How often have you been attracted to a hot promotion only to discover the product is out of stock? This is one of the fastest ways to weaken customer loyalty and completely defeats the purpose of attracting new customers.
Boston Market has been running a family dinner promotion. The price point is $19.95. While I was not stopping for that special, I noticed a steady stream of customers ordering that special. And while I was there – they ran out. The manager was apologizing and letting people know another location nearby was still in stock. She also said the other location had a line of customers and only four dinners left. That was not a good suggestion.
A friendly crowd soon became quite irritable. Goodwill and the credibility of any future promotion was compromised. Now this was not the only issue in that location when I was there. The wait time was quite long. Boston Market is a fast food restaurant. The food is already prepared and simply needs to be served or packed for take out. The people working there moved as if the store was empty. It’s not their fault. The pay is low, the labor pool of people who will work for low pay is small and so you get what you pay for. This is systemic problem in the service industry and will not be solved until management recognizes the huge
opportunity for increased profits that will be realized when they have people working who will give customers customer service. This is not just about the pay scale, it is about having the right number of people available to provide customer service.
Now back to the advertising and more specifically the advertising process. Most retail companies have an advertising calendar because time is required to finalize a campaign including any print or electronic media that will be used. For a business the size of Boston Market, this is not small task nor is it cheap. So now all this work goes into a advertising campaign and what happens. first there is no customer contact information required on any of the coupons. Nobody asks you to fill out a satisfaction survey. So all these people come into your business to spend money and you have no idea who they are and no system in place to invite them back. Next you proceed to run out of product that you are promoting. In defense of Boston Market there are only so many whole chickens you can roast at one time and if customer traffic blips I can see where running out of product can happen. Every effort should be made to minimize out of stocks and when they do happen, have a substitute product lined up and a generous bounce back coupon – FREE would be good. Yes I am suggesting that if you are promoting a $19.95 family dinner and if you run out, give them a bounce back coupon for $19.95. It will cost the restaurant less than $8.00 and you will probably win a customer for life.
Steve Pohlit is a business consultant helping companies achieve extraordinary increases in revenue and profits. "How To Increase Profits by 30% or More In 90 Days or Less" is a free course found at www.stevepohlit.com "Blogging for Profits" is another free mini series Steve has developed and is offered at his blog www.stevereports.com Steve’s newest service, www.successtips.com offers others to contribute articles and advice as well as promote their business. CEOs of companies with revenue exceeding $10 million annually are invited to contact Steve for a complimentary consultation.