Most businesses don’t consider empty tables as marketing strategy mistakes. But with good tracking of your peak hours, a marketing plan can be developed to take advantage of the slow times. For some businesses this lack of marketing strategy can leave them in dust when the unexpected happens.
I used to manage the Stadium View Club Restaurant in Omaha, NE atop Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the College World Series. We had a pretty good business on game nights, and with the game schedule known in advance it was pretty easy to schedule the work.
The only problem that cropped up did so when it rained. Hard driving rain early in the day meant a called off game and likely a double-header the next night. No patrons – No money. And without tips, higher server turnover. If the rain started late in the game, we’d get hundreds of people from the stands coming up to wait out the rain in the restaurant. When that happened we were suddenly under-staffed, out manned and sometimes without enough food. Rain was a problem. Patrons got angry and again, small tips for the waiters.
Bowling alleys do not fear the rain. For the most part rain doesn’t change the numbers. But rodeos, football games and school events do. When something big is happening in town on a Friday night, bowling alleys are libraries. Office clean-up, shoe shining and carpet cleaning are the only things that get done. Since Friday night is the money maker, empty lanes kill profitability.
And we all know about road widening. There’s a coffee shop in my town that’s about to go out of business because the road widening project has taken a lot longer than expected and has made it frustratingly hard to get in and out of the coffee shop. When you rely on drive-by traffic as your marketing strategy, road widening is a death-knell.
The Cure to Marketing Strategy Mistakes
But rodeos, road widening and rain don’t have to be business killers. We’ve said it many times before “hope is not a marketing plan”. In all three of those examples, the only traffic that comes in is the kind you hope for. And in some cases the traffic pattern becomes so regular that you even stop hoping. You just drone on.
Instead of relying on hope, implement some of the many strategies we talk about here. Collect names and e-mail addresses so you can keep in contact with your customers. Give them reasons to come in. Have contests, specials and promotions on slow nights so you no longer have to settle for low profitability.
With e-mail address bowling alleys can reach customers when they hear school has been called off due to snow. With text messaging, coffee shops can send out special discounts on the days that construction has made it the hardest. And the stadium restaurant should clearly e-mail their clientele to let them know that parking for the restaurant will be really easy since the game was called due to rain.
Your business can be run better if you currently rely on hope. And you don’t have to spend money on marketing to get new customers. Start by thanking and giving to your existing customers. Give them a reason to be happy you’re there for them. Whether it’s entertainment, information or products – you can always be helping to improve the lives of your customers.
Hope is not a marketing plan.
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