December 1, 2014 |

Marketing to lazy customers

By Scott Anthony

post card, lazy customer

Use POS data to reinvigorate relationships with disengaged patrons


You have heard it said that if you ‘want a friend, be a friend.’ We all need relationships for our lives to be complete. The same is true with our businesses. It depends on the relationship developed with the customer. “The most practical, beautiful, workable philosophy in the world won’t work — if you won’t.” — Zig Ziglar.

The “lazy customer” is a customer who hasn’t ordered from your pizzeria in the last 90 days. What has happened to this relationship? Is it fair to label the customer as “lazy”? A relationship is a two-way street and selling is essentially a transfer of feelings. I want my customers to feel they want me, need me and love me. Have you conveyed your feelings to this “lazy” customer, or have you been the lazy one in this relationship?

Your POS provides you with mountains of data regarding who your customers are and how often they order from you. Maybe they stopped coming in or calling in because there was a problem with their last order that you don’t know about. Maybe bad service drove them away. Or maybe they have just been busy and you haven’t been on their mind. Regardless, your goal is to get them back. Do the work. If not, these customers who have not bought from you for 90 days are probably looking elsewhere for pizza.

So, is it worth the work? Consider that there are fundamentally only three ways to increase your business: attract more new customers, entice them to spend more each time and increase your check average or direct them to buy more frequently. Most pizzerias exhaust the majority of their resources foraging for new customers, and then they do it all over again. While an occasional mass mailing or such can be a positive part of your marketing mix, it is estimated that finding one new customer costs seven to 10 times more than to get a previous customer to return.

What is needed is a marketing modification. Ziglar once said: “Discipline yourself to do the things you need to do, when you need to do them, and the day will come, when you will be able to do the things you want to do, when you want to do them!” We have established that we have the tools to produce income. Now we need to discipline ourselves to get it done and be ready to reap the rewards.

“Thanks to the database mailers recommended to me at Pizza Expo, our Cheyenne store is now the number two store in sales in the Mr. Jim’s Pizza chain,” says Mike Gire, owner and operator of the Mr. Jim’s Pizza franchises in Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming. “December is up 17 percent and January is up 15.2 percent. It’s incredible how the database mailer works. I got numerous redemptions. I was even able to cut off a few non-performing bulk mailings. Our Laramie store is up eight percent in December and six percent in January.”

Gire owns two Mr. Jim’s Pizza stores, one in Cheyenne — opened in 2005, and the other in Laramie Wyoming — opened in 2010. International Pizza Expo motivated Gire to begin a database marketing program, as well as a rewards program. “I realized how much I was missing by letting lazy customers who already knew us go without some communication to come back,” Gire says.

Most of Gire’s marketing budget goes toward existing and lazy customers. “Most POS programs allow you to market to your database and also have a lazy customer module included,” he advises. “A rewards program will automatically market to these people if you install that. In our case, we use both since not all our customers are rewards customers yet.

“The lazy customer is defined by us as someone who has gone 30 days without visiting us and is tracked in our POS. Once a customer has not eaten with us in 30 days, they get a postcard by USPS mail enticing them to a free side item or pizza with any large pizza purchase. This happens again at 60 days and again at 90 days with the ‘We Really Miss YOU!’ and a free pizza offer.”

Customer buying habits are also tracked in Gire’s rewards program. “Those who have not eaten with us in 30 days get an e-mail offer ‘We Miss YOU’ enticing them to a free medium one-topping pizza with a medium or large pizza purchase,” Gire says. “The e-mail frequency happens at the actual 30-60-90-day time frame with offers getting increasingly aggressive.”

Rewards members already know and love your product; all they need is to know you care. It should also be noted that, along with desirable offers, many operators will send out surveys to especially help them pinpoint the bona fide reason for a customer becoming lazy. Surveys are usually rewarded with a complimentary offer.

Gire’s staff monitors this on the customers’ home page screen when customers call. His POS shows if they are a new customer, existing customer, the last time they ordered, frequency of orders and if they have voiced any concerns or complaints right away. “We have a few ‘manager specials’ for lazy customers once we identify them in the order process,” Gire adds.

“Response rate is good as we tag a 30-day expiration date so they come in soon. We are close to a 65-percent response rate with the lazy offers we send out in 30 days and that goes up as the 60- and 90-day offers go out with a more aggressive offer. Postcards cost about 10 cents when printed in bulk and costs about 30 cents to mail out. Our rewards customers get e-mail notifications and we have unlimited e-mail as part of the cost of the rewards program. We get a report as to how many lazy customer offers are sent so we can track the ROI. The lazy customer program has a high redemption result because we are just pointing them back in our direction with a free item.” Compare this redemption rate with the lifetime value of a regained customer and you see an impressive ROI.

Loyal customers are the key to long-term profitability, so taking care of guests familiar with your brand should be top priority. The data in your POS is a gold mine of information that guides you to successful marketing. Reports such as lazy customers, single-order customers, new customers and spending patterns are at your fingertips. Build on this and let your POS collect information for other marketing, such as birthdays or anniversaries. This will allow you to have even more ways to connect with the customer and increase their dining frequency.

Initiate a marketing approach using your database. Simple targeted offers show best returns. You must establish a continuing marketing program/relationship that delivers a consistent message and builds loyalty. It is a practical, beautiful, workable philosophy — so work it!

Scott Anthony owns Punxsy Pizza in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He is a marketing consultant and International Pizza Expo speaker.