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Cost of a Placemat

restaurant-advertisingW.G. Barrett, Restaurant Consultant & Guest Blogger

Holidays represent a time of year where restaurants, as well as retail establishments, can realize a spike in sales. Each year as seasons come and go many companies must determine what extra money they will spend on specific holiday advertising. For many restaurant owners, there is a constant battle of how they can lower their operating costs all while keeping the tables full day after day. Restaurant Consultant, Gordon Barrett has spent his career in the restaurant industry. Below I share my experience of how one restaurant owner learned the true cost of ‘saving’ money the hard way

The Cost of ‘Saving’ Money – One Business Owner’s Story

While advertising for holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or even the Christmas season may cost you a little more, the reward may far out weight your investment. Be careful where you choose to cut your spending when it comes to advertising. Cutting advertising that costs a few extra dollars could wind up costing you much more in the long run.

Every year approaching the holidays, this client, let’s call him Joe, would order disposable placemats for his restaurant that advertised “Ask Your Server About Gift Cards” written in large print in the center of the mat. Joe knew he would gain about $7,000-10,000 in revenue from total gift card sales over the holiday season. The placemats with the gift card advertisements cost roughly an extra $14 a case, with 1,000 placemats in a case. Joe would typically order 6 cases for the holiday season.

This past year, Joe decided that he wanted to save on his holiday spending and cut back on ordering the placemats. He realized a savings in advertising on the placemats of $85 for the holiday season. Joe made this choice knowing he was a well-established restaurant with vast number of regular customers. He didn’t think it was necessary to spend $85 for advertising “Ask Your Server About Gift Cards” for the holidays. The result… without the gift card ad, he was shocked to learn that gift card sales dropped to nearly $2,500 in sales. Saving a little on advertising cost him thousands of dollars in lost gift card sales.

Now here is some additional food for thought. Not only did Joe lose out on gift card sales, but consider these additional scenarios: 1) some gift cards would never be redeemed providing him free income, 2) loss of gift cards to generate new customers that had never been to his restaurant and 3) loss of additional money spent by loyal customers buying more food than the gift card is worth.

While it is impossible to determine these questions without more input from his customers, Joe knows one thing, he lost out on thousands of dollars in revenue to save just $85. He has made me promise him to never let him skip out on the advertised placemats in future years.

Measure Your Marketing

  • Data Collection. Start with collecting data from your consumers. Create a simple survey or ask how customers heard about your business. This will help you to target the advertising which works best for you.
  • Small steps. Consider advertising through social media. This allows you to invest modest amounts of money to gain new targeted customers.
  • Follow up! Make sure that your customers are satisfied and ask for testimonials.

Remember that in business it takes money to make money. Cutting back on marketing is the first thing that comes to mind when owners think about reducing costs. There are many places to put your advertising dollars, but it’s important to track the results. Code coupons in different publications and monitor where those coupons come from. Invest in social media and watch your audience grow. Lastly, advertise in small ways, such as on placemats and table tents. Ask Joe…he’ll tell you about the $85 he has budgeted for placemat advertising for this year.

Want to learn more about how to increase profits, attend the Restaurant Reality Check Seminar on May 3rd.  Register here.


Blog by W.G. Barrett, Restaurant Consultant & Guest Blogger.

About the author:  Gordon Barrett is the owner of W.G. Barrett Consulting, specializing in restaurant consulting, rescue and rebranding.  With decades of experience, he helps restaurant owners understand the value of strong operational restaurant management, but also how to adapt to changes through web presence, social media and online marketing.   Using a Restaurant Reality Check approach, Gordon has helped dozens of restaurants improve their profitability.

The Pulse of Your Business

business-pulse As a business owner, it is important to know the pulse of your business. What does this mean? It is a solid understanding of why people buy from you, what your customers think, how you react to unsatisfied customers and your willingness to accommodate specific customer or client requests.

Whether you sell a product or service, successful business owners know the value of paying attention to the pulse of their company. Delivering on promises and following up with customers will help to ensure your business is meeting expectations, growing and maintaining a high rate of customer satisfaction.

Let’s start with the question of “how well do we deliver on what we promise?” This is the foundation of your company’s reputation in the community. This one simple question should be the cornerstone for everything the company delivers on – whether it is goods or professional services. While one or two unhappy customers may not hurt your business, it is important to address their concerns. With the power of social media, these unhappy customers have the ability to reach a much larger audience.

That’s why it’s necessary to address any negative comments publicly and to then offer to address the problem off line. By doing this, you have shown that resolving the issue is important. Likewise, when people give you positive reviews, always be sure to thank them. A satisfaction survey is a good tool to use to follow up with your customers and clients to ensure that their expectations are being fulfilled. Lastly, it never hurts to pick up the phone and ask your clients how things are going.

Willingness to adapt. You will find that situations often arise when it becomes quite clear that your customer or client is requesting something out of the ordinary. Can your company adapt and flex to meet the customer’s needs? Accommodating your customers will not only create a strong business relationship, but will also result turning them into loyal customers. Loyal customers become your cheerleaders who will tell others how your business has helped them.

Everyone is human and mistakes are made. But, if those mistakes occur regularly, it’s time to look at how your business is run. Here’s an example. Imagine that a customer orders delivery food from your restaurant, and when the food comes, part of the order is either missing or wrong. The customer now faced with the decision of calling the restaurant back and complaining or accepting what was wrong. The customer realizes that they didn’t get what they paid for. The positive experience of food delivery from the restaurant has just decreased. It is important to provide the product or service that was promised the first time. This prevents your customers from taking one of three courses of action: 1) addressing the mistake, 2) accepting the mistake or 3) telling others of the poor experience and choosing not to use your service again.

Customers have a choice where they spend their money. Keep a pulse on your business and know how customers perceive your service. If they aren’t willing to recommend you, it is important to find out why and fix the problem.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

From Yeah But… To Because: Becoming an Expert

becoming-an-expert, Edmiston-Group What draws people to you or your company? What sets you apart from other companies that offer similar goods or services? Being able to turn the, yeah I could do that but, to we are the best at what we do because, will make you not only a more positive person but a stronger business owner.

Knowing your BECAUSE is why people buy from you. If you don’t know why people come into your business, or purchase your product, it’s time to find out. That’s what makes you different than the business owner down the street.

Being a business owner in what we can refer to as my more seasoned years, I have learned that it is important to be able to move past the yeah but. Yeah but.. people won’t support my cause or yeah but.. it’s overwhelming to learn. The But’s stop you in your tracks and the fear or complacency of moving beyond the Yeah but…keeps your business stagnant. These are phrases that you have to replace with, I can do this because.

Whether you are a business owner, a manager, or an employee, you have more than likely been faced with having to learn a task or start something new and wanted to respond with the, yeah I would do it but…. The ‘yeah but’ is your resistance to change. It allows you to justify a reason as to why you cannot complete a task.

Over the course of the past ten years, my business has evolved. Like anyone else in business, if you don’t evolve, you just stay stuck. For me this task was digital marketing – social media, email marketing and websites. It seemed such an overwhelming task and I had no idea where to start. I didn’t know how to # a twitter feed, nor did I really understand what twitter really was, or how to follow a group on Facebook, nor how to put together a website site map. That was back in 2007, and let’s just say I have come a long way since then and even manage to show my own kids new features from time to time on these social media platforms and in the digital marketing arena. How you may ask? I turned the yeah but… into the because.

People didn’t turn to me to help manage their digital marketing programs when I was still floundering myself. They did however turn to me when I learned it, attended webinars, watched YouTube videos on how to increase followings and yes even took a few classes. People came to me for help BECAUSE I made myself a well-educated expert in this field as I knew that it would be part of my key to success.

Since my first webinar I have learned many more tricks of the trade that allow me to be a successful blogger and manager of social media. There have been many hours spent on training. I turned my yeah but, into my, because. People turn to me for help because I have become educated in my field. The Edmiston Group stays up on the social media trends and integrates digital marketing into an overall marketing strategy.

There will always be lessons to learn and people that are more talented than I am to learn them from. However, I am a lifelong learner and will always find new things to learn. You can bet a few years down the road the Edmiston Group will continue to evolve and find new technologies and services to offer our clients. After all….isn’t that how we bring fresh ideas to grow your business?

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

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“Autumn is always looking at ways to help people. Her tireless efforts are unmistakably effective. She knows how to get people connected and her willingness to go the extra mile to “bridge the gap” for success is remarkable.” January 21, 2010

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