Marrying great restaurants and great deals

By Rhonda Campbell
Annually restaurants in the United States generate more than $665 billion in sales, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA). A good portion of this revenue comes from entrepreneurs and senior business leaders, people who understand the value of good communication and rewarding dining.

When clients love great restaurants you introduce them to

Simply inviting an existing or prospective client out to lunch or dinner can create feelings of appreciation in these guests. Choose the right restaurant and entrepreneurs could close a deal they’d been working on for weeks. Several key points will need to be considered before entrepreneurs (or their assistants) contact restaurants and make reservations. Among these key points are:

  • Whether or not the client or prospect is a vegetarian (Review sites, magazines and directories could prove helpful when looking for healthy vegetarian restaurants. Examples of restaurant review sites and directories are Happy Cow, Restaurants Raw, HK Magazine and PETA.)
  • If clients have allergies and, if so, what foods they are allergic to.
  • Special diets clients may be on.

It definitely pays to ask clients and prospects to share their top three favorite entrees or food dishes. Simply asking clients or prospects, “What three foods do you absolutely love?” could save time. It could also eliminate the chances that entrepreneurs will try to close business deals at the wrong restaurants.

Restaurant features clients focus on

Lighting, decorations, interior design and personality are other factors to consider when looking for the right restaurant to close business deals at. Some clients prefer dim lit areas, others prefer restaurants that are well lit, the types of restaurants that let in lots of natural sunlight. How spaced out seating is, whether or not private rooms are available at a restaurant and Wi-Fi access are other factors to consider.

Entrepreneurs can take advantage of Zagat and Gayot reviews if they are new to an area and no idea where to begin when it comes time to make business restaurant reservations. There are also personal bloggers who visit and dine at different restaurants during their travels. These bloggers provide as in-depth reviews as some professional restaurant review sites.

A great thing about Zagat is that it categories restaurants by city, so entrepreneurs won’t have to dig through thousands of reviews to find great restaurants close to whether they live and/or work. Deals, top restaurants, seasonal menus, food hybrids and gluten-free restaurants are also covered.

Gayot covers dining, travel and safety. It also breaks restaurants down by city. Depending on the time of year, entrepreneurs could find discussions on barbecue, steak, seafood, salads, breads or desserts.

After restaurants have been chosen and reservations have been made, other important points to remember when closing rewarding business deals include:

  • Reason for the meeting (Restaurant meetings can easily drift off topic. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to write down a few talking points before they leave for the meetings, so they’ll be certain to touch on each topic as they dine with a client or prospect.)
  • Bring a business calendar or, better yet, have access to an electronic business calendar. This way, follow-up meetings could be scheduled before restaurant meetings conclude.
  • Supporting data (It is especially important to bring supporting data if entrepreneurs promised clients or prospects that they would share the data with them.)

Although restaurant meetings can be fun, it’s important that entrepreneurs remain professional throughout the discussions. Whether they realize it or not, clients and prospects are forming perceptions and opinions of them. Create winning perceptions and opinions and discussing business deals at the right restaurants could lead to deal closes and rewarding client-entrepreneur relationships.

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