To be successful with his new middle-eastern restaurant in
Detroit the entrepreneur knew he needed to serve 800
plates a day. Adjacent to Wayne State University and
Detroit Medical Center so the location seemed perfect for
the delicious, fresh and healthy menu.
It quickly became a popular eating spot for the students due
to its fast service and affordable prices. But the medical
staff from the hospital seldom frequented the establishment.
His business was not profitable.
Although business was good when school is in session,
business dropped off dramatically between semesters. The
restaurateur looked at the surrounding area which consisted
of several popular tourist attractions and a large medical
Determining the medical complex would provide more
consistent diner-base he decided to make a concerted
effort to break into the health care establishment. With a
menu overflowing in healthy options, it seemed a natural fit.
He had coupons and catering menus delivered to the
doctor's offices throughout the medical center weekly.
Despite repeated efforts on his own, he failed.
The secret to success rested in understanding the health
care culture. Important questions were:
- Who makes the decision where to eat?
- Who pays for the meals?
- Will come to you or do they want take-out?
- Where advertising should be placed?
These and many other questions needed to be asked in
such a way as to get the right answer if the health care
culture could be penetrated.
As can be expected, many options were available once the
investigation was complete. After careful review it was
decided to concentrate on catering. We had learned the
doctors often eat in their conference rooms or offices
listening to presentations from salespeople or learning how
to build their practice. The doctors normally did not make
the decision as to where meals would be purchased.
Instead an administrative person would select a type of food
and tell the salesperson what the doctors would want. The
salespeople would provide the meals using promotional
budgets they were given by the pharmaceutical companies
A marketing campaign was recommended aimed
specifically at pharmaceutical salespeople and others
regularly calling on the doctors. Because the meal itself was
an expense that could be written off, the coupon offered
something of personal value to the salesperson instead of
free meals or discounts to their company.
The restaurant increased its plate count from an average of
435 meals per day to 812 in three months, which was the
breakpoint between red ink and black ink. Although some of
the increase was normal business growth, the portion of the
business attributed will to the medical facility had reached
approximately 35% of their total sales.
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