In this tough economy I’m curious to find out everyone’s foot traffic Mon-Thurs and Fri-Sun. We’re certainly seeing the numbers declining. We’ve only been open for a little over 6 months but our sales on the first three months were a lot stronger in the beginning than now. What do you guys think a good/ succecssful foot traffic (carry out and delivery) should a trade area of about 21,000 homes be? And what should we be expecting now in these tough times? We have about 10,000 homes within a 2 mile radius. We’re noticing that people are ordering a little later since the time change, we used to get our rush as early as 4:30p. Now it’s around 6:30p- 7p. We’re open 'till 10p Fri.- Sun. and 9p regular days.

Your honeymoon period is over. When a new place opens up , everyone is curious and wants to try it out. After you opened, did you give any kind of bounceback offer or anything to get them to come back? It is completely normal for sales to slide after your open for a few months. The key is to market yourself during this period and maintain sales.

We do. We did heavy marketing, direct mail on the first 3 months but did very minimal marketing beginning of this year to around March. We just did another direct mail end of last month which gave us a good return but still not as good as the first months. There’s about 5 other pizza places in the same trade area (including the big 3). Just like every pizza place owner, we think our pizza is good (as we constantly hear it from customers) and our store is well maintained w/ friendly, well-trained staff. We’re thinking it’s the economy but what you said of customers just trying us out is proving to be true. How do we recapture them? And it seems like we have good sales one day and weak the following day. We’re thinking it’s the same customers that keep coming back. Or could it be partly the economy? Our area is upper middle class young families that commute about 30-40 min a day to work.

Thanks for all the help as always!

This is where a point of sale system is put to use. It is important to know which of your customers are returning and which ones need a gentle push to return.

I have not done this yet but the plans are in the works. Each customer that comes to you should thanked in some way. I have been looking at many different methods of doing the thanking. There are customer loyalty programs of all different sorts that can be used. I have heard of places that do no advertising but send a hand written thank you card to every new customer. I have seen other systems that use email to check with the customer to see if everything was satisfactory with their order within a couple hours of when the customer has received their order. Another system that I have seen is when a customer hits a certain level of orders either number of orders or dollars spent they receive some reward.

My point in all this rambling is you need to have a POS and you need to use it for marketing to the customers who have at least tried your establishment.

Im not in the pizza business, but I do own a small business, the economy is not good and it is effecting every industry. I have so many customers that are cutting back everything they can just to get by, people are getting laid off, hours getting cut, etc…

Cant really help with this, but I would have to say the economy might have something to do with it.

It’s typical for a new establishment to fluctuate a lot until it develops a solid base.

As far as marketing goes, frequency is the key. if you can only afford to dm every two or three months you should reduce the number of households you are targeting and do it more frequently. Send about 20% of your household count out every week and then rinse and repeat. Its a lot easier to staff the store with a steady flow of advertising rather than “guessing” how much labor you will need for a promotion as well.

Then, if you have a pos, once a month you can send out postcards to everyone in your database with unique offers.

Mix in other forms of media like door hangers and publications when the budget allows. Better to saturate a small market with frequency than send out random drops.

thanks guys! These are great feedback for a newbie like ourselves!

We do have a POS system and use it to send postcards, direct mail. It gave us a decent return as it was Buy One Get One Free. We’re working on something that will be more personalized, such as hand written. We obviously don’t want to position ourselves as a coupon based, cheap pizza business (the big chains have that market). We would like to be in between-- independently owned, yet still consistent and professional w/ median prices. The trick is how do we position ourselves in a market that is currently asking for bargain prices. We found that if we send coupons, customers respond. Do we make changes now w/ pricing to compete and survive? Or will this hurt us in the long run.

Do you guys have rough numbers on a good foot traffic w/ our trade area? Any help would be greatly appreciated! I’m trying to forecast what our eventually base would be and how to work on building this base.

I’ve two shops, one just over 3 years old the other just over 2 years old. I’m still of the opinion that I need to hit the areas with menu’s very regularly (7 or 8 times a year) in order to get people used to ordering from me. I’ve started to see that the menu’s for store 1 doesn’t have the same effect on sales as store 2 but store 1 has consistently better sales.

My advice. Keep on marketing, forget recession, set yourself a realistic budget and stick to it. You’re unlikely to make a profit in the first couple of years so keep your head down and build a solid and expanding customer base. Do a bit of everything and work out what doesn’t work for you and focus on what does.

Getting menus out on a regular basis is the best advertising you can do…In my past restaurants I have done frequencies from every 3 weeks to every 7 weeks…A lot depends on the competition in your area…And it will take some testing to find the best frequency in your market…And then you need to adjust to changes in market conditions…If I were back in the pizza business I think I would start with every 5 weeks and divide my market into 5 segments and do 1 segment each week and then just keep repeating the cycle…So many folks do a big drop every so often and have real peaks and valleys in sales…But by spreading out your drop over 5 weeks you average out the peaks and valleys…

As far as “good” pizza…A “good” pizza is what ever sells in your market…It does not matter what you think good is if your customers are not buying it…So do not get too hung up on what you like and worry more about what your potential clients like…

The pirate sings my song! Marketing is different than advertising in that marketing is a systematic and planned strategy for developing a brand or “personality” for your business within the marketplace. Marketing is a wide open and creative based process focused on number of impressions you can put in front of customers. Get in front of them as often as you can afford and in as many different forms as makes sense in your marketplace. The more they see you name, log and identity, the more they will remember you and potentially order from you.

These impressions don’t even have to be offers or coupons. I get pieces from Stanislaus tomato company that never have offers, just reinforcing who they are and what they are about. Every time I see one of their newletters, flyers, postcards, personalized letters, website I remember why I am loyal to their brand (beyond product quality)

MOVVID: One reason no one is forecasting “foot traffic” numbers is that many of us will have ZERO clue what to make up as a number. I personally am not sure what you specifically mean by “foot traffic”, but more importantly, you are a 6-month business with little track record. Assume you do not have enough, and always plan for some of your marketing targeted at attracting new customers.

We don’t know what other food competition is in the marketplace, businesses, multi-family residences (like apartments and dorms), your price point, service styles, alcohol or not, and like that. Aim for 200,000 and see how far you can get :slight_smile: “Good” is defined by your business plan goals and what your overall financial picture looks like (break even figures; average ticket amount).