Bridget Jone’s Diary in Stuff caught my eye while I was on the treadmill at lunchtime. Apparently a number of bars, several of long standing including the Dogs Bollix, which has been around since 1996 and Khuja, which has been around since 1997. Not only have they been around for a long time as bars, but also important venues for local music.
Restaurants are also suffering with some popular haunts such as Iguacu and Cin Cin on Quay also gone. Many have tried things like daily deals and I have enjoyed a few of those myself. They may be using those out of desperation, or in the vain hope that they will gain new loyal customers out of the effort.
The common experience in the USA with sites like Groupon and now in New Zealand is that in most cases people cherry pick the deals and then look out for the next hot deal and lets face it, we get offered good deals from those sites through our email on a daily basis so there is no shortage of choice. So the restaurant gives you deals representing 30-50% discount, then on top of that pays a ‘success’ fee to the daily deals company, the customers enjoy the service, but don’t come back. As this story in CNBC says, the deals are good for the consumers, but not so much for the small business and according to Bloomberg, interest in daily deals is waning amongst consumers as well in what they call daily deal fatigue.
So what can these businesses do? First I think they have to be at the top of their game and remember they are in the hospitality industry. This means having a personal relationship with their customers. This hasn’t changed one iota since I studied Hotel/Motel Management back in the early 80’s. I don’t see a lot of that in the industry these days, although there are always exceptions and these are the restaurants and bars which have regular loyal customers. One for me is Yaruki in Browns Bay. Everyone gets treated like special guests and the ambience and presentation is consistently good, you don’t have to wait long even when it is busy.
So if daily deals don’t cut it, what else can you do? The answers aren’t simple and will vary from one business to the next, but there are answers. BAU or Business As Usual is not a good business model. You do need to keep reinventing yourself even if what you do is successful.
I can point at a number of restaurants who had successful models around an experience such as teppanyaki, steamboat, Brazilian BBQ etc where you had to book weeks in advance, but today they are frequently half empty. There is always someone new on the block ready to disrupt your neighbourhood with something new and interesting.
I have some more answers around proximity based marketing which you will learn more about if you subscribe to this blog. To start your thinking, over half of mobile users in New Zealand have Smartphones that know where they are. They use their mobiles to decide where to play, where to eat and drink. Their mobiles have GPS and know where they are and they are open to buy. They check in, they check menus on-line, they leave comments and they are social. They want to be engaged with in relation to their profile, their context and their location.
Sounds easy, but it really isn’t otherwise I wouldn’t have written this blog. It is simple in concept but a tough nut to crack. I am building the nut cracker. So do you need a hand with your business or are you getting more than your fair share of customers and profit already? If you want to know more, drop me an email or give me a call.