Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 1 year ago

8) #ExponentialInsights: How Can Financial Brands Help Community Businesses w/ Seth Siegel-Gardner


A life in hospitality prepared my guest, Seth Siegel-Gardner Chef and Owner of Para Llevar, for a creative life where thinking on your feet in a chaotic environment is a valuable asset.  

In a post-Covid 19 world, everyone from the hospitality industry, to mom and pop shops,  most of the local businesses in our communities are being forced to adapt and pivot into entirely new business models or face shutting their doors.

Your financial brand can help if you also adapt and pivot towards your community.

What we talked about:

-The role of community banks and credit unions in support of their communities

-Small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges

-The need for fluidity and ingenuity in a post-Covid 19 world

This episode is hosted by James Robert Lay  Founder and CEO at Digital Growth Institute

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the Banking on Digital Growth on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher on Spotify, Google Play or here.

If we're going to take it tothis next level and require all this more equipment. Nobody is going to handthat stuff to us for free, and we're already operating on razor thin margins. You are listening to banking on digital growth with James Robert Laigh, apodcast that empowers financial brand, marketing, sales and leadership teams to maximize theirdigital growth potential by generating ten times more loans and deposits. Today's episode ispart of the exponential insight series, where James Robert Interviews the industry's top marketing, sales and FINTECH leaders, sharing practical wisdom to exponentially elevate you and yourteam. Let's get into the show. Hey, guys, it's James Robert. I wanted to give you a quick heads up that my exponential insight gueststoday is a bit different, because he does not work at a bank orcredit union, or even in the industry for that matter. In fact,he is a chef that has worked all around the world. He's received sixJames Beard Foundation nominations, plus his restaurant was voted the number one restaurant inHouston, Texas by the Houston Chronicle. I brought him on today's show fora conversation because the exponential insights that he shared airs provides a great perspective intothe hearts and minds of small business owners that so many financial brands have anopportunity to step up and help. And with the fumbles made by some ofthe big nationals like chase, wells, Fargo and B of a with thewhole PPP application process, this is a time for community financial brands to stepup and guide small businesses over the coming months and years. In fact,Ron Chevelin noted in a recent article on Forbes that more than six and tensmall businesses that currently bank with a Mega Bank like B of a, chaseand wells or a large regional that's greater than a hundred billion on assets.Those businesses, said Bay were somewhat are very likely to look for a newbanking relationship in the next year, and that was before PPP. So takea minute and for this episode over to Your Business Lending and business development teams, because there really is no greater time than now for community financial brands toturn the tide of small business lending and deposit decline. Greetings in Hello,I am James Robert Laigh, and welcome to another episode of the banking ondigital growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series and I'mexcited to welcome Seth Single Gardner to the show because he has a lot ofperspective to care for financial brands, to listen to to learn from during thispost covid nineteen world as seth is the chef and owner at Peri of arein Marfa, Texas. Welcome to the show's Steth thank you. Thank you. So I've known you now for probably right around ten years, if thata little bit longer, since you came to Houston to open up a restaurant. Yeah, and just for some context for our audience, can you justgive us a little bit of backstory about how you got to where you aretoday, because I'd never in my widest dreams would think that I'd be bringinga chef on to talk about what what financial services can do. But thiscovid nineteen world has just transformed I think everything. The old rule books areout and we got to start putting together some thinking and some collaboration across multipleindustries, particularly at the community level. But before we get there, justgive us some context into how you got to where you are in this worldtoday. Yeah, how I went from working in restaurant in New York Cityand London and Chicago to a town of like two thousand people? Yeah,well, I grew up in Houston,... Houston always will be home,and I went to school, got a philosophy degree at the University of Denver, which obviously I'm putting to good use going directly into the restaurant business.After that we lived didn worked in New York for about seven years. Spentmost of my time working in fine dining restaurants there. Worked with Marcus Samuelsonat his restaurant called Oquavit, or worked in other midtown or another midtown restaurant, Alto, and then helped Gordon Ramsey open on the opening team of theGordon Ramsey restaurant and in New York as were open, or another restaurant forMarcus in Chicago. Then moved to London and worked in London for a yearand then eventually came back to Houston, where worked around Ho Houston for alittle while and then opened our restaurant the passing provisions, and we were openfor almost seven years in Houston and then now I've been working on these projectsout in West Texas, one at the distillery project and then working on afew restaurants. The one that's open now is party of the Tier Restaurant.Yeah, so you've seen a lot, you've experienced a lot and I thinkright now that's where I want to think. The conversation is based upon all ofthis experience and thinking about your own journey. One of the things thatyou said when we started this conversation was really two things. You're having toadapt the dream, adapt and pivot. What are you seeing right now withjust your peers, with this post covid nineteen world, and how they're havingto adapt and change and pivot their business model? Like? What does itlook like from practically speaking, on the ground? But think, I meanit's it's pretty because obviously everybody is loves their restaurants and loves the kind oftheir neighborhood spots. They're watching their restaurants turn into to go restaurants. Sothat's the obvious pivot that everyone is making now is now everyone has a securerestaurant and I think that that is that's the necessary evil for a lot ofrestaurant people, because there's never you know, when we had our full service restaurantand Houston, we hated the idea of doing to go food, butyou know, it was just part of the business and you had to doit. Now it's essentially one of the only parts of the business and Ithink some of the other a lot of people are pushing, you know,by Gift Cards. I personally have some issue with that, but gift cardsare stupid in my opinion and it's like literally setting your money on fire.But I understand that it gives people, I guess, a little bit ofcomfort in knowing that like, hopefully I'm helping my my restaurant stay there.I just my question is going to be what happens when you buy all thesegift cards for these places that have closed post? But then I think thata lot of people are going to digital stuff, so, you know,it's like getting your online store up and running as quickly as possible. Isthe only situation right now that I think it's going to keep places of float, because most people in most major cities are not going to want to comeand have that direct interaction with with a waiter or a bartender or something likethat. So I think, you know, we're turning into this world where it'slike you can't even see the people anymore. So I think a lotof our friends of you know, I would guess that as two or threeweeks ago, everybody called whoever was making their website or they were making itthemselves, and the amount of searches that were probably like how do I setup an online store? You know,...

...went through the roof. We hadit always in our model that we were going to do online ordering. SoI wasn't initially going to push it out for a couple weeks after we open, but of course it was like we need to get this going as quicklyas possible. Seeing a lot of people do that. But I think alot of restaurants are just going to start, have already started closing and or atleast temporary closing, and unfortunately that's what's going to be continue to happenuntil we get some direction on what like the next version of normal sue lookslike for the hospitality business. Well, and see, that's where I see. They probably the biggest opportunity from my perspective of the banking world and workingwith community banks working with kredit unions because that is essential to a local community, just as these local restaurants are centrals of the community. From your worldviewand your experience, how m a credit union or a community bank might beable to support some of these local restaurants during this time of chaos, whenwe're just trying to figure out what what that new normal looks like. Ithink it's an understanding of how the restaurants have to or, you know,restaurants and till maybe even a lesser extent, bars, have to pivot their operationsbecause now there's a lot of things that they're a lot of inventory theyneed to take on. That was completely unexpected. Like, like we mentioned, some of our industry friends going to like the kind of the taken bakemodel of like here's was on ya, take it home, you know,throw it in the oven. So at least you're cooking, but you're notnecessarily doing dishes or anything like that. So I think there's a huge pivotto that. And those dishes, all that stuff costs money. That isno, there's no line I them in that budget. You know the ideathat we're going to go to. You know, eventually they're going to startenforcing laws about restaurant workers have to wear masks, even if you're to gohave to wear gloves, like there's I think the restaurants are some of thesafest in terms of food handling out there. But if we're going to take itto this next level and require all this more equipment, and you knowif nobody's going to hand that stuff to us for free, and we're alreadyoperating on razor thin margins as it is. So now you know you have tohow many pairs of gloves do you have to per person? How manymasks per person per day? Things like that that I think are unknown.And you know, if we're just spending that money, it's going to it'sgoing to thank US pretty fast. Yeah, and and so it's this new normal, it's new inventory. Also, I see there's an opportunity for andyou've done this even with your own website, almost supporting our friends. You havea page on your website with eighth wonder, fluff, baked bar,southern Swatan so many others. Is there an opportunity for a community financial institution, a bank or Credit Union, to almost build a community page to promotethese local business these, these these restaurants, these bars, in a more directmanner, because if we truly are in this together, let's put ourmoney where I'm is right. Absolutely, I think. If you know,you think about it like you know, it's we're for better or worse,we're in a virtual world right now and we need to have like a virtualneighborhood to for all of our all of our close friends. And Yeah,there's you know, the people are still going to be using you know,Amazon's going to be as busy as they've ever been, things like that.But I think that there's going to be a point where, if you wanta little bit more authenticity to some of...

...the goods that you're buying, youneed to keep supporting those local businesses and those like creative people in your communitythat are, you know, trying to stay a slow while we're living inan unknown world of like what next month like the what next week? Whennext month, and what's until there's a vaccine? What that all looks like? Technology has transformed our world and digital has changed the way consumers shop forand buy financial services forever. Now, consumers make purchase decisions long before theywalk into a branch. If they walk into a branch at all. Butyour financial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits. We get it.Digital growth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming for any financial brand marketing andsales leader. But it doesn't have to, because James Robert wrote the book thatguides you ever every step of the way along your digital growth journey.Visit www dot digital growthcom to get a preview of banking on digital growth.It is a strategic marketing manifesto that was written to say financial brands and itis packed full of practical, improven insights you can use to confidently generate tentimes more loans and deposits. Now back to the show. I'm going tohypothesize with you on this because you brought up the idea of the concept ofthe taken bake. You know my wife and I. We have four kids. We're talking about this before. It's a lot of miles the feed,but we've done some of the taken bake concepts now. But I'm a financialbrand, I work in marketing and I'm looking to promote local businesses, localrestaurants, local bars. I have this idea to where I want to goand talk to ten restaurants and see if they'd be open. It almost doinglike a like a taken bake, but almost like a facebook live how tocook that Lasagna and how to how to make it myself at home. Butit gives that restaurant some publicity within the community, the digital community of thatfinancial brand on facebook. It's something that can be shared and be a littlebit more organic, local, if you will. Is that a concept thatyou think other restaurants from your from your perspective, might be inclined to collaboratingwith a local community institution to cocreate some content together? I would think thatrestaurants and kind of just the hospitality business in general, if you are goingthrough this process like narrow mindedly years screwed like they're. So I think peopleneed to be open to every idea. I think they you know, justyou got to figure out, like how you're going to produce it. Whatthe like? Are People getting paid for it? I think there's a lotof ways that something like that could work, but also, you know, maybeit's to help benefit people in the hospital industry and things like that thatare I think that now more than ever, we need to create a community that'skind of helping each other and I think that in the hospitality business wealways want, you know, or want to like want you and your familyand your four kids and like to come and sit down and like, youknow, escape for a minute. So I think in our restaurant. Sonow we have to figure out how to do that in people's like living roomsand in their home offices, but then in a way that they feel goodabout what they're doing. So if they're spending money to have like a cookat home with your family, class or something like that, I think itwould be interesting if it could be interactive as well and so you can communicatewith the chef. That would be, like you're saying, with that wholefacebook live but being able to you know, I always think that there's going tobe it's going to be that personal...

...chef interaction situation and you know,maybe it's a small amount of money, but maybe it's something that, ifyou do enough of those classes like it, it makes sense for you to haveyour cooks they're doing the classes and teaching them how to talk to guessbecause I mean, you know, just talking to my peers over text and, you know, quick phone conversations about what's next. It's like, youknow, are you going to rush to a restaurant once they lift some ofthe mandates? Are Are you going to go to a restaurant? You know, are they're still going to be open kitchens when you go to restaurants,or they going to like put plastic screens up like it's there's so many thingsthat I think are going to change. That trends that have happened that Ithink a lot of guests like that. Probably you're going to have to goaway. So how do we keep creating that experience for people going forward thatisn't just like this really sterile feeling unsafe when your waiter comes up to youwith a mask and gloves on or something like that? So that's a that'sa really point. It's yeah, they might lift some of this, butwe've been so psychologically scaled art, if you will, that it's going totake some time before we build courage to go back up and venture out andbe around people. I see this is where the once again, the financialbrands can can come together and support the local community, beyond just giving accessto loans but also being part of the promotion of some of these local restaurantand bar brands. I May, I've even made recommendations to a couple ofclients. You know, work with your local bars to do a virtual happyhour and then bring in like a solo show and everyone can just kind ofhave that sense of community and just exactly. I think that's really smart and Ithink that's like kind of the part of the direction that we're I thinkwe're nothing is off the table now. Yeah, yeah, you know you. We're talking about community and I know that Chris Shepherd, he started thesouthern smoke foundation. You were kind of he came early on and Y'all werehaving conversations. Can you talk about what the southern smoke foundation is what it'sdoing, because I think it's another model that, looking at it objectively fromthe outside, you're not even waiting for financial institutions to provide support to thehospitality industry. The hospitality industry is almost created some type of a financial vehiclemechanism to support one another, which I find to be very fascinating and Ithink it has to do with a lot. I mean, we're are most peoplethat are in the restaurant business are pretty like I like some thing prettyhard people. They don't like to take handouts, they don't like to askfor help. So I think what Chris has done, as he's put it, set it up in a way that, you know, it's we're helping eachother, we're not just holding our hands out asking for money, andI think that it's changed a lot of me. And it started out asthe way to raise money for one of Chris's oldest friends, Antonio, whenhe got diagnosed with Ms. and then when Harvey Hit, it was like, all right, we need to pivot this to helping people affected by Harvey. And obviously now it's like, you know, the hospitality business is goingto take one of the hardest hits. I mean they took the immediate hiton this, but the supply chain of what happens through the hospitality business withdelivery drivers, farmers, you know, it's it's going to be huge.What is going to be affected by it. And so immediately, yeah, you'reyour bartender, your weight or all these people like they're. They losttheir jobs instantly. There was no like holding on to him for a coupleweeks to see what happened. It was it was a you know, nomoney in, no money out. And... know, most people don't know, restaurants are on fifteen to thirty day, you know net so they're all everyone'sbills are coming to do right about now, right probably. So yougot a lot of suppliers that are, you know, asking for those fifteen, twenty five thousand dollar checks to cover all your drag goods for the pastmonth or something like that. So I think that there's just with southern smoke. I think it was. It is an amazing way that Chris has andhis team that he's grown through, you know, just the initial idea oflike let's throw a party and raise some money into like this, like juggernot of like, you know, basically helped that they're providing. Yeah,just transitioned, but I think it's going to continue to grow and I thinka lot of people are going to look at that model and understand, likethis is how you can really help a community. Yeah, I mean ifif I was working out a financial brand and I was committed to supporting thelocal community. This is an example. And for context, and this waslate March, southern smoke foundation had received thirty five hundred applications for hospitality workers. That were either laid off or furloughed because of covid nineteen and they numbersgoing to seventeen thousand in just a few weeks. But I know that therestaurant workers community foundation out of New York valed to give half of its fundraisingthe southern smoke. So it's generating millions of dollars. That is better thanbeing transition back into the hospitality community. Any financial brand can look at thisand say wow, that's something that I could get involved with and support,either financially or in other ways, just promotionally wise, because it's about reallypeople helping people. At this point, exactly as we wrap up, youknow, you've got an audience of Financial Brand Marketing Team, sells teams,leadership teams listening to this. What is one recommendation that you can make tothem from you know, you you in the hospitality industry, because this is, you know, twelve months, eighteen months, is what I'm projecting andwhat I'm making recommendations round strategically operationally for Financial Brands. And then what happensafter that? You know, it's still too fuzzy, but that's what alot of people are projecting for us to get through this together. What's onerecommendation that you can make to help someone like your community from their perspective offinancial services? I think it's creating a model so that businesses can pivot onthat model and and start seeing some growth again. I think that a lotof like full service restaurants that are in in the takeout business, like here, you know if you're doing, if you've gone to you know, let'ssay you're only operating at twenty percent of where you need to be. Likewhere do you need to be to bring act the number of employees that makessense to get you at least a fifty percent or something like that, likethere is no I mean if, yeah, of course, if you can getbusinesses whole again, that would be amazing, and I do think someare seeing that because, you know, they're just saying, like look,you know, it's maybe with a barbecue restaurant or something like. I standin line of the barbecue place. I don't get to sit down in thebarbecue place, but I still know that they're doing like a start to finishtheir filling their smokers and emptying their smokers at the end of the day andthey're done. Yeah, maybe they're not selling as much beer on site or, you know, soft drinks or something like that. But I just thinkfiguring out a way that you can help the businesses pivot into like a digitalworld without up front cost to them. That's huge right there. So Ithink that's like such a great key takeaway to end on, and I'm goingto summarize that almost pulling together, for lack of a better word, acommunity innovation collaboration project facilitated by the local... brand to bring together different peoplefrom different businesses to solve real problems for a digital first world. Is that? Is that a fair summary of that thinking? Absolutely, and I thinka lot of us come from the old school where we didn't this isn't likeanything that we ever thought we'd have to wrap our heads around. Yeah,yeah, well, speaking of now wrapping our heads around, it's it's itis, it's happening so fast. Continue. Yeah, that, yeah, we'rejust, you know, it just it. Never, never in mywildest dreams would I think that, you know, we're going to sell restaurantthat I love going to with my wife for special occasions. Now are goingto be selling a hundred percent of all the food they sell online. isa crazy thing to think about. It really isn't. And it's almost like, you know what happened years ago when like the blue aprons of the worldcame out, that it wasn't taken bake. It was almost like shippin bake.But that's happening almost at a local market level now. So it's strangetimes for sure, but I see a lot of opportunity for those and,to really use your words, those that can can adapt and can pivot andnot get stuck in that that old thinking, because the world's ever going to bethe same again. Hey, set thank you so much for the conversationtoday. Man, always good, always good hearing from absolutely if anyone hasit, including me. Yeah, if anyone has questions for you, becauseyou just bring such a unique perspective and they want to connect, they wantto say hello. What's the best way for them to do that? Obviouslyemailing. I think I've provided some of that stuff. And then you know, social media, instagram, facebook. I mean I think my perspective islimited, but you know, I've been in the restaurant business my entire lifeand you know, kind of gathering as much information from friends as possible.Just try and understand like the problems we're going to face and, you know, look into that magic ad ball. Yes, Sir said, thanks againfor joining me on another episode of banking on digital growth. All right,thank you. Until next time, be well, do good and wash yourhands. Thank you for listening to another episode of banking on Digital Growth withJames Robert Laigh. Like what you hear, tell a friend about the podcast andleave us a review on Itunes, stitcher or spotify, and subscribe whileyou're there to get even more practical, improven insights that can guide you inyour financial brand along your digital growth journey. Visit www dot digital growthcom to geta preview of James Roberts upcoming book, banking on Digital Growth, a strategicmarketing manifesto to save financial brands. Inside you'll find a strategic blueprint framedaround twelve key areas of focus that empower you to confidently generate ten times moreloans and deposits. Until next time, be well and do good.

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