Let’s face it – restoration marketing just ain’t easy. But you know what is easy? Grabbing a few martini’s (ladies… or men if you’re man enough) and sitting down on a Thursday afternoon talking about nothing too important. What I’m saying is this – you’re doing yourself a disservice by not hosting a restoration happy hour.

Now I know what some of you are thinking because I’ve heard it been said to my face. *GASP* “We will NEVER stoop THAT low… we don’t BUY our clients!” Ok cool, then don’t… I’d like to take your clients too, and if I network with them over a few beers, they’ll probably welcome me with open arms.

If you’re not networking at happy hours, know that your competition is.

Starting a Restoration Happy Hour

Invites…

This is the foot work part. Start an email chain and send it to your closet contacts… ask them to invite a few of their friends to an intimate, no-sales-pitch happy hour event your hosting on your companies dime. A few drinks per person and appetizers for all to share. Your first happy hour may not be a huge hit, which is why repetition is key in making this a success. Have some vendors? Tell them they can come if each brings one applicable contact. The more the merrier. Don’t focus on making it 1 company specific. CREATE A FLYER. People love forwarding invites, and a catchy flyer full of information makes it all the easier. Post it up on your company Facebook page and have your employees mark themselves as attending (getting them to actually attend is a whole ‘nother story).

Location…

Find a central location to your target clients and call the restaurant letting them know you’re hosting a happy hour there… then ask them what they have to offer you. This is key in saving you a few bucks – 9 times out of 10, they’ll extend their happy hour specials for you or offer a discounted menu. If they don’t, find someplace else and ask them. Keep in mind, if you live in a populated city, Thursday happy hour falls around rush hour, so plan accordingly. Asking 1 set of clients to drive ten minutes and another set to drive 1 hour will create a pretty lopsided Happy Hour attendee list. Think easily accessible. Find a place with ample free parking (or be prepared to validate parking if it’s paid). Live in a city with metro / busses? Even better – keep the location close to public transit. Give your clients no excuses as to why they can’t come. Keep the Happy Hour to a minimum of two hours long giving people the opportunity to show up late if need be.

Drink Ticketing…

This may sound corny, but hear me out. At the door, give each attendee two drink tickets. It’ll keep your bill down, keep them from buying shots of top shelf liquor, and keep your liability low… no one wants someone driving home drunk on their dime. Let anyone attending know that you’ll fit the bill for the cab if need be (or provide them a way home). It’s always awesome to be safer than sorry – plus, keeping costs low is great.

Pre-order the appetizers as soon as you get there and let the bar tender know that no other appetizers will be put on the tab… it’s amazing what people will do when they hear the words “F-R-E-E” … pre-ordering the food will subtly let people know that what’s there is what’s there… and nothing more.

Scheduling…

Many apartment complexes having monthly meetings on certain days, so take a consensus and plan from there. Wednesday is always a great alternative to the typical happy hour leaving you with less crowd and a quieter atmosphere – plus you avoid interrupting meetings your clients may already be committed to.

Make this a once-a-month thing. You’ll slowly become known for the awesome, well-organized happy hours you throw and your pull of clients will grow and grow. Take that, competition! Try to keep it on a “third Wednesday of the month” or something similar so that people begin to pre-schedule your event without having to check dates or times.

Follow Up…

While your there, ask attendees for their business cards by having a gift card drawing of some sort – maybe even to the restaurant where you’re hosting the event. This way, come the next morning, you can follow up with contacts, invite them to the next happy hour, and let them know how awesome it was having them there. Let them know the invite is open to others in their office, etc.

There you go – the

 

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