How To Market Your Restaurant Using Garbage

‘Interested in a unique new way to both market your restaurant and generate a halo effect over your outlet for your good work in your community?In these days of “going green”, this is way to take advantage of the sky-rocketing prices for recycled goods that you can get your own customers to bring into your restaurant for ‘donation’.Here’s a differentiated – and if you move fast – preemptive way how to make this happen.The economy is taking a big toll, even on your garbage.With far less to spend these days and mounting pressure on pocketbooks, many people are seeing others raid their garbage cans and recycling bins.Curbside refuse – especially aluminum, copper, cardboard and used newspapers – has become a hot commodity.It’s amazing but it seems a truck loaded with mixed recyclables can fetch $1,000 today; filled with used newspapers, $600. Aluminum cans are in high demand; and the used newspapers are shipped to China to make recycled paper, cardboard and packaging materials.They may have the Olympics; but they don’t have many trees.We now are experiencing a growing community problem known as ‘Raiders of the Lost Trash’. There are the really unscrupulous who even poach the ‘free circulation’ community newspapers, restaurant-tourist guides distributed in smaller stands in front of many restaurants, retailers and shopping malls. The publishers of these are under attack, since if the bad guys are stealing their new (as yet undistributed to the end-user-reader) copies to sell for re-cycled newsprint, your restaurant advertisement is going (pun intended) to waste.So is your money.There is a way however, you can use this to your own advantage. Figure out what a week’s or a month’s stack of used daily newspapers will likely weigh. Then check with a local, legitimate, newsprint recycler how much that might be worth in pennies or nickels and then offer your customers a way for them to help with newsprint recycling and receive something back from you.Obtain pre-printed business cards where each time the guest brings in his ‘bundle of newspapers’ he gets his card stamped. If your POS system can handle this in its data base, you can keep track of this ‘loyalty program’ there too, without the cards.Set up a very fair and practical system whereby the guest gets rewarded for bringing in her used newspapers by ‘points’ equal to some money off one of your menu or dessert items. For smaller quantities, you can give away a soda or a glass of wine. You can ‘bundle’ this loyalty promotion so the guest redeeming the promotion has an additional ‘incentive’ of perhaps half off the entrée cost for the second person in a party of three or four.This will entice more individual diners (read: buyers) and increase your party size taking advantage of this promotion. You could do other things in conjunction with this...e.g. tie this in with your local daily newspaper, where they write a story about your idea/promotion, and strongly suggest that their readers collect, then bring in their used newspaper copies to your restaurant. Have an unannounced drawing for an even bigger prize. Have table place mats printed that explain the promotion; and that even these place mats are going into the paper recycling program when used.Now what do you do with the money?Sure, you could use the cash yourself to defray any marketing expenses; but I would think you will get more bang for the buck if you “donate” the money you collect from this. Donate to a worthy local the local homeless shelter or the Sally Ann.Collecting heavy, bulky used newsprint is not often done by the homeless. However in 2000, a study conducted by a nonprofit advocacy group found that 75 per cent of homeless people in Los Angeles said they depended on income from recycling. So try to help out the homeless; but avoid accepting their domain of cans or bottles. Stick with newsprint only. Don’t be perceived as being in ‘competition’ with them for cans and bottles.They say that yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s bird cage liner. You and your restaurant can turn that ‘old news’ into some new hope...and shed a nice light on you and your restaurant in the process.
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  • You're right, Larry!

    See my blog today at:

    (Actually, you can scroll down the main FohBoh page on the left side,
    see the section titled: Restaurant Marketing, and click on the post
    talking about the Cat being out of the Bag. It's the direct RSS feed
    to my blog from FohBoh.)

    I write about this very topic; but I take it just a wee bit further.


  • Thanks for the advise on reading this article. Debra's right, restaurants need to step it up. We have been toying with the idea of selling or giving away cloth (reusable) bags with our logo printed on them. Then, customers can use them when picking up their take-out and then others will see where they got the delicious food.
  • OK, Debra: Now that you have let the 'cat out of the bag' so to speak, I will have to break silence and announce that you are absolutely correct and perfectly 'on track' with your idea of the let's call them 'eco-bags'.

    I too carry 5 of these cloth-like bags in the back seat to put my groceries in, so as not to use paper
    or plastic (whether bio-degradable plastic or not. Those are made from corn and we know what a debacle the corn-farming and directly related businesses are mired in right now)

    In May of this year, I built a win-win-win restaurant-driven fund-raising promotion out of the very same idea you mentioned above.....but I take it just a wee bit further.

    To get all the details, please check out my FohBoh blog post for July 19th.

    Debra....thanks for your innovative thinking!
  • Thanks, Howard and David.

    Jeffrey, I'll be talklng about your local restaurants too; but not 'till next week. Stay tuned....
  • Very interesting and innovative thinking. We need to think more about how to do business right that helps us make money and be good stewards.
  • Nice idea Roy. Now I know what to do with my extra office copies of TRN.
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