Business Lunch Program


We are in the process of putting together a business lunch program. This is business that we really haven’t gone after in the two years since we’ve been open, instead focusing more on dinner business. But, we have so much excess capacity during the day that we can really go after this now.

Because of some complaints that we’ve heard about the ways other pizza places have handled business customers, we’ve decided to put together a “Program” for them. This includes:

  1. Them filling out an information sheet with name, address, fax number and contact. They agree on this form to allow us to send lunch special faxes no more than twice per week.

  2. Once signed up, the ability to order from us outside of our hours, early or late, provided they give us one day notice. We have two owners, a GM and an AM that can work extra hours outside of normal business hours on short notice.

  3. Consistent, scaled discounts. This is the biggest complaint we’ve heard about other pizza places. Sometimes they would order and get a 10% discount, then the next time on the exact same order they would get no discount… all depending on who answered the phone. We’re thinking of discounts ranging from 10% on all orders up to 30-35% on large orders, graduated in between.

  4. Credit terms. This one’s touchy for me, but I believe this could bring a lot more business. Businesses love terms; I know I do. It also facilitates the billing for them. We’re thinking 30-day terms, with a 2% discount for payments made within 10. Businesses with no D&B rating or with a poor D&B rating will have to leave a credit card on file with us. If collections get out of hand, I’ll just have to cut it off… we don’t want to hire a full time receiveables department.

  5. Member-only specials, faxed to them in the morning.

  6. Discounts are only valid if we are delivering to their address on file, or to a remote location where they are working (like a construction company). This is the only way I can think of to stop their employees from taking advantage of discounts on their personal time… just by saying it’s for company “XYZ”

  7. The ability to fax orders directly to us using an order form. I’m working on an online order form that would e-mail the order to us as well.

  8. Must have at least 5 employees. No “basement businesses” or independant contractors or anything like that. If we’re giving discounts, we need volume in return.

  9. A company “sales rep” that they can contact directly for order questions, problems, comments, complaints, etc. This will be me for now, but we have the idea of using one of our employees as a commissioned sales rep for business sales. InfoUsa reports that we have 2,261 businesses with over 5 employees in a 5-mile radius. Somebody could make themselves some decent money selling these accounts.

I’m not crazy about going cold-calling (because I think the results will be poor), so we’re going to pick a business each day and provide them free lunch and drop off literature and a sign-up sheet when we deliver. Then of course, following up until we get a sign-up sheet/credit app faxed back.

My question is, what do you all think of this program, and should I add or remove anything? This is new territory for us; I want to make sure all the bases are covered.

Also, have any of you done the free lunch thing with LARGE businesses? We have a few very close by with a couple hundred employees. It seems like a big risk, but one order could make it all worth while.

I think it is a great idea…keep me posted on how it goes and this could be something I would want to look into more for a possible story. First, I would think about the discounts…with the ability for the businesses to order now and pay later, this may be enough. I am not so sure if a slight discount is what will get a large order, but rather adding some sides, such as five free 2-liters and two orders of breadsitcks with orders over $100. This has a menu value of maybe $20 to the customer but only costs you maybe $7 or $8 and it gives more food for their lunch. Another thing you may want to consider is becoming very close with the secretaries and women who make the decisions for lunch. Two things…first, when dropping off menus, fliers and program details, make sure you leave her magnets and maybe drop off a free salad with you materials. These women usually control who gets the order and her main concern is to make sure she isn’t left with egg on her face, so ensure her that all orders she makes WILL absolutely be on time, hot and with all the napkins, paper plates, knives, etc. Make her job easy and she will make yours easy. SEcond, give her or the person making the orders some incentive to pick you. Think about things like giving a card or coupon for the person making the order for a free personal pizza or salad or half sub with each order over $50 or $75 (you pick the price point). This way, she can get a free lunch later in the week for calling you for the big order. Those are just my two cents.Good luck and let me know how it goes.

I’d strongly suggest doing the same thing to schools, churches, hospitals…

I have a $350 business lunch going out tomorrow morning and had a conversation with my manager today about discounting it. I told her that I do not believe in discounting orders just because they are large. I will do it to get the business if I have to but I will not cut my own throat in order to keep my staff busy. I understand you are offering it in order to acquire new business. You might be better off just offering free lunch one time to the right person. Assuming you put out a top-notch product, you should be able to get your foot in the door by offering just a taste. Then you will keep the business if you can provide the service.

My experience (admittedly limited) has taught me that business lunch accounts are extremely demanding. My approach has been to shoot for delivery 30 minutes before the time scheduled. Invariably something will force you to be 10-15 minutes late and as a result you will show up only slightly early. I’ve never dealt with angrier customers than business lunches when you are 10 minutes late. One tip for avoiding complaints is to never promise an exact time. Promise to be there between 12:00 and 12:15 for instance and let the customer pick the window of time. If you’ve been in this business a day you know that it is not possible to be exactly on time no matter how much notice you have.

That’s my $0.02

You may be overthinking credit terms- a D & B check is overkill- use your judgement- we have accepted Purchase Orders for may years and we rarely take a hit. Sounds like a good program- we’re going to step ours up as well. Good luck.