SITUATION ANALYSIS

Generating trial and awareness of a new restaurant at a grand opening is key to its ongoing success. But delivering interest in an existing restaurant that is being renovated or re-concepted to earn media attention and increased guest counts surrounding their grand re-openings can be a far more difficult task. Buffets, Inc., the nation’s largest steak buffet restaurant chain with over 340 locations, began re-concepting its restaurants in key markets such as Denver and Central Louisiana in 2012. The re-concepted restaurants receive truly impressive updates in décor, service and menu items. Buffets hired Ink Link Marketing to handle the marketing and public relations for the grand re-openings of their re-concepted restaurants because Ink Link’s replicable strategies made it easy to execute buzz-worthy events across all brands at all locations. Also, using an experienced marketing firm such as Ink Link freed up the individual store managers from having to spend valuable time away from their operations to plan the events.

STRATEGY

Ink Link Marketing created customizable templates to be used at any store location. Using simple, streamlined designs took the guesswork and wasted time and money out of planning a grand re-opening event. Promotions could be added or removed according to the needs of the brand or market. The agency drafted scripts, memos, press releases, how-to guides and more. In addition, Ink Link provided staffing through brand ambassadors, who were hired and trained when Buffets first entered a new market. These street teams were brought in for door hangings, community outreach and on-site grand re-opening events. The mass of materials created were referred to as “Grand Re-openings in a Box,” because of the ease in which a store location could perform their grand re-opening event with the help of Ink Link Marketing’s tactics.

TACTICS

The re-creatable grand re-opening kit included templates, instructions, and checklists for public relations, promotions, community outreach, and event planning. All programs were designed to create excitement for the weeks leading up to and the day of the grand re-openings.

PR

•Customizable press release templates for each location, including: the grand re-opening event, sweepstakes or enter-to-win prize promotions, charity components and/or a post release with photo from the ribbon cutting at the event •Talking points for store managers, employees and brand ambassadors when speaking about the event •Detailed action plans for Chef’s Tastings and cooking segments tailored for media were also created. Promotions •Chef’s Tasting events with key media contacts •Food drops to television and radio stations •Outreach and partnerships with area car dealerships, including car giveaways and radio remotes were executed.

Community Outreach

•Ribbon cutting with mayor, chamber of commerce or key community officials •School bands, choirs, or dance teams at the event •Benefit Nights were scheduled to attract large non-profits to the grand re-opening week •Brand ambassadors to distribute flyers and door hangers prior to the opening

Event Planning

•Entertainment such as balloon artists, clowns, DJ’s or live music for the opening •Props like balloon arches and spin and win items were created •Run-of-show program to help store managers and staff plan their day according to the schedule of events

RESEARCH

Brand ambassadors armed with iPad surveys intercepted guests to learn about the key attributes about the remodel that left a positive impression. Excitement! •Attention-grabbing setups outside the restaurants, live music, etc. •Prize wheels and enter-to-win programs for large prizes like $10,000 or a new car

RESULTS

•Restaurants realized double digital increases in traffic and sales for many weeks after the grand opening. •Learnings from the surveys resulted in some adjustments to the re-concepted elements. •System-wide rollout is now underway!