October 4, 2012 |

Employee Discounts

By Pizza Today

Pizzeria Employees

Effective promotions are invaluable weapons in a pizzeria’s marketing arsenal. Imposters abound, but The Employee 10 Percentage Discount Card is worth consideration.
Don’t confuse the card with coupons featuring mass distribution, deep discounts and price gratification. This promotion targets local employees who possess disposable income. Unlike coupons, the discount is modest, but its longevity promotes repeat trade and customer loyalty.
Pizzeria operators distribute wallet-sized discount cards through personal contact with employers. That’s tougher than media, but yields business-to-business ties coupons envy, since contacts occasionally foster exclusive sales opportunities like catering employer functions.
But a measly 10 percent? Yes. Discount defers to exclusivity. The card grants privilege and sense of ownership. Cardholders proudly flash their cards, proclaiming, “I have a special discount.”
The card’s performance has been excellent when used as part of an overall marketing strategy. It can save a failing lunch business, launch a new pizzeria, and revive a dying operation.

Set up
First, establish goals by targeting prospective participants, determining specifications and measuring results. Maybe you need carryout or repeat trade, or face new competition. Regardless, clearly state objectives.
Next, research local employers. Use chamber of commerce workforce data to plot strategy. Record an employer’s name, workforce size, business type and location. Find out all you can, including shift times and commuting patterns. Use business directories, economic development agency figures or contact employers and ask questions.
Third, determine specifications. The Card offers a 10 percent discount, effective date is one year and initial distribution one to two thousand cards. Customize specifications to suit your market, sales needs and resources.
Design counts, and making your cards yourself is effective and affordable. Design cards using MS Publisher or a similar application. Later, develop an employer/employee database, merge files and print onto clean-edge business cardstock. Design should include pizzeria name, logo, phone number, address, expiration date and participant names. Cards cost approximately 10 cents each, depending on weight, ink required and local prices. That’s $100 per 1,000 –– costlier than coupons, but recipients retain cards a year, typically generating gross sales far exceeding those realized through coupon redemption.
Operators lacking time or technology may use a commercial printer, but expect higher cost, restricted flexibility and longer turn-around time. If you discover an easier, less expensive design and print method, go for it.

Contact & distribution
With employer research, program specifications and card design complete, it’s time to go public. Analyze data and select employers compatible with program objectives. For example, to increase daytime business select companies whose workers likely eat out or order in. Office staff, professionals and industrial personnel may fit that model, but probably not construction workers, who seldom leave job sites. If you adopted a broad objective, like daily revenue increases, business type becomes secondary. Instead, select employers closest to your pizzeria or whose workers pass by while commuting.
Draft a cover letter addressed to human resource departments and use specific names if you know them. Enclose a sample card and follow up by telephone after a week without response. Visit the employer if necessary and explain your program in person. Remember, you’re creating priceless associations.
When an employer opts in, request an employee roster. You might also offer a company discount for group functions, and then enclose a discount certificate with completed wallet cards. (FYI: MS Publisher works great for certificates, which cost approximately eight cents each when printed on light parchment stock.) You’re nearly home. Develop the employer/employee database, merge with card file and print. You can mail or deliver cards and company discount certificates.
Be sure to track response. Keep records of redemptions and gross sales generated for one month, and then analyze program effectiveness based on employer research and your objectives. Say your goal is a five percent revenue increase, your area has 6,000 employees and you distribute 1,000 cards. After a month, if sales are up 2 percent due to card redemption, distributing more cards will probably attain your objective.

Heads up
Maximize the program’s potential by creating a customer database for future promotions. Obtain names, phone numbers and street/e-mail addresses using cardholder surveys or in-house contests. Then maintain contact through special offers or newsletters.
The card brings them in and encourages repeat visits, but won’t transform second-rate into world class. Fix up, clean up and stock up. Train staff regarding promotion details. Did you target lunch trade? Then run a bit heavy on daytime staff until you determine response rate.
Protect perceived program value. Don’t bypass employer contacts and flood the market with wallet cards. And don’t offer blank cards to inquiring customers who know a cardholder. Instead, explain the program and consider making it available to that guest’s employer. Do the work, follow the process.

The last word
There it is –– the Employee 10 Percent Discount Card. No guarantees, but experience speaks in favor of the Card. The program’s considerable up side and controllable risks make it worth a try.

Gary Midge is a Brainerd, Minnesota freelance writer.

The Card vs. Coupons

Don’t mistake the Employee 10 Percent Discount Card for coupon promotions. Here’s why:

Traditional Coupons

• Mass distribution (newspaper or other print vehicle)
• Media circulation determines distribution
• Deep discounts (up to 50% or more)
• Objective is temporary revenue boost
• Low profit margins
• Customers motivated by price
• Price motivation does little to encourage repeat trade or customer loyalty

Employee 10% Discount Card Program

• Targeted distribution (employees with disposable income)
• Controlled distribution (circulate cards when needed)
• Moderate discount of 10%
• Objective is long-term business growth
• Very livable profit margin after 10% discount
• Customers motivated by sense of privilege and ownership
• Exclusivity encourages repeat trade and customer loyalty
• Personal contact with employers provides additional sales opportunities