What is the best way to reach decision-makers at large restaurant chains?


What is the best way to reach decision-makers at large restaurant chains? I'm thinking Chili's, Darden, Friday's, Applebee's, etc. We've had some luck reaching some individual locations, and small local chains, but we'd really love to get into a popular national chain like the ones mentioned above. I'm a marketer by background - not a direct salesperson - so this is new ground for me.

About my company: Textaurant is changing the way you wait. Right now, you have to walk into a business or call them to find out the wait time and get on the list. This wastes your time, especially if there's a long wait. With Texaurant, you can see wait times online or on your mobile device, choose a location, and get in the queue remotely - from wherever you are.

Thanks for your time!


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asked Sep 15 '10 at 06:19
Josh Sam Bob
1,578 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

3 Answers


This one is hard ... we're heavily invested in the vertical you threw out (restaurants, foodservice, etc...), and I can tell you that selling technology in this arena is complicated. It's more complicated than almost any other vertical. Without getting philosophical, it seems to be an issue with POS providers / dealers, and their promise of amazing savings that never materializes.

It's going to take a while to get in the door to those chains. Maybe a long while. I'd start lower on the foodchain, and find an operator or two in your area that has a regional chain, or maybe 2 - 10 units. Work your way up, and every time you acquire a new chain, get a press release out and get it over to NRN, and some of the other trade mags that cover the space.

Starting with a group that has 500 units sounds like a great plan, until they throw you a 600 page contract, eat up 2,000 man hours in new requirements, and then the second your site goes down for some planned maintenance, they pull the plug and stop paying you.

Feel free to contact me if you'd like some pointers in this industry.

answered Sep 15 '10 at 12:14
Anthony Presley
71 points


Josh, congratulations on describing your question well, and posting a link to your website. So many people here let us guess the details while missing the opportunity to promote their business a bit.

Now, to answer your question, having worked for companies that did large B2B deals, it's hard o to do what you're asking for. Larger companies, usually hire people that already have contacts and know the industry to work for them, and if they don't have any contacts for a specific company, they'll sometimes hire a consultant that does have these connections to get their foot in the door.

That's not to say that a persistent salesman can't do it, it's just an uphill battle.

But beyond that, even if you got your foot in the door and managed to meet some of the decision makers, you'd be disappointed.

  • What reference customers do you have to show them that they want to adopt your solution. Do you have any deployments with hundreds of locations?
  • Often there's no single decision maker. You talk to the marketing department and they buy your story and then they need to convince operations or some other departments, and there are politics and turf wars, which brings me to the next point
  • Large companies tend to move slowly. Are you ready to wait 12 months from the time you do your first presentation till they sign on the dotted ling?
  • Talking about signing the dotted line, are you ready to spend many thousands of dollars on lawyers to negotiate the contract? While contract negotiation is a good sign, remember that they might change their mind at the last minute.

At the end of the day, a startup that doesn't have significant investment has a hard time tackling this market. I think you have much better chance of targeting the small single and double restaurants, moving from there to small chains. If you're lucky, a high up in one of the chains will run into your system when going out to dinner, and contact you. Then, it's a completely different story, since they can stream line the process, and by then you have a track record.

answered Sep 15 '10 at 18:30
1,833 points


Do something to stand out and get there attention. Then do the startup call. Check out Sales Rich by Brad Sugars.

answered Sep 15 '10 at 10:09
172 points

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