Moe’s Southwest Grill announced that it is rolling out a local-store marketing pilot program in nine of its markets through a partnership with Street Fighter Marketing.

The program, which will be conducted throughout the rest of 2010 in markets that comprise a total of 27 Moe’s stores, is aimed at acquiring and retaining new guests, says Paul Damico, president of Moe’s.

“[Street Fighter’s] philosophy is, ‘We need to bring in new guests and convert them to regular guests,’” Damico says. “We’re not going to focus local-store marketing efforts on existing guests, because then all you’re doing is discounting a guest that was already going to come in to the store.”

Damico says much of what the 27 stores will do in the pilot program is offer deals to local businesses, which can pass them on to employees or guests and have “the benefit of bringing that new guest to Moe’s.”

“It’s a low cost of entry; we agree on very small programs with very small windows of opportunity, and we partner with every business, whether it be the dry cleaner, the butcher, or the shopping center,” Damico says.

“Maybe there’s 10 percent of them that are new customers. We typically get a beverage sale from that person, so it’s not a big loss leader for us. But we capture them as repeat customers, and that’s what the program is about.”

The goal for the program, Damico says, is to build comp sales at the participating stores by 10 percent in 2011 over 2010.

The markets participating in the Street Fighter pilot program are Tampa, Jacksonville, and Orlando, Florida; Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro, North Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Street Fighter Marketing—a Columbus, Ohio–based company founded by Marc and Jeff Slutsky that has worked with other quick-serve brands, including Pizza Hut and McDonald’s—has a number of local-store marketing programs that the Moe’s general managers can use, Damico says.

“Street Fighter has in their bag of tricks proven programs that they have developed and have worked with many companies over the years,” he says. “Every now and then a manager in a restaurant in a specific market will come out with this idea that they end up putting in their bag of tricks, and it’s a huge success and can be rolled out across the system.”

The Slutskys, Damicos says, are working closely with the participating Moe’s and following up regularly with the general managers to learn the successes of certain programs.

By Sam Oches

News, Moe's Southwest Grill