Tuesday, January 26, 2010


A customer stopped me last night as I set up for poker. He said that he liked me and so he needed to tell me something. He went on to state that because of his job, he sees allot of people and the word on the street is that people are frustrated over my recent change to charge for soup or salad on my dinners. I said, "But, I have lowered my price, dramatically. The price for my dinners on the menu have not been seen in over 10 years". He looked at me confused. "They have?", he asked. "Yes, and in some cases such as the senior dinners even more than that.". I restated that my idea was to make dinners more affordable in today's recession climate. But, as I tried to explain it to him, even he seemed to not understand my intentions.

As I played poker, I hashed that conversation around in my head along with a couple of emails that I had received from another friend (Thanks Karin, BTW) and the whole thing puts me in a quite a quandary. Kind of a darned if you do darned if you don't kind of thing. I have two options as I see them. 1. To go back to the old way or 2. to drive my point better with better marketing.

So, after I got knocked out, I went back to my office and wrote up a large note on my computer and printed it out to put in all of the menus. The note has huge letters in the title stating "Reduced Priced Dinners". In the copy, I went on to state that on January 1, we reduced the price of all of our dinners to well over 10 year ago prices. I admitted how I was able to succeed in this reduction and added a sort of tag line of a 2010 meal at 1999 prices.

After we closed, I brought the crew out to the counter after they had finished with their clean up to assist me in putting one of these notes in every menu cover. As I was doing this, I noticed an 18 wheeler driving up and parking. The man got out and walked up to our locked door. I dropped what I was doing and ran out front to talk with him. He was on his way out of town and was hungry. I told him that he could do one of two things. I was sure that Chevron station had some sandwiches in their store or I could make him up a cold one as the kitchen was now closed down. He said, "You would do that for me?". "Of course", I stated, "I don't forget my roots and I know how hard it is for you guys.". We agreed on a couple of sandwiches for him and he beamed at the special price that I gave him for them. I had the cook prepare them as he walked up to the Chevron station to the ATM there. The sandwiches were waiting for him upon his arrival and I walked him out front again with him. "Thank you so much", he stated as he walked away and then he stopped, turned around, and said, "And may God bless you!". "He does every day", I returned. With a smile and a bounce in his step, I watched as the man got back in his truck and started back down the road. Sometimes I look at situations such as that as challenges. A sort of test of what and who you are. And, as I have stated in prior posts, I must be true to myself first.

So, I will continue on with this experiment. I feel that I have to. If I return to the old type of pricing, it will mean a dramatic raise in the price of my dinners of which can only be seen as detrimental. I must continue to pound my point, my true meaning out to the customers. All I want and all that I ever wanted to do was to make my dinners more affordable.

It has NEVER been about profit. But I am certainly learning a hard lesson about the word Perception.

1 comment:

keeneye said...

GREAT idea, Lyle! The tagline drives it home, too.

It's an interesting situation. We expect the prices of gas or of milk or of bread to go up and down.

But people don't realize that this is what happens to restaurants as well... and we aren't able to change our prices to compensate.

Can you imagine?

"How much is a large cheese pizza?"

"Thirteen dollars."

"Wait a minute, it was only ten-dollars a few days ago."

"Well, our price of cheese went up 28% this week and the cost of a bag of flour is up $2 each. So this week, a large cheese pizza is thirteen-dollars."

It would NEVER work, even though ever other product is expected to fluctuate in price.


I think you're on the right track with marketing the changes the way that you are. Be sure to let us know the response.