Posted by Patrick Maness
The primary customers who will use a community commercial kitchen are the small entrepreneur food producers who plan to sell their foods at markets and food stands. Often, these small businesses and food producers are part of a close-knit community that may include food carts and trucks, and this is the community that anyone wishing to promote a commercial community kitchen will want to target.
Throughout the country, many have expressed the need for community commercial kitchens to open in their area or neighborhood. The good news for you is that small food entrepreneurs know the value of these kitchens. The trick, then, is simply to get the word out.
In the digital age, it’s easy to think that spending a few hours reaching out by email and connecting on social media will make for a sufficient marketing game. But when it comes to the food movement, which is deeply concerned with strengthening the connection people have with the soil, the food and the people who make the food, you should try a more personal approach.
Start off by visiting farmers markets in your area. Introduce yourself to the couple with the homemade salsa, the woman selling amazing seven-layer bars and the guy who makes five varieties of granola. Tell them your name and tell them about the community kitchen. Be sure to leave brochures or business cards with them, but try to avoid making a sales pitch.
Think of this as an opportunity to establish a relationship and introduce yourself as a new member of the community. The people you're meeting may not even know that commercial kitchen rental is available in their area, and many will be thrilled to hear about it.
In a similar manner, you should take the time to visit a few food trucks. Don’t go during peak times, of course, but find a time when they are cleaning up to approach them as you would a vendor at a market.
While nothing is as effective as one-on-one interactions, it’s harder to find and approach some small food entrepreneurs, such as local caterers, than those who sell their goods at markets. This is where social media really helps.
You want to create a web-based presence that emphasizes your role in the community and the various ways those in the local-food business can benefit from commercial kitchen rental. Reach out and connect with these businesses, take interest in what they are doing, share the content they produce and establish yourself as a valuable online connection.
We all know the best kind of advertising is word of mouth. The more people talk about the kitchen, the more people will end up using it. To help spread the word, consider offering a referral bonus. If a current client brings in new business, you can thank them by giving them 5 hours of free kitchen time.
The bottom line: If you want to get the word out, make yourself part of the community. Prove you fill a need and provide a service for the community of small food producers and you’ll be on your way to success.
Read other articles in this series: