Right after my birth, my parents opened a local diner downtown. They did not have much money back then, so they could not afford to get employees. While mom was waitressing and handling the cash register, dad would stay at the back to cook and wash the dishes. It became their routine seven days a week for two years until the business took off and attracted diners from all over the city.
You could say that the diner was my family’s pride and glory. When I was still young, my father would always say, “Everything we are doing here is for you. Someday, you will be managing this, so we try to make it as stable as possible before it happens.” I did not understand it at the time, but the older I got, the more I felt invested in the family business.
When I entered college and majored in Business Management, our initial plan was to work in any company for as long as I wanted. My parents never wished to force the local diner on me, especially when they knew that I wasn’t ready for such a responsibility.
Unfortunately, only two years after graduating and getting a job, my dad fell ill, and my mom needed to nurse him back to health. They were thinking about closing the diner because no one would be managing it, but I disagreed. I said, “No, I will take care of it.”
Was that a rash decision on my part? Perhaps, yes. I was up for a promotion in a multi-national company, but there I was, telling my folks that I would move back home to manage the small family business. I also doubted myself for a bit, but it was time for me to step up to the plate and ensure that the business my parents cherished for decades would remain.
Taking Over The Family Business
My first day as the diner’s new manager went through like a breeze. I often worked there on summers during my teenage years, so I knew how to operate the cash register, prepare everything on the menu, and clean the tables. With my business management skills, it was effortless for me to supervise the staff and guarantee that all the customers were satisfied with their orders.
The only thing that boggled my mind was that our family business had no online presence. My parents merely relied on people who passed by the diner and regular customers to keep it afloat. They always hit the daily quota, but you could imagine how much more profits they could have if the business had at least been listed on Yelp.
Precisely a week after taking over the family business, therefore, I hired a web developer to build a website for the diner. I wanted it to highlight the sense of comfort that our food could bring to anyone, so I also asked a writer and photographer to sample everything and fill the website with content. Then, my friend—who happened to be a social media manager—offered to create Facebook and Instagram business pages and taught me how to promote the diner digitally.
What Can Online Marketing Do For A Family Business?
Reduce Promotional Costs
When my folks were still managing the diner, they spent almost $1000 every month on individuals who could give out flyers in different blocks or stand outside the door and yell, “Welcome to Darcy’s!” Though it paid off, it was technically a lot of money that could have been used on other things.
Once the website and social media pages were up, there was no longer a need for flyers. The pages spoke for themselves, so we did not have to hire anyone to invite people to the diner. In short, we managed to keep $1000, which was a win.
Gain New Customers
Since the long-term goal was to expand the business, I knew that staying traditional would not help us achieve it. Doing so meant continuing to depend on folks around the area to make a profit. While we had plenty of regulars, other restaurants were popping up everywhere, and no one could tell how long our customers would be loyal to the diner.
The most straightforward solution was to market the business online. It gave people from various states or countries a chance to learn about our diner and what we could offer. Two weeks after launching the website, we already got visitors from neighboring cities. Some even said a month or so later that they drove to our town specifically to try the delicious-looking dishes on our pages.
It did not take long for my parents to realize that marketing the family business digitally was the proper call to make. I won’t bore you with too many details, but I would divulge that we got to buy the establishment next door in cash, and we’re on the process of extending the diner. That’s how much we benefited from online marketing.
Hopefully, you can bring your business to the digital world soon, too. Good luck!