One of the best traits to have in any work environment is a positive attitude and a passion for your job – especially when your role is in sales. Joe Bentley, a Rewards Network account executive, is an extra ray of sunshine in already-sunny Atlanta, whose experience in and dedication to the restaurant industry makes him a valuable member of our sales team.
What is your role here at Rewards Network?
I am currently one of four awesome account executives in metro Atlanta. I work all over the state, but mostly from Atlanta east to Athens. My day-to-day looks like a Hunger Games Atlanta traffic battle from one appointment to the next, with some cold-calling and content updates in between.
How did you come to join our team?
I joined Rewards Network six and a half years ago as an account manager for the southeast region, when I moved to Atlanta. Prior to that, I was working as an office manager for Keller Williams Realty in Miami. And before that, way back in the ‘90s, I worked for nearly 10 years as a restaurant manager at The Front Porch Café in South Beach. The Front Porch participated with Rewards Network (Transmedia back then), so I’ve been connected to Rewards Network for a long time. Our Sales rep back then was a great guy named Jay Lovelace…. and now he’s my regional manager.
As a former restaurant manager, what do you believe are some of the greatest benefits Rewards Network offers to restaurant owners, operators, and managers?
In my previous life as a restaurant manager at a Rewards Network participating restaurant, I know we offer a lot of good solid reasons to participate. We were located right on Ocean Drive in South Beach, along with about a million other restaurants. It’s a fact, not my opinion, that we had the best food on Ocean Drive, but how could visiting tourists know that? We needed something to help us get a few “starter” tables as we called them – the folks that come a little early and make the restaurant not look so empty. Once we had a few tables, it would always attract more as folks saw diners at our restaurant, while the spots down the block were still empty. Rewards Network helped us create that momentum by incentivizing diners to try us out. Later, we used a cash infusion from Rewards Network to move to a bigger space next door, and that’s when business really took off.
Since joining the Rewards Network Sales team, has your role changed?
Yes, from five years as an account manager to now nearly two years as an account executive. My transition went fairly well, though it definitely took a real paradigm shift in the way I go about my day. As an account manager, I’d gotten very used to handling a lot of things coming at me from different directions all at once, and in some ways I became comfortable with the way my day-to-day schedule took shape according to the needs of the team. As an account executive, I had to find a different day-to-day rhythm that requires more strategizing and lots of self-motivating. I definitely think that a lot of the skills I developed as an account manager have helped me as an account executive too.
What is your favorite part of working at Rewards Network?
I absolutely love the restaurant industry. It’s full of big personalities, quirky characters, go-getters, movers and shakers, and just plain weirdos. Getting to meet and build friendships with the most interesting people in town is pretty awesome. Oh, and I like to dine out. A lot.
As a frequent diner yourself, what restaurants in your area do you recommend?
Atlanta is extraordinarily diverse, in nearly every way, and that means lots and lots of extraordinary menus. I am super loyal to Rewards Network program restaurants (just ask any of my family or friends) and we have a lot of outstanding choices on the program around Atlanta. Some of my favorites include:
- Desta Ethiopian Kitchen – Desta means “happiness” is Amharic, and this restaurant is appropriately named!
- Kouzina Christos – Talk about big personalities in the industry – that’s this owner. He’s just awesome, and they have amazing Greek gyros and pizza.
- TWO Urban Licks – It’s an Atlanta landmark for good reason, and it’s right on the Beltline.
- Kathmandu Kitchen – A little family-owned Nepalese spot. The very definition of a hidden gem.
- Mali Thai & Sushi – I could swim through their massaman curry.
It’s so hard to narrow it down.
Would you be able to narrow down your favorite foods or drinks?
Besides dining out, what do you do for fun when you’re not at Rewards Network?
So as an account executive, I am always at Rewards Network. But I live for spending time with my family, house music, travel, and hiking. I hike up Stone Mountain, which is very close to my home, nearly every day. Here’s a photo I took of the view.
That’s a fantastic photo. Is photography a hobby of yours? How do you capture such great photos, including ones for our restaurants on our sites?
I definitely to like to take pictures. I don’t know if it’s an official hobby, but I enjoy the hunt to get that “right” shot. I have a decent camera and I like to make sure I’m getting my clients the best marketing photos that I possibly can.
It sounds like you really enjoy your role as an account executive! But if you could do any other job, what would it be?
I’d love to be a National Parks ranger. I’m kind of an eco-nerd, and I just love being outdoors, in nature. I used to be a tour guide in Everglades National Park, and that was my favorite job ever… well, besides account executive, or course.
Want to get to know more of the Rewards Network team? Check here for more interviews with our staff: