How Local Human-Driven Outreach is Helping Multi-Location Restaurants Grow Sales

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More than 1 million restaurant and hotel workers left their jobs last year, leaving those who remain in the industry scrambling to serve customers and fulfill to-go orders. Restaurants have been forced to cut operating hours and close dining rooms, and nearly all proactive marketing efforts within local communities have been cut short.

Alex Nocifera doesn’t think that’s sustainable.

Seeing first-hand the challenges that restaurants are facing as the founder and CEO of the digital marketing startup Field Day, Nocifera recently rolled out a local subscription service that uses human-to-human connections to help restaurant brands manage local sales opportunities for catering. The program is primarily aimed at local franchise operators, offering last-mile marketing outreach to drive demand.

“With the labor shortage, brands have been challenged to have the resources to proactively sell into their local community. And with catering sales, it’s a multi-touch sale,” Nocifera says. “In 20 years of working with large multi-unit brands in a marketing capacity, I’ve never seen such a rag doll, start-stop scenario over the last 24 months with Covid, supply chain, and labor volatility.”

Tapping into a nationwide network of more than 5,000 brand ambassadors, Field Day helps brands activate their stories using human-to-human outreach. 

Nocifera is quick to point out that Field Day isn’t a social influencer platform. The company’s brand ambassadors are not necessarily heavy social media users. Rather, they’re everyday people canvassing or calling targeted businesses to drive demand. Field Day’s top demographics for ambassadors are moms, retirees, students, and professional side hustlers.

“When we launched the business in 2017, we quickly discovered brands—especially restaurant brands—needed help directly selling and marketing to local businesses,” Nocifera says. “This human-to-human marketing outreach method works magically in generating leads, but if the brand also doesn’t have the resources to follow through with these leads, it dilutes the value and momentum generated from that intimate engagement.”

Field Day’s newest solution is a fully outsourced subscription sales model featuring human-to-human outreach in the field. Brand ambassadors canvass businesses and people in targeted locations and follow up with templated email for opt-in businesses interested in the offerings. Nocifera says the program is designed to funnel leads into conversion with reporting that tangibly displays every step for validation and analysis, including recorded phone calls and photos of canvassers in the field.

Restaurants Rebound with Catering

Having executed more than 10,000 local marketing activations for brands across the U.S., Nocifera says the No. 1 thing his team hears is that consumers didn’t even know certain franchise restaurants had locations in their areas. With catering being the largest ticket opportunity for most restaurants, he believes now is the time to invest in growing that side of the business.

The global catering market is expected to grow from $187 billion in 2021 to $275 billion in 2022. That growth is largely attributed to companies rearranging their operations and recovering from the impact of the pandemic, which led to remote working and the cancellation of many in-person events. Restaurants that adequately market their catering options to businesses and locals in their own communities are poised to reap significant rewards as workers return to the office and celebrations, like weddings and parties, resume.

Nocifera believes Field Day’s canvassing method and value driven messaging sets the company apart among restaurant marketing firms. The human-to-human connections that Field Day is looking to foster between empathetic neighbors and businesses lend legitimacy and authenticity — particularly to franchise restaurants representing themselves in local neighborhoods.  

“[Catering] requires awareness developed in the local market. And the challenge brands have in today’s hyper-competitive landscape is remaining top-of-mind,” Nocifera says. “By partnering with Field Day, [restaurants] maintain ownership of their customer data and migrate the leads generated from human-to-human, field marketing straight into their own CRM database to drive acquisition and frequency.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.