Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Lisa Kangas


Surviving past the first year of operation is a growing concern for independent, full-service restaurants. Some restaurant leaders lack the marketing strategies necessary to develop a loyal customer base and survive beyond the first year of operation. The purpose of this multiple case study was to explore the marketing strategies that independent, family-oriented, full-service restaurant leaders located in the Pittsburgh, PA, metro area in business for at least 5 years have used to develop their customer base during the first year of operation. This study was guided by the 7Ps of marketing theory, which emphasizes how people, including customers and employees, influence the marketing process. Data were collected through in-depth semistructured interviews with 3 restaurant leaders and secondary documentation that included marketing and business strategies, customer base data, and profitability records during the first year of operation. Data were analyzed using a comparison analysis method to establish 3 emergent themes: immediate influence of word of mouth, power of consumer-driven marketing and social media, and the need for an integrated marketing mix. Findings indicate that these family-oriented, full-service restaurants were able to develop a customer base during their first year of business by integrating marketing strategies including word of mouth, social media, and limited print advertising. This study could assist these restaurant leaders in creating best practices for developing a customer base and surviving past the first year of operation. The implications for positive social change include the potential to empower restaurant leaders to engage in cause-related marketing, increase viability in local communities, and promote development of independent restaurants and small businesses.