From the horse's mouth

What type/size ad do you run in the phone book? What does it cost you per year and is it worth it?

David Yekell – We do not buy anything other than a line listing. We feel that the cost of an ad is far greater than the results you will receive from the ad. We can take the same amount that it would cost for an ad and invest it in direct mail postcards or by giving away free pizzas to prospective business customers. We may be wrong, but you have to channel your marketing dollars towards effective, measurable marketing efforts and we feel that the Yellow Pages is neither.

Scott Thomas – I have two stores that are covered by two different Yellow Page books. I pay about $200 per month per store. I also am in the Yellow Book, which covers both stores and costs $185 per month. The ad size for all is a quarter page. The Yellow Book also has a section in which I put my menu. I feel that for my demographics these ads are a waste of money. I feel the reason they have no impact on my business is that no one ever moves into my area. If I were in an area with a lot of people moving in, then I feel the ads would have some value.

Ernie Fontenot – We run a quarter ad in our local phone directory. The cost is $250.00 per month; the return isn't that great and we attribute this to the larger chains running in both directories with full- size pages. Perhaps if next year we are doing better we will consider a larger ad. Our advertising budget is around $15,000 a year and this gives us limited options on where and when we may use these funds.

Roscoe Izen – It is always a dilemma deciding on advertising dollars in relation to ROI. The phone book is a yearlong commitment. I kept mine to a minimum. I thought of enlarging with color. I think color is the most advantageous and eye appealing component. One must make a statement if taking a two-inch or larger ad. If it is more of the same, I believe it will not pay dividends in the end. I would recommend pizza operators enlist the aid of an advertising graphic artist. In fact, that is what I did when I designed a postcard: I hired the graphic artist who does layout for the coupon book I advertise in and she gave me some phenomenal ideas and suggestions.

School is starting back up. Do you do any marketing towards kids this time of year and if so, what?

David Yekell – We enjoy working with the schools. We help schools raise money by holding friends and family nights in which the schools get a percentage of the revenue that their students and their parents spend on a particular evening. We also sell at cost to our schools’ athletic teams so that they can resell them at the concession stands. In the past we made up wooden nickels that were good for a slice and soda and these were distributed by the elementary schools to students for A's.

Scott Thomas – I have no plans to do anything when the school year starts. If I were in a college town, I would work to attract these new customers.

Ernie Fontenot – We do not run promotion for schools only because we are new to the concept and because this is our fifth month and the expense of opening and paying local government for licenses, etc., has put us at a disadvantage.

Roscoe Izen – I have a commitment from our local schools to run two or three "Pizza Nights" each month. The Parent-Teacher Association receives 15 percent of the gross for the night. Also, I give the elementary schools "Good Reader," "Good Citizen," etc. certificates for a free personal pizza. I try to connect with as many coaches as possible at the beginning of the year to set up fundraisers.

What is your slowest month for business and what is your best month? What do you attribute these fluctuations to?

David Yekell – Our worst months are the beginning and middle of the year—January and June. This is when the schools are on holiday and when school is out of session for the year. Our best month is May, which is the month when we get a lot of end-of-school parties.

Scott Thomas – My busiest months are December-March, while the slowest are June and September. I feel, with June and September, the sales drop because people are in transition (start of summer, end of summer). The busiest months are a little different. December and January have a number of reasons: holiday parties, football (actually limited impact unless the Steelers are doing well), weather (come on snow and ice). February and March are a little different. I’m still blessed with some inclement weather in February, but the biggest reason is that these are the months when people are getting back tax refunds. In my area over half of the population is on welfare, so there are lots who get the earned income tax refund.

Ernie Fontenot – It seems that July is the slowest month: this is attributed to vacations and school being out. The busiest month is September: kids coming back from vacation and the coupon booklets that are now being used (offering two for one dine-in), has us scrambling for additional crew members. In addition, we are learning to pull customer information out of our computer and sending each one a personal invitation to join us at our restaurant, along with a free cheese stick coupon.

Roscoe Izen – My best months are December and March, while my worst months are April and July.