A new marketing tool released toward the end of 2009 aims to help quick serves battle slow sales days that result from weather, seasonal changes, holidays and events, or even day of the week.
Bluesky Local, a self-proclaimed “slow sales response” solution for restaurants, released an automated Web tool that gathers information on factors that affect a restaurant’s sales and responds to those conditions with promotional offers for customers. Promotions are sent via e-mail, text messages, and Twitter to customer databases collected at participating restaurants.
“Because of fluctuations in sales from weather, time of day, and other factors, quick-service restaurants are really ideal because the purchase mentality behind them can be … impulsive,” says Matt Ackerson, CEO and cofounder of Bluesky Local.
“These factors, whether it’s raining or snowing … they tend to have a pretty significant impact on the motivation of whether or not someone is actually going to make a purchase.”
According to data collected by Bluesky Local from more than 130 participating restaurants, factors such as inclement weather decrease sales by as much as 20 percent and lose a restaurant as much as $30,000 annually.
Ackerson says that the system, which now includes more than 140 restaurants, has witnessed 70–100 redemptions per day at some participating locations. He says one participating Subway location’s total sales increased by 20 percent on previously slow sales days.
“Many customers are coming in to [restaurants’] slower time period and they’re actually spending 20–40 percent more” because of the offer, Ackerson says.
Participating restaurants pay a flat, monthly fee for Bluesky Local, and can choose between three packages that vary in number of customers to send promotions to.
“If they don’t have a customer database or customer list already collected, we work with them to help them to build distribution and do it in a very systematic fashion,” Ackerson says. “If they have a customer list, we upload that to our database and link it up with their business.”
Restaurants then choose which slow sales conditions they wish to counteract, and Bluesky Local automatically responds to those conditions with the promotional offers. Available offers include “save 20 percent on your next visit” and “buy two get one free,” among others.
Ackerson says that Bluesky Local is working with several restaurants in Ithaca, New York, and Long Island, New York, to implement the service. The company plans on expanding in the future, which might include integrating more with point of sale systems, he says.
By Sam Oches