How one agency helped a client double monthly sales during COVID-19 social distancing

SharpSpring partner agency Robert McInnis Consulting shared a recent client success story that warms our hearts and provides key insight into how business owners and managers are adapting to “the new normal” we’re all living through.

Get ready to hear straight from Bob in his video below about how his agency utilized tech and creative thinking to help restaurant client, First and South Bar and Restaurant, thrive and increase sales during the downturn. Next, read on to hear more details about how the restaurant doubled monthly sales during the downturn using marketing automation.


Bob, would you please start off by telling us a little bit about your agency and the client we’ll be talking about today?


My agency, Robert McInnis Consulting, is based on the East End of Long Island. We help brands increase revenue by driving more prospects to their website and nurturing them through their individual buying journeys to turn them into customers.

Our client, First and South, is an American bistro bar and restaurant in Greenport, NY, a Long Island fishing village that’s a summer/fall/winter tourist destination. They were looking to smooth out the significant dip in revenue that always happened in the late winter and early spring.


Can you share a little bit about how Robert McInnis Consulting was initially able to help First and South, and what part marketing automation played in that prior to the pandemic?


Using automation, we helped First and South send an email out offering a gift certificate for filling out a SharpSpring form on their website. We asked for information about their buying habits to help us better segment the list into the best targets for the Dining Club program. Those who didn’t fill out the form were also sent automated reminders via SharpSpring.

Because First And South is located in a tourist town, we built and featured a free guide on their site called “The Top 10 Things To Do Around Greenport” containing must-see places chosen by the locals. Those who downloaded it shared their contact info and other items including how often they dine at First And South, etc.

All last summer, fall, and into the winter, we used SharpSpring to capture and segmented the respondents into lists based on their answers. We had 700+ visitors download the guide and provide the information we needed. Then we used Zapier to sync the people we captured with Square.

After a few months of nurturing drips to these visitors via SharpSpring, we launched our Dining Club at the beginning of March, and put up a landing page on First and South’s site describing the program, along with a sign-up form. We then sent out a series of emails announcing the club to those that best fit our target customers. The response was immediate and overwhelming with a number of people purchasing high-value cards.

Using SharpSpring, we set up notifications to tell us who spent time on the Dining Club page (and the FAQ it linked to) and then we reached out personally to those visitors who hadn’t yet joined the club. As of the start of March, it really was a huge help and First and South was seeing major benefits from the Dining Club program.


We think we can guess where this is going…


Yep. Then the Coronavirus pandemic hit. Because we’re in a place where many people from New York City own vacation homes, we became a hotspot when they all moved out here to quarantine. Almost overnight, the First and South could only offer takeout.

When one customer inquired if they could join the Dining Club but instead of spending the “bonus bucks” on themselves have the restaurant send meals to the local hospital’s nurses, doctors, and other medical workers who were fighting the pandemic, we decided to quickly regroup.

Within an hour, we had retooled our SharpSpring forms to include a “Pay It Forward” checkbox and created a new email drip announcing that people could now help feed local medical professionals simply by purchasing Dining Club cards for food from First and South.

The response was really overwhelming! In just 30 days, they sold $25,000 of these Dining Club cards. It literally doubled the amount of revenue First And South was bringing in. And, more importantly, because of this program, First And South has now served more than 600 meals to hospital workers during the pandemic. Lots of other restaurants have copied our approach, but because ours was first and we created a loyal following, we are staying well ahead of the competition.


Want to wrap-up with some “lessons learned” or opportunities you identified along the way as a result of this experience with First and South?


We learned that identifying, growing, segmenting, and nurturing leads is something that will help grow your business and increase sales during the downturn. It can also be quickly turned into a first line of defense when a crisis hits or a way to help others is needed. The ability to shift gears quickly with a platform like SharpSpring can sometimes really save the day.

Also, while it sounds cliché, the response to First and South’s efforts showed us that people really are willing to help others in need when given the opportunity.

Thank you from hospital workers image from First and South Takeout for hospital workers from First and South

To learn even more about how Robert McInnis Consulting partnered with SharpSpring to help a client increase sales during the downturn, visit their website at, or check out the results in our case study.

Rebecca Wentworth
Robert McInnis