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Start-Up Watch COD: ThinkNear Helps Brick and Mortars Drive Business During Slow Sales Periods

One of the biggest challenges facing a local brick and mortar business is managing staffing levels for the amount of customer flow you are probably going to get during different time periods.
  • For example, given that employees don’t want one or two hour shifts but that many businesses have heavy sales periods during the day that last one to two hours, there’s a fundamental resource problem.
  • Another example: say you operate a restaurant in Daytona Beach. Business may be strong during the “Season” in Florida when the Snowbirds come south, But come April or May you can probably hear crickets in the kitchen. While you COULD let your employees go every year, we all know that when you find a great worker you want to hold on to them.
Do you staff for the slow periods, and risk losing customers from poor service during rushes? Or do you staff for the rush and then have staff standing around doing nothing but collecting wages? Or do you staff somewhere in between and try to balance it all as best you can?
And one friendly reminder before I get on with this review: rent and electricity don’t cost any less during slow times, so anything that can help drum up business during those periods can be a godsend.
ThinkNear is a location-based promotions service for local businesses that aims to eliminate this problem by enabling store owners to drive up sales during slow periods with limited time offers delivered to smart phones within a certain radius of a location.
OK, so say you own a Subway. Your team is busy 11:30-1:30, but then has little to do from 1:30-4:00 when people begin coming in for take-out dinner sandwiches. Instead of accepting your slow time as a given, you instead work with ThinkNear to offer a $1 off coupon to individuals in the immediate vicinity, valid only during the slow period. You drive up incremental sales, ensure that your people are fully utilized, and dramatically increase the total revenue for your business.
This sizzle vid explains both the issue facing these small and larger businesses, and how their service can help turn it into an opportunity:
 
As some of you may know, I am on a bit of a crusade to point out to people that we are turning the web into a gigantic coupon ATM – and that this is not good for the future of our brands. If I hear of one more start-up working on a way to give away more of the margin, I am going to scream. But ThinkNear is different in my view. The service is clearly delivering business that would not otherwise go to a retailer, and while discounting is involved, the degree of savings is a bit more reasonable than Groupon et al.
Further, ThinkNear is something for national brick and mortar entities to consider as well. If you are Chili’s, having some incremental business around 2:00-5:00 would probably be welcome at virtually any location nationwide.
It’s an interesting service – of a type I think we are going to be hearing a lot about in the months and years to come.
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