October 30, 2017

Archie Bengzon: Dishing up growth solutions to independent restaurateurs

If you run a small, local restaurant, how can you compete with big chains that have the benefit of massive scale, big marketing budgets, and sophisticated and specialized corporate teams?

Three words: Unique. Customer. Experience.

While some consumers like the predictability of chain restaurants, most folks prefer a unique, high-quality experience over something taken out of the box (or bag). The ability of independent restaurateurs to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience is exactly why “mom-and-pop joints are trouncing America’s big restaurant chains,” according to Bloomberg.

The challenge is that many restaurant owners don’t have the time, tools, or expertise to take full advantage of their natural strengths in the national battle for share of restaurant patrons’ wallets. That’s where Archie Bengzon comes in.

A New Jersey resident, Archie consults local restaurant owners and operators in Jersey City, Hoboken, and Manhattan on behalf of Tribal Payments. By now, he knows the drill — these merchants are time-starved because they wear many hats, and they don’t have good tools to attract new customers or to keep regulars coming back.

“I constantly hear restaurant owners say they don’t know how to market to their customers without spending a fortune,” he says. “They default to what they know, like printing coupons or buying ads on the radio or in the newspaper. Most of them have no idea there are better and easier methods.”

For Archie, the challenge is helping his busy clients quickly and simply see new opportunities. To do that, he’s been looking for a way to lead his consultations with a product that helps merchants grow their revenue and save time simultaneously. When he heard about Womply, he said, “That’s it.”

“I stumbled onto a video about Womply and thought, ‘That’s perfect,’” he says. “Merchants are looking for value. They want solutions that help them generate revenue. Womply is my new secret weapon.”

While business owners have been consumed with running their restaurants, the world has completely changed around them, Archie says. Many of these changes play to small companies’ strengths, but they don’t take full advantage.

For example, today hundreds of millions of consumers visit websites and mobile apps like Yelp, Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Zomato (Urbanspoon) to decide where to eat. Think about it: these sites attract millions and millions of people who are actively looking to spend money at a restaurant, right now. That’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

“Problem is, a lot of merchants see online reviews as a threat instead of an opportunity,” Archie says. “I have to help them recognize that their online business reputation is the key to people finding their business and spending money with them.”

Womply’s software reflects how business has changed in Main Street in recent years. For example, Womply Insights has a toolkit called Reputation Defense that makes it simple, easy, and in some cases totally automatic to manage online reviews.

With Reputation Defense, restaurants can read and respond to all of their reviews on multiple sites from one place to potentially save hours every day. They can also use Womply’s Get Reviews feature to proactively encourage their best customers to write reviews about their experiences, which drives revenue because prospective customers care most about the number of recent reviews and the restaurant’s overall score.

In addition to local restaurants, Archie works with other types of small food and beverage businesses, like Pampita Meat Shop in Jersey City, New Jersey.

For years, Archie’s main job was setting up local merchants with cash advances to bridge gaps in cash flow. That led to him selling credit card processing services. These days, he doesn’t see how any merchant-level agent can survive by selling those services exclusively.

“Nobody is profiting when you compete exclusively on cutting rates or basis points,” he says. “Payment processing and financial services are table stakes. Ultimately, the thing every merchant really wants is to improve their topline revenue.”

Archie still has clients in all 50 states who use his cash advance solutions, and his book of business for payment processing and value-added technology services is growing in New Jersey and New York. With new technology solutions like Womply in his arsenal, Archie expects even bigger things ahead.

“The younger generation of restaurateurs already understands why they need technology, and even my older, less tech savvy clients are starting to realize its importance,” Archie says. “I have great empathy for the struggle of restaurant entrepreneurs who work so hard. My job is to help them max out their potential.”

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