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Creative Drive-Thru Promos?

OzarkB

New member
Sep 8, 2004
8
0
Northwest Arkansas
My husband and I recently moved from Seattle to Bentonville, Arkansas where we've opened two drive-thru espresso locations. The first one is about nine months old and is really starting to hit its stride. The second one just opened and we're starting the whole process of building a customer base all over again with that location.

The city of Bentonville has a super strict sign ordinance, so we're not able to have the street presence that we saw in and around Seattle. Some of the things we've tried so far include sampling, standing on the street with signs, newspaper ads, coupons, a newsletter. We've had some good mention in one of the local newspapers, as well. All of these efforts have helped a bit, but only sampling and standing on the street have pulled large numbers of people off the road.

Can anyone share some creative promotional ideas that have worked for a drive-thru?

Thanks in advance!
 

Coffee Guy

New member
Oct 19, 2003
874
0
Seattle,Washington USA
Hi OzarkB:

Congrats on introducing your drive thrus into a new state :D . What did you do at your first location to bring people in? No need to reinvent the wheel, continue with what worked there. You may want to let everyone know that you've opened a second location and offer specials at both locations and have a customer appreciation week and maybe a drawing at the end of the week at both locations. How far away is your second location from the first? You may want to ask your coffee roaster if they have any ideas to help promote. Just a couple of thoughts. :wink:
 

RadarRick

New member
Aug 30, 2004
10
0
West Virginia
Good Evening Ozark B,

Had the exact same problem in business in my city.

First thing I would do is find out exactly what the technical definition of a sign is. Once you know exactly what the technical definition and limitations are, you can start to be creative. How do politicians put up signs, what about garage sales signs, what about school upcoming events signs, etc. Know the system and work around it.

Also, look around at the rest of the community, what kind of signage do they have. Remember, some might be 'grandfathered' in or in other areas of jurisdiction.

Ask sign companies in the area to assist you with you concerns, they may have advise, they will definately know the regulations and you will probably need to have the sign professional made (lettered) anyhow. Place your request on a bid system, and let all the sign companies compete for your business. Compare all the ideas.

Last, temporary signs may not follow under this regulation. Consider the following suggestions......if your shop is not open 24/7. This is just to get you thinking. Since I am not familiar with your sites, some might not be applicable.

What about putting out tables, umbrellas and chairs like a cafe...even if no one uses them or you really don't have a site for the tables, it says your cafe is open and ready for business. Take them in when closed. Even if you are in a mall parking lot, put the tables and chairs (one ot two will work) in a parking spot or two.

What about having someone build you a traditional manual espresso pot made out of plywood & wood framing with aluminum skin (10 feet tall) and place out front (or on top of the building) or in the back of a pickup truck or trailer. With creative lighting (neon) at night, and during the day (Krispy Kreme) it says you are open.

What about a used trailer that you paint and professionally sign with all your business info. Remember the basics about billboard signs. A vehicle that is licensed is not a sign. Every day you bring it to work and take it home at night. You could even store you tables and chairs in it.

What about hiring a youth to have a 'coffee theme character' in a costume stand outside your business or at the street and hand out coupons (BOGO). Have them wear an old fashion sign board.

Again, just a few ideas to get you thinking....remember signs can be temporary and still be very effective.

Hope these help.
 

Coffee Guy

New member
Oct 19, 2003
874
0
Seattle,Washington USA
I agree with RadarRick, all good comments, but be careful and check with the city first to see what their requirements are. For example, how many signs are you allowed to post for your business. Since you came from here (Seattle), I'm sure you're already familiar with most rules relating to drive thrus. Did you have a drive thru when you lived in Seattle or is this your first experience since moving to your existing state?
 

ra2783

New member
Aug 30, 2004
8
0
Dallas, TX
Has anyone tried partnering with a local school or schools? I was thinking of sponsoring the "student of the month" with a free drink. It would bring in a parent (possible sale) to get the freebie for the child and get your name out in the community (free advertising) that you support the local school system. What are your thoughts?
 

BaristaTrainer

New member
Oct 18, 2004
192
0
Portland, OR
I would recommend purchasing the new book "Essential & Effective Marketing for the Specialty Coffee Retailer." by Bruce Milletto It just one a platinum award at Coffee Fest Seattle in a marketing contest. I think you can get it at http://www.espresso101.com

One strategy I have seen is offering FREE drinks for a day, or a few hours. Let the press know, have your staff trained, have plenty of promo materials i.e. stickers, etc ready to hand out to the long line of cars waiting for their coffee. Even if you end up spend $300 in drink costs/labor, you will create a stir and get a lot of publicity. What else could you spend a few hundred bucks on that will secure that much exposure.

just an idea ... advertise it as your GRAND OPENING, this should still work even if you have been open for a month or two.

Good luck!
 

TCS

New member
Nov 1, 2004
10
0
Kankakee, IL 60901
We don't have a drive-thru, but have a store front location. We have personally distributed flyers/menus to business locations within walking distance and have mailed our menu/newsletter to other businesses further away. Discount flyers have also been put on cars' windshields at the movie theater and churches. There's also the thought of bowling alleys. It has its ups and downs as to bringing them in, but even if a few do, word of mouth travels fast after that.
Good luck!
 

wired_alice

New member
Nov 13, 2004
2
0
Anacortes, WA
It's been a while since anyone replied, but I thought of something that might work.

You could identify all of the local schools in your area and perhaps "adopt" each one for a day over the course of a few months. Distribute flyers to parents, teachers, and even students with the promise to donate a certain percentage of your revenue that day to the school. You could even enlist the help of some of the students to hold posters enticing people to come buy coffee for their school.

Another idea would be to identify smaller offices around your area and do "coffee drops." Call the office and tell them you're a new drive-thru coffee stand in their area. Offer them each a grande flavored beverage for free and then deliver them with some promotional materials.

Ok...I've registered my two cents...
 
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