Home – New Forums Marketing mastery Just opened takeaway store in clubbing district!

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  • #968259
    achristo
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    Hi All,

    My father recently just opened a takeaway shop in a nightclub district in Melbourne, so most of our business would ideally happen from 12-5am Thur-Sat nights, to mainly 18-30 year olds (mostly on the younger end).

    The area only has ONE other takeaway store that operates at that time, prior to opening the shop, we’ve seen literally hundreds of people on the streets after partying at clubs, all to file into the ONE takeaway store (for souvlakis and literally nothing else, 95% of people will buy souvalkis).

    We thought we could open one on the same strip and perhaps get some of that customer base too… Now the shop has been open for about 3 weeks and, over that period, business has been absolutely dismal. During “peak times” we get about 3-4 people the whole night, whilst the next door shop gets near hundreds… I think a big mistake was offering pretty much the same thing… (Although in other areas i.e. I’ve seen s 3 souvlaki takeaways all within a 30seconds walk from each other that are always busy with customers).

    And what’s worse is these customer’s loyalty goes so deep they walk past with souvlakis and mock us, holding them up with jest and some people walking past shouting they won’t eat here..

    SO, what can we do? To get customers in? Any help would be appreciated!

    (Also, one last thing, regarding the quality of food, not to be arrogant, but we’re pretty sure what we offer is very good, my father’s been running takeaway shops for over 12 years and people love coming back to our shops, we’ve just never opened one from scratch!)

    #1031965
    Anonymous
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    Hi there achristo,

    That sounds like such a demoralising situation. It’s smart of you guys to start thinking about action plans so quickly.

    I’m not the best person to help, but I bet someone around here will be… fingers crossed you’ll get some good ideas flowing on this post soon.

    All the best to you and your dad,
    Jayne

    #1031966
    CruzAccountant
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    Sorry to hear that. I guess you’ve answered your own question – try selling something different.

    Kebabs are good after clubbing meal. So is Maccas.

    #1031967
    wordmistress
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    Hi achristo

    You’re probably missing the key factors. The existing shop has been the only option for so long, they’ve built a loyal following. It’s going to take you a long time to nudge in on their business, especially since the age group you’re talking about are so thrilled to rub your nose in it. The best ‘revenge’ – and I’m actually not talking about revenge – is humility. Accept when you’re beaten and try a different strategy. By trying to copycat the existing offering, you’ve made enemies. Why should these kids buy from you when they’re already loving what they’re getting at the other place?

    How about pizza? How about brilliant coffee? How about big, fat, disgusting iced coffees and iced chocolates? Anything that ‘hits the spot’ after or during a big night of clubbing will be key. And, given the demographic, whatever absorbs the alcohol and fills the belly is spot on.

    The first element you have to lose is the competitor mentality. Work side by side with the other business. They offer souvlaki, you offer something else. Otherwise, before you know it, it’ll all come down to price so you don’t go broke, and you’ll go broke anyway. You can’t afford to make ‘enemies’, especially so late at night and with such a passionate customer base.

    Take notice of how many girls eat the souvlaki. Personally, souvlaki and kebabs would be low on my list due to the drip and stain factor and the fact that it looks very awkward for girls all dressed up to eat them. Finger foods that don’t feel so messy to eat would be better.

    Also, try to have a sense of humour, at least outwardly. As soon as you start taking offence at the behaviour of the people passing by making snide remarks, they’ll know they’ve gotten to you.

    Is there some way you can contact organisers of tour groups such as those buses that run bucks’ parties or hens’ nights and see if they can run them past your place during the night. It’s a bit like rent-a-crowd but if you provide them with vouchers to eat at your place, then the regulars will see plenty of customers in your shop and it won’t seem like the place to avoid.

    When you’ve changed your menu (because I still don’t see competing with exactly the same offerings as healthy business in this particular case), get some flyers done up and have some promo girls/guys go to the clubs and hand them out as patrons exit the clubs. If the cost of the promo people is out of the question, then sign up your best looking relatives to the task! The flyers should include an offer, even 2-for-1 at first to get folks in the door to try you!

    How about a twitter campaign? Do you have a twitter account? If not, then start building a following asap because low-priced offerings such as fast food get around very quickly amongst hungry young people.

    Remember, you’re up against massive loyalty. Eat a little humble pie and ask yourself what you can do that’s different but as good and chip away at your own following. Even the biggest and best businesses in the world have struggled with failure. See it as a challenge, not a reason to accept failure.

    Please let us know if you implement any of the suggestions you receive on the forum, and also let us know how they go. All the best!

    #1031968
    achristo
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    thanks for the replies,

    wordmistress, you’ve given us a lot to think about!

    We are definitely thinking about trying to offer something different. And we’re certainly trying not to take offence from , they’re drunk and they’re young, of course some of them are going to act silly!

    The promo strategies you talked about sound good, especially getting party buses to stop over. In addition we were thinking—as a way to improve day-time business—of visiting other businesses nearby and maybe offering free tasters and meeting the people to let them know we’re open.

    The whole twitter thing is interesting, definitely would appeal to younger customer base, but I’m not sure if our sort of business would benefit from that? Seeing as customers change every week and only return maybe every 3-4 weeks? (interestingly did anyone hear about the Hidden Pizza campaign? it was in the end a marketing stunt to promote yellow pages, although would’ve been a great way to market a restaurant too http://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/news/article/hidden-pizza-restaurant )

    Anyway, who do we talk to to get promo people to do flyer handouts?

    #1031969
    wordmistress
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    Hi again

    Yeah, the whole Hidden Pizza thing really blew up in Yellow Pages’ face! The concept was based around … “how do you find Hidden Pizza? You find it the same way you find any business”. Well, no surprises, everyone immediately Googled it! Who uses Yellow Pages anymore? Ok, sure, people who don’t use the Internet, but seriously, who would have thought to search on YP instead of Google??

    Don’t get me started lol.

    The twitter campaign is not what you might be thinking. First things first; build a following. It’ll take some time so don’t waste a minute. But what you do is, at 2am for instance, tweet that you’re holding Happy Hour (randomly tweeted) between 2.30am and 3.30am and that anyone who shows you their mobile and the tweet itself receives a free can of soft drink with their order, or a buy one, get one free offer, that kind of thing. It has to be immediate. It’s all about instant gratification. It’s viral media, grab them when YOU want them!

    If you want help with this, drop me a line and I can explain further.

    Here are some promo companies:
    http://www.ourboysandgirls.com.au/html/home/
    http://www.pitlanepromotions.com.au/promotional_girls_melbourne_victoria.html
    http://www.chaseentertainment.com.au/female_promotional_models.html

    Basically, just Google ‘promo girls Melbourne’ and you’ll get a whole list. Not sure how much it costs but could bring a great ROI.

    #1031970
    MarketingHQ
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    Just to put my two cents worth in. As others have mentioned, I think the key here is differentiation. You seem to me to be offering the same product as your competitor who has a loyal following. You need to try and get some more action. Some marketing strategies to get you thinking are:

    Seeding: You might want to think about having one night where you give away some of your product for an hour. Call it a happy hour to suit the “clubbing” area. I don’t mean whole souvlakis, just cut some up into sample pieces, stand out the front and give away some product. As mentioned in a previous post, you can promote this through Twitter and put signs on the front of your shop.

    Point of difference: Sell something the other shop doesn’t like a special souvaki that you have created. Give it a special name to suit the location. You need something different you can be known for. And make sure it tastes real good. Maybe the “Hangover Buster”?

    Unique promotions: Come up with some promotions. What about “toss the boss” for 1 hour a night. Use it to seed the market. Will be a bit of fun and again it will suit the clubbing area. Again you can promote this via Twitter.

    Just a few ideas for you and best of luck.

    Chris Dale
    MarketingHQ

    #1031971
    Gordon Akman
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    Sounds like a tough gig. Your story reminds me why I don’t like nightclubs or the people who frequent them. From what I know of nightclub precincts the most common take away food is pizza and kebabs. Selling the same food as the shop next door does seem pretty aggressive to me and it doesn’t surprise me it has caused some tension.

    You can make the pizzas and display them in a large counter display. When people come in they choose which slice/s they want and you quickly heat them and you are done. Selling cold drinks will help you build some margin in too.

    #1031972
    wordmistress
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    Chris, I love what you had to say! The ‘hangover buster’ idea is cool! And really, achristo, what the place needs IS cool. Not cartoon-y, over-juvenilised cool, but things that will hit the spot for your tough crowd.

    As another promotion, how about offering free cab vouchers, say $10 worth if 4 people come in together? Four people could share a cab home. They eat what you sell, get the $10 cab voucher and off they go, full bellies, discounted ride home and they’re happy. And you’ve had business from four people in a single transaction.

    This is another special offer that could be tweeted.

    Ok, what about offering stick-on ‘bracelets’, like the kind they give out when you enter a music festival? Clubbers could come in and buy something early on in the night, get their bracelet put on, go clubbing and when they return, their bracelet entitles them to a discount, or a free can of soft drink with their purchase. You can get soft drink cans so cheaply on special at supermarkets and surely the bracelets wouldn’t be too expensive.

    Just offloading random ideas :).

    #1031973
    wordmistress
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    Chris, I hope you won’t mind me posting this section of your blog on here for achristo’s benefit. Some excellent food for thought there!

    Another example that comes to mind is the story of Mrs Fields Cookies. I remember watching an episode of the Phil Donahue Show, MANY MANY years ago. I don’t believe Mrs Fields was in Australia at the time but the brand story has stuck in my mind ever since. It’s the story how a young mother in the United States named Debbi Fields, with no business experience but a passion for making cookies opened up a store in a local shopping centre. The thing I remember her saying during the interview of the show was, “I didn’t know how to run a business, but I knew I made a great cookie”. On her first day she didn’t sell one cookie and those doubters who said she’d never make it were ready to say “I told you so”. The next day, she decided to give them away. You know what, they WERE good. And people came back to buy them and the rest is history. There are now around 470 stores worldwide that sell her product and she has other people to run the business now and of course is a multi-millionaire. Another great brand story.

    Achristo, develop a GOOD food product that fits your customer base. It needn’t be anything groundbreaking, just something that works with this crowd, is really tasty, hits the spot and doesn’t cost the earth. Then on a REALLY busy night, hand out freebies. The age group you’re targeting LOVE free stuff and they’ll think you’re the best in the world for feeding them for free. That’s one way to build loyalty. They can still pay for drinks, chocolate bars and other side items, but give away whatever your core product is for one night only. But before you do, create a buzz about it, and again I’m going to mention Twitter. Sure, you lose one night’s takings on that particular item, but it’s still cheaper, I bet, than paying for advertising, or even employing promo girls.

    #1031974
    achristo
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    hi all, thanks for all the replies

    So recently we’ve tried to push more on the day time business and it’s picking up, perhaps not really to do with anything we’re doing but as people notice the shop is there, they come in.

    On the discounts and freebies, the problem with this type of customer base is money doesn’t metter to them, at all, when they’re drinking. We offer free drinks, specials (like buy a souvlaki get one free etc) – and they just hand us whole notes and say keep the change, it’s the same at the other shop, (except they get a few hundred people coming in and leaving BIG tips)! So it doesn’t make a difference, I still think trying to differentiate and offer something else is the right way, but unfortunately we don’t have the funds to change too much (like turn it into a pizza joint)…

    And definitely some sort of promotion will be needed I think.

    We also figured since its a nice beach location, when summer comes around, business will hopefully pick up too. We just have to survive 3 months…

    #1031975
    wordmistress
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    Ooh, three months is a looong time! Can you offer something hot and comforting that doesn’t require alot of new equipment? Something like triple marshmallow hot chocolates or something? Sounds like a tough crowd!!

    Not knowing your location or setup, not sure if this suggestion will work, but could you set up outdoor heaters to people congregate outside your store and not the other/s?

    #1031976
    FionaFell
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    The heaters sound like a great idea.

    I used to ‘run from the club to the cab’, without stopping for food knowing that the lines were long and the wait would be cold.

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