Even mom-and-pop shops can do phone marketing

Dec. 27, 2004

Enrico's Pizza Shop used to sell about four meal deals at lunchtime. But since this fall, when the Winchester, Va., shop installed a call-sequencer and upfront phone-message marketer, owner George Sempeles said meal-deal sales have increased tenfold.

"I was told when I got this to be careful what I advertised with it," said Sempeles. "Believe me, when you use one of these, you'd better be prepared to sell what you say on that message."

When Bill Ebbing bought a Domino's Pizza franchise three months ago, it didn't take long for him to see the value of a sequencer-upseller.

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"Ironically, the day it was installed, the first order of the day bought the special," said Ebbing, whose store is in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich. Since he was just starting in the pizza business, Ebbing was reluctant to plunk down the money for the unit. But when he was told it would pay for itself quickly, he took the plunge and has since become a believer. "Will it pay for itself? Oh, yeah. It already has."

Dial 'S' for savings

Rick Stanbridge said his company's standard line of sequencer-upsellers addressed both high-end and low-end users' needs, but not the pizza operator in the middle looking for an affordable, but strong performer. So in August, the Novi, Mich., company rolled out a new unit, The MessageStar 700, as a less-expensive alternative to the company's flagship phone management system, CallWorks.

"There's always been a market for lower-end sequencers, something operators who can't afford or aren't ready to pay for a CallWorks system can put in their stores," said Stanbridge. "What we've done is put a lot of features of our CallWorks system into the MessageStar."

The new six-line unit answers and sequences calls and plays an upsell to message to callers. It even plays bilingual messages.

The machine delivers a lot of value for less money, Stanbridge said, because operators get the core benefits of an expensive sequencer for less than half the price.

Originally Sempeles didn't want to spend the money on a call sequencer, especially when he wasn't sure his pizza shop needed it.

"You always think you're doing a good enough job answering the phone yourself, but when you get one of these, you realize you really aren't," he said. "Add to that getting employees to sell the special or upsell ... it just doesn't happen like you want it to. With this, it's done right every time."

Now he views his decision as an investment in his business that he should have made long ago.

"Sometimes you've got to put (money) out there to make it," said Sempeles. "Having something like this gives us an edge of professionalism that puts small pizza shops up there with the Pizza Huts and Papa John's."

Even a business associate stopped him in town one day to compliment him on the answering message. "People usually hate those things, but he told me that it really sounded great. So, I'm excited about it."

Topics: Case Studies , Marketing , Telecommunications

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