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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Local Businesses Making Adjustments to Attract Customers

While many local retailers and restaurants are feeling the pinch in today’s economy, few business owners are just sitting around waiting for customers.

“Small businesses have to continue to market in a down economy,” advised Ed McCartney, owner of two Phoenix-area PostNet franchises, including one at 51st Avenue and Baseline Road. “We’ve cut back on the operating expenses wherever feasible, but we haven’t cut back on the marketing.”

Although traffic counts inside his stores are at pace with previous years, McCartney’s businesses have seen a 25-30 percent drop in revenues since April – a factor he attributes to customers making smaller purchases.

To combat the downturn, he recently ramped up distribution on brochures, mailers and coupons. In addition to increased attention on marketing strategies, he’s also putting a renewed focus on customer needs.

“Were asking ourselves, ‘What are people really buying now?’ and ‘What are they going to be buying when we come out of this cycle in 2009?’” he said.

McCartney recognizes those purchases might not match his current products and services, so he – as well as the decision-makers at PostNet’s corporate headquarters – are considering alternatives revenue sources.

Marketing also remains a top priority for Roman Romero, owner of Red Brick Pizza at 24th Street and Baseline Road, as has customer service.

“People have 1,000,001 choices of where they spend their money to eat, and the only thing that’s going to separate us – aside from our food – is their experience,” he said.

Not only have coupons and direct-mail offers for the pizzeria become a greater priority, the offers are now more aggressive. Previously, a deal such as buy one pizza and get the second half off would draw customers. These days, the promotions are buy one pizza and get one free.

Romero said he started noticing a slowdown in August, especially with the lunch crowd.

“We went from having people waiting at the door to them not being there when we open for business,” he added.

Although he had to cut hours of operation because of fewer customers, Romero is taking advantage of the time he’s open by launching a happy hour on Monday – Friday, from 4 – 7 p.m. During those times, appetizers are half off and pizzas are buy one and the second is half off.

As might be expected, Bougainvillea Golf Club in Laveen is seeing fewer golfers. As a result, owner Warren Pitman is exploring new advertising and marketing opportunities, while tightening his budget.

Recently, he used an e-mail campaign to target promotional efforts toward existing customers.

“I pinpointed three things that are probably the most restrictive aspects of golf – it’s difficult to play, it’s time-consuming and it’s expensive. So I keyed in on those three things and created a Player Development Membership,” Pitman said.

For $199, players receive three 30- to 45-minute private lessons and one 10-minute follow-up; six months of unlimited golf after 1 p.m., seven days a week; and half price on driving-range purchases. The new membership allows people to play as much – or as little – as they want, without feeling committed to the standard 18-hole fee.

After participation peaked during the middle of 2007, Pitman said he started noticing a decrease in golfers about a year ago. Usually, however, the new year brings a surge in business, thanks to out-of-town visitors.

“Fortunately, they’re still coming,” he added.


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