Recession-proof your business

by Halisi

getting customers

Everyday is another opportunity to get a guest's loyalty

I am constantly getting ideas on how to get more customers, improve sales, and or generate stickiness in the mind of consumers.  Sometimes, I’m not in a position to write down those ideas.  Such was the case this morning.  I was in church and the pastor was preaching on sowing and reaping.  Now, for any of you who have gone or currently go to church, I’m sure that you’ve heard a sermon or two on the topic.  However, there is one thing that he said today that sent my mind on a different track.  He said, the natural order of things is, “what comes around, goes around”.  Which is just another way of saying you reap what you sow.   I truly believe that this is a universal truth.  With that in mind, think about your business and how you think about your customers. Whether you believe this is a universal truth or not is of no consequence.  If you want to recession-proof your business you need to behave as if you believe it to be true.

RESTAURANT COUPONS

Joel, over at RestaurantMarketingblog.com, wrote an interesting piece on couponing. I have a love/hate relationship with coupons, I believe that they are a necessary evil, but I also believe that you should be very strategic on how you dole them out.  I was the marketing manager in charge of print offers at a major quick service restaurant chain.  My experience has been, and Joel reiterates this in his writings, that people become addicted to coupons; and with this recession it has become worse.  The coupon addiction is a vicious cycle of sowing and reaping.  It is also an expensive customer acquisition model.  Not only are you paying to get their attention, you are also paying for them to come into your establishment.   Most restaurants owned and operated by the same person cannot afford such an expense.  I believe discounting should be offered for loyalty.  Which is in direct contrast to how most businesses operate.  Think of your cell phone or cable provider.  The good deals are always for the new customers.  The loyal customers get absolutely NOTHING for their loyalty.  So if you’re like me, you change carriers every contract period.  Ye’ old reaping and sowing.

EASY LOYALTY PROGRAM

 

On the other hand, if you give your loyal customers a discount every now and then as a “Thank-you” for their loyalty, this is GOOD sowing.  The natural order of things says that there are good and bad consequences for your actions.  Loyalty (a good thing) should invoke a good consequence (a discount).  Perhaps 2x a year you offer your loyal customers a discount: 1.  On the anniversary of joining your loyalty program and 2. on their birthday.

Which leads me to my next point.  If the president, queen of England, or your favorite actor walked into your restaurant or place of business would they get treated differently than your average guest? “No”, you say?  You can lie to me, but don’t lie to yourself.  OF COURSE they would get different service.  (secret service and entourages not withstanding)  Think of ways in which you can treat ALL OF YOUR GUESTS as if they were a celebrity.  You should be able to do so with little to no additional costs accept for perhaps extra training for your staff.  (A New Dawn Media & Marketing can come in and train your servers on how to treat their station as if it is their own business. )  You need to make sure that when your guests look at the amount of expendable cash they have every week/month that your establishment is at the top of their list.

If you find creative ways to make each and everyone of your guests fill as if they are the president or queen of England not only will you recession-proof your business but you will far surpass the competition who neglected to sow during a time of drought.

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