I’ve been a long-time fan of Adrienne’s Pizzabar on Stone Street in New York City, where Jason is a partner, general manager, and regular presence. He manages this very busy restaurant while still making time to talk to the customers and reach out to new ones though his own personal style of marketing – getting to know people. And it’s working: Jason opened a second restaurant, Inatteso Pizzabar Casano, in Battery Park City, in December of 2008.
“The way I’ve marketed has been to introduce myself to the doormen and concierges in the area,” Jason told me. “They’re the ones people turn to for recommendations, so I invite them in for tastings or invite them to order from us. It’s important that they have confidence in the recommendations they’re making, or else they’ll hear about it later.”
Jason’s personal approach has been just as important inside his restaurants, too. “I’m the type of person that wants a friendly, open atmosphere. I want to lead by example so my staff will see how I treat customers and do the same.”
He said part of what’s helped him is the realization: “You have to play to your strengths. I always felt like my strongest asset is building relationships. I’m known for turning even disgruntled customers into fans.”
Jason also offered the following tips:
- Be aware of customers’ concerns. “The key is value – making people feel good about what they’re getting. I think the recession has actually helped us in that people are now less likely to spend money trying new places and more likely to stick with what they know is good.”
- Be authentic. Jason says his genuine interest in his customers has been key: “Authenticity is important. You can’t be fake. Customers will see through that.”
- Be there – all of the time. “If you’re not personally making the commitment, you’re not going to last.”
Jason, who lives downtown near his restaurants, said that he often has people recognize him in the neighborhood. “I’ve had people in the elevator in my building turn to me and say that they see me all of the time in the restaurant and never knew I lived in the same building. At least I know when they see me, they think of my restaurants.”
I hope Jason’s story inspires others to develop their “social IQ” or other strengths. If you have a story you wish to share, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter@marcyshinder.