The Road Warriors
This same principle applies to daily menu specials, which tend to be under-purchased as servers often mention the special item, but not the price. Most buyers feel intimidated to order something without knowing the price and equally intimidated to ask the price, especially with guests at the table. A menu-system approach easily deals with such issues. Pricing changes are more important in respect to raw materials than to selling more daily specials. “We’re in a volatile pricing economy. They [restaurant owners] need to be able to adjust their prices accordingly and the restaurant that has the ability to do so will stay competitive,” Hutchinson stressed.
Giving It All Away
Gift cards are rapidly gaining popularity. Just a few years ago, they were a highly specialized gift idea. Now, they are ubiquitous. Brian Grimes, vice president of sales, Plastic Graphic Co., Wauconda, Ill., said, “Six years ago when we bought the business, Blockbuster was about the only guy out there who had a gift card.” Grimes continued, “Now, everyone from small salons with three people cutting hair to the very large retailers, seems to use gift cards.”
Around the holidays, gift cards account for several hundred million printed cards. Some estimates see every person receiving four or five cards every holiday season. With such growth and demand, many businesses are attempting to cash in on the idea of the gift card all year-round. In fact, what some chain eateries are now calling “stored-value cards” are essentially rechargeable gift cards for daily use. These companies often give incentives such as discounted or free items, depending on how much money is applied to the card.
The increasing abundance of stored-value cards bodes well for companies like Plastic Graphic Co., but this is a significant problem for the independent restaurant owner. Stored-value cards force buyers to eat at certain restaurants, so the money is already esentially spent. But, the independent restaurant can still utilize plastic cards. Plastic Graphic Co. prints key cards for hotels with space for advertising. Grimes noticed that as the tourism business was flailing, hotels turned to restaurants to cover the cost of cards. The keycard then became an advertisement for the restaurant.