Nothing but BlueskyOctober 21, 2009 By: Emily Hanna Mayock
New company aims to improve business, even — and especially — in the worst weather.
When Matt Ackerson was growing up, he watched the weather closely. After all, how the weather played out deeply affected his job.
“For two years in high school I worked as a dishwasher, chef and bus boy at a local restaurant called Vinnie’s Mulberry Street in my hometown (Huntington, N.Y.). During my time there I noticed a direct relationship between external factors such as the weather, seasons and time [and business at the restaurant],” Ackerson says. “I noticed this because whenever business was slow the waiters and I would sit around, play cards and complain and joke about how little in tips we would make for that night.”
This experience led Ackerson to take the weather into his own hands: In September, he and co-founder Angel Villegas launched Bluesky Local, a Slow Sales Response solution for restaurants in which sales patterns are identified based on weather conditions, time of day, day of the week, seasons and more. From there, operators can create an account on blueskylocal.com, input the conditions in which they find sales are slow and select promotions they’d like to offer through text, e-mail and social networking outlets. “The [promotion time] can be broad (e.g. ‘whenever it rains’) or very specific (‘between 2 and 6 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays in November, when it’s predicted to snow’),” CEO and co-founder Ackerson explains. “Once set up, Bluesky Local runs automatically every day, watching weather conditions, time, seasons, etc.”
Although Bluesky Local mainly focuses on quick-serve and casual dining restaurants at the moment, Ackerson hopes to venture into the world of bars and nightclubs, as he says the ability to log on and send out a two-for-one draft coupon at a moment’s notice to a broad range of clientele could prove beneficial.
So far, Bluesky Local’s users have seen, on average, a 14 percent redemption rate, he says. Additionally, customer lists have grown; Ackerson says one venue operator started using Bluesky’s services last month and already have a list of 1,300 patrons.
Not all redemption rates have been that high, but Ackerson contends the service still is invaluable, especially if you have a large customer database. “If you owned a restaurant with 1,000 customers on your list and set up promotions to be delivered on rainy days, but on average saw a redemption rate of 2.5 percent, this is still extremely valuable. A 2.5 percent redemption rate will equal 25 redemptions,” he explains. “Each table, one can safely assume, will have at least two patrons. If each patron is worth only $12, that’s $600 in revenue for your restaurant that would likely not have been garnered on that day.
“In addition, one restaurant owner we worked with reported that coupon redemption tended to mean larger tips for waiters and waitresses,” Ackerson says. And with increased business and bigger tips, your employees certainly won’t be left playing cards to pass the time.