First of all...I've discovered that their menu isn't online. That frustrates me...but that's another post.
Second of all, I've discovered that they have an online coupon, and it's a pretty good one. The coupon is for $5 off of a dinner purchase of $25. That's 20%! NICE! I'm glad I don't own the place.
Why? Well, the service that posts this coupon is well known to me, and I'm not a fan (from the restaurant ownership point of view). There's a few reasons why:
- There's no limit on how many times I can print this coupon. I can only use one coupon per visit, but if I visit for the next seven days then I can print out seven coupons.
- I've seen the front door of the restaurant before. It has a sign saying that they offer coupons online, and they give the website address. Yes, that's right, on the door. (Let's just return to the car before going in so we can look up that coupon.)
- The coupon is too costly. It is for $5 off of a $25 purchase. If it were for "buy one, get one free entrees", the coupon would likely be just as effective, and less costly. (Food cost on a $10 entree is probably about $2.00-$2.50 for Mexican food depending on the dish, so instead of giving away $5 they'd be giving away $2.50.)
- The coupon website the restaurant is using requires that the restaurant have a coupon available at all times during the contract period (most likely 12 months). Habits form in 30-45 days, so the customers are going to get used to coupons, and only go when they have a coupon. Luckly for them; they can just print another. Not a good thing! Ask J.C. Penney about that.
So what could the restaurant do differently? Here are some ideas!
- Run a coupon in a local paper and have an expiration date on it. How many newspapers do you buy each day?
- Hang coupons with expiration dates on doors in the local neighborhood, or do a mailing to the local zip code.
- Take coupons with expiration dates to local businesses.
- Take treats and samples to local businesses, and hand out mini menus. (You don't always have to give away coupons; give away free samples instead.)
- Don't put "We have coupons" on your front door. The guest is already there! You don't want them to touch that smart phone.
- Do the math. See what it really costs to give away an appetizer, or a dessert, or an entree. Don't give away a monetary value; steer them to a specialty or to whatever menu item you feel highlights your restaurant best.
- Don't sign a contract that forces you to do anything when it comes to coupons. Issue coupons when you need to, and don't issue them when you don't.
- Give a discount on gift cards. People don't buy gift cards for places they don't like. Sell gift cards for a couple bucks less than their face value. Your customers that like you will buy them and "refer" others via gift cards.
So, "thank you" to the restaurant that inspired me to write this. My wife has arrived home from work and we're leaving soon. I'm looking forward to trying out my $5 off of $25 coupon. In the meantime, hopefully you'll read this post!