The situation: I have recently become the manager of a medium-sized video rental store in a medium-sized town. No, it’s not a Blockbuster, but a smaller franchise operation. The store has been open for almost a year and a half; for the first year we were unprofitable, then we had two great months, then business began to fall again (as the weather got better – warm weather=fewer rentals), and last month we fell $300 short of our goal. We’re located in a shopping complex near a grocery store, a couple restaurants, the DMV, and a liquor store. We have a decent selection of movies; we can’t afford to get every new movie that comes in, because they just don’t rent, so most of our new releases consist of big Hollywood movies with a handful of smaller ones thrown in. But we do have a pretty good catalogue section, a medium-to-poor games section, and a large adult room in the back. We are one of three video rentals in town – us, a Blockbusters, and a small independant place. There used to be a fourth one, but it just went out of business.
I would really like to increase business. This is my first managerial experience, and I’d like to “make good,” both for the store’s sake, and for my own sake – it’s a personal challenge, and it’s also a matter of pride. Unfortunately, my power is limited. We have essentially zero advertising budget – no radio spots, no TV spots, and the leaflets and coupons they have tried in the past have had limited success, so I’m not sure if they’d be willing to go that route again. Any new specials I come up with must be approved by the store owner – who’s an openminded guy, but not a pushover. I have no control over our prices, which are, IIRC, better than Blockbuster’s, though we don’t have Blockbuster’s vaunted “No Late Fees” policy – we’ve already lost some customers who said they’d rather go to Blockbuster to avoid late fees.
So my challente to all you teeming millions is to come up with creative and CHEAP ways that I can increase business for our little store. What do you like and dislike about video stores? Can you think of any special promotions we can try? How can we get our name out there, get people into the store, and, more importantly, get them to keep coming back?
Here are a couple things I’ve worked on; tell me what you think of these:
CROSS-PROMOTION: Incredibly, our store has never done any cross-promotion with any of the restaurants in our complex. I fixed that in the first couple days since I took the job, and we’re now about to start a deal with five of our neighbors. With our neighboring pizza shop, sub shop, and Chinese restaurant, we’re going to have a deal where if customers bring in a receipt showing that they bought more than $10 worth of food at any of those stores, we’ll give them a rent-1-get-1-free special at our stores. (I wanted to do a different special, but this is the one my boss approved.) With the coffee shop next door we will allow them to show our movies on their big-screen-TV in exchange for advertising in their store. And – my coup de grace – we’re going to hang a sign in the DMV advertising that if people pass their driver’s test they can bring in their new license and we’ll give them a rent-1-get-1-free special.
REMEMBERING CUSTOMER’S NAMES: I’m thinking of asking my employees to try some tricks to remember our customers names, so that they can greet people by name when they come in the store. How would you feel about this – would you find it pleasant, or disconcerting?
CONTESTS: Before Easter we had a jar of candy on our counter, and had a contest so that the person who guessed the correct number in the jar would win some free rentals.
RECOMMENDATION CARDS: I’m thinking of typing up some cards to attach to the new release shelves by certain movies. The cards would have a mini-recommendation by one of my employees. I figure people rent movies because of good word-of-mouth, and this is one way to get the word out there and visible. One of the first things I did was to create an employee recommendation section from our catalogue movies with similar cards, and several people have commented positively on that, so I figure it might work with our new releases as well.
So that’s what I’ve got so far. Let me know what you think of these ideas, and if you have any ideas of your own, let me know – I’m really open to anything at the moment.