Holy macaroni!

Did you read the tip on fishing when the fish are bitin'? Here's a great example of how concentrating your marketing efforts when you're busy can really work.

Phil Romano, the founder of Fuddruckers, the national hamburger chain, once owned a small, out-of-the-way Italian restaurant called Macaroni's. He packed the place on Monday and Tuesday nights — a time when most restaurants struggle to keep their doors open. Here's why.... Apart from the obvious fact that Macaroni's served good food, Romano had a gimmick based on an old Psych 1 principle. Random rewards beget regular behavior. In this case, the behavior was eating at Macaroni's on an off night.

If you happened to be dining there on a randomly chosen Monday or Tuesday night, you and the other 200 or so customers received a letter instead of a bill at the end of the meal. The letter stated that because the Macaroni mission was to make people feel like guests, it seemed awkward to charge guests for having a good time. So, once a month on a Monday or Tuesday — and always unannounced — everyone would eat free.

Here's what the stunt cost Romano. One night "comped" out of 30 reduces his revenues by 3.3 percent. But he has a full house on eight nights a month when the place would normally be empty. And word-of-mouth testimonials are one of the most effective forms of advertising. In one fell swoop, Romano got a couple hundred tongues wagging, "You won't believe what happened to us last night...!"

(T. Scott Gross, Positively Outrageous Service: New and Easy Ways to Win Customers for Life, Warner Books)

See also:
Gone fishin'

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Technology

As restaurant tech consolidates, an ode to the point solution

Tech Check: All-in-one may be all the rage, but there’s value in being a one-trick pony.

Financing

Steak and Ale comes back from the dead, 16 years later

The Bottom Line: Paul Mangiamele has vowed to bring the venerable casual-dining chain back for more than a decade. He finally fulfilled that promise. Here’s a look inside.

Consumer Trends

Fast food has lost its reputation as a cheap meal

Years of price hikes are driving consumers to grocery stores and even full-service restaurants, which are now viewed by some as a better deal.

Trending

More from our partners