Marketing with very little funds?

Hey all - I got a question to poll from all of you TT dwellers.

My buddy who owns his own shop in the same regional franchise I am with has hit some hard times.

He is in a small market (Erie, CO) with about 9,000 addresses. It does have growth happening but with the current housing market that slowed considerably. He is located in “Old Town” and has a good reputation with the locals. Unfortunatley the “Old Town” is not big enough to support him fully. Recentlty a new sit down/take out joint called “Slices” opened and they did such a poor job during their first few weeks it truly had zero effect on his sales.

Recent news in the front range was that Papa Johns had filed for some kind of bankruptcy [A Minnesota franchisee had purchased all the Corporate PJ in the Denver Metro Area about a year ago] and this means they are on shaky ground through the whole area (my markets they are a non factor and probably will close). 10 weeks ago however it was discovered that a NEW PJ was going to open in his area with a NEW franchisee.

My friend (and former GM of one of my shops) Mitchell tried to amp up his operations providing even better sevrice than he had been (which was already pretty good). He concentrated on his food and service and even put an emphasis on his image (where he might not have had folks tucking in shirts, etc now he was).

He did a pretty agressive offer (knowing our chain is in direct competition with Dominos) and mailed his entire area over a 2 week span right prior to their grand opening. His sales were steady at 9,000 to 9,500 a week.

PJ came in with door hanging and has done some small mailings. We learned PJ did 9,000 it’s first week open. Mitchell did 7,500 each week since they opened. Losing only 1,500 sounds great as he should be able to build that back up once the luster of the shiny new store wears off. Only problem is he is broke. He did make some mistakes (dont we all) and thought the agressive offer would have given him some staying power.

Anyway - thats the back story. His store is listed on our corporate website along with my own We have way more to offer than most other shops in our chain (he does just come along for the ride I provide him) and we are proven in many taste tests to beat the Big 4 all the time.

So back to the question - what are some of the best things he might try to stimulate some sales or cash flow that dont take a lot of money. I printed him about 1000 “Neighbourhood Of The Week” flyers with a set of offers only for them and a limited time. He will go door hang those in the areas closer to him and farthest from them.

Oh and there is a Dominos and an Abo’s Pizza (higher priced “NY Pizza”) along with the PJ and Slices I mentioned before.

Any ideas will be passed along (he is soooo low tech that even a bb is too much for him) and maybe I can get him to register over here. I know 10 years ago when I first became an owner I found a ton of help. Then I became one of the helpers.


Hi Dale,

With 9,000 population, I’d recommend a direct mail campaign (they need a $2K to $3K budget) to generate cash flow overnight - full menus loaded with coupons. If they can’t afford that, they need to go out and doorhang until they can pay for mailers.

On another note, I think I met your friends from BJ Pizza at the Expo last year. If they need help or have questions, please feel free to have them msg/call me. I’ve worked with hundreds of pizzerias and lots of TT members. Best wishes!


Nothings as cheap and effective as doorhanging, but in some areas the effectiveness isn’t what it used to be. It’s especially effective when an old employer puts on his running shoes and brings his kid out to help doorhang for the weekend. :lol:

I’m putting an insert in what used to be called ADVO but has changed to Mailsouth in this area for under 4 cents each. I’m definitely getting a good response and feel it is money well spent.

Many of the stores in our franchise are using Mailshark with good results. He could mail out his whole delivery area every nine weeks for less than $299 per week.

Does he offer online ordering? If so, put the email addresses to work. will email for cheap, probably $25 plus an annual $100 fee depending on how many email addresses he has. They make it painless and easy for those of us that are not very computer literate.

Lastly, mail to the customers in his database. The response rate here is great. If money is that tight, get 1000 postcards printed and mail 15 per day with stamps. It’ll be a bit more expensive per piece than doing a bulk mailing of the whole database but it will get the job done.

I’ve been using PostedCard for all my printing and mailing for over a year and couldn’t be happier with the results. I send out menus and postcards to specific mailing routes. I am getting doorhangers made right now (never done doorhangers before) They will take care of design, print, mailing for a fair price. I also use kinkos for cheap box toppers on a bright color paper, these get just as much return as expensive gloss print ones and I usually send a menu with it so it doesn’t look as cheap. Check out for products from Postedcard.

Does that mean he doesn’t have a P.O.S. with a customer database?

We have just put our menus in the local barbers, car wash, candy store etc. Usually they are happy to put them out, but some of them need a bribe of a free pizza now and then, (might have turned them into customers as well).

Brad - he has a National Systems TMS (bootlegged) system I built for him. So yes he has a database.

Generate a database of the customer records that haven’t ordered since the slowdown and print it out. Piecemeal out a Million-Dollar Letter mailing and go all out with the personal touches: each one signed, addressed by hand and sporting a real stamp. Highlight those things “you can only get here!”

Or, do a Twentyfive-Cent Postcard mailing: Grab some colored 3x5 cards. Hand-write a “we miss you” note with some offer they can redeem on their next order like “FREE breadsticks” or such. Address each one by hand and use a real postcard stamp. Drop a batch into the mail every day.

Adding a personal touch slows down the rate at which you can generate them, but that also helps to spread out the cost while it at the same time improves the rate of return. Grind these out during lean times until there is no more lean time.

I use facebook, I had 2 $50 coupon. I create a simple add and target my area, in few months I had 514 likes, I talk to people every day and ask what they want. One day some of the people in facebook page ask me to have Daiya chesse (casein and lactose free) since I have it, more clients ask for it, I read and answer everything without paying a cent. This clients spread the word and my client list continue to grow.

Hi Dale,
Here is how Mail Shark can help your friend with the tight budget. No Money Up Front, No Money Down and all of the following for only $227/Week (NO HIDDEN FEES)

  1. 500 Direct Mail Pieces per Week on our Annual Mailing Program Including (Menus, Magnets, Scratch-Off’s & Postcards). This will give him the consistency and frequency he needs to be successful**this would of course require a conversation with your friend and is not our only option if he is looking for a short term mailer. More information can be found on our website

  2. 50 New Movers Per Month sent out a 6x9 full color, double sided, glossy, postcard.

  3. An online ordering solution with unlimited transactions (*There is typically a one-time $299/Setup fee, but I will see if we can waive this for your friend.)

  4. 1,000 Box Toppers Per Month

All of the above for only $227/Week.

If you or your friend would like the finer details and samples you can contact me on my cell 484-269-3715 or by email


Josh Davis
VP Sales
Mail Shark
(Cell) 484-269-3715

A couple times in my pizza past I was so broke I could hardly afford to market…What I did was get some menus printed on bright coloured 11 x 17 paper…I tri-folded by hand because I could not afford to pay for folding…I punched a hole in the corner and put an elastic band through the hole…Then every day I went door to door hanging them…Call around to see if you can find a “garage” based offset printer…Or look on Craigslist…If you look around you should be able to get 1,000 pieces for 70.00 or 80.00…Good luck…

Royster, amazingly enough, I’ve gotten better results from this method than when I place a menu and coupon in one of the little bags and place it on the door. I usually staple a home-printed coupon to the menu as an incentive to come in.

I can only guess why this way works better for me, but I think it may have something to do with the customer actually touching the menu when they take it off the door. If its in a bag, its just too much effort to remove it and look at it. (Are my customers really that lazy? who knows?)

Man these are all some really great ideas. I have forgotten about some of these tactics as I have been far removed from them for too long. However it just dawned on me “Duh! I am trading in my sub shop (selling to my former manager) for the pizza shop in my chain on the other side of the county (to tie up my entire county) and wont really have the budget to blow the doors out right away”.

The store I am purchasing has over 23,000 addresses and sits in the SE corner of my campus store in Boulder - Louisville, CO. The current owner has run it down to $7,000 a week when it should easily be doing double - even with more competition per capita.

I will for sure be using some of these ideas for myself.

Thanks again and keep em coming!

[size=2]I was searching for Million-Dollar Letter instructions and rediscovered this thread.[/size]

Dale, how did things work out for your friend? Did he turn it around?

Brad - He only lasted until the end of January. He was basically foreclosed on. The guy he bought the shop from originally was carrying the note and took it over. He had to work off some of his debt for the month of February and then they found a buyer.

Also - he still owes me $4000 which I will probably never get back. Plus I severed our friendship over that debt owed to me.

Too little too late.

Since then I sold one of my shops to a former manager. Sold my sub shop to my manager there. I am carrying a bunch of paper on both of those. I preach to both of them not to let what happened to my other friend happen to them and that they have to WORK until they can afford to cut back, that was one of his fatal errors - he wanted to be like me - but he failed to recall my 1st 3 years of ownership I worked my butt off.