Given the competitive nature of the restaurant/food service industry, partnerships with other establishments don’t immediately spring to mind for most managers and restaurateurs. Many owners and managers don’t realize that well-executed partnerships for cross-promotion within the same market benefits everyone. It may seem counterintuitive, but stepping outside your comfort zone is the first step in earning the dividends that come from taking risks. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some easy way you can cook up the perfect collaboration for your restaurant.

Focus on Tangible Benefits You Can Offer Prospective Partners

Food service, unlike other industries, is not too restrictive regarding cross-promotional collaboration. Placing an ad in a neighboring business’ window or offering a small discount with the presentation of a receipt from your partner business are simple ways to establish and solidify a collaborative partnership.

In the same way, you can offer your partner establishment advertising space on place mats or signage at your establishment. Partnering with a neighboring business with the purpose of cross-promotion allows each to reach a new potential customer base by promoting each business through the other one.

Food service is a competitive business, so you may need to structure your partnership in a creative way to meet your needs and those of your partner adequately. But, the effort you take in doing so will pay off exponentially. Take a look at the businesses around your restaurant and give some solid thought as to how you can help each other. The opportunities for mutual benefit are right there if you are willing to look for them.

Make Your Pitch

The first impression you make to a potential cross-promotional partner can make or break the deal. So, prepare your pitch accordingly and put your best foot forward. Reach out to the owner of a business you want to partner with any way with which you are most comfortable. The method matters less than the action. Do not expect to get a positive response from everyone you contact, though. Some business owners will simply not be interested. You can take those experiences and learn from them, as you will have learned more about your approach and your proposal than if you had not made the attempt.

Focus on Flexible and Mutually-Beneficial Partnerships

Since you are the business owner who is making the proposal, you will need to convince your prospective partner that your deal offers a win-win situation for both businesses. Depending on what the other business’ needs are, there is a good chance your proposal will ease that owner’s workload.

Before you approach another business owner with a plan, double-check to make sure it is equitable for both of you. It will not be difficult to determine if the plan is heavily weighted in your favor. So, emphasize the mutual benefits extensively. Plan mutually-beneficial promotions and mitigate ideas that put either of you at a grossly obviously advantage. Partnerships are established by seeing the value of collaboration, but they are sustained on trust.

Establish a Trial Period

Before you set the plan in stone, agree to give the proposed collaboration a trial period. If the plan falls flat or does not function according to expectations, you can tweak it and make adjustments before making a final commitment. When you extend your offer of cross-promotion, setting a trial period can put your partner’s fears to rest.

Don’t Limit Yourself to a Single Partnership

Once you find a cross-promotional plan that works, reach out to more businesses and restaurants. You may find willing partners in the most unlikely of places. Help your partners and your own business grow and expand thanks to your shared loyal customer base. You will soon wonder why you waited so long to give collaborative partnerships a try.

Getting started with collaborative partnerships can be intimidating. But, through careful planning, putting aside your doubts and taking the first step to reach out, you will quickly build strong mutually-beneficial business relationships. Start today, commit to a plan and make deals happen. Your partners and your future customers will thank you.