When I decided to write on the power of a recession-proof mindset, I started looking for successful examples of entrepreneurs that create their own economies, despite what the media calls a “recession”. Mike Kelly, of the Kelly Hospitality Group, is one of the best examples of such entrepreneurs.
In the small NC community formed by the Outer Banks, approximately 35,000 people reside within along, thin stretch of land (almost an island).
The region is highly seasonal, reaching over 500,000 visitors/week during certain times in the summer. Due to the summer migration, most businesses in the area are ONLY open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, closing theirs doors as the tourists head back home.
During the winter months, few businesses stay open, and the majority burn through their summer profits just to keep their lights on.
At Kelly’s Restaurant & Tavern, however, tables are full even during the winter.
Kelly’s is the star of the Kelly Hospitality Group, which includes two other restaurants in the area as well, owned by Mike Kelly.
The night before Valentine’s day, Kelly’s dining room was full before 5pm. The last entree came out of the kitchen a few minutes past 11pm, with guests waiting over an hour for a table.
In the lounge, as diners arrived and waited patiently for a table, Mr. Kelly himself was the host, entertaining guests, serving drinks, and ensuring effective table turnovers.
The same scenario can be applied to the Friday before last, and to the one before that. Kelly’s is always full, and the reason is immensely due to its owner.
Mr. Kelly is always the first one in, and the last one out. He knows every vendor, every repeat guest, and this relationship is extend in all his marketing campaigns.
On his 3 restaurants, several data-gathering opportunities are softly presented to guests, and the communication is differentiated between local Outer Banks residents and tourists, to maximize personalization. This winter, when the area was surprisingly covered by two inches of snow, Mike sent out a postcard to his list of residents with a picture of his building covered in snow, that said: we’re always open, it’s warm inside, and the food is always great.
The consequences of Mike Kelly’s efforts are represented on the cordiality and dedication of the staff, who are greatly motivated by the owner’s leadership. Kelly sets the example to be followed by every employee, and even his wife often joins the staff and help on the busiest occasions.
His persistent relationship-building, through personal & direct marketing, impacts his turnover and determines his success.
One thing to be noticed is that Kelly’s marketing has been consistently effective, no matter what the economy is. Recession in, recession out, his presence is always noticed in the local media, his campaigns always include a bonus for local residents, and it reflects on his sales.
Entrepreneurs such as Mike Kelly create their own economy, focusing on his target market and ignoring national economy, news, and bailouts. Their mindset sets the pace of their success, and their leadership guides his entire enterprise forward.
Now, it is up to you: how do you plan on overcoming this ‘recession’ epidemic? Have you not been affected at all? How?