Summertime Slump

Buisness has fallen way off. Wondering what everyone does during the summer to get over the slump?

You have two choices:

  1. cut back labour and tough it out or
  2. run some summer promotion to fill in the ‘gap’

We’ve done the latter pretty much every year now. We’ve run free starters, buy one get on free, and offers to get a larger ticket price and things like that on coupons valid for the ‘low’ summer season. We normally send a range of coupons and see which ones work best so now after a few years have narrowed it down to 2 coupons.

Some on TT will say ‘never’ coupon or discount but all I can say is that without it my summers are poor and business dips with it I have no noticeable dip (actually sales are increasing). Food cost is a little higher but at the end of the day it works These offers also encourage new customers as well - which is nice!!

Door Hang…Door Hang…Door Hang

Menu Drops…Menu Drops…Menu Drops

Direct Mail


Summer is a struggle for me as well, especially this year, being my 3rd summer in business I feel I have a little experience now :slight_smile: And yes, alot of the big guys dont even bother with much in the way of mailings and such because it is so slack, but that is the time to pick up some new customers. The thing that works for me the most. And this isnt for everyone is grass roots marketing. I go out into the community, to parks, in my own parking lot (im in a strip mall) to the Costco, where ever the heck I am and have cards, or fliers handy on me. With package deals 2 for1 whatever, and chat up everyone i see. As well as sending my bored staff out to give samples, smiles and good will. It is just a matter of doing whatever you need to do. But as for what works, everything works to one degree or another.

But grass roots marketing is CHEAP! And it gives you a community small business feel that most people like :slight_smile:

Kris nailed our approach. I never had a bad summer until this year. We used to start ramping up advertising in May and continued straight through to the end of August. I never understood this “summertime blues” thing because our summers we always the strongest part of the year. For the past three years I’ve spent DOUBLE my normal advertising during the 4 months of summer.

This year we were extremely busy opening a new location and I let the advertising slide for the summer. NOW I understand what the summertime blues are. My goodness it’s been slow. As a matter of fact, 10 years from now I’ll probably still look back at this summer as one of my biggest regrets in this business.

We do door hang like crazy and it really works great. Immediate response and new customers all of the time. I find that in my market I need to constantly remind people that we are here.

On another note I have deceided to take on the big chain store in my town! They sell the same style pizza as me but charge 2-3 dollars more than me! Wish me luck!

The middle of summer is pretty good for us. We are in a resort town and the tourists are here in numbers from late June until late August and then in smaller numbers through the fall color in Sept. One thing I like about summer is that the dinner rush is spread out from 6PM to maybe 8:30 rather than from 5:30-7:00 like our winter rush. We can do the same dollars with one less person in the kitchen and one less on the road.

Our slump is April 15 - June 15 and from Oct 1 - November 10. No amount of promo during those periods will drive sales at an acceptable cost. During those periods we are a community of about 10,000 with 80 restaurants of which 20 serve pizza and 8 deliver. Everyone in town working in the hospitality industry is working reduced hours and trying not to spend too much. I call promo during those times “shouting into a well”.

Rich, If your pricing is $2-$3 below a national chain, you may be in danger of sinking under the waves and going away for good. Your cost structure is going to be higher than theirs. Price is not how you beat the nationals.

Good news for us: Pizza Hut here is closing and the local Dominos franchisee is selling to avoid bankruptsy. Word is that he is selling to the franchisee in the next town who is also a bozo. Pizza Hut will be gone for sure, if Dominos goes away too, we will be rockin’. The two of them are the biggest delivery competition we have by far. All the other delivery pizza are either sit-down places that do not prioritize delivery or lousy small time operations.

Price is the biggest concideration for everyone in our town. People don’t think of us when they order Italian style pizza because of Papa Gino’s. I just want to point out we are bigger and better (our pizzas anyway ) and that they should give us a try. being cheaper in this case will be a benefit.

It certainly is a benefit. It also may put you out of business.

The nationals have better cost structures than independants. There is no “winning” on price with them. Unless you have a definable cost advantage, you can not put out a quality product with good service for less than they do and still have the $$ you need for marketing, equipment repair and replacement, and a decent wage for yourself.

If you told me that you were 50 cents less on a pie and had a great lease, that might make sense. But being $2-3 dollars less than a national that competes on price is a death strategy. In the end you will be better off charging $2 more and spended every penny of that $2 telling your market about yourself and what makes you different. (Marketing). You will still make the same bottom line on each pie, but you will sell a LOT more of them.

If anyone is looking to make a quick flyer for a summertime special or promotion we have a POSitive Promotions flyer creator on our website where you can add your description, prices and logo.

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I’ve read that generally summer time is down time for pizza sales. From what I understand the big chains spend substantially less during this time. Obviously you do not want to stop advertising but maybe you are more selective in the media you choose? Another way to look at it is this is the time to step up the advertising since there is less competition for people’s attention right now.

I would never advice taking on the big chains with pricing but you can create “excuses” for price breaks.

i.e. We are training new crew members this week and will need to unload a lot of pies that are being made for training, customer appreciation night, yearly anniversary, price roll back to when we first opened. Don’t over do it but it works for a one time promo.

Absolutely the best advice. We did flyers and are sales in July doubled