For independent grocers and the wholesalers that serve them
When my wholesaler approached me with the idea of running what was to become our “Truckload Meat Sale”, I was very interested in what they had to say. I was looking for a way to increase my fresh meat sales and they had all the information that they felt would help me succeed. They told me about another independent who occasionally ran a three-day sale in which he sold select bulk meat items at a greatly reduced retail price. They shared information from this independent’s experience, what he did and how he did it. What really peaked my interest was when they shared the amount of volume that he had achieved while running this sale for just three days. These were impressive figures, and at that time I would have liked to achieve them in my own weekly sales. They also told me that this retailer had made the decision that he would no longer be running this format. Even though I was impressed with the sales figures I was concerned why this retailer would be stopping this format. The answer that I was given was very distressing. While the retailer’s store increased meat sales for the three days, his regular labor was not able to handle the increase and his gross profit margin was not acceptable. Probably even more discouraging was that when the sale was over there was no residual business; he returned to his regular volume. Basically this ad format was being used, as a “Flash In The Pan”, great temporary increase of sales and no residual value. The format had created a sense of urgency with their customers: the need to hurry in and purchase a sale item in a limited time frame and an urgency to hurry out of the store because the atmosphere was so busy that it wasn’t convenient to see what else the store had to offer. They were not leaving a good impression with their customers due to the fact they were not set up to handle the increase in volume.
Event formats, like truckload sales, can be used for long-term growth potential. Although I do believe they need to be structured differently than this one was. The purpose of the format should not be geared towards being a “Flash In The Pan”. Rather they should be used to “Showoff” what else, besides these great values, your store has to offer. The changes we made helped to accomplish this. To begin with, we changed the length of time the ad ran. It was increased to become a seven-day ad. Seven days allowed our customers the ability to shop more at their own pace. If the store was too busy at the beginning of the ad, customers came back during the week when they weren’t as rushed. Also those customers, who found the sale to be a great value, shared the information with friends and family. If this happened in the beginning of the sale these friends also came shopping during the ad. The sale items were broadened to include more items that were not all loss leaders; this increased the mix to help our gross profit. The addition of items also helped increased the appeal to our customers. A very big side effect of the seven-day ad was the lower impact it had on our labor force. The employees were able to pay more attention to non-sale items, which increased gross profit, sales and improved store conditions, which helped to make a better impression on our customers. Thus allowing us to “Showoff” what we do best. We also became consistent when we ran this format. Event sales that are random rather than consistently scheduled lack the best part of the sale, the anticipation that the customers have of knowing that one will be coming. This anticipation on the customers’ part helped with word of mouth advertising. Our customers continued to tell their friends about the great values these formats have to offer, even after the sale had ended.
We’ve been running “Truckload Meat Sales” now for over 15 years and still continue to break sales records with them. They have become a great source of new customers and allow us to “Showoff” our store and have built sales on the weeks between. No matter what type of event sale you offer your customers, make sure you keep your eye on the long-term goal. Create an ad that builds your image and helps you become a “Showoff”.