making dough with Diane: June 2009

Beat the recession with 14 easy tips
Diane Chiasson
May 22, 2009
By
The poor economy and recession is all anyone is talking about these days, and everyone seems to be struggling to keep his or her business afloat. During difficult times, businesses should not be decreasing their advertising and marketing budgets, but increasing them!
The poor economy and recession is all anyone is talking about these days, and everyone seems to be struggling to keep his or her business afloat. During difficult times, businesses should not be decreasing their advertising and marketing budgets, but increasing them!

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 Create a marketing plan and include a monthly calendar of activities with upcoming events such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.

 
Now is your golden opportunity to get ahead of your fellow competitors. They are all probably looking to cut back and save on costs right now, which means you can push yourself to the front of the line and your customer’s mind.

I have compiled a list of easy and inexpensive ideas that you can apply to your pizza operation immediately to help you to increase both your sales and
your visibility.

Attack your database
Send information in an e-newsletter or a printed newsletter with photos of yourself and your staff. You can also send a thank-you card or a personalized, hand-signed customer appreciation letter to your best customers, or a postcard at least every 21 days to contacts in your database.

If you haven’t collected any names, start today. Leave a guest book or a fish bowl for dropping business cards next to your cash register, and encourage customers to leave their information. You can also collect e-mail addresses via your own website. Make sure you ask permission to add them to your mailing list.

Make plans and stick to them
Create a marketing plan and include a monthly calendar of activities with upcoming events such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. Include your monthly budget and deadline for these promotions, as well as who is responsible. Remember that having an ultimate plan is the key to any successful campaign.

Invite customers to come in
Send a postcard or an invitation to announce your special events and promotions such as a wine appreciation night, chef demo, or cooking classes. Create a buzz and excitement in your community while giving your customers something to look forward to. Involve your vendors in sharing your advertising and promotional expenses. They could provide you with co-op dollars to help defray the cost of mailings, food samples and giveaways.

Use your car to advertise
Have your restaurant name and logo professionally painted on the side of car. When you drive around town you will
be a moving billboard to advertise your establishment.

Call on everyone you know
Make personal phone calls to your friends, family, regular customers, and/or old business acquaintances to see how they are doing, and remind them of upcoming specials and promotions. Telephone calls are a great way to let your customers know that they are valued, and also serve as a great reminder of
your establishment.

Show your face around town
Build your business by networking and attending your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club or local association meetings to meet potential customers. Check online to see what conventions are coming to your area.

Barter with your suppliers
Exchange services with your suppliers. For example, barter some of your printing costs in exchange for a few free meals.

Get other businesses involved
Do cross-promotions and co-op advertising with non-competitive businesses. For example, work with your local movie theatre for a Dinner and a Movie promotion. You could also sponsor a sports team from the local high school or an adult league. Print in your name and logo on their team shirts.

Free press
Take advantage of your local paper by sending them press releases or brochures, or write an article to gain greater exposure. Invite a local radio or TV host in for a free meal, and hope that he or she will talk about your establishment on their show.

Motivate your staff
Train your staff on suggestive selling and upselling, from wine to dessert for two. Always reward your staff members by organizing special celebrations for them, and inviting your local community and regular customers as well. You should always recognize a job well done.

Give out free samples
Use food samplings to highlight new menu items and create excitement.

Attract local businesses
Get in touch with local businesses and offices in your area, and deliver mini-menus to local offices. You could also compile a list of fax numbers to send them your weekly menu specials.

Run a contest
Give your customers an opportunity to win a bottle of wine, a pizza, dessert for the entire table or a gift basket.

Add-on and to-go items
Find ways to create the opportunity to add or sell something extra to customers in the dining room, as well as for customers to take home, such as homemade specialty desserts, sauces, etc. Make sure you train your cashiers and servers to mention these items.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping food service, hospitality and retail operators increase salwes for over 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com .

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