I really dislike crappy restaurant promos. A lot of the restaurant.com coupons are just promos for restaurants. The restaurants usually don’t get any of the money you pay for the coupon. Restaurant.com gets that little sum. And the restaurants eat what they lose in the hopes they’ll gain a new customer (who won’t use restaurant.com coupons for every visit). That’s why you have coupons like La Fiesta‘s for $50 on sale for $25. With the caveat that you have to buy $100 of food. La Fiesta isn’t getting the $25 you’re paying on restaurant.com. So their way of recouping some amount of money is to force you to buy $100 of food in the small print so they’ll at least get $50 in sales. However, from a consumer point of view, you’re paying $25, and then another $50, so you’re basically paying to get 25% off of your total bill.
I recently got a rather confusing coupon/promo from a local restaurant. It’s a good learning experience for other restaurants.
This promo came with a long-winded letter that was basically a “Happy Birthday, we are sending you something”. It’s a nice gesture, but there were a few things that made it flop:
1) It was sent generically to “customer”. If you’re going to bother to send something out to someone for their birthday and you have their name and address, do a mail merge from Excel to Word to make their name pop up. Customers appreciate these little touches. (If you need help, email me. I’m an excel nerd)
2) Make sure you send it in the right month. If you just send them out randomly, make sure they’re good for an entire year.
I received this coupon in the middle of a month that was not my birthday. The coupon was redeemable only for a person with their birthday in that month, on their birthday, and expired 10 days after I received it. Which basically meant I couldn’t use it. All this does is make me think you randomly picked my name out of a hat and don’t pay very much attention to details like… numbers. Plus, if the birthday was at the beginning of the month, by the time it reached the customer, it was already expired for use.
3) KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid! (Sorry, I know you’re not stupid) Customer’s don’t need a longwinded letter wishing them a convoluted “Happy Birthday”. Really. All you have to type is the equivalent of “We LOVE YOU/ YOU ARE AWESOME! Happy Birthday, here’s something on us!”. The more you write, the higher the potential for confusion gets.
4) If you’re going to send a coupon, make it a good one. Especially for customers you see fairly regularly. Or even sporadically, but recognize. It makes them feel valued. A coupon that gives you one free dessert or app with a requirement of three entree purchases isn’t much of an incentive. What it comes off as is: “I would like you to spend a lot of money here in the hopes that a small free thing will make it worth your while,”.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good aim of owning a restaurant. Give the customer some little low-margin items that make them feel valued, at little cost to yourself. But don’t nickel and dime your customers. One of my fave local restaurants will give me a little snackytizer when I sit down. It’s a little gesture that makes me feel welcomed, but not so much that it would make me uncomfortable. It’s like when you go to a bar with popcorn – you think “Ohh, snacky! Now let me get some drinks.”
Wolff’s and Bombers
Does this make sense?
Look, this is just one customer’s perspective, take it as what you will. I’m sure there are customers that are totally willing to scam anything free. I’m more of a customer that’s like “Hmm, they’re giving me something for free. That’s nice. I like that. They are nice. I want to buy something to support these nice people.” Maybe it’s guilt. I like to think that it’s seeing genuinely positive attitudes of businesses in the area.