Eric Wilson leverages community relations in order to make a big impact in a new market.
Just ten months ago, Eric Wilson opened the first Slapfish in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The seafood franchise is focused on getting people to eat more seafood and breaking through the negative noise surrounding the seafood industry. Wilson is on board with the brand’s mission and is looking to introduce the Southwest to Real American Seafood.
1851 Franchise caught up with Eric and he shared his insights into creating brand awareness in a new market by focusing on community engagement.
How important is it to give back to your local community as it relates to growing your business?
Wilson: Being involved in our community is an important part of success. As we are only 10 months into operations, we are starting to explore two local charities to host a special event on our patio. Our target is this fall, which is such a great time for outdoor dining and events in New Mexico.
What local or charitable outreach efforts have you made in order to connect with your local community?
Wilson: So far, we have donated gift cards to a number of fundraisers, which has been cost-effective and helpful for schools, churches and charities with live and silent auctions. We have also hosted one fundraiser evening at the restaurant, which was a great way to raise awareness of Slapfish while giving back. We also enjoyed sponsoring our professional indoor football team, the Duke City Gladiators, which brought a lot of the players into the restaurant to meet the public.
What are your top ideas or tips to market your local business?
?Wilson: The Slapfish menu is unique in our market, without a lot of competition for responsibly sourced, well-managed seafood in a fast-casual setting. Our customers really appreciate the fresh fish flown in daily. We also offer creative, daily specials to keep the menu exciting and residents coming back on a regular basis--locals love that they can have a side of green chili on any dish! Offering menu specials and coming up with a dish that is unique to the region are both tips to market your local business – both strategies have worked well for the Slapfish brand in Albuquerque.
How effective are charitable efforts in growing your business?
?Wilson: Philanthropy is an important area to tap, especially as we move into our second year of business. By partnering with a charity, not only do you build relationships with potential customers and people who can help spread the word, but you also engrain yourself and your business in the community.
What advice would you give to other franchisees who are just starting their businesses to best set themselves up for success on the local level?
?Wilson: It’s important to become engrained in the community and build a base of loyal customers. Giving back to the community and local organizations is one of the top keys to success, as well as building a solid, dependable team. A supportive franchisor is also very important. Fortunately, Slapfish CEO and founder Chef Andrew Gruel and his team assist with each grand opening and beyond, as well as any questions or issues that arise along the way.