Let’s Eat!, a meal assembly store based out of Atlanta, GA, is best described as a hybrid of a grocery store and a restaurant. Let’s Eat! customers order a number of meals in advance from the store, conveniently reducing shopping trips, avoiding all preparation work like cleaning meats and chopping vegetables, and with no clean up required! All meals are prepared fresh and then frozen, with simple cooking instructions taped right on the packaging. Let’s Eat! customers enjoy the convenience of restaurant-quality meals at home-cooked prices.
Let’s Eat! franchise owner, Jeff Shumas, has a strong clientele who pre-order a number of meals to pickup and eat over the course of a few weeks or longer. These meals come frozen and require at least 24 hours to thaw before preparing.
Shumas only has so much refrigeration space, so there are only so many ready-to-prepare meals that can be stored each evening before they run out of space and have to freeze the meals. Because there is not much space, the staff cannot assemble hundreds of fresh meals and expect to move the inventory that same day.
Most of Shumas’ clients do pre-order meals and pick them up frozen; however, there are others who walk in looking for a meal to eat that same evening. Shumas keeps a few dishes available for these walk-ins, but if someone comes into the store and there are no meals available, that equals a lost sale. If there was a way to let his clients know about the available dinners each afternoon, they could come by that evening and pick up whichever meal they wished.
In the summer of 2008, Shumas started looking for a way to reach his customers on-the-go with his daily meal availabilities, so they could move more meals without running out of storage space. After reviewing his options, Shumas realized emails couldn’t be timed properly, and personalized phone calls just didn’t make sense for a large store. The only thing that made sense was text messaging. After a Google search, he compared a few different companies, and quickly settled on EZ Texting, due to its competitive pricing and no-commitment usage agreement. He signed up for free and purchased a couple thousand message credits, and rented the keyword LETSEAT so people could opt-in to his list.
To build his list, Shumas sent out an eBlast to his customers, introducing the “Dinner Tonight” program and inviting people to text LETSEAT to the number 313131 (or 393939 for Canada). Each person who opted-in expected no more than 5 messages per week. The messages would include 3-5 daily specials, allowing customers to know exactly what meals they could purchase that evening. Tuesday through Saturday, Shumas sends out a message around 4pm, right in time for the drive home after the workday.
EZ Texting has helped Shumas make this supplementary part of his businesses a reality. Every time they make a walk-in sale, they gain another customer. With more meals to sell thanks to the Dinner Tonight SMS program, Shumas is more willing to have his staff assemble extra meals because he knows they can be moved that same day thanks to the texting program. He tracks responses with a 5% off coupon on the text message that customers can redeem inside the store, and says that the service can be directly tied to transactions that add to his top-line revenue.