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There are almost 150,000 single-location restaurants in the United States alone. This number swells to over a million if you include franchises. Suffice it to say that there are plenty of restaurants needing supplies.
However, the restaurant industry is also exceptionally volatile. Thousands of restaurants close each year with as many opening their doors for the first time. This was true even before COVID-19 restrictions and their aftermath to the hospitality business, third-party delivery, and the Great Resignation.
As a restaurant supply wholesaler, your success relies on the success of this fast-evolving industry. Therefore, you need to remain adaptive and flexible to keep up with new trends and changes or risk getting left behind. Luckily, the fundamentals of creating a thriving business always stay the same.
Keep reading if you’re in the food and beverage industry and want to refresh your B2B sales and business strategies. Below we list five effective ways to spur your business growth.
1. Study the Competition - It’s Good Inspiration
Your competitors are a goldmine of information and a great pool of inspiration. First, they have already done lots of market research and are selling products to customers within your market. Second, they have laid out their sales and marketing strategy.
Here’s what you can do: Pick four or five direct competitors and study them. Which channels do they use, and how? Perhaps they are killing it on a social media platform you didn’t consider. Or maybe they use a messaging angle that could also work with your business. Or perhaps they figured out a way to connect with their audience effectively that you may have missed.
Of course, the idea is not to turn into a copycat. Each business is different - yours definitely differs from theirs, so merely imitating their marketing will not bring the expected results your way. What you can do, however, is take note of what is working for them, what isn’t, and what you can adapt for use with your brand, always considering your customer profile and your unique selling points.. After all, even if you share the same market, you must stand out.
Understanding how your competition accomplishes (or fails to do) this is the first step to revitalizing your growth.
2. Understand What Makes Your Brand Unique
Studying your competitors’ strategies is useful - yet, there are more ways to ignite your growth. It’s time to take a long look at business and ask yourself: What does your brand stand for? Why should potential customers buy from you instead of one of your competitors?
There are limitless ways to differentiate yourself. Take plenty of time to think of what makes you stand out. Some examples to consider are:
- The quality of your products
- The unique features of your products
- Ease of use, meaning how effortless it is for customers to place through your ordering systems (e.g., phone, email, or B2B portal)
- The pricing of your products
- Customer service and responsiveness to customer inquiries
- Your brand’s values and mission
- Your Industry experience and customer portfolio
- Your brand’s affiliation with your prospects and customers
Mix and match these qualities to create your brand’s unique feeling and selling points. Remember that it’s normal if you struggle to determine what makes you different. You’ll gradually figure out everything - building your brand loyalty takes time and effort.
Also, tapping into your customers’ knowledge and perception of your brand is a great starting point. Survey your best and most loyal customers, ask them what made them pick you, what they think makes your brand unique to them, and if there’s anything they wish you did differently.
Winding as it may be, this path will lead you to your Holy Grail: understanding and owning what your brand is all about.
3. Cut Out What’s Not Working and Focus on What Is
Once you know what your brand is all about, it’s time to analyze your business’ core: the products it sells. The road to building a business is bumpy and filled with rough patches. The sooner you accept this, the quicker you’ll be able to grow your business. Of course, not everything you do will work; plenty will go wrong. However, making mistakes can spur your growth: learning from them can lead to refining your processes and action plan.
Instead of being disappointed, analyze every setback you encounter. What was the issue, and what caused it? What could have happened in another way? What worked out and what didn’t? This analysis will allow you to deal with the issue quickly and effectively and redirect your attention to ideas that have the potential to pan out.
In this way, growing a business is like tending to a plant. You prune the wilted branches so the healthier ones can thrive. In the same way, you are getting rid of faulty business ideas and turning your attention to better ones. Of course, tapping into your sales data and making sense of it - especially if you have an ordering platform where you can quickly run reports- can help refine your growth strategy.
For instance, let’s say you sell ice cream to restaurants, and your chocolate-chip mint flavor is not selling. Perhaps there’s a competitor that offers a more flavorsome scoop than yours or maybe the restaurants you sell to are looking for organic or out-of-the-box flavors. In this case, you may need to re-adjust your action plan. For example, you can attract new customers with more traditional eateries to sell this flavor to or find ways to sell it better to your current ones by highlighting its natural ingredients. You could also stop selling this flavor entirely if customers barely order it.
Another example is when formerly-popular brands lose their appeal. Many customers want to buy from brands that reflect their values. In this case, replacing or discontinuing the underperforming brand could be better.
Polishing your B2B sales and marketing strategy is a never-ending process. With your success based on the whims of your market, take time to reflect often and adjust your action plan.
4. Identify Your Best Kinds of Customers
It is true: you can’t make everyone happy. While it would be great to have everyone fall in love with your products, it is nearly impossible. Even gigantic businesses like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s are not relevant to every consumer.
In this respect, it’s simpler to start in a profitable niche and expand from there, constantly keeping sight of your brand. For example, if you’re supplying restaurants with food items, pivoting to selling freezers may seem natural, but it can strike your customers as a little strange. To succeed in your niche, you must find your best customers.
Loyal customers are more than a great source of revenue. They give you insight into who your ideal customer is. For example, if most of your return business is from vegan restaurants, finding more plant-based restaurants is an organic and logical way to grow your sales. Finding common characteristics among your loyal customers is a great way to find new opportunities to grow your B2B sales cycle.
Your best customers are easy to spot: they are the kind of people you love doing business with, and, in turn, they love doing business with you. They are the ones that keep coming back and paying on time. They understand your value and respect your work, gushing to everyone they know about you. Conversely, some customers rarely return the investment you make in servicing them. These customers may complain about your pricing or products or hustle your customer service reps.
With that in mind, using a system to track customer orders to determine who your best customers are can help your business grow. First, you can offer more targeted discounts to your best customers to increase your sales and support them better. Also, using a system to track orders will allow you to understand your client base better, see in which markets you have the most significant traction, and, eventually, find more customers that are a better fit for your business and for whom you may provide ideal solutions.
5. Make Your Sales Process Easy and Seamless
Sales are your business’s lifeblood. Even the most enticing marketing campaign will fall flat if people can’t find your products or if they can’t order them easily and quickly. In other words: It’s crucial to offer a smooth buying experience to your customers.
How would it feel if you had ordered two bottles of refreshing orange juice, but the supermarket employee did not write the correct quantity down? How would you feel if you were about to buy a rare book on Amazon and the site crashed at checkout? What about if you were purchasing a delicious pastry for breakfast, but the register rejected your credit card because of a technical error? Upset, right?
The same happens when a customer finds completing an order from your restaurant supply business hard. Here are a few common issues:
- Your customers may want to order specific products quickly, but your website does not allow you to showcase these options to them clearly.
- Your customer wants more information on a product before buying it. Still, you do not have a digital product catalog to share with them instantly, so they may delay their purchase until you or the appropriate sales rep reaches out to them.
- Your customer likes to use various payment methods, but you don’t offer them on your wholesale website.
If these issues strike a chord, B2B Wave is here for you. We offer a B2B eCommerce platform for restaurant suppliers and wholesalers who want to scale their brands. But don’t just take our word for it - Start your 14-day free trial and get a feel for how we can help propel your growth.