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How to Manage Different Brands: Interview with Mindy Stroupe

Mindy_HeadshotWhether you like Greek cuisine, Ocean front vistas, or pub style dining, LM Restaurants, Inc. (LMR) manages an extremely diverse fleet of restaurants that is sure to cater to you gastronomic desires. Mindy Stroupe, Corporate Communications Manager of LM Restaurants, handles the daunting task of trying to market their differing restaurants to ensure each one’s success.

What challenges do you face with trying to manage all these brands at once?

According to Mindy, LMR tries to promote all of the brands affiliated with the hospitality management group as much and as evenly as they can; however, they do recognize realities. Some of the restaurants receive more focus because they are growth brands. The Carolina Ale House brand generates the most money for the group, which allows them to fund more and newer marketing initiatives. There are now 23 Carolina Ale House locations throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and even Texas, and Mindy states that they hope to open 5 more locations before the end of the year. While they manage most marketing at a corporate level, LM Restaurants encourages the restaurant managers to go out into their local communities and run low-cost marketing initiatives. One example of one of these initiatives is their “dine and donate” where they will encourage guests to come in and a portion of their proceeds will be donated back to the school or a charity.

The smaller brands, naturally, function as smaller restaurants and have the marketing budget of one restaurant. They rely heavily on local marketing platforms to help build a presence in their community.

An example of this marketing juggling act is the five different signature restaurants LMR manages in Wilmington alone. They face challenges whether to market themselves as managed by LMR or as individual brands. But, through experience, they found that it’s better to market each place as a separate destination.

What tips or advice can you offer to help someone who is managing many different brands?

Time management and priority setting are the most invaluable skills to master in order to be successful at managing several brands. Mindy emphasizes that they work with the restaurant managers to focus on what ideas will bring in the most sales.

How do you use social media in your marketing strategy?

The main social media outlets that the restaurants use are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; but, not all restaurants use all three because they try to discern which ones make the most sense for each restaurant. For Example, Oceanic, an ocean front venue in Wilmington, and Bluewater, a waterfront grill on the intra-coastal waterway also in Wilmington, both use Instagram by taking photos of the beautiful views or taking pictures of the many weddings or other functions that they host. At Hops Supply Co., a gastropub, they are starting to use Instagram more and more to appeal to that demographic. Twitter is maintained at a corporate level, even though the brand team would like each restaurant to use them individually in the future. And finally, there is Facebook, which is also maintained to a degree at a corporate level where they offer suggested guidelines and content, but they also allow localized branding for each restaurant. They constantly attend seminars to make sure their social media practices are up to date.

Mindy also told us that her favorite restaurant to go to is Taverna Agora. It is an authentic Greek style restaurant and chef driven. Mindy says it is the perfect place to kick back with a glass of wine and enjoy company and the food!