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'

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