Business and Operations
Clone your best customers: The Pizza Chef
I’m often asked for advice on how to get more new customers. The truth is, it’s difficult, especially these days. There are many media today that weren’t available a decade ago. And there are many that were available then and still are now.
With print, radio, TV, and new social media popping up everywhere, where does one begin? In this column I’ll focus on print media.
They say that a potential new customer needs to see your ad, menu or flyer seven to 10 times before they even consider doing business with your establishment. That’s a lot of mail. Printed catalogue-type coupon booklets are cost effective; however, you’re bunched in with several other businesses, which may or may not be helpful. Most publications will have a non-compete clause, meaning, you are guaranteed to be the only “pizza place” advertising in that space, for that issue. Potential customers looking at these printed publications are scoping for deals, and your concept may not fit the mould for the big discounts this medium promises its readers.
Let’s say you do offer a deep discount: there’s the old adage that if you devalue your goods to gain a new customer then you haven’t actually gained anything. You have only devalued your product. Knowing those odds, perhaps it’s best not to focus on new customers as much as on your existing customers.
Customer retention is a great marketing strategy, especially when many businesses take it for granted that just because you patronized it once you will do so again and again. Think of all the businesses that you visit regularly and ask yourself what have they done to let you know they appreciate it? A lot of places are guilty of assuming you know that you are valuable to them, but a business that takes the time to show it will definitely stand apart from the crowd. There are several ways to let your customers know that their business is important to you and “Red ticket, green ticket” is one of my favourite promotions.
This promotion is a direct-mail strategy that rewards your best customers and gives them a gift for their friend. Here’s how it works: buy two rolls of admission tickets – also known as beer tickets, or carnival tickets, one red and one green. Pull a report from your POS of your top 100 customers. Take that list and mail them a red ticket and a green ticket along with a letter explaining that you’d like to thank them for their business and give them a free large two-topping pizza when they redeem their red ticket. In the letter, be honest: tell them it’s tough to stand out in this busy world and crowded marketplace, and ask them if they’ll help grow your business by word of mouth advertising. To me, this is the sincerest form of advertising, it’s heart centred. In the letter, tell them to give the green ticket to one of their friends who has never been to your pizzeria and you’ll give their friend a free medium two-topping pizza.
Red ticket, green ticket is a win-win. Your best customers will be grateful that you thought enough to mail them a gift and they’ll also feel super when they give their friend a free medium pizza – all because they already do business with you. This strategy rewards your best customers and enlists their help to grow your business and look like a superstar while they do it! You’ve no doubt heard the saying “birds of a feather flock together”? This strategy introduces you in a most positive way to another potential great customer. Remember to include a menu with the letter for their friend.
This promotion has a lot going for it: it’s a direct-mail promotion that isn’t for everyone in the neighbourhood but only your best customers. This strategy rewards your best customers and gives them something positive to talk about when they mention your pizzeria to their friends, co-workers and families. When you focus your efforts on your best customers, you won’t be able to stop the great word of mouth advertising created.
Diana Cline is an award-winning pizza chef, a partner with Diana’s Cucina & Lounge in Winnipeg. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating operational systems and marketing to help operators grow their business strategically. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.