The Fresh Fish Co. in Denver just marked its thirtieth anniversary. Started long before the latest Atkins or South Beach diet crazes, the restaurant has lured customers with the freshest fish available grilled to order on smoky mesquite grills. Birthdays are big events at the Fish Co. So much so, customers are encouraged to join the company’s birthday club. Club members receive postcards inviting them to the restaurant to receive a discount on their entrée equal to their age. Manager Timothy McNamara says that the birthday club is so successful, 25 percent of the customers in the restaurant each evening come in to receive their birthday discount. On most nights, the restaurant serves birthday dinners to 100 guests. Entrees are about $30 at the restaurant and the average discount is $12 to $18. Is it profitable? Consider this: How many people go out for dinner alone on their birthdays? Most celebrants come with parties of four to eight. They usually order appetizers, drinks and desert with their entrees so the average meal costs about $45 to $50.
Most important, the restaurant has built a loyal customer base. Every year, 36,500 unique customers come in just to mark their birthdays. One woman—now 107-years-old—actually collected $7 from the restaurant on her recent birthday! The birthday club list grows every year—ensuring the success of the Fresh Fish Co. for years to come.
At this point, you may be thinking “sure, restaurants, clothing stores and home stores can offer discounts; they sell commodities and have great margins. This doesn’t apply to my business. Besides, national chains have the resources to run those kinds of programs.” Not always true.