Since this is my first year open, I really don’t have any trends to go by. However, I have seen a nearly 25% increase in business this month, and just over 10% increase last month. I don’t know if the increase is due to the new dining room, or if it is due to some other changes. In January, I hired a new GM who actually gives a crap. I also got rid of an assistant manager I had gotten some complaints about. I have also gotten more aggressive in my door hanging. Is March typically the turning point in the upswing, or is this just me?
Throughout my first year, I have tried every form of advertising to see what worked in my area. I have pretty much stuck with just door hanging since January. Not counting the honeymoon period, my sales have been pretty much flat up until now. Just curious how the trends run so I know if this is normal or not. By the way, the Sysco rep tells me I am the only one he has talked to who is seeing an increase in business.
Sounds like things are going well and that is a good thing.
I don’t find comparisons of one month to another month to be of much use. March to March the year before is a lot more important than how March compares to February. You might ask your sysco rep if when he is talking about other businesses saying March is up, down or flat if they are comparing to last year. I would be that they are.
I could very easily have a March that was bigger than Feb (Every year for the 9 years we have been open) and was still down compared to the year before. In talking about it, I would say that March was “down”.
Don’t discouraged at all by my comments. I think you will find, over time, that the sales of a given month have more to do with the annual pattern and recent marketing activity than they do with other months.
I have taken to graphing daily averages within a month. I have found that year to year, and month to month, the number of days and number of Fri/Sat sets is widely varying. So, to get a little bit closer to a comparison, I divide gross sales by total sales days. To be most statistically correct, I would get a standard deviation and run some analysis, but that is too sophisticated.
It is enough to see that every 2008 month has an average that is higher than our highest ever in previous years. Also, I can see that every month is increased year over year . . . even when the gross total may be lower due to number of sales days.
for example, my March 2008 Gross sales will be around $600 lower than previous March gross . . . but daily average will be around $100 higher in 2008.
Consider switching your accounting to a 13-period year. Then you can compare the same 4 weeks from year to year. Payroll also falls nicely into the periods as well.
I’ve also been told that a 4-week/4-week/5-week setup is doable and keeps the year to only 12 periods… that’s the way i would have gone if I was setting it up again.
What is nice is the bottom line is whatever you are doing it is working. Sure we tend to see and increase as spring comes along. But we also tend to boost our marketing as well.
As for you I am sure the dining room is a great factor. People may have wanted your food but didn’t want to eat at home.
Do you have a system set up to track what sales are coming from the dining room?
Either way good for you!
We have a means set up . . . and we use three-part tickets still! (POS is nearly in)
Yes, the dining room is drawing a good growth curve for us, too . . .so that is certainly a good draw for Haarvik.
We’ve also just hit the critical mass of word of mouth that is working for us. Three new customers came in this week saying their neighbors and/or friends told them right away that they needed to find our place for dinner . . .then told them where to get the utilities turned on.
I just cannot pt a finger on what it is we actually DID to get to that point. I don’t know what marketing tools or combination we did recently to attract the attention we’ve gotten. IF I could, I could repeat it and recommend it to others. Sure, we are doing marketing more that we ever have, but it is hard to think that just doing anything would have done this. Probably a complex interaction of stuff that just will never be repeated, but must be maintained from here on to keep the momentum.
We have contracted with a local reliable teen with friends who will put our menus out in neighborhoods; doing another direct mail postcard 1st week of April; a weeks later trying a few low cost 15-second radio spots; supporting a local citizenship festival by doing a picnic in the park; then dropping the postcard again . . . . then some more radio spots; the school night the 1st Tuesday. All of this by the 2nd weekend in May. We are pushing to make May a huge bang-up month of sales.
Our rent is about to double, so we have to bring in the $$$
(we are buying the complex, and our ridiculously low rent is about to become just really low per sq ft)
To put attention back on Haarvik (sorry about hijacking), my experiences I just talked about lead me to believe that all activity that builds awareness and gets your name in front of people over and over and over will build for you and spawn new business from various market elements at various times.
You’ve obviously got a good product, and a good message that people are responding to. Keep it up and try some variety every now and again. You’ll get a surprise jump that you can sit and wonder about.