the standards, and that he could produce 1,500 snacks for the evening with what he had on hand. I asked him to create one of each right away so that I could photograph the snacks that will be distributed to supporters during this weekend’s main event in town.
On game day, everything was ready, and it was a big success for everyone involved; half way through the evening, the food had already sold out, and the restaurant was known by more than 20% of the town’s population. The club had 40% more spectators than usual this evening, resulting in greater entrée ticket sales and a larger overall turnover in beverage and fan item sales.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
The only thing I did was persuade the club’s decision maker to leave the food stand to the restaurant owner for one game and earn net double the money as they would during game days with fewer resources, while the volunteers who regularly help on the food stand may focus on other club tasks. The only other change for the club was that they had to promote the food event on their website and in their newsletter, which they already send out to their members and supporters regularly before games anyway. The images I shot of the fantastic cuisine did the majority of the work, as many people who usually come to the game alone this time were accompanied by their partner and other family members because they wanted to come discover the food.
This resulted in better overall results:
- Nearly 1,000 spectators for the game instead of the typical 700 (+300 in ticket sales)
- The clubhouse’s beverage turnover was in progress of 57%
- 37% increase in fan article sales
- Profit on food sales increased by 100% with less resources and risks involved
The restaurant contributed $2,000 in sponsorship to the club but sold meals at the event and made $7,000 in gross sales, including tips. The exceptional delicious treats they served during the event did most of the work in convincing people to become new customers to the restaurant. Since the event, the restaurant has been sold out twice a day for lunch and dinner, and people now need to make a reservation a week in advance to ensure a table.
With a little creativity and new ideas, we can do remarkable things together. Please contact me to see what I can do to assist you with your business or association in becoming a driving vector of business within your community and coming up with innovative cost-effective solutions that benefit everyone involved.
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