How do you get round this problem?
We get new customers all the time (good), they say we have the best pizza in town (good) and they order regularly enough to reassure us they meant the comments(good). They will order four or five times a month, then BAM they stop.
This isn’t just a now and then problem, it’s all the time. Two years of being open we have had no sales growth, simply new customers replacing old customers yet with no obvious reason. We mailout to those who have disappeared (We know most still are in town) and have a ‘Pizza of the Month’ change things up a bit. Some come back once in a blue moon, others I think have relocated to the blue moon.
Is it normal to have short customer life cycles?
I don’t know if there is a “new customer burn-out” formula, but it is prevalent in our and the food service industry…
Folks only have so much disposable $$$ and are tempted many times to try new options, in addition to supporting favorites…
There is a formula/theory floating around TT about how much biz might be available for general pizza sales…but its just a theory…
What is your population base?
How many other pizza shops are in your 5 mile trade area?
How many other food choices are there in a 10 miles radius?
Those are some starting points…
I would think that all customers fall into a short list of catagories.
- The loyal that love your food and will always come back…at variable intervals
- Same as #1 but eat there too often and come in cycles…they find there way back over time
- The coupon shopper…no explanation required
- The ones that don’t like your offerings and give you a couple of tries and move on
- The random passerby…because both you and they were there at the right time
I think the goal is to make as many type 1’s and change things up a little bit so the type 2’s are less common. More than just advertising and coupons… sell up your product and location. Change the menu with seasonal offerings that will bring the loyal ones in more often and leave a great impression on the random ones so they want to come back or at least talk about the great or unique meal they had with you. The cheap and unhappy will always exsist and not much you can do about them. You can work harder to make the others really enjoy the dining experience and want to come back more often and with others. Make your establishment a destination for dining and not just a “subway”. I know it costs a lot to make a restaurant feel more inviting…but that money I feel is well spent. Your customers will pay more for a pizza in a restaurant than in a del/co. You pay $8 for a burger at any of the chain locations but would you pay the same at the Mcd’s drive-thru? No! (It seems close these days!) I know a lot of this is reflective of your business theme or plan and does not apply to all…but I have said it before and stand by it… you need a little character too your location and not just plastic booths and a self-serve soda machine.
We call this “The Frenzy[size=1]TM[/size]” - they burn bright and then burn themselves out. You just have to keep contact with them and eventually they should convert to a more normal/sustainable ordering pattern.
Database mailings targeting lazy customers are one way. And try and get them to follow you on Facebook or Twitter or join your e-mail/text database if you do any of those things while they are going crazy. Then you can hopefully reach them sometime later and get them to reactivate when they are again in the mood for your food.
One of these days I will actually get one of these mailers from a local pizza shop…I have 5 in my area and I have never heard “boo” from any of them…