Say you have a new product or service that could revolutionize the way a restaurant owner does business. You want to be able to sell this product or service but can't seem to get in touch with the owner, or even get them to listen to your pitch.

It's no secret that restaurant owners are hard to sell to. No, this isn't because they're grumpy people who want nothing to do with your services. It's because they're hard-working and have very strict schedules. This means you need to learn to adapt to their time crunches and work with them instead of making them work for you.

Here are some of the typical reasons why restaurant owners are hard to sell to, and how you can work around it.

Busy Schedules

If you've never worked in the food industry, you might not be aware of how hard it actually is. You have to be there hours before opening to make sure the registers are balanced, dishes are cleaned, food is prepped, dining areas are stocked with utensils, and the bathrooms have been taken care of. The same thing happens, in reverse, hours after the restaurant closes. And when the restaurant is open, the owner is wearing many hats and trying to solve as many issues, all while keeping customers happy.

So, that being said, when is the right time to approach a restaurant owner to sell something? Honestly, there's no right answer because each restaurant is different, but you should try to catch them at a point where the restaurant isn't open, and they don't have a long list of things to do. Your best option is contacting the owner and set up a meeting at a time that works for them. This might be early in the morning before they've begun the opening procedures. Or, this could be late at night once the restaurant is closed and cleaned up.

If you really want to sell to a restaurant owner, throw away what you thought you knew about schedules and the best times to sell. Odds are, you're going to be pitching your product or service at weird hours.

Tight Budgets

Opening and running a restaurant isn't cheap. Things break and sometimes you have to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to make a repair. This means they don't typically have a budget to buy new products and services, especially if they don't know much about it.

As a seller, it might not be wise to market an expensive product or service to a restaurant owner that is just starting out or seems to be struggling financially. However, if your product or service has proven results that lead to a high return on investment, then you'd have more reason to try and market it.  

Doesn't See Value

Restaurant owners need to see the value in what you're selling. As stated previously, their budgets don't typically allow for investing in projects they're unfamiliar with. What you can do is come prepared with ways they can integrate what you have into what you already sell. Have a good story ready because it can help market your product and explain how it fits into the restaurant's menu and brand. For example, a business that sells naturally-flavored jam from a local farm may have a story that suits a restaurant catering to people who prefer local food.

You can also prove your value by bringing a sample of whatever you have to offer. A picture and marketing copy doesn't equal the power that comes when an owner or head chef can touch, feel, and see your actual product. Come prepared with what you want to sell, and if it's technology or not food-related, make sure whatever you have to share will actually work. The personal experience gives them a better sense of what your product or service can do for their business, thus increasing your chances of completing the sale.

No Relationship

Like most sales, you're usually in better shape if you know the person you're trying to sell to. The same goes for selling to restaurant owners. Avoid trying to meet the owner and selling to them without even formally meeting them and building a relationship. Consider visiting the restaurant a few times and connecting with the owner on social media. Not only does this give you some preliminary exposure, but it also builds a certain level of trust.

Once you have a friendly relationship with the restaurant owner, you're more likely to be able to sell a product to them. Now, avoid taking advantage of the relationship because this obviously comes across as extremely in-genuine.

Unfamiliar with the Restaurant

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is selling something to a restaurant owner, only for it to be nothing related to their business at all. Restaurant owners will be able to pick up on a salesman who is looking to make a quick buck, instead of providing a valuable service or product.

Before attempting your sale, get to know the restaurant. Learn about its background and the types of food they sell. This way, when it's time to speak to the restaurant owner and tell them about your product, you can feel confident knowing it's something that will provide benefit to them.

Selling to restaurant owners can be hard if you don't take the time to get familiar with the restaurant, owner, and work around their schedule. By adding some personalization, you'll be surprised by how easy it is to at least have the chance to pitch your product or service to a restaurant owner. If you ever have any questions, feel free to email us, and we'd be happy to help!