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Superb Restaurants Play An Important Role In ValueCard�s Success!

Smilingly stating the obvious, Mike Ecks, Senior Account Executive of ValueCard�s media department, exclaimed, �We certainly can�t create diners.

�However, we can provide an advertising campaign that enables our restaurant-owner clients to create an awareness of their establishment--thereby attracting new customers from the universe of restaurant patrons.�

In short, restaurateurs in San Francisco face the same situation as do restaurant owners across America. That is, a finite number of diners within a given location.

But, according to Ecks, in San Francisco there�s even fiercer competition, given the thousands of full-service, sit-down, dining establishments available.

�In this city,� he pointed out, �you can get a fabulous gourmet meal at midnight--so we�re close to Manhattan (NYC) in that respect.�

An in-depth interview (issue #18) with restaurant owners across the United States, titled �Why and How Savvy Restaurateurs Trade,� showed that successful restaurant owners typically allocated 4% to 5% of their gross sales to on-going advertising and promotion.

Ecks says the same percentages hold for ValueCard clients. And with some of San Francisco�s finer restaurants doing $6 to $7 million a year in business, that translates into a considerable media appetite.

For the past two years Ecks, a communications graduate from Marquette University, has been ValueCard�s point man, interacting with and assisting 90 or so of the 125 member restaurants, who regularly spend the bulk of their trade dollars on advertising.

�The big users of trade are heavily into media. Some of our restaurants spend nearly 100% of their trade earnings on advertising. I�d say the average spends 60% to 70%. It�s a very cost effective expenditure,� Ecks asserted, �for them.�

The process to determine what�s needed begins with an in-depth conversation between Ecks and the restaurant owner. �And it�s their business we talk about, not mine,� Ecks emphasized.

�Although my contribution is perceptible, it�s also quantifiable,� he added. Analyzing a particular restaurant�s needs, and then putting together the right advertising campaign, is what makes ValueCard�s services so valuable.

�After all,� Ecks reasoned, �our restaurant clients are in the business to make money, and the only way to make money is through sales.�

Ecks says he works with his clients by always focusing on what their goals are for the coming year, instead of asking them what their media budget is.

�Right from the beginning, I�m interested in their business--such as where they want to be a year from now with the number of covers.1 My job is to help them improve their profits.

�Depending on their input,� he noted, �the location of the restaurant, plus the other variables involved, we analyze their situation.

�Our years of experience in this business enables us to construct an appropriate advertising campaign--targeting specific markets--aimed at expanding sales volume to bring in the desired number of additional customers to meet their goals,� he explained.

�Often the campaign includes a mix from our media inventory of print (magazines), cable car ads, taxi-top displays, billboards, outdoor wallscapes and radio. 

�Over the years,� he continued, �we�ve performed. So we�re quite confident in our ability to add value for them. That�s really the bottomline, when all is said and done.�

Ecks emphasized that restaurants are a very important part of ValueCard�s 263 different product categories.

�Virtually everyone enjoys fine dining. And our extensive media clients are often entertaining (their many clients), as well. Having superb restaurants keeps everything moving. This is really a circular business when you think about it.�

(ValueCard was sold to Intagio since the time this article was written.)