The concept of culinary residencies is rapidly gaining traction in the catering industry. Competitors and upstart enterprises are effectively allowed to hijack an outlet’s kitchens for a limited period, using their hosts’ equipment and offering something radically different from the norm.
Once you get past the initial absurdity of a restaurant letting a street food vendor take over their premises for a week, the marketing advantages become fairly compelling. The host organisation gets the chance to impress with their surroundings and customer service, while the guest can take advantage of established facilities that probably surpass anything they could otherwise call upon. Both parties gain invaluable publicity, while welcoming first-time customers who may well return once their symbiotic relationship has run its course.
This residency phenomenon is already well-established in other industries. Boots are quite happy to let Clarins and Clinique market their own products in competition with the chemist’s own No.7 range, partly because their rivals pay for their in-store presence, and also because the resulting product diversity will deter people from going to Super drug instead.
Multi-franchise car dealerships, meanwhile, permit economies of scale in terms of staff and land, even if it’s strange seeing Aston Martins and Citroens sharing forecourt space.
Basically, residencies are a way of collaborating with a complementary company to reap the benefits. These benefits include the introduction of your brand to new customers and the opportunity for publicity and press. There’s also an element of pop-up culture in the emerging phenomena, which drives increased interest due to the ‘here today gone tomorrow’ nature of the partnership.
The first thing you need when considering whether a residency is right for you, is a bit of market insight. Use social media to see the sort of products or services your customers are buying at the same time as they are buying from you. Amazon can even help with this, thanks to their ‘people who bought this also bought this function’.
So, if you make a product like cheese, you could see if a local winemaker would consider a residency with you. If you produce business cards, you could get a designer set up online or in store for a short term. Own a web development business? Host some webinars with a blogger giving tips and advice for writing online.
Then get to marketing the residency. Inform the local press, get vocal about it on social media, and even create old-skool flyers that can be handed out. Then, host your launch party and watch the new faces crowd through the door.