building lunch and late night business

Hey Guys,

We just opened up for our soft opening 2 weeks ago and it couldn’t have been in a worser time. Our location is great, there are 8,000 residential homes/apt/condos all within 1 mile of our store (not including all the business’s), the store front is right off a major road, great visibility, heavy traffic stripmall. But last month, they started tearing up the major road that we are on. Its a 2 million dollar project, and it goes for 3 or 4 miles. I cannot even begin to explain how bad the tear up has been as far as the work, the one lanes, the cones, and barricades etc … Its literally killing EVERYONES business right now. The Jewel down the streets has approx 25,000 customers a week, and they’re down 50%. There is a famous Mediterranean food place in our strip mall that has been there for 14 years and their lunch business is down 40%. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this, and it seems everyone is hurting, bad. Being new, this is not good at all. Most days our lunches don’t even hit 50 bucks. Do any of you guys have any suggestions? What would you do in this situation? I get so bored with myself I find it difficult to even think straight and get things done (ironic right?).

We just printed up 2500 flyers/postcards and started mailing them out yesterday. But other than that we have done 0 for advertising. For no advertising, our sales have been not bad at all (minus the lunch and the latenight). We let our pizzas do our advertising for us. I have been doing a couple free pizza catering orders for schools, churches, and car dealerships etc. The word is spreading, and I have been getting nothing but very positive feedback from everyone. Within the first week alone, I received about 10 return phone calls from customers that say our pizza is the best in town, and we serve a great product. I got 3 last night from random customers that absolutely loved our pizzas. Too many people take the time to complain and its rare that people call back to say how good it was. And Ive been extremely fortunate to have as many compliments as I did. We would have done a great Friday if our lunch and late night crowd was more.

Its hard to get our name out there for the late night crowd as well. I printed up 5,000 menus and all of our hours are very late (which I highly regret). There is a billiards in our stripmall that’s open to 2 am daily, and a hookah lounge that is open to 2 am daily and 4 on the weekends. But every night we’ve been open, the phones and the walk in become a big fat 0 after about 8-9 pm.

Any feedback or suggestions would be great!

Thanks guys.

btw, this website is phenomenal. Awesome awesome reading material, and very loyal and knowledgeable members.

How long is the construction going to be going on?

Till the end of November, then they’ll start back up to finish it when it warms up again. And the thing that really sucks, is our Village is extremely dismissive of anything that you wish to do for visible advertising i.e. banners, a-signs etc.

One thing that they really can’t say anything about is a graphic wrapped vehicle parked right out front! There are some good threads on here about that, with good pictures of them and all. I will be opening in just about 5 weeks, I feel your pain! I wish you the best of luck!

One thing you could do is hit up the construction crew. You have to be there in the morning EARLY when they arrive. Dont discount anything! Just combo up. Small pizza and a pop, for certain dollar amount, if you do slices then slice combo ect. Or if you know where they grab their coffee in the morning hang out there, etc. If it is that large of construction it should have a ton of guys. In all honesty if you just walked up to a couple of them and gave them a business card and told them, with all this construction, my new business is taking a bit of a hit, so if you guys are going out for lunch we are really close and we will get you your lunch in 10 minutes or less, something like that. At least its something. Another thing you could do for late night is have someone outside the other businesses, not right out their door, but aroundish, in parking lot, etc in pairs, asking people if they are hungry, or something, this might be the time to have a “late night” deal I dont know what a hookah is, but is that something where people are drinking? Could be something you could do to draw them in.

Anyway, a couple ideas for ya

One thing you could do is just close for lunches and late night business. Take advantage of the situation and get some time off. Use the time to do catering sales, marketing, cleaning, planning, or just about anything. You would be amazed at the change in your mind set when you stop working 80 hour weeks.

You said yourself that sitting in a dead shop made you nuts. Well… don’t. No one ever said you had to be open every possible hour. When I moved my shop, I didn’t re-open for lunch. I might have lost some business, but now at least I can think. I have made leaps and bounds in my catering and group sales business. I had a $2,000 order last Saturday that took 2 hours of preparation, then making the food. That more than covered that week’s worth of lunch sales I might have gotten in 1/10 the time, and I have 2-3 of those set up every weekend for a month.

all good advice guys… thanks for your 2 cents… but i love this:

ha, I wish I was only working 80 hours a week. Last week alone I pulled about 105 hours, and this week will be more.

I’ve thought about closing for lunch, but what about that menus that state our hours that we open 11 daily? I do not want to tick anyone off or mislead that that we’re hurting or anything.

Buy an answering machine. They cost near nothing. Get the hell outa your shop man. Customers understand things like construction, and it is not like they are lining up at the moment any way. I guarantee you will be happier.

The bottom line here is that you ARE hurting and working inhuman hours in a dead shop will only make that situation worse. I used to be the same, and I would never look back now.

I would guess the construction guys don’t know you’re there. We had a similar situation at our place. They were doing freeway construction and both off ramps were closed at our site but our lunches were actually up! All the construction guys were a great boon for business.

Slices were the hook, but they also bought sandwiches and salads.

The above poster was right on when she suggested you go after them.

A hookah an “arabic” smoking apparatus that pulls smoke through a water-filled glass bowl. The caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland smoked one. It’s what you see in those stereotypical movies when a sheik has a big one with 4 or 5 people smoking through tubes. They appear to be growing in popularity in North America with lots of tobacco varieties, like cigar bars. I digress.

You want to get the construction guys’ attention? Watch for the lunch time and drop a bunch of free pizzas on them. Nothing says “try my great food” like free samples when you are hungry on a strenuous work site. Alternatively, you could try to hook into the supervisor type person. Buy 'em off with free food, and you may get some customers for a long time. When the City Workers turn off my water to fix water main breaks . . . I feed 'em early and often. Keeps them on the job and working to get my water back on . . . and instills good will with the men who work hard keeping the city working.

I would also try lunch time faxing, one thing that works is during the faxes I give away a free lunch, most people do not eat alone so they are bringing in new people…then its up to you to wow them…
there are a couple good companys out there. I use rfg marketing…great so far