OK, time to help PLEASE!!

Hi everyone! Ok, I am going to lay it all on the line here and tell ya’ll everything.
Here is my situation.
I HAVE NO MONEY!! Ok, now that is out there, lets get onto the meat and potatoes of what I am facing.
I am not behind on any bills YET. But it is coming, and the only reason I am not behind is because my fabulous hubby has pulled me out of the bill collector grips. But That was a 1 time deal. I am on my own again. And I CANNOT get back into that same situation.
The last few months have seen sales go into a downward slide. The last 2 days have been so bad it was a waste of time to be open. PERIOD!
I HAVE TO GET SALES UP TODAY!! Now, knowing how desperate I am, here is what I need to know. What can I do for VERY CHEAP OR FREE!! It has to cost almost NOTHING. I know this may be a crazy idea. I know you cant get something for nothing, but I am asking you all, to dig deep in your memories and give me ANYTHING that you may have done that paid off in sales even a little.I have basically 1 year to change things or I am out of here. As some of you know, I am a take-n-bake, but added on baking in the last 6 months or so. But my big problem is that I see the same customers over and over and over again, they are keeping me alive, but as you know, that means I am not seeing any new faces. Everyone that walks through the door I can tell you what they want. That is NOT a good thing, as you already know.
What I have tried is this:
Box topping lunches with 10% off deal for dinner meals
Weekly emails
I have a menu, email sign up box outside my store, and me personally standing outside to talk to people
I have a superior product to my competitors (I am the ONLY independent surrounded by 9 other chain pizza places in a 2 block radius!!) When I first moved here I was one of 4, it has grown that much in 2 years.
As of right now I am getting an average of 8-20 customers a day, good lord!! I dont even know how i have lasted this long!
I have added on to my menu to include grilled subs as well.
I have dine in seating, but NO ONE SITS HERE!! I have a very nice looking restaurant, but no one thinks to eat here. I have added onto my signage, dine-in take-out to try and get people to come in.

Um, I cant think of anything else. I am a gourmet place, so I dont know that doing steep discounts would be a good idea. What can I do to get people in that appreciate our quality, etc. The customers I do have never balk at my pricing. So I am not overpriced. But…I am at a loss.

I am starting a promotion on Friday of suprise envelopes, with each purchase people get a sealed envelope, they have to keep it sealed until their next purchase. After they order the next time they can open their envelope that will have a suprise in it, 1 will be a free purchase, others will be free add ons or discounts etc.

The week after will be crazy 8’s week, 1 topping large pizza for 8.88 after that, I dont know what to do. The biggest probelm with these promos is the only people who will know about them are my current customers, and as much as I know it is easiest to market your current customers, how can I get people who arent regulars to see this, I am thinking getting staff out with some sort of flier I print off myself and put on peoples windsheilds? I have done this on quite a few occasions, it is not allowed in my city, but i havent been hand slapped yet, so I will keep doing it till I get my slap, bettter to ask forgiveness then permission right? hehe :slight_smile:
K, that is all I have for now…CHEERS!!


Do you tell your regulars to tell their friends/family? Since you said cheap, instead of cards or printing, maybe have the regular give their receipts (can print duplicates too) to potential customers and if the come, put in the the databases the incentive.

Just a few of my ideas, possibly worth exactly what you paid for them :slight_smile:

I would ditch the “10% off” deal. I’ve never heard of those pulling well for pizza places. Try a FREE item, or a value package. I am having a lot of success with full family meals.

I send out 3 e-mail specials per week. I pick a day and it only valid for that night. Create a sense of urgency with them. Sending e-mails is absolutely free, so use it as much as you can. I’ve never had a complaint that I send them too often.

Not too surprising if you’ve always been known as a take-n-bake. Make one of your e-mail specials valid for dine-in only. Not only will you let people know you have dine-in, but it will help put butts in the seats. Success breeds success and customers get a good feeling when the dining room is packed.

I am a “gourmet” place too. My menu price is probably 15% higher than my next competitor. But I still send a whole lot of coupons. I don’t straight discount, but I do package deals or free items with a purchase.

The 20% of my customers that pay full price all the time will not keep my doors open. I need to mine those people for whom I’m too expensive to pay full price. Coupons are like price discrimination - the people that don’t care about them will throw them out and pay full price. Bargain hunters will clip and save. It stinks, but people have been trained to never pay full menu price for pizza.

You’re not overprice for those customers. But like you said, that’s only 8-20 per day. What about the other thousands of people that don’t come to your store? You might be overpriced for them. See the above comment on this :slight_smile:

Read my post entitled “Tutorial on how to do bulk mail.” I really believe that the most effective way to get your message to people is to use saturation mail. You can print black and white postcards yourself and have them in mailboxes for about 15 cents each. You can do one carrier route at a time, which means about $75. Start with just one carrier route per week and let it snowball!

I am going to channel my lost friend, j_r0kk . . . . DOORHANGERS!! No marketing tool is cheaper or has more following than good, old fashioned door hanging. You can print off flyers and tape them to doors, so no need for fancy things to hang on knobs.

Get out into the neighborhood and put the word out. Find high concentrations of potential customers . . . the duck ponds. If you want to hunt ducks, you got to go where the ducks are. Find those duck ponds. Start a rolling thunder of door hanging that hits three different areas over six weeks. Hit them in order for first three weeks, the go back again doing them in order again. Menus may work; offers may work; Get the word out frequently.

Go to the local radio station with some pizzas for the on-air crew. Nothing says free mention on the air like food in the mouth. Contact the marketing people at the paper and radio and even local TV. Give them some coupons/certificates to give out as enticements/freebies to OTHER accounts. It may get customers trying your place. Make a big plywood sandwich board sign that is potentially silly, but darned impossible to miss. Get someone to walk around with it in a nearby mall or other high traffic area.

ust a few right off the cuff. Gotta get my lasagna out of the oven.

I agree with Pipers comment about this statement. When we bought this shop, it was easily the highest priced pizza in town (but worth it too). I decided to change my pricing to be exactly the same as my competitor whose customers I wanted. I did the price change without a single bit of promoting or anything, just changed it in the middle of a Friday afternoon. Since then, I’ve never been as slow as I was before the change, even though my loyal customers are paying less, the people calling to ask specials and prices are now making orders instead of calling the other competition. They want my pizza, I just made sure they could justify paying for it.

From my past experience door hanging (whether it be door hangers or just menus) is the most effective advertising you can do…In a large market I worked in, we did 1/5 of town each week on a 5 week cycle and just kept repeating…In a small town we did 1/3 each week on a 3 week cycle…

And I have a client that is experimenting with colour flyers versus black and white flyers and it looks like the area that got colour is going to be about 17% higher in sales…Some of that was higher tickets and some was more sales per capita…It was not a very scientific experiment so the results might be off a bit…But it looks like extra cost of colour flyers will payoff…

PS…I mention to most of my clients that flyers work better than other methods…So even when I need sales, if they are not doing enough flyers I recommend them over magnets…

This may be a suggestion you have already tried, but you sound very desperate. Take your flyers or menu’s and go to every Hospital in your delivery area. The folks who work at the hospital hate to have to go outside the hospital AND they hate hospital food. Go to the administration and talk with the folks there, sell your product, and tell them to have the drug representatives call YOU for their catering!! If the drug reps want to talk to anyone from the hospital, they have to bring the food!! Make sure you have enough flyers to leave behind with them and ask if they could leave one at every Nurse’s station in the hospital.

Don’t forget the larger Medical Practices, your own doctor, dentist, whoever. On average a medical practice see’s about 5 pharmacy reps a day, and they have to bring food if they want to be heard.

Best of Luck!!

PS: The health care industry has always been recession proof!

Is this true? I’ve been slowly working on medical offices, and getting decent results, but maybe I need to double my efforts. I turned down a job as a pharmacy rep when I was younger, because of the stories I’d heard/read about these things (meeting docs at the gas station on their way to work and pitching your product while you fill up their gas, etc.)

Sorry for the detour in my own interests.

Do you know why you’re in this position? Is it purely the competition (the chains aren’t going to move in like this if there is not serious potential in your market)? I am also in an overly saturated market, but have been building on sales because of the quality of our food, using information from this board and simply learning to get our name in front of people. What is the neighborhood like that you are in? Are there enough businesses around you that a lunch buffet would work for you? Are you in a nightlife district that you could stay open late and serve an afterhours crowd?

Something just seems off to me about your story. Right now, I don’t see why an indie store couldn’t be stealing customers left and right from the chains, and it sounds like there are tons of customers in a small radius of your store. Are you doing delivery? Are your competitors?

Yes it is true of the larger medical practices and hospitals. The story you told most likely did happen years ago. Now, however, to be a pharmaceutical rep you need to have a college degree, look, act and present yourself as a valued partner to the practice. The person that holds all the power in a medical practice is the Practice Manager, that is the person you want to contact.

I have 2 clients that bring in somewhere between $10,000-$15,000 per month on catering to the health care industry. Granted, here in Arizona, we have a large populous of health care providers because of our demographics. If you can get tied into the pharmacy rep chain and the practice managers, you will have found a gold mine.


This link describes a typical day in the life of a Pharmaceutical Rep. You can see that they are paying for a lot of food!

Nick is right, doorhangers can give you the immediate results that you’re looking for. Atleast it has for us. The customers may not use your specials, but it makes them aware of your shop and to try something anyways.

You need to figure out where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck. And doorhanging can do it. Another idea is to review all your controllable expenses, if there is anything you can do to make it easier on a monthly basis, that will also go if you semi-immediate results.

Playing the other side. I wonder if door hangers really would be effective for a mostly take and bake shop.

I think I’ve said it before, but I think you would be better served visiting businesses. Large businesses! Get pre-orders. Try to get 5-10 orders per location and deliver them to the business around 4:30 or so. Jump outside of the pizza/sandwich niche. What else can you create and package that is meal replacement? If your current customers can visit you twice a week instead of just once a week, how much would that help? Pastas?? I really don’t know what else you could do food wise.

Do some homework. Create a spreadsheet with your competitors. Pizza and non pizza. List all the places that serve food. Get prices on similar sized pizzas. Make a list of the biggest 25 businesses in town and contact info for those businesses. Report back with the data!

Why would businesses have a use for take and bakes either? I don’t see the value in suggesting not to market to a base that would be willing to purchase from her entire menu to focus on a smaller niche instead.

Pharmaceutical Reps are not at all the goldmine they used to be. They were one of the first to start feeling the economic crunch, since they were the ones with the most open wallets.

I’m not sure I’d spend much time looking for that angle.

If you have large business near you why not add salads. We get at least 15 to 20 salads orders at lunch time from our local business’s. They are pretty easy to make.

How much space do you have at your location to add menu items that are outside the realm of “take & bake”…Any chance you can do rotisserie chicken?..Chicken and Salads to go for a quick lunch…Good luck…

PS…I saw an oven on Craigslist Vancouver a while back…

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Improved- … 06287.html

I suppose we all wish we had a crystal ball to see into the future. Most of my clients are in the Health Care Industry or the food/beverage industry. My clients have not seen any decrease in the number of phama. reps that call on them or spend $$$ on them. I agree that in some market area’s it may not be fruitful because of small population. I like to take the approach that you throw all the ideas against the wall and see what sticks.
Certainly there have been some good ideas on this particular topic. :slight_smile:

We do some “safety” lunches for the steel companies that are really nice orders. (2 shifts) Also have a hospital and a few clinics that order. The clinics usually request where they want the sales reps to get the lunches from. Hospital cafe closes at 9:00pm but the fresh stuff is usually gone by about 7:00 There is a mad dash to get food orders in to us by 9:00pm for 2nd and 3rd shift staff. We do take late orders from them though. We did give away some food to get things started but it has paid off. Most of our business accounts pay with AmerEx Business accounts are great! Also a few town meetings and fire department lunches. Our bank orders lunch each month for 36 employees. All the local bars order from us as well as the bowling teams. We have a menu printed for them minus the food items that they sell. Just a few ideas…

First: Nick, I might be lost but I’m not dead.

Second: canukfanlady, trust me when I say I know how you feel. The solution to your problem however is quite simple: School Nights.

You seem to have forgotten my posts about school nights creating a buzz throughout your town and how you can create record sales levels. So, please review all my archived posts about school nights and get to work on setting these up. If you need me to e-mail you a flier let me know. I still have them saved on my computer. I can still be reached at j_r0kk@yahoo.com

Remember, with these school nights you pay for nothing. Your only task is to convince the schools that it is in their best interest to participate.

Hope this helps. - J_r0kk