When a gain is also a loss

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10/07/2008

This is an update from looking in from the outside, being a paying customer. Our little Mexican place has turned to a lunch time boofay to compete with the much nicer fresh-mex place (just 3 doors up on our corner).  We went today to our local for lunch.  Two things have happened: 1) the service is non existent, 2) the trash has been let in.

Kids 10 and under are just $2.99 (which is less than a happy meal, so a pretty good price I think! An incentive to bring families in to dine)

Buffets attract a different clientele, and as the big family stood at the counter arguing with the waiter that their 4 year old should be free (yeah you know the old kids aren't human and don't exist thing, although the mess they leave sure is!) They got nasty and in their trailer-trash way made a big stink loud enough for the waiter to give in to the free kiddie lunch.  We never had this there before, it was always a pleasant experience.

I am sad. I was hoping this wouldn't happen. It did.

The quality had to go downhill as the kitchen is busting to get the buffet food out in large amounts.

Why am I sharing? This is a parallel for B&B's. When we cheapen what we have to survive we may be gaining new customers, but are we driving away real B&B customers? Perhaps. I think this move on our Mex Rest part was last ditch effort to stay alive, we have been going there for 8 years, the same good people have operated it. Now I don't want to go back.

Consider the GenY/X move on behalf of BWTS, do we agree that making something a bargain will draw the GenY/X guests? Not necessarily. Should this move on the mexican restaurant bring in more families? Yes. More affordable = more families. More younger families. Will this increase their bottom line? Will all of this be worth it?

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Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

Here is something that is relative to the question

 

www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-groupon-to-replace-10-of-sales-staff-20111027,0,6957979.story

 

 

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

First off- sorry about your fav restaurant becoming a place you don't want to go for lunch any longer. Secondly- I hate people who harass the staff into giving them free stuff. They are ugly, mean-spirited people who, because their lives are so out of control, feel they need to make life miserable for everyone. Just pay the $2.99 and eat twice as much yourself if it's such a big deal to you.

On to the point- I don't see BWTS as a bargain deal although they started it off with free gas. Over the long haul I hope to see it become something different that is used to point out the inherent benefits of staying at a B&B over the 'hey we'll give you this if you try us out' logic.

Good point on how well can we fare by trying to do too much. Did the Mex place have to do a boofay? Could they have done something else? That's their business model but did they look closely enough at what clientele they wanted vs what they got? If they wanted the lunch crowd would a weekday special have worked better? A frequent diner card? A 'bring a friend' deal? Something besides this which doesn't seem to be drawing the best crowd.

If I lowered my prices to the point that guests would say, 'How can we not stay there at those prices?' would I then make it so I couldn't stand having 90% occ because I'm not making enough money to cover rhe headaches and who is the $99/night guest anyway? Do I want that guest? (On the flip side, I do know that I don't want the $250+/night guest, either.)

We need to look at Happy Innkeeper's model of how they kept track of everything and determined what to do next for ideas on how to make this work for us. Although they are a true destination location and we really aren't, there are some good points to go over on that list.

Next year we delegate the crap I hate doing to someone who can actually do it. Not someone I have to help everyday. Then I have to decide what it is that I can do best and do it. Because I spend most of my time doing chores, there is little time to do anything else so I haven't done anything else.

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Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

I have not been paying attention to the BWTS campaign. Has it been going well? I wouldn't be very supportive of the give away to get model. I thought it was going to based on what a great value a bnb stay was. 

Regarding our "model" It is fair to say that much of my post was compiled with the great benefit of hindsight. One thing that is true is that we do regularly assess where we are headed, if it's different from where we thought we were going, and should we embrace our new course.

I love the "delegrate the crap" line. We find we do have to keep an eye out for job creep. It's an ongoing effort.

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10/07/2008

The reason I mentioned BWTS is it offered a discount program out of the gate to grab the attention of the younger generation that we are all apparently missing. Smiling It is also now the platform for the BnB4Vets promotion. There are other programs and discounts out there, BandB.com has one that they email out to subscribers.  I am using these examples as examples only, you may do the BOGO on Iloveinns, or STASHTEAH or Living Social. Whatever it may be, have we cheapened it? Is it costing us?

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

Sorry about that. More to the point- Our laws of marketing are that you can not give something away. You must be getting something in return that is of greater value. There is no sense giving away a free night to someone you will never see again and has only a limited interest in telling others about it, unless there is some other benefit or you just want to because it feels like the right thing to do. I love the BNB4vets promotion, but the inevitable happened. The person who stayed last year told someone about staying for free and that person called to see if they could have a free room this year. Nothing wrong with that. That's what the promotion does. You give up the revenue just to honor our vets service or on the idea that your goodwill will be noticed and provide you some publicity, which will lead someone who is not interested in a free night to give you more consideration in their decision making process.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

We are doing it (the vets program) because we think it's a 'good thing'. Last year it brought a lot of publicity to us in particular (TV spot, radio spot, lots of print media). This year no media whatsoever. We have pushed what we are doing where it fits in with other publicity but it hasn't been picked up.

So, we're doing it because we want to. We never expected any kind of publicity last year.

We don't do any other discounting for military and if anyone pushes us on it I let them know that a disabled vet owns the business and he has given quite a lot already thank you very much. If they would rather change places with him, live in pain everyday, and have a different business model, they are welcome to buy a business and run it the way they want. (Some people get a little too pushy for me.)

The benefit is doing something DH enjoys doing. One day/year we are just enjoying the guests. No pressure. No show. They are, in every sense, guests in our home.

In line with what you are saying, we have cancelled our discount program for frequent guests. We were told by many guests that this was the only place they ever got a discount and they would come anyway. Why give away the money in that case? Any guest who was already enrolled is still in but there aren't any new enrollees.

Happy Keeper's picture
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10/24/2011

I recently got a little slap on the wrist myself regarding discounts and discounting. We have been working to increase our "locally sourced" brand and that involves finding local products that we can use and stock for sale. One helps ofset the cost of the other. We ordered a couple of cases of jam and explained that we would like the benefit of a wholesale price if possible, so that we can keep the price as close to the farmers market price as possible. (For our guests benefit- I am not big fan of paying outrageous prices for something I know costs less somewhere else)

The answer was- Farmers and small producers have a tough enough time trying to make a living. Mark the product up and make the customer pay the extra instead of cutting into the producers margin. What could I say? We paid more for the product and we'll try selling them for more.

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10/07/2008

I was given a really nice card for a local family farm who wants to sell us eggs.  I was very happy and ready to support and pay double what I pay now for farm fresh local eggs, the whole locavore theme.  They said You can pick them up Saturday mornings between 8 and 10 am. (It is about a 20 minute drive).  

Now mind you, we have our farmer's market 2 blocks from us, walk to the corner and turn left.  They said "Sorry we won't be selling them there, you have to come here to buy them."

You know the rest of the story, no way on earth could i go and get them while I am cooking and serving breakfast. I did explain this to them. They said they could hold them til 11am (and this is the only day they open up to sell to the public). Still no way in the world could I get in my car and expend fuel and drive over to get these eggs. DOH!

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

We used to have eggs delivered. It was really nice and I may start that up again next year. The eggs arre so much better, as you know.

Arks's picture
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05/22/2010

Madeleine wrote:

We used to have eggs delivered. It was really nice and I may start that up again next year. The eggs arre so much better, as you know.

Yes, fresh egg yolks are dark and flavorful and stand so proud in the skillet, and old eggs are pale and tasteless and lay so low. It's worth the trouble to get the fresh ones, and you can advertise that fact.

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Joey Camb's picture
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04/02/2010

our egg people and we have a few deliver in a van much more organised.

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gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

I have a jam/jelly producer nearby - close enough I can go get it. They have always given me wholesale price and I sell it for 50 cents more than their suggested retail - I paid for the gas to go get it.

Re the guests can get it for less somewhere else: My aunt could buy something at Weibolt's for less than she would pay at Marshall Field's - but she would buy it at Field's because she wanted people to know SHE shopped at Field's. In your case, they are paying for the CONVENIENCE of buying it there. Unless you tell them, they will probably have no clue where they could have purchased it or for how much. Stop feeling guilty. If they want it, they will pay whatever and not even think about it.

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

I think offering specials that are really specials is ok. Having an ongoing special is useless. One company that I generally like to shop with, JCP, started about 10 years ago having a sale every other week. I stopped shopping there on the full price weeks. Prior to that every other week sale flyer, I just bought what I wanted when I wanted it.

Because I hate driving to the store and elbowing my way through the throngs at the mall, I now wait for the email that tells me I can get free shipping.  But, it works out to be the same thing. They trained me to wait for the free shipping.

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