I seem to be working towards the lunch I hoped for, and my dinner/delivery is growing. But by 8:00 PM, it’s like someone flipped a switch. I keep advertising delivery and later hours, but keep sending people home early when it dies hard.
We’ll get a dozen $20+ delivery orders between 6 and 7, then zero after 8 PM. Even on a Friday or Saturday…
From what I can tell, at that time, there can be at least 2 or 3 drivers still running at Domino’s, and at least 2 at P-Hut
So it’s like my marketing is only reaching people who eat right at dinner time.
I NEVER close earlier than published hours, and am currently putting them on everything - newspaper ads and a postcard mailing starting next week.
We do a lot of fresh prep work - and so I’ve got crew to handle business if we get it, and they do things like grate cheese and slice veggies for the next day when it dies in the evening.
Here are my questions:
a) stick it out, keep promoting the hours, trim the night staff, and try to build the evening?
b) go ahead and plan to close earlier if the next ads don’t have an impact? Basically wait until the demand for later hours before offering them? I’m of course concerned if someone calls at 9 and we say we’re closed, we won’t easily get another chance with that prospective customer…
c) Other suggestions?
Ah - good questions.
No college, maybe in a couple years though - they’re talking about one.
My neighborhood is “downtown” - but mostly DEAD at night. I am not expecting a lot of walk-ins, but for deliveries.
I am open til 10 weekdays, midnight Fri and Sat. One hour short of the hours at the big chain shops.
i’ve found over the years, hours do funny things to your sales when you mess around with them. in my early years of biz, i would work from 7am until 2am 7 days a week, and after several months i just couldn’t keep working that long so i shortened my hours to 10pm. i started gradually to lose sales…not just the late hours i was closed…but during my earlier hours too. delivery customers are creatures of habit… most of them order from the same place every time(proly even order the same thing most times) and they dont change unless something happens to make them change, like a bad pie, or the wait is too long, orrrr you aren’t OPEN! then the try some place else. if the other place has a good pie and good service they start ordering from them…and not just during the times after you close. it takes time to build up late night biz… but it helps keep your other hours sales strong too. just my opinion but i say keep stayin open if their is a market for it. i’m open til midnight m-w and 2am th-sat,sundasys til 10. that seems to be my sweet spot for keeping and growin sales.
Whether to stay open late or not that is the question.
If you are positioned against Dominos, and Pizza Hut or Papa John’s. You will find that they often discount there products in the late evenings. As well, there national marketing machine is helping develop the impulse buyers, who see commercials and buy products. The majors generally focus allot of there TV commercials from 8p to 12a. to help extend the night. They already know that there going to get a certain level of business from 4p to 8p, so the limit the number of adds they run during that time frame, and they dump there marketing dollars on the 8p to 12a time slots.
So unless you want to deep discount your products after 8p with something like a “BEAT THE CLOCK” promotion. You should consider saving your dollars, and focussing your efforts on building a stronger lunch.
Here is a novel idea for those with a slightly larger marketing budget and where the television makes practical sense.
We were approached in our store by a sales person from the LOCAL cable company selling TV ad space in 30 secnod plocks. Basically, we pay $200-300 to get a pot filmed, and then we tell them how much we want to spend, and what sort of coverage we want. they are selling local unsold ad space all over their network of channels. We can just do random spaces, wherever they have slots, we can pick time spans, specific programming, prime time, whatever. The totally random, whenever they have spaces was like $3 per spot, and they just rotate all the businesses through who ask for that sort of time.
It could be worth it for small to medium areas where cable company territories are practical. The prices will certianly vary with the market, as will availability. Call your local cable company and ask . . . not the networks, but the cable providers. They have hundreds of channels, and some time to sell all over the place.
What I would recommend is think long and hard about what would work for you and stick to it and DO NOT CHANGE or CLOSE EARLY! You will lose customers and confuse them…trust me…We are closed every Sundays and we haven’t closed on Mondays in over 10 years, but I still get calls saying “Oh, you’re opened today?” at least once every Monday…live and learn
Keep the hours and trim the staff. I think you will find the sales will come if you stick it out. I would also try a special promo like FREE Bread sticks and a 2L bottle of pop with any 2 pizzas valid from 8-10pm etc… I dont like to give $$$ off I prefere the FREE as it adds valu for your customer.
We’ve been open just over 4 months now. I can completely relatate to flipping the switch. In the first couple of months, we had the same though. The afternoon was slow, rush came about 5:30-7:30 and then completely dead. We wondered why we were open until 8.
Now that we’re starting to gain traction and getting more loyal customers and positive word of mouth, we see a more steady business all the way to 10 (when we close). We actually starting to see a little rush right before closing - I’m glad we didn’t change the hours.
Thanks to all for the advice - I plan to “stick it out,” and not only keep the hours, but continue to promote them. Every ad, doorhanger, and postcard has a message promoting that we’re open, and delivering until the closing hour.
Still here, with a LITTLE more later night business, and the occasional 9 PM “rush” on a weekday, or 11 pm burst on a weekend. Still a bit unpredictable, but certain nights (Sunday, surprisingly) we know to be ready for at least a handful of orders during the last hour.
I started out being open to 11 every night. I had a similar experience to what you are describing. For the last seven years we have been open to 9PM weeknights and 10PM Fri-Sat. We go to 10PM every night during the holidays when the lodging in town is full.
When we started closing earlier we save labor and utilities. The extra benefit that we realized that I did not expect was that our bad checks dropped by half!
I also find that late customers are more price motivated. As far as I am concerend, Dominos can have them.
I’m having different results - my bad checks typically have been during a rush, when the drivers are busy and don’t doublecheck that it meets our check acceptance policy. And the late night customers we get are not the “shoppers” - they tend to be loyal regulars, pleased as punch that we’re here when they’re hungry. Got a couple who order, like clockwork, about 30 minutes before closing once or twice a week (30 mins is out of consideration - they don’t want to be last-minute and keep us working late)…