On Friday, my friend Scott sent me a tweet suggesting we head out for a bite after our kids’ soccer practice.  I figured we could get a few families together and head to our local pizza place, Jake’s.  Jake’s is a great spot, just a few minutes from our house, with good pizza, cold beer, and games for the kids.  It’s also crowded and getting a table for 12 at 6:45 was sure to be a hassle.

But when I tweeted back to Scott, something happened that changed our plans.  Here’s how it went down…

@schnaars: @ryankuder speaking of which, are there any plans post practice?
@ryankuder: @schnaars We’re in. Should we round up the posse and head to Jake’s for pizza?
@tonyalba_pizza: @ryankuder or Tony & Alba’s maybe?

Whoa!  Where’d that come from?  Tony & Alba’s?  We hadn’t even considered it.  Who is @tonyalba_pizza?  Turns out, it’s about 15 minutes away and we’d never been there before.  Jake’s would be so much closer to home.  What would get us to drive out to Tony & Alba’s?  Since my biggest concern with Jake’s was going to be the wait, I figured some negotiating might be useful here.

@ryankuder: @TonyAlba_Pizza Could you save us a table for 12 at Stephen’s Creek so we don’t have to wait?
@tonyalba_pizza: @ryankuder You got it what time? Do you want to pre order? I’ll throw in fountain drinks.

Hold the phone!  Jake’s is closer, but Tony & Alba’s will hold a table and throw in the soft drinks?  Deal.

@tonyalba_pizza: @ryankuder Just say that you are Ryan I’ll have the table set in the TV room and I will send them a note. Just tweet like a bird-Just kidding.

And I tweeted like a bird.  I tweeted to Scott that we’d be going to Tony & Alba’s instead.  He’d never been either.  We both twittered about how awesome @tonyalba_pizza was.  We even got a few random tweets from people who thought that Tony & Alba’s pizza sounded like a great idea for a Friday night.

 

After practice, we packed up the kids and headed to Tony & Alba’s.  When we got there, the staff had been alerted that we were coming, we had a big table set up in the TV room, they picked up the soft drinks for us, and they even through in some garlic knots (nom).  The kids had a great time, the grown ups had a great time.  And Tony & Alba’s got our business.  By then end of the night, they had three families signed up for their VIP program and I can almost guarantee that we’ll be back to Tony & Alba’s for pizza after practice again this season.

All because of a tweet.

Lesson learned: The @tonyalba_pizza account is run by Al, manager of three Tony & Alba’s pizza restaurants in Silicon Valley.  Al did a few things right that small businesses can learn from. If you’re a small business owner, follow your neighbors.  Monitor the online conversation for mentions of you, your competitors, or your industry.  And when you hear something, jump in.  But most important, when you’re given the opportunity for a new sale, deliver on what you promise.  Al nailed all of these and now, he’s got a customer who will keep coming back.

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