Archive for January, 2009

A Quick, Simple Question

January 28th, 2009

The other day I went into a fast food restaurant that will remain nameless just because some people will probably take this article the wrong way and I don’t want a good business to suffer because of it.

I ordered a simple combo-meal that included a drink and fries. The clerk, who happened to be a manager named Julienne asked me “Medium or Large?” It was such a quick and innocent sounding question that I almost answered before thinking.

“No, a small will be fine, thank you”. She completed my order and as she handed me my receipt and tray of food I asked her a question that she clearly didn’t feel comfortable answering.

I asked her how many of the people accepted one of her two options and went with either medium or large. She said she didn’t know. I pushed until she admitted that it was at least 85-90%.

This simple upsell adds either 59 or 99 cents to each meal ordered. As each combo normally runs about $5-6 that’s a 10-20% markup on EACH meal sold. The best part is that it costs the restaurant almost NOTHING to fulfill delivery. A slightly larger soda costs them a penny or two in syrup and fractions of a cent for a larger cup. The difference between a small and medium sized fries is non-existent. Only the cardboard box changes size. Basically the same amount of product fits in each size box. The large holds a little more than the small but even then, you’re talking about potatoes: just about the cheapest food product on the planet.

So for virtually no cost at all they are able to increase their revenue by 10-20% just by asking one single, very simple and almost automatic question. The secret is to ask the question systematically, to EVERYONE who orders a combo meal and to ask it EVERY single time.

I’m still trying to work out exactly how this principle can be applied in my business. There is something about the assumptive quality of the question and something also about the two-options format. But basically it is a simple question.

Do you do birthday parties? Are you willing to do Goodie bags? (I do the former, but not the latter). Maybe you could add a simple question like “Do you want us to handle the goodie bags for everyone or are you going to put all those together yourself?”

Not as clean as “Medium or Large?” but it gets that conversation started. I’ll bet that’s got to be worth a few thousand dollars a year for the right performers.

Or, if you do awards banquets you might ask “Do you want to include enough magic tricks for every seat at each table or just one trick per table and let everyone kind of share it?” Most event planners might not have even thought about the idea of including magic tricks for the guests, and when they find out that you can provide quality, PRE-SELECTED tricks for less than $2 per person you might just be able to bump up your revenue for the night by a pretty significant amount.

I welcome your thoughts on this. Remember, I’m not just talking about ways to increase revenue. There are countless thousands of ways to do that. I’m talking about doing it with a question. A single, very simple, question that is asked near the end of each transaction.

What is YOUR question for 2009?


That Time of Year (not goal setting!)

January 8th, 2009

All the marketing experts right now are writing about how you should be setting goals this week. So there is no need for me to beat you over the head with it. Instead I’m going to give you something they aren’t: real-world, valuable, solid, easy-to-implement advice that you probably haven’t heard before.

How novel.

Every January I try to go through my various web pages and update the copyright notice to reflect the new year. This does four things:

1) It automatically extends my copyright on the material on my web site for an additional year. This is important, but it is really the least important reason for doing this as by the time the copyright expires on the material that is posted on my web site it will probably be of little real value to my surviving heirs anyway. The more important reasons follow…

2) It lets viewers know they are seeing an up-to-date web site. Personally, when I see a website that proudly boasts that it was “recently” updated and the date mentioned is 3 years old, I really wonder why they mention it at all!

Seriously, if you aren’t going to regularly go in and change the copy on your web site, that’s fine. Just don’t be silly enough to put a DATE on the web site letting everyone KNOW! People appreciate up-to-date information when browsing the web. You don’t want to publicize if your information hasn’t been updated in years.

I renew the copyright date on my website, even if the copy doesn’t change as it lets the reader’s know that I am still actively involved in running the business and that I am attentive to details.

3) The third reason is that when you go in and look at each individual page as you adjust the copyright date it sort of forces you to actually read the copy that you’ve posted. You’d be surprised what things you will find when you read your own web site. From information that is no longer accurate, to misspelled words, to references that date the site even more than an old copyright notice.

As an example, there was a competitor of mine who also performed motivational school assembly programs in Texas. Her programs claimed to address specific issues covered in the state mandated test in Texas, however, she was calling the test by a name that hadn’t been used in Texas for almost FIVE YEARS!! I had to wonder how many opportunities she lost simply because her web site was promoting her ability to help students pass a test that had been phased out half a decade previously.

These are the silly sorts of mistakes that can cost you more than not having a web site at all!

So go in and read your own web site. Each page, one-by-one. Update the copyright years if you have them, make sure that all the other references are up to date, and keep an eye out for other opportunities to polish up your site going into this new year.

4) And for the last, but possibly the most important reason to update your web site copyright dates: search engines (e.g. Google and Yahoo) love current information. They can tell when the web page was last updated and that weighs heavily in your search engine rankings. They can’t tell how much information on your site has changed (maybe it was nothing more than “2008” becoming “2009”) but they weigh current information far more heavily than information that hasn’t been updated in a year or more.