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Jim Taylor, the founder of BenchmarkSixty and host of the Turning the Table podcast, joined Justin Ulrich for an insightful conversation on the Local Marketing Lab podcast. They discussed effective local marketing strategies for the restaurant industry, with a focus on how to increase restaurant traffic as a key performance indicator.
Jim’s expertise in the restaurant industry and his emphasis on grassroots marketing and exceptional customer experiences made this episode a must-listen for restaurant owners and operators in the local market. Jim shared valuable insights, such as the importance of providing great service to encourage repeat business and the concept of creating lookalike audiences and increasing loyalty to drive growth.
He also highlighted the significance of adapting to change and exploring new strategies. This conversation offered actionable tips and inspiration for restaurant owners looking to increase foot traffic and drive growth in their local communities.
In this episode, you will be able to:
- Delve into the intricacies of restaurant consulting and learn strategies to turbocharge productivity and profitability.
- Decipher the potential of wine list promotions as a way to increase restaurant traffic and revitalize your profit margins.
- Understand the significance of top-notch customer experience in crafting memorable dining experiences and creating brand loyalty.
- Gain powerful insights into the transformative effect of savvy marketing tactics on the restaurant industry, emphasizing driving customer traffic.
- Be inspired by Jim Taylor’s vast restaurant industry knowledge and fervor, offering an innovative angle to the business.
Make sure that whatever it is you’re doing is driving traffic. That should be the key performance indicator.JIM TAYLOR
- Check out the Turning the Table podcast with Adam Lamb and Jim Taylor to gain actionable insights for the restaurant industry.
- Connect with Jim Taylor on LinkedIn to stay updated on his work with BenchmarkSixty and his expertise in consulting within the restaurant space.
- Explore BigShots Golf and how to increase restaurant traffic by providing quality food, beverages, and service in your own local market.
- Listen to Jeff Alexander, President and CEO of Wow Bao, on the Turning the Table podcast to learn about their innovative marketing strategies in the restaurant industry.
We’re never going to get through this. We’re never going to get through this. Last track.
My front door.
Do you need to get it? Jim, do you need to answer the door? We’re in the middle of the podcast, Jim.
I know. We’re not answering the door.
What’s up, everyone? And welcome to the Local Marketing Lab, where you get real-world insights from industry pros to help you drive local revenue and local growth. This podcast is brought to you by Evocalize – digital marketing tools powered by local data that automatically work where and when your locations need it most. Learn more at evocalize.com.
What’s up, everybody and thank you for joining us today in the Local Marketing Lab.
With us, we have Jim Taylor. Jim is the founder of Benchmark Sixty. They do consulting within the restaurant space, as well as he has a podcast called Turning the Table with Chef Adam Lamb in which they talk about different topics within the restaurant industry. Jim, welcome to the show.
Thanks so much for having me, Justin. Appreciate it.
You bet. Hey, before we get started, we know that at least I know that you’re an avid golfer and you like to take long walks on the beach with your morning coffee, but what are some other things that you might want us to know about you?
Well, yeah, golf. I have long walks on the golf course, long walks on the beach. Big fan of just spending time with family and getting into nature and stuff and doing that. Also a huge fan of the restaurant industry and just trying to find ways to move it forward and try new things and look through new lens. So appreciate the opportunity to come to chat with.
You bet. So we’ve actually been following you and working with you for a while on your turn at the Evocalize podcast. What is it that kind of prompted you and Adam to create that show?
Honestly, at first we just wanted to be able to have real conversation with people who are kind of like really in the mix in the restaurant space, right? Like what was really happening day to day, what were the real pain points and the challenges that people were having to just have good discussion with experts in the industry.
And it’s really turned into something more than that now around really trying to provide actionable insights. We do it every Thursday. So the goal is to try to have actionable insights that people can actually implement in the restaurant, like this weekend kind of thing. So it’s been a lot of fun.
And then on the other side of the house so you have Benchmark Sixty. Tell us a little bit about that organization.
Yeah, so Benchmark Sixty is a really specific, very niche consulting agency and we work with restaurant operators, owners, that type of thing, across North America and into a little bit of Europe. Specifically on two things we help operators understand how the concept of overall productivity affects their business model so that they can basically negate rising costs without increasing prices more than they want to.
The second piece is we help them understand how employee workload affects mental health, team well-being, and from a data perspective, how they can measure that and actually improve the business and profitability through that strategy. So it’s really specific. We don’t do menu engineering, we don’t do manufacturer training, we don’t do location sourcing or concept or any of the other stuff. Just very specifically helping industry work through a couple of big challenges.
Very interesting. What do you think are some maybe a unique challenge or maybe something cool that you’ve seen one of your clients do from a marketing or even a local marketing perspective?
Well, we were talking about this before we came on the show and there’s a group called Big Shots Golf. TJ Schier is the COO. We actually talked to him on the podcast the other day. Shout out to TJ. He was talking to me about and I think this is so relevant just in the industry right now in general about focusing really specifically on the markets that they exist in and doing everything they can to just drive traffic. Right.
And I think that a lot of restaurants spend time on running promotions or giving discounts or running happy hour, all these different things. And it was really refreshing to hear a big group like that that’s just really laser-focused on individual markets. Very interesting.
Yeah. Have you seen anything that they’ve tried to do just like from a promo standpoint or anything that’s really worked well for their business?
Yeah, what they’re doing is mostly focusing on really quality in terms of I mean, and this might sound very generic, but they’re really focusing on just being the absolute best when it comes to food and beverage and service in their market segment. Not worrying so much about what the big player next door does. Not worrying so much about what the discounting or that game that a lot of restaurants get into.
They’re just focusing on making sure that they deliver really quality food and beverage, which for anybody who doesn’t know about that company, they’re similar to the one that everybody’s heard about called Top Golf. So they’re actual sports entertainment with dining on site. And so they’re really trying to make sure that all of their marketing and their word of mouth and everything that they do is focused around incredibly high-quality service and food, which might not be as common in a sports environment like that.
Yeah, that makes total sense. We don’t have one near us, but I’ve definitely seen them online and it looks like it’s an absolute blast. I love going to those places. Oh yeah, one of the things that I like to do, we’ll do a group date night or whatever and you get somebody up at the green just swinging while somebody else is just activating the balls and getting them rolling out, and you get, like, sparks flying off the green and, oh, man, it’s a ton of fun. That’s what you do.
That’s fair enough. Well, those things are coming to the forefront right? There’s basketball and soccer and pickleball and golf and I mean, there’s all kinds of sports coming to the forefront in that sort of activity space now. So, yeah, they’re doing some good stuff. Yeah.
Super exciting. So, Jim, we’ve had conversations before, and I know that you’ve told me about we’ve talked a little bit about promos and how a lot of times restaurants will just run the same promo that they’ve always run. Like call it like Wing Wednesday or whatever it might be, but they’re not necessarily paying attention to maybe the loss that they’re seeing from a profitability perspective when they’re pushing these items that are just so low margin or high cost.
What is something that you’ve seen one of your clients do that’s kind of outside of the norm from what you’d expect from a promotion like that?
Well, I mean, wing night is a very common thing in restaurants, right? And it’s changed a lot. We don’t have to go down this rabbit hole right now, but it’s changed a lot just based on the cost of chicken wings. They’re not cheap anymore, right? So to run a promotion on them could be a really dangerous thing.
But the one that we’ve seen that’s the most outside the box and creative and just a little bit different is this concept of having a night, or a couple of nights a week even, that you’re doing your whole wine list at 50% off which a lot of times, restaurant operators get concerned about their prime costs or their cost of goods. And if I charge 50% of the price for a bottle of wine that already has low margin, that can get a little bit scary.
But the interesting thing that we see happen in every single scenario where someone runs this 50% off wine promotion is that your customer that likes wine, they always like a certain type of wine or a certain price point of wine, right? So if I’m a $50 wine bottle customer or a $30 wine bottle customer, what we find happens is that even when the wine is 50% off, instead of ordering a $3 beer and sending a $7 beer, I still order a $50 bottle of wine.
Now I’m just upgrading to a better bottle of wine. So instead of getting a $50 bottle of wine, I’m actually getting $100 bottle of wine, which now maybe I’m upgrading my price level. So what we find that happens in those scenarios is the customer count increases, which is obviously a win based on the promotion, but the customer spend doesn’t decrease, which often happens in happy hour promotions. So the 50% off wine promotion that we see happen in a lot of our clients restaurants is a home run every time.
No. Have you had good experiences around, say, happy hour?
Not a lot, no. There’s a lot of examples I could give you, but I think you’re hinting at maybe a little bit of the story I was telling before we came on. I mean, we tell our customers and our clients this all the time. Customer count is everything.
Don’t worry too much about, and contrary to what I just said about the wine spend piece, try not to worry when you’re running a promotion too much about what the customer is spending. That wine one is just an even win.
We had a situation or an example happen literally yesterday, walking on the seawall in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, for those who don’t know, in western Canada with my wife and our daughter and our dog, and there’s a dog-friendly patio. And it was happy hour. And we had about eight minutes before happy hour was going to be over. So we run up to, hey, we’d like to sit on the patio. We’d like to bring our dog. We’d like to get in there for a happy hour.
And by the time they actually got organized, it was now 4:58. So still not past the time. But the manager came over and said, I’m sorry, I can’t sell you happy hour drinks anymore. We went, but it’s 4:58, and your sign that’s right here says 05:00. And he said, well, you have to take into consideration how long it takes to make those drinks.
And we said, well, can we order from you right now before we sit down? We know what we would like. He said, no, we can’t do that. Your server has to do it. We said, okay, well, can we just run over to the table and order quickly? Because we’d just like to catch happy hour.
And he said, I’m sorry, I can’t allow you to have happy hour anymore.
So we went somewhere else. And I think the moral of the story on that, and we talk to clients with us all the time is in the restaurant business, traffic is everything.
And so instead of staying there and ordering drinks that were $2 off, it wasn’t about the price, but the concept of happy hour, we probably would have spent $30, $40, $50 and stuck around and have good experience instead. The way the interaction went, and it was kind of a principal thing, right?
Well, you’re advertising 5:00, and you’re not allowing us to do this. We went somewhere else and spent our money elsewhere. So it’s really one of those things that if you’re going to run a promotion, make sure that you capitalize on customer count and traffic as much as you possibly can, or it’s just getting.
I saw I just saw this yesterday, actually, on Sean Walshef‘s podcast. He had John Taffer on talking about how restaurants are in the reaction business. And to think of the reaction that you had as a result from their inability to provide great service.
It’s just flooring, especially in today’s day and age, people vote with their dollars. They’re going to go where they can get the best experience, period. So it’s really interesting to see, even now, folks providing that level of I’d say disservice to just totally…
Because we spend so much time with restaurant operators on this, I think about it and start to break down the business model side of it. Right. So if you think about, okay, if they had just said, yes, sit us down, even if it’s 5:05, you know what? We’ll honor the happy hour thing because it’s about principal.
At that point, we would have spent $50, $60, $100. If we spent $60, the minimum wage in Vancouver is just over $16 an hour. It’s expensive. But if we spent $60, we basically just paid for your whole service team to work for an hour. Right. Instead, you get zero of that $60. You don’t get any new customer, and now your labor costs went up dramatically.
For that 1 hour, and your return on your marketing spend went down as well.
Your return on your spend for marketing, your costs, your marketing cost, the only thing that you won on was that your cost of goods didn’t shoot up a little tiny bit because you didn’t sell happy hour. The marketing spend, all of those things, even if you consider the marketing spend just to be the sandwich board sign that was right next to the front entrance.
Yeah. When we talk local marketing, it’s not just pushing marketing across digital channels. It’s every little touch point that you have where folks interact with your business and your brand. All of the interactions that they have kind of amalgamate up into their experience with your organization, and that is their perception of your brand.
Jim, you’ve worked with quite a few organizations. Just being that you’re in the consulting business, is there anyone that you’ve seen that has kind of stuck out in what they’re doing? It could be from a local marketing perspective or just from marketing overall if they’re doing cooler, exciting things.
Yeah, I mean, there’s lots of examples, I think. And although this one that we’ll talk about hasn’t been a client of Benchmark Sixty yet, Geoff, if you hear this, maybe they will be one day. The whole concept at WowBao. And Geoff Alexander is the president CEO of that group.
We also had him on our podcast a few weeks ago and had some really good conversation. The thing that I admire about what they’re doing from a marketing and in general perspective, but really what their marketing is doing from a branding perspective, they’re just relentless in every market.
They exist in every vertical they exist in whether it’s packaged goods in grocery stores, whether it’s brick and mortar, whether it’s airport or sporting stadium spaces. They’re just relentless and from a really local level.
He told me a story on the podcast that day about how they would just do everything they could to get everyone in the community to recognize that their food was good and that their hospitality was good. And they would just if a new business moved in down the street, for example, for the first two or three days that that business was open, they were taking the lunch. Nobody was ordering anything. They were just making some food and taking it over and say, welcome to the neighborhood. Right.
And that’s just very grassroots marketing. But it makes a big difference, right. Because now if I’m shopping at that store and I say, hey, is there anywhere good for lunch around here? They’re automatically sending me to lunch.
So I think whether it’s the digital side of things, the marketing, traditional marketing side of things, or just the grassroots hospitality side, they’re just relentless, I think, at every level.
Yeah, we see them. Yeah, they’re all over right now, for sure. Just on social media, you see articles and videos, know, just all sorts of posts about what doing. So that’s a great shout out.
Jim, if you had one suggestion for a business to market locally, effectively, what’s one thing they could do today to drive business or drive growth of their locations?
00:15:41 – Jim Taylor
My recommendation would be to well, this is both a don’t do and maybe a do do. I think my recommendation would be to first and foremost, make sure that whatever it is that you’re doing, if you’re spending money doing it, whether that’s giving away product or advertising on something or whatever it might be, just make sure that whatever it is you’re doing is driving traffic.
Because sometimes advertising in the restaurant space and marketing in the restaurant space can do other things like reduce customer spend, like happy hour, or it can make your team have to work harder to sell less right. In those types of scenarios.
But whatever it’s doing, as long as it’s driving traffic, that’s what I would recommend that they do. So if that’s dropping food off at the retail outlet next door, so they recommend you, awesome. If that’s spending money on concepts like what a vocalized does to drive specific item sales or traffic to specific locations, just make sure that whatever it is, that should be the key performance indicator.
Focus on driving the traffic and then because once they get there, you’re going to be able to provide an exceptional customer experience to get them to come back.
And then we did a pretty cool webinar a couple of weeks back with Zack Oats from Ovation. He was on talking we were talking about growth flywheel. And once you bring them in, it’s like you’ve done the hard work, you spent the money to bring them in. So now you have to ensure that they’re having a solid customer experience, and then you increase loyalty and start to get them to come back and build lookalike audiences and stuff around that.
That’s a good suggestion.
Okay, Jim. So one thing that we like to do for our guests is we like to find out a little bit about them before the call, and then we lean on our trusty AI to help generate a fun image about you. So, Jim, we know that’s who mentioned earlier you like your long walks on the beach with your morning coffee, where you may not tote your golf clubs around with you along the way. You love to golf, but here’s something that we had created.
I thought it’s pretty interesting, like the things that you can get AI to come up with. It’s not an exact likeness of Jim Taylor, but it’s pretty dang close.
Sitting in a bunker on a golf course.
That’s the best part. It may not be – you’re stuck in the beach, but you’re not enjoying the beach like you might like to.
That’s so great. That’s great. The hat. The hat, which is the best part.
The hat. That’s right. That took a little bit of extra finesse in post. We’ll get you that image. Over to you. That’s yours. It’s unique. No one in the world has this image but you, Jim.
It’s like an NFT of Jim Taylor.
An NFT with zero value. You could turn it into…awesome. Well, Jim, we had a blast having you on. Before we let you go, though, why don’t you tell us how we can follow you?
Sure. Best places is either on the podcast or on LinkedIn. Spend a lot of time on there. Try to spend I kind of have a rule when it comes to business and I guess life in general, but never say no to a conversation.
So the best way to get a hold of me is Jim Taylor on LinkedIn, and let’s connect and chat. I just really want to find ways to help the industry move forward, and I don’t think we call it recover anymore, but just look at things differently for the future. So that’s the best way.
Yeah, no, that’s perfect. And like you mentioned, his podcast, the Turning the Table podcast is also on LinkedIn, so follow that. It’s great. I’m kind of biased because I’ve participated with you guys on some stuff, but you guys have some really good content and really unique perspectives and insights. So definitely worth a listen there.
You bet. Well, thanks again, Jim, for joining. It was a lot of fun having you on the show, and thank you for listening as well and joining us in the local marketing lab.
As always, thanks for joining us in the local marketing lab. This podcast was sponsored by Evocalize. To learn more about how Evocalize can help you grow your business, visit evocalize.com.
And remember, keep innovating and testing new things. You’ll never know what connects with your customers best unless you try. Until next time. Thanks for listening.
Founder & CEO of Benchmark Sixty Restaurant Services
Meet Jim Taylor
Meet Jim Taylor, a seasoned expert in restaurant consulting and founder of BenchmarkSixty. Jim’s deep understanding of the restaurant industry has helped him identify and address pain points that stand in the way of growth. Using a single-minded focus on increasing customer count and driving traffic, his consulting firm has proven time and again that they are adept at overcoming challenges and charting a successful course in the dynamic restaurant space.
Apart from this, Jim brings forth his insights and experiences through his podcast Turning the Table where he engages in real-time conversations with industry veterans.
VP of Marketing at Evocalize
Meet the host
Justin is a seasoned marketing leader known for his creative expertise and innovative go-to-market strategies. With vast experience spanning both B2B and B2C landscapes, Justin has made his mark across a spectrum of industries including software, POS, restaurant, real estate, franchise, home services, telecom, and more.
Justin’s career is steeped in transformative strategies and impactful initiatives. With specialties ranging from channel marketing and brand management to demand generation, his strategic vision and execution have consistently translated into tangible results.
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