To be successful with his new middle-eastern restaurant in Detroit the entrepreneur knew he needed to serve 800 plates a day. Adjacent to Wayne State University and Detroit Medical Center so the location seemed perfect for the delicious, fresh and healthy menu.
It quickly became a popular eating spot for the students due to its fast service and affordable prices. But the medical staff from the hospital seldom frequented the establishment.
His business was not profitable.
Although business was good when school is in session, business dropped off dramatically between semesters. The restaurateur looked at the surrounding area which consisted of several popular tourist attractions and a large medical complex. Determining the medical complex would provide more consistent diner-base he decided to make a concerted effort to break into the health care establishment. With a menu overflowing in healthy options, it seemed a natural fit. He had coupons and catering menus delivered to the doctor's offices throughout the medical center weekly.
Despite repeated efforts on his own, he failed.
The secret to success rested in understanding the health care culture. Important questions were:
Who makes the© Max Impact, used with permission.Management-union gap creates poor quality decision where to eat?
- Who pays for the meals?
- Will come to you or do they want take-out?
- Where advertising should be placed?
These and many other questions needed to be asked in such a way as to get the right answer if the health care culture could be penetrated.
As can be expected, many options were available once the investigation was complete. After careful review it was decided to concentrate on catering. We had learned the doctors often eat in their conference rooms or offices listening to presentations from salespeople or learning how to build their practice. The doctors normally did not make the decision as to where meals would be purchased. Instead an administrative person would select a type of food and tell the salesperson what the doctors would want. The salespeople would provide the meals using promotional budgets they were given by the pharmaceutical companies they represented.
A marketing campaign was recommended aimed specifically at pharmaceutical salespeople and others regularly calling on the doctors. Because the meal itself was an expense that could be written off, the coupon offered something of personal value to the salesperson instead of free meals or discounts to their company.
The restaurant increased its plate count from an average of 435 meals per day to 812 in three months, which was the breakpoint between red ink and black ink. Although some of the increase was normal business growth, the portion of the business attributed will to the medical facility had reached approximately 35% of their total sales.
© Max Impact, used with permission.
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