Breakout 1D: Recipe for Results: Tijuana Flat’s Unique Approach to Employee Relations, Customer Communication and Brand Management

By Brandi Welk (Pensacola Chapter)

FPRA15_0277Everyone is down for a good meal, but what makes it better is great food and and even better service. To find a restaurant chain that values its employees and the community is a rarity. Tijuana Flats does all of these things and more. Maintaining a unique brand and providing care for customers and employees has proven to be successful.

 

Said best by presenter Monique Yeager, “If there isn’t a smiling face at the front door, then we have a problem.” People are our most important resource and paramount for our brand.

Guidelines for Marketing

  • Tijuana Flats is an original – its marketing reflects the same.
  • Nothing should feel “canned” or “too predictable.”
  • Tijuana Flats is the “unchain” chain.

Unlike most brands, Tijuana Flats does not use an outside agency. They have seven people on their marketing team and most are millennials.

“Inherent in our brand is our community,” Yeager said. “We give back to the community because of our employees and what they want.”

Tijuana Flats established a Just in Queso Foundation to support children and the military. Since 2007, the foundation has distributed more than $3 million to local communities.

They rely heavily on grassroots marketing with community events, Pandora ads and emails–especially when opening new locations.

Three-Month Plan When Opening a New Location

  • 3 months – Visit every nearby business and drop off menus.
  • 2 months – Billboards up.
  • 1 month – Facebook advertising.
  • 1 week – Share mail.
  • 6 weeks after opening – Direct mail.

From social media to sales, Tijuana Flats’ results increase every month because of loyalty to the brand. They are among the top 100 social media brands online.

 

Interesting Tidbits

  • Every single song in the restaurants is hand chosen and listened to.
  • There are no microwaves or a single can opener in any restaurant.

Contact Monique Yeager: Monique.Yeager@tijuanaflats.com

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Monique Head Shot.2011


Monique Yeager
Vice President of Marketing, Tijuana Flats

Monique Yeager has over 20 years of marketing and public relations experience. In her role, she is responsible for overseeing Tijuana Flats’ systemwide public relations and marketing efforts including strategic alliances, brand positioning, promotional campaigns, advertising, social media, local store marketing, and external communication strategies. Yeager has a strong commitment to the community and serves in several leadership roles including the boards of directors of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) and Chair of the FRLA Marketing Council. She serves as the Vice President of Events for the Executive Board of Directors for the Central Florida Boy Scouts of America and Chair of the Auction for the last three years raising more than $200,000 for at-risk scouting programs. She is also the Past President of the board of directors for MicheLee Puppets and March of Dimes. Most recently, she participated in a local “Dancing with the Stars” event and was the second highest fundraiser for Community Based Care of Central Florida. In 2006, Yeager was selected as the Most Influential Business Woman in the Orlando Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 Awards.” In 2007, she received the March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement and in 2010, she received the Board Member of the Year from MicheLee Puppets.Prior to joining Tijuana Flats, Yeager was the Director of Marketing for Tony Roma’s Steakhouse Restaurant, where she was responsible for chain-wide marketing initiatives, both domestically and internationally in more than 30 countries. Additionally, she was also with Sonny’s Franchise Company and Hooters Restaurants of America. During her tenure at Sonny’s Franchise Company, he developed an award-winning cause-related marketing effort, Baby Backs for Babies, to benefit the March of Dimes. In 2010, the program was recognized both locally and nationally, receiving the American Marketing Association’s Critics Choice Award and the National Restaurant Association’s Neighborhood Finalist Award. Yeager graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications and with a minor in French. To this day she remains a diehard Auburn football fan and attended the National Championship games in 2010 and 2014 – 2010 had the better outcome.

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