Monday, April 24, 2006

Cheap promotions bring in cheap customers

Every year following Lobsterfest, Red Lobster nails it's servers with a crappy promotional with a low price. Every year, this draws in some of our worst customers as far as tips are concerned. During Lobsterfest, almost everyone makes more money on two accounts. First, the total check average is higher, so people tip more accordingly. Second, people just tip better. I suspect it has to do with the type of person who'll spend nearly $30 for a plate of our seafood. Our new promotional "30 Shrimp" started this past Tuesday, and all 3 nights I worked my tips were down a considerable amount from the previous weeks. My sales were down, but so were my average tip percentages. To worsen our pain, Red Lobster in it's infinately inexhaustable supply of crappy management at the corporate level, there is still a coupon out there. So not only do we have cheap meals and cheaper tips, we also have the coupon to draw in those guests many would rather not wait on.

And what is it with having a coupon as a source of pride for some of these people. As you approach the table, they don't even let you get a word out of your mouth before they almost braggingly state their intent to use the coupon they have so neatly place near the edge of the table. So decorative and festive.

I would love to get a grant to work in Social Sciences studying the spending habits of those who use a coupon in a chain restaurant like Red Lobster. My guess is that Red Lobster is a level of restaurant they don't frequent all that often. I'm not criticizing the fiscal responsibility of using the coupon, as I think that is wise stewardship. But seeing as how these tend to be the tables that are not fully aware (or completely ignoring) all social graces related with eating out at a sit down restaurant I think it would be interesting. Another interesting thing to study would be the ratio of men to women using these coupons. My experience tells me that it is the woman 70%ish of the time using the coupon. Business men never bring them in, and all the old ladies who have outlived their husbands (or perhaps were never married) seem to always have these at the ready. Does someone issue these at the Senior Center and not tell us?


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8 comments:

Nicole said...

So, what do these coupons say and where would you get them?? :) For us, using a coupon just means we get to leave a bigger tip. :)

Lobster Boy said...

Most of the coupons are in the Sunday Newspaper (Star Tribune or Pioneer Press where you live). There is also some "club" Red Lobster has created that guests can join that they periodically send coupons out to. Those club ones usually are decent tips, and there aren't many of them either.

Lobster Boy

Lobster Boy said...

The link to the Lobster Club where they send you mindless mailings/emails to lure you in like stink bait to a catfish. If you use this, leave a nice tip and surprize your waiter. We hate coupons.

Lobster Boy

DrinkingTea said...

Perhaps the customers were snapped at by a waiter and have taken things a little too far, since the restaurant I worked at was a few levels below Red Lobster.

I once worked somewhere where, when putting in an order, we had to enter the coupon before sending it to the kitchen. If we got the coupon after we put in the order, we had to have the manager come by with their swipe card and edit the transaction. If the manager was hiding in the bathroom, this was a major pain in the butt for all concerned.

As for the rest of the behavior, I have no explanation whatsoever other than perhaps those patrons had been raised by wild boars.

reillyp said...

I would NEVER do this, but...

1. Go to newspaper bin.
2. Deposit money for a sunday paper
3. Remove ALL papers
4. remove red lobster ads, cut out coupons
5. Use sparingly over the course of their validity on cash tables
6. Collect $4 over 30 coupons, $120 extra in your pocket.

If you're feeling like a nice guy, you can put the newspapers back in the bin after you're done.

P.S. you WILL get terminated if caught doing this.

- Jon

Lobster Boy said...

Jon,
I've had that thought. My problem is that I don't subscribe to any newspapers, so the coupons always surprize me. They (Red Lobster) don't warn us, so I don't even know they are coming to plan anything that devious. It's tempting though, as a single big score like that could pay for a whole year's worth of newspapers. Problem is I hate the newspapers, and the recycling is a pain, so for me it's a tough call. For now I'll continue on being surprized.

Lobster Boy

reillyp said...

So the first time you see a coupon, the next sunday march down to the newspaper bin and make some money!

- Jon

Verbal Method said...

Ha, that coupon scheme has crossed my mind more times than once; but like lobster boy said, I just don't look through the sunday ad's and by the time I get a blindsided by coupon maniacs, it's too late for me to cash in myself.