Unlocking New Revenue Streams In Your Restaurant With Your By-Products

Business is fun.  You get to create things, help out others, and be rewarded for doing so.  In the restaurant and hospitality business, you often get to witness the joy you're bringing your customers first hand.  Sometimes though, it's easy to focus on the stress of owning and operating a business and not the positive aspects.  It can be a drag on you, especially the items in the business that nobody sees.  Doing the books, putting together a marketing strategy, stocking shelves, etc....  Wouldn't it be great if you could take all those "behind the scene" tasks and extend their value beyond your routine?  That's exactly what we did inside of our business.

A little history about us, we started as a restaurant.  We were writing a business plan for a small restaurant that would use technology to drive it's marketing through word of mouth.  Using our restaurant operations and technology experience, part of our marketing strategy was the foundation on which Referral Circle is now built upon.  It wasn't the focus of the business plan, as that revolved all of the aspects of our business, marketing just being one piece.  However, in building out the plan, we wanted to ensure to use of our by-product, our word of mouth marketing system, to add more value to the overall business venture.  We saw value in the marketing system that we built for our restaurant plan, and saw how it could bring more value to other businesses and to the community as a whole.  There was opportunity not just in our restaurant , but in the by-products of our work we were performing to operate our restaurant.  (FYI, the restaurant never did open, but there's still plans to revive the plan eventually!)

Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson of 37Signals wrote about this in their book, Rework, as well:  "When you make something, you always make something else.  You can't just make one thing.  Everything has a by-product.  Observant and creative business minds spot these by-products and see opportunities." (pg 90).

So, are you doing the same for your restaurant or business?  Have you evaluated how the by-products of your restaurant can be used to add value to your business and your community?  Have you developed your own system that could bring value?  Are you educating?  Here's some ideas:

  • Write a book or blog
  • Create a cookbook
  • Distribute your homemade sauce or cookies to the local grocer
  • Consult for other restaurants
  • Take the experience you create at your restaurant and bring it to new venues
  • Teach at a local community college
  • Re-purpose food overage
  • Partner with other businesses and take advantage of your mutual unique talents to benefit each other
  • Start a marketing website and sell your home grown tools (that's what we did!)

Chances are very good that you have a by-product in your business that you're not utilizing.  Put it to work for you.  If you can increase your revenue through it, that's great, but also consider the impacts to your community and local economy as well. 

What suggestions do you have?  Tell us your ideas!