When the big chain giants come stomping into your neighborhood, you need to be ready to fight back. No one thought David had a chance using a slingshot against the towering Goliath, but a couple of well-aimed stones lay the behemoth low and saved Israel from a menacing invasion. David could have gone up against Goliath with a sword—that would have been the more predictable choice—but instead the enterprising youth chose a weapon that was, to say the least, unorthodox. And it worked like a charm. Goliath never saw it coming! You can do the same when the national chain pizzerias try to invade your territory. Here are some more suggestions for arming your slingshot:
Menu Merchandising. A well-designed menu drives profit and cash flow by guiding the guest to select those items that have the highest gross profit margin. A good menu entices your customers to buy the items you want to sell. Achieve added sales by strategically engineering your menu’s layout, design, graphics, format, item presentation and descriptions, with price points designed to stimulate selection of highly profitable items.
A smartly designed menu can stimulate sales of items that have the highest gross profit margin.
Dash Back for Cash. Distribute a bounce-back coupon good for 50% off if the customer returns within a very short period of time—say 24 hours. The bounce-back can be used to get customers to return at a generally slower time. This promotion also makes your guests feel special and valued.
In Training. This tactic always leaves a lasting impression on your customers. Place an “In Training” button on your best waitstaff employee. Customers will be so impressed by his outstanding performance as a supposed “trainee” that they can only imagine how good your more experienced employees must be! This helps you build a reputation for phenomenal service and will keep customers coming back for more.
The Answer Is Yes! The best customer service always starts with an enthusiastic “yes!” Provide your employees with a button to wear that reads, “The Answer Is Yes! What’s the Question?” This strategy reinforces your pizzeria’s reputation for customer satisfaction. You always want to say “yes” to your customer. In fact, anything other than an immediate “yes” translates as a “no” to guests. You never want them to feel that you are not willing to meet their needs.
Single Out Good Employees. You should recognize and reward your finest employees based on overall performance or improvement. (You may want to delegate these decisions to your manager.) Select honorees on predetermined criteria, such as punctuality, appearance, attitude, job performance, cooperation with others and willingness to go above and beyond to make your guests happy. If your staff needs improvement in certain areas, emphasize these factors in your criteria to encourage better performance. Find out what sort of rewards will motivate your employees and incorporate them into the program.
Selling in the Bathroom. You may not think about your bathroom as a revenue center, but it can be an effective place to get your customers’ attention. What else have they got to do when they’re in there? Give them something to read! Display promotional posters in both men’s and ladies’ rooms to market upcoming special events, current specials, and signature menu and bar items. If, for instance, your goal is to boost beverage and alcohol sales, feature items with high profit margins, such as specialty cocktails and bottles of wine. Use this space to communicate happy hour value or to remind bar customers that you’ve also got a great selection of coffee drinks to perk them up before they head home. Whatever you do, be sure to keep these materials up-to-date and hire a talented designer to make sure they catch the customer’s eye. Finally, here’s another off-the-wall idea: Create “toilet paper certificates” with special offers and discounts—such as “15% Off Your Next Large Pizza”—printed right on the bathroom tissue. Customers will never forget it, and they’ll tell their friends, too!
By asking for customers’ cell phone numbers to be stored in your POS database, you can then send exclusive special offers and mobile coupons straight to their phones.
Scratch-Off Mailers. This idea has been around for decades, but it never gets old. Create a flier with mystery gift certificates hidden under a scratch-off box. Make sure the flier explains what the prizes are, and make sure they’re of sufficient value to get people to come in. Mail the fliers to your entire database or do a selective mailing by neighborhood. You can also send out some employees to distribute the fliers in your trade area. Customers can scratch off the boxes and bring the flier to your pizzeria to redeem their prizes.
Positive Picketing. Designed to build awareness for your business in a can’t-miss, high-profile way, this promotion can be executed right outside your pizzeria’s doors. Pay off-shift employees or high-energy, friendly, neatly dressed people to stand in front of your pizzeria with picket signs that promote your restaurant in a positive way. Come up with brief, fun and humorous slogans or phrases—five or so words at the most—for the signs, then let your crew parade up and down in front of the pizzeria, holding up the signs as traffic goes by. Choose a day of the week when traffic will be heavy to get the most exposure. Keep the signs tasteful!
Mobile Coupons. Have your employees request guests’ cell phone numbers and store them in your POS database. Tell the customers that you’ll be sending exclusive special offers straight to their phones. Create mobile coupons and text them to your database. With mobile coupons, you can create a promotional campaign, broadcast it and initiate an immediate boost in customer traffic—all in a single day. Promote your text message plan in your direct mail pieces and table tents, on your website and social media, and in print ads and radio spots. (Make it clear that you will never share your guests’ phone numbers with anyone else.)
Have a Ball! Order a large number of specially customized rubber balls and give them out to your customers. Include your pizzeria’s logo, website and phone number, along with the slogan “Bounce back soon!” This is a quirky and inventive way to capture guests’ attention and earn top-of-mind position. Kids will love the balls, too—many will remember your pizzeria as the place that gives away free bouncy balls, and they will want to go back for another one!