Smart Circle? Anyone use them?

I was approached a few months ago by a guy who works for Smart Circle.

Basically, the company advertises and promotes your business “for free”. The way they go about doing this is the create some sort of enticing offers and sell them to people. For instance, they may do something like 10 BOGO, 5 Buy 1 Get 1 half off, and 5 free ? with purchase of ?.

They’ll sell some sort of coupon book with these offers for a relatively cheap price, maybe $9.99 or $14.99. In return, you get maybe a 10% cut of that, so $1-2 for each sale, and then of course, one would assume a higher volume of customers. The goal I guess would be to have those customers continue to come in after they’ve exhausted their coupons.

I thought it was somewhat interesting of an idea, but wary of the marketing strategy. Not being a cheap chain, my target audience isn’t the people looking for that super deal on cheap stuff.



There are a bunch of similar companies that do this. I probably have about 2 per year that inquire about doing this at my restaurant. I finally signed up with one in the summer of '09. I dont remember the name of the company, but it wasnt Smart Circle. I believe he sold them for $19.99. We had about 15 coupons on it and the redemption was very poor (although, I got no cut from the coupon book sale, so it cost me nothing). The offers were similar to the ones you listed, but there was “1 free pizza” as one of the coupons, so that was the main selling point - “Use this once, and it pays for itself”. I have no idea how much work the guy put into selling these, so I’m not sure if thats why the redemption was so low.

Here is what I think in retrospect…

Why didnt I just do this myself?
The “coupon book” was a 8"x6" laminated card. The coupons lined the border and the middle was my store logo, hours, a pizza picture, phone number etc. It probably costs about 50 cents to produce each one including lamination. You could sell these in the store and keep 100% of the profits, call it a Customer VIP/Reward Card. Or if you have employees that are looking for more hours, offer to split the sale price of the card if they want to go door-to-door, or sell to friends and family. The workers obviously know your product well, so they can answer any questions too!

Also, the companies that do this are professional sales people. Its very likely that they are going door-to-door doing a very aggressive sell on potential/current customers. This is the biggest turn off to me as a customer, and the very reason why I avoid places like Jiffy Lube, The Buckle clothing, etc. Remember, this company is representing you, and may leave a bad 1st impression.