Timing Your Restaurant Partnerships

Restaurant partnerships

We often hear the saying, “It is all about the timing.” When it comes to developing partnerships in the business world, this saying could not be more accurate. If you approach someone about a partnership at a time that is not convenient for them or when they are not focused on that area of their business, they will turn you away quickly. However, if you time your approach, such as before a seasonal change, you are more likely to have their attention.

Fall is the ideal time to approach restaurants about partnerships, as they are reinventing their strategy for the new year. They also take into consideration the fact that people try to eat healthy in the first month of the new year. By approaching restaurants during fall, they have the opportunity to plan a menu with you and strategize marketing for the new year.

What are the benefits of restaurant partnerships?

Restaurant partnerships are beneficial to nutrition businesses for two main reasons:

1. Your nutrition clients have somewhere safe to go when they want to eat out.
2. Potential clients are exposed to your brand when they visit the restaurant.

Consider Madison, Wisconsin, during the CrossFit Games. Many restaurants had a CrossFit-specific menu posted. Now imagine that in your city, but with your branding.

When you are initially meeting with the restaurant, you want to explain to them how this partnership will benefit their business. After all, a partnership should be equally beneficial to both of you. For the restaurant, the partnership will bring in a steady stream of new clients from your nutrition business. They will also become known as the “healthy” option for diners around the city. This could be a unique selling point not offered at many restaurants.

How do you get in the door?

In order to present your pitch to the restaurant, visit at a time when they are not likely to be busy. Then, ask for the manager or someone with decision-making power. Typically, small local restaurants are more open to partnership than larger chains. As you speak to the owner, explain what the partnership would mean and how it would benefit them. Walk them through the simple steps of setting it up.

During the conversation, you want to build a relationship, but also be strategic in the numbers you present. For example, you could say, “We have 15 new nutrition clients each month that we would recommend to your restaurant.” It is important to come in with hard numbers.

With the new year approaching and more people looking to lose weight, you will help a restaurant be seen as a healthy option in town. Don’t wait until the end of the year to approach restaurants; you need two to three months to start the relationship, develop the menu and roll it out.

What does this partnership look like?

Once you come to an agreement to build this partnership, you want to work on a few menu items together. This could mean choosing an existing item from their menu and adjusting it to meet nutritional recommendations, or creating an entirely new item. When creating new menu items, you want to use ingredients they already have in-house. You need to make this as easy as possible for them to implement. Then, the restaurant should add your logo or name it accordingly. This should be prominently displayed on their menu.

How we do leverage the partnership?

Now that the menu has been adjusted and the relationship developed, it is time to promote the partnership by both parties. Start with hosting an event at the restaurant. This will get your nutrition and gym clients in their door for the first time. Both you and the restaurant should promote the event actively on social media to draw attention to it. From there, you can share the recommended menu items and encourage others to do the same.

Developing partnerships with local restaurants does not have to be time consuming. Approach three to five restaurants near your facility and share your ideas. They are looking to bring in new clients just as you are. Now, your business has been exposed to the hundreds of clients coming through their doors.

​Nicole Aucoin is a registered dietitian and founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, CrossFit HSN, and HSN Mentoring. ​HSN Mentoring i​ s the largest nutrition-business mentoring program in the world. Helping over 2,000 gym owners and Coaches worldwide, HSN provides a turn-key solution to gym owners looking to take their nutrition program and offerings to the next level. Nicole has a podcast, G​ row Your Nutrition Business Podcast​, where each week she interviews fellow thought leaders in the community and provides actionable steps to help you build your business. Healthy Steps Nutrition is releasing a new stand-alone nutrition coaching course, which is a C​rossFit Preferred Course​, Basics of Nutrition Coaching, on August 18.