When I speak at Restaurant Shows & damn those cursed coupons, I am now & then challenged (by a Printer/Promoter). In reply I usually say:" Any idiot can give food away; it takes brains to sell it at full price; show me any Distributor/Vendor in the exhibit hall who will guarantee 50% off all year and I'll eat my words!" Over 200 Seminars all over the World & I've not eaten them yet.
Bob McClelland, President & CEO - email@example.com
I think the time has come for Mr. Bradley to come down from the Mount from whence he conducts his sermons and enter the heat of living where the rest of the world lives. If his comments weren't so humorous, I JUST might be offended. But for the record...I'll play nice. The company I work for has nine locations scattered through out my home state. Each location has a different, and quite pleasing ambience. The owner prides himself on rehabilitating older, and sometimes quite run down, buildings to give them new life and new purpose.
The owner and his management team stress several things in their operation of the corporation. Hospitality, fresh foods, customer service and the simple but neglected idea of making the customer happy. ANYTHING to make the customer happy. Satisfied customers with full bellies and a happy disposition. That's why our industry exists. It's actually one of the, pardon the phrase, coolest things about being in the food business. To take a group of people who are cranky, crabby and complaining and by giving them time, good drinks, well prepared food and a big dollop of humor and patience, turn them into pleasant folks.
The reason for this posting is simple...There is a place in the restaurant world for fine upscale dining. And those who chose to work in those types of establishments should be proud of what they do. But not everyone wants to go to restaurants where you feel like you're at Grandma's on Thanksgiving Day...all stiff and formal. A great number of people want to patronize restaurants where the food is recognizable, well prepared, competitively priced and the atmosphere is relaxed and convivial. A place they know they can bring their kids, friends and relatives to and just plain relax. I don't work in an upscale restaurant because I don't enjoy them. I work in a moderately priced customer oriented restaurant because I enjoy it. Actually that's not quite true...I love it. And I make a pile of money because my customers KNOW I love it.
So... Mr. Bradley before you disparage those of us who CHOOSE not to work in fine dining, perhaps a breath of fresh air would do you good. But to come back to the original topic of coupons...Peter Troutman's posting says it best. Mr. Troutman and I have had our disagreements in the past but, on this point, he's 100% correct. Fair dealings with the customer and the judicious use of coupons and other promotions WILL increase you business and your bottom line. Thanks, as always, for the time and space and peace to all.
I realize that I was a bit insulting to this person. Having said that, he has missed my point. Coupons (2 for 1 and otherwise) belong in fast food and chain oriented concepts, and not in the upscale community. I don't want to be portrayed as so against the chains that I look down upon them.
The chains do their thing and most of them do it well. Coupons work in this arena, but some independent owners try to emulate the chain's marketing success in an entirely different setting and end up getting hurt.
The writer is being understandably defensive, and in so doing, he's missing my main point. I enjoy the chains - I drive by them all the time.
Why is it that when we get involved in these disputes that I feel like I need a Big Mac?
AGREE...AGREE...AGREE. I have been a firm believer for 25 years not to give anything away. Mark up your food and liquor the way you need to survive and don't vary from it. Have you ever seen a gas station give away gas? Better yet...ever gone in a gas station and told the attendant that you buy gas here all the time...he should give you a free tank now and then? I don't believe the people that think because we are in the hospitality business...we should give things away. More restaurants go out of business every year because they listen to these people. Sad to say but let those charities and organizations get money another way. Our local paper, the Kansas City Star also has their own 2 for 1...I told them when they stop doing it, I will put my ads back in their paper. Love reading your newsletter. Thanks
LPM in Kansas City
In response to the topic about "Two-for-ones" I have some strong feelings about these types of offers. As a marketing manager for a casual dining restaurant franchisee I get requests for these types of offers all the time. We have restaurants across the United States where TV advertising is not always economically possible, so local marketing strategies are essential to our success. There are a few things I have learned in my years of marketing concerning 2 for 1 offers and couponing in general.
1. This type of offer should not be the first choice for increasing sales at your restaurant. There are several proven successful ways of inexpensive local store marketing without giving your product away, which is what you are doing.
2. You will see an increase of customers from this promotion, but these customers are there for the discount. My research has shown that only around 8-10% of these new customers return without the coupon.
3. These offers are used by existing customers. You end up giving customers who already frequent the restaurant this 2 for 1 deal, when they are already willing to pay full price.
4. When you give away your food, that is what people think it is worth. Consumers visit certain restaurants that they consider "Coupon" restaurants and don't go unless with a coupon. It is hard to stop couponing or discounting once you start, it is a slippery slope.
5. Your staff will not appreciate the guests brought in by these drastic offers. Several of these guests will not tip appropriately and your servers will see their tips go down, and moral down.
The example that was given is a little extreme. I understand that the person who owns one restaurant does not have a huge (or any) advertising budget and/or a marketing team. Discounting, couponing and 2 for 1 deals can be an affordable and effective way to build your business when done correctly. A few rules I always try to follow when offering discounts:
- Make the offer for a limited time. Don't get into any long term commitments that you will regret. I suggest 30 to 45 days, anything longer and your customer will lose or forget about that coupon or offer.
- Make your offer specific. Whether it is a specific product or a particular daypart you want to limit your liability on the offer. Don't make the offer so generic that you lose your shirt on food costs, etc. If your lunch business needs a boost, make it a lunch only offer, or choose a low cost food item you can do 2 for 1 and still make a profit.
- Be flexible. You want customers to come to your establishment and enjoy their experience so they will return. Don't argue or fight over the particulars of the offer.
- Treat these discounted guests the same as any other guest. One problem I found was the attitude by our staff of "They're just cheap coupon customers who won't tip me" which resulted in a decline of service, thus ensuring that these guests will be even less likely to return!
- Don't rely on a salesman's pitch. Whether it's a direct mail salesperson or someone from the elementary school coupon book, don't let them persuade you into 2 for 1 coupons with a song and dance about how successful they are. Do some research, ask around, find out all you can before committing.
Hopefully these ideas can help those out there considering 2 for 1 offers or other discount offers as a marketing tool. Feel free to ask me any related questions at Cdover@sydran.com
Clayton M. Dover
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