Going Down..

Advice please. Over the past 12 months sales have been steadily trending up and all rosy. 7 weeks ago we hit personal shop record GREAT. Since then sales have plumeted like a spiraling plane out of control and it does not seem to be ending yet. Service is good, product is good (so unsolicited customers tell me). I can’t understand what is happening. We only do take out and delivery.

Can anyone offer advice on quick fixes for falling business.

I am looking for sharp tactics to get customers back fast. I cant wait for long term plans.

Are you advertising? The numbers you’re up against, are they grand opening numbers or are you basing it on the week before like I have to do?

If they are grand opening numbers, you’re numbers may drop.

Just keep plugging along, it could be the economy in your area, it could be alot of factors outside of your control. If nothing has changed in the restaurant, just keep your chin up and keep plugging along,


Have you been in business for only 12 months? If so, that’s pretty normal. In the beginning, everyone is trying you out because you’re new. But not everyone will be back. Actually, only about 60% of our new people come back a second time (as far as we can tell from database records.)

Once the new people stop flooding in, you’re sales are going to start to dip. The exact same thing happened to us. You have to reach a critical mass of regular customers so that new customers start to show up as growth. For us, it took about two years to start showing big growth over our “honeymoon period.” Another thing that we noticed is that people would often order for the first time and then order again within a week or so. But, they’ll eventually fall off into a regular cycle of only ordering once per month.

The best advice I can give is to work your database. Make sure people are getting a postcard from you at least once per month. You need to do everything you can to retain the people that are trying you out. Remember, most people have extremely short attention spans.

And by the way, I did panic big time when sales started to fall, until I looked at the database numbers. We were still bringing in a lot of new people every week, and had a pretty good retention rate that became regulars. After that, I knew it was only a matter of time. It takes a while to build a customer base of a couple thousand!

As for your shop record… we had two massive record weeks in our 11th month of business, and I thought we were on easy street. It took us another year before we ever did that much again, but we’re now at that level on a regular basis.

Thanks guys. I can understand what your saying, don’t like it, but can see a bigger picture. Thanks for your wisdom.

Me personally… I wouldn’t settle for excuses. Do an anniversary special or a customer appreciation week. Make it flashy, VERY visible, and advertise the Hell out of it with print material. Make sure the offer is way lower than you’d normally charge and has a good flashy price point to capture an even newer customer base. Make sure all boxes are boxtopped with bounce-back coupon offers and always make sure customer service is at it’s finest.

Good things to use:

Political signs
1/2 page colored flyers w/ black print
Lights (We’re attracted to light like insects… I have no idea why)

Get a good solid gameplan on how and when and where the marketing material will go out and make sure you stick to the plan. Hope this helps. -J_r0kk

Thanks J rokk. What are “political banners” ?

The most noticeable drop we have had is with deliveries. Over the past 10 weeks they have dropped 37%. Our pick ups although down are at 24% down.

Any suggestions on methods to get the delivery numbers back up?
I was going to boxtop a delivery special?


 Political signs are the 18"x24" corrugated plastic signs that politicians put out on the street corners when they're running for office.  Do the same thing, but with your logo and the special you're running.  Make it short and sweet and as big a font as you can get it so that people can read the entire message when they're driving past it.

 Delivery sales going down, too?  My friend, sounds like you've just had some kind of competition come into your town?  Papa John's open up a block away or something?

 Okay, I've always lived by the philosophy of winning the "marketshare" battle.  I'll guess that well over half the people in this forum will disagree with me, but I don't care what the price is.  I care about order counts.  I figure if they're ordering from me, no matter the price, they're NOT ordering from the competition.  Now, of course, I'm not so extreme I'm losing money.  I'm still maintaining a $14.00 ticket average and running about a 28% - 30% food cost, but I am extremely active in stealing customers from the competition.

 Right now I've got a new store and I'm trying to break into a well-established market (Domino's, Pizza Hut, Little Ceasars have been here for years and they all, believe it or not, average above $15k per week).  For me, it's all about marketshare.  I KNOW my product is better than the competitions so I'm in the middle of a marketing campaign attracting new customers with VERY competitive price points.  I feel if I can just get them to try my pizza I'll hook 'em.

 You want to get customers ordering for delivery?  Give them a special they CAN'T pass up.  Like...

2 Large 2 Toppings $12.00 (2 for 12)

Buy one Get One (I’m currently doing this. I’ve got doorhangers with our logo and FREE PIZZA written in big letters on the front. and I mean BIG letters! On the back is says buy a large pizza at regular price, get a large pizza of equal or lesser value free) BOGO’s suck for food cost but your phones will ring like freaking crazy. Just remember to upsell breadsticks and cheesesticks, because if you have them priced right ($3.99-$4.99), you’ll compensate for some of that food cost you’re spending on the pizzas and raise your ticket average simultaneously.

Now, it’s all about presenting these specials to your customer to get the best possible redemption rate. Also, you want your shelf life to last a lot longer than the usual 1 1/2 weeks (as is the shelf life of most flyers). So, spend the money and put it on a magnet (monstermagnet. com). This will extend your shelf life another few weeks if not longer. Also, when the customer’s finished with your specials, they can keep that magnet on their refrigerator. Sorry, when ideas pop up, I start to ramble. Hope this helps. -J_r0kk

Mate, Keep on rambling, ramble as much as you want its fantastic stuff !

I’ve been working frantically on new strategy as per your suggestions and the first print goes out today.

You don’t have to worry about me for competition, I am on the otherside of the world to you.

Good luck on your new store and thanks again. If any other ideas crop up, ramble on.


 No problem.  Hope it helped.

You also said you were having a problem with carryout sales? Use those political signs I talked about and print on them, “$3.99 Large 1 Topping Carryout Only!” with your logo on the top. Put them on your street, increasig frequency in the number of signs as you get closer to your store. I’m not sure if you did your homework when you opened, but I know when I open a store, traffic count plays a big part on my decision. If you’ve got an average traffic flow store then you probably have somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 cars per day passing in front. The whole purpose of doing the $3.99 special is to get people who would normally never try your pizza to come in and see what you’re all about. When you make the street look like an airport runway with your political signs, potential customers can’t help but take notice. This, my friend, creates new customers in droves. It’s all about giving them a price point cheap enough so that they won’t hesitate to come into your place.

 Also, get a banner made up promoting the same special.  Get some PVC pipe and PVC corners from the hardware store, make a frame, and tie your banner to the frame.  Schedule an extra person who wants extra hours to go out in front of the store and "bannershake".  Now, remember, he CANNOT just stand there like a bump on a log.  He's actually got to go kinda crazy with the thing, lifting it high, low, to the side, upside down, etc.  The whole time he should be pointing to your restaurant (decked out in streamers and lit up like a Christmas tree, of course) directing traffic to come into your parking lot.  Don't do this for more than 2 weeks.  Then it will become old.  This is a 2 week "quick fix".  Hope this helps. -J_r0kk

P.S. One word of caution: Make sure your staffed. You’ll probably be going through 100+ pie hours.

P.P.S. This is your chance to create an entirely new customer base to add to the one that’s starting to fall. You’ve only got one chance to make a first impression. Make sure EVERY box is boxtopped with some great (no more than 4) delivery and carryout coupons.

Did someonelse cut their delivery time in half?