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The Great Debates Two-for-One
Dining Programs

Reader Feedback:

I am amazed at some of the responses I have heard. We are in the service industry and look to operate a successful business. Why do we look to 2-1 specials to bring customers in the door? If that is the only way you do it, than you have to check your business. Market the food, and service, not a piece of paper. Remember, service sells, not 2-1. I am currently reading a great book, I highly recommend. It is called "lessons in Excellence from charlie trotter, by Paul Clarke. He is amazing, no coupons and people still need to call three weeks in advance to have a table. It is all about your operation. Step up your efforts on the service side and people will come.

Thank you
William Kovel

**Next Post

While Mr. Bradley's comments are VERY true for most independent casual and upscale operations in major metropolitan areas, it truly depends on the type/style/theme/demographic area of the particular operation. i.e. For an independent take-out pizza operation with great product/service trying to secure new customers in the ultra-competitive pizza market with a coupon-war already going on, this book could be their ticket. Especially since they typically can't afford full-color glossy coupon inserts in Sunday's paper. This is not limited to just pizza operations either. Some rural operations also benefit.

Most users, though, are both "experimenters" and repeat buyers of these 2 for 1 deal books/cards. This places the onus on the operator to bring them back and it is an uphill battle when they have a gazillion other places to choose from within the same book.

I must admit that I bought one of these books several years ago. I more than recouped my investment at the first restaurant. By user-trip number three, however, I found myself feeling a need to dress incognito and go to confession for my arrogate ways, and the book traveled secretly in my trunk and was finally donated to my mother-in-law.

Maren L. Hickton
Maren Inc./Pittsburgh

**Next Post

I am the owner of a fine dining restaurant and lounge in a small mid western town. It is a very conservative market, but I still refrain from the use of coupons or discounts.

My business continues to grow and become profitable. The restaurant has very limited seating and to fill those chairs with coupons or discounts would not be smart business. Rather than the use of coupons, my staff will nominate 5 regular patrons a month, whether they are a business or individuals. Of those selected, I will personally deliver a bottle of wine(approx.. $4.00) to them with a note of appreciation. This cost me only $20.00 a month and a small amount of time. The response I receive is incredible! I don't want guests that will only consider dining at my restaurant if they have a coupon. I want guests that appreciate excellent food, service and atmosphere.

Coupons and discounts have their place in the restaurant business, but certainly not here.


**Next Post

We are the widest read restaurant guide in Australia. As such we have seen just about every restaurant promotion. The most successful promotion we have here is our restaurants online at:

I agree with Mr Bradley that 2 for 1 or 50% off programs are cash and reputation losers. He did not mention using these vouchers on a Saturday night while full paying patrons are turned away.

However, one variation has proved quite successful. That is 50% (or whatever) off for paying and leaving before 7:30 pm. If a restaurant is not marking produce at cost over 200% then they are not long for this world. All other costs, fixed and wages, remain the same but an extra, though reduced margin sitting brings in revenue.

Yes, these people are not repeat business but many could not normally afford to experience a good restaurant but will come under these conditions. It is win win, the restaurant gets net revenue it would not get otherwise and it does not upset the full paying clientele who rarely book before 7:30 and it brings in a whole second tier business the restaurant would not receive.

Howard Duncan

**Next Post

I would like to share my views & comments regarding 2 for 1's & discounts to customers. It is of many years of experimenting that I formed these opinions for my business only.

We are a small family Italian business. Dine in, pick up and delivery, & I have tried it all from coupons to THE BOOK. Basically, you only have so many local people per square mile that support you on a daily basis. Today it costs you more to advertise, print carry out menus & coupon special then you receive on your return investment. Although some of it is necessary, it is not always feasible. We all have to maintain a budget.

In the final analysis for my business it is still the same old rule...Good food, Cleanliness, Good Service, Reasonable prices, & Dependability. We are now here since 1952, going on the 3rd generation, & I can only say it is hard work, long hours, & a love for the business & the patrons that keeps you going. Do I like working so hard, Yes! Do I like giving it away for free or 1/2 price, No! I have concluded to leave that for the big guy, behind the desk, for the big corporations.

I still have to pay my bills, cash as you go. My vendors & distributors still do not charge me 1/2 price. I have to pay all my bills full price. If you can budget give aways into you advertising cost, do so, but otherwise I suggest to build the old fashion way by word of mouth. Most of the recent complaints in these past issues hold true. My employees resent it most. They have to work twice as hard, earn fewer tips, & receive more abuse from customers. My pizzamen work harder so much so I had to add on more help & that costed me more. The business increase, the staff increase, the food cost increases, & the profits DECREASE. I am more worn out & only my doctor profited.

Dorothy -

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