Collaboration Over Competition: Putting the Customer First

Six years ago, when the idea for a collaborative, lead-referral and networking group for sales and marketing professionals was introduced, people looked at us like we were crazy.

You’re all attending this networking event together? Aren’t you each other’s competition?

What if I don’t want to book business at all of these restaurants?

Do you charge a fee for your services, to the event planner or restaurant?

The answers are:

“Well, technically, yes—but we believe that there’s enough business to go around.”

“You don’t have to book with all of us! But, if you call one of us to ask for an available date for a private event and we don’t have it, we have a built-in, qualified network that will provide you with the same, high-end experience.”

“Member restaurants pay a small fee ($250 annually) to participate, which not only includes lead referral, but other sales and marketing services, such as newsletter distribution to the city’s best event planners, social media, and business development for the group as a whole.”

People could not believe it.

It caught on quickly, once the City realized that we saw any revenue in the Philadelphia hospitality business as good revenue, and a good sign that business would pick up for the rest of us. We went through several holiday seasons, citywide conventions, and even natural disasters, putting the customer first.

In one instance, a member restaurant suffered an unimaginable flood (of course!) during a busy week with a citywide convention. After assessing the situation and realizing that they would have to close for dinner service, the restaurant’s general manager asked the sales and marketing manager to call her parties and let them know they’d have to cancel the event. Instead, she called her fellow members, arranged a new space with almost the same menu at the same price, and called the client with a good news/bad news scenario, as opposed to being the bearer of only bad news.

What started as a few friends looking for a way to commiserate, refer business, and better Philadelphia’s hospitality region has branched out into an entity all its own. Stay tuned for member spotlights and interviews, to highlight the restaurants and individuals who make up our network—and serve our communities.