An Open Letter To Fast Food Chains Concerning Black Friday

To whom it may concern,
you don’t know me but i am a patron of your business. unless you’re arby’s (sorry…just not a fan), then i have been at each of your restaurants (franchise or whatever) recently. so as an active supporter and patron of your restaurants, i wanted to write this post to help you make some extra money and in turn help some people out (who, i just checked on, are hungry).

you see, it’s 11pm on thanksgiving night. i just got back from a movie (changeling if you must know) with my sister and we enjoy driving by places like best buy or the mall to see all the “crazy” people who start lining up at 6pm the night before black friday so that they can be the first ones to get their hands on the “hot items” of the year. as much fun as it is to go “people-watching”, i started thinking about these people and how long of a night that is. i realized that, because the line is shifting throughout the night, someone in each group or party that is sitting in front of these stores has to stay awake, unless they were to wake up farther down the line because they lost their place. i can’t speak for every store, but i can say for most best buy stores, people are there from 6pm on. that’s 12 hours of waiting. that’s 12 hours of NIGHT…waiting. when most people are sleeping, they are waiting in line.

what does this have to do with you?
simple answer…they get hungry but no place is open.

everyone knows that denny’s and ihop are always open, but these places are not takeout places or drive-thru places where they can come real quick and get back to their group waiting in the line. it makes no sense to me because more people are out on thanksgiving night and black friday between the hours of 10pm and 6am than you would probably get for lunch for the whole week. i can tell you, there is a serious demand out there, but for some reason…there is no supply.

my friend told me that where he grew up (palm coast) there was a starbucks open during these hours and they made half a million dollars in that one night just because they stayed open. now, i can’t prove that dollar figure and give documentation about it, but let’s imagine a bit. doesn’t that make sense? people want something warm and something to keep them awake. it makes sense that starbucks would make a serious profit that night. in the same way, people are hungry and if you were to have your restaurants open throughout the night (on this night), people would not only respond with money and sales, they would respond with gratitude…gratitude for serving them in a time of need. you see, people understand why you are closed. they understand that you let your employees off for the day and they think of you highly for that, for letting them spend the day with their families.

but i think i have a plan that would impress them more. so for no charge, here it is:

  1. leave your business open that night staffed by a team with high morale
    i would encourage you to open up your business on thanksgiving night somewhere between 6-8pm (definitely no later than 10pm). 8pm may be the best time. that way all your employees can celebrate thanksgiving with their families and even get some extra sleep…because they’re going to need it. but since this is a holiday, if your team doesn’t have an extra incentive to do this, you will be seen as a grinch or scrooge and the low morale will hurt you in the long run. my advice is to offer double wages for that night only (trust me, you will easily recoup any “extra” money you spend). have a talk with your team and cast the vision. focus on the need (serving people who are hungry) and the response they will have (thanks and money-both short and long term). i would suggest doing 2-3 hour shifts that night to keep the excitement and patience up. an eight hour work day is long enough without it being in the middle of the night.
  2. market in the lines
    while you’re open, send a couple people to the local mall, walmart or popular store where everyone is waiting in line. give them some cards that simply say “we’re open all night tonight in case you’re hungry or if you need anything”. people are used to not seeing any restaurants open, so if you want to be seen, you’re going to have to get out there. all of a sudden, people will be going to your restaurant to pick up stuff for their whole group…because i promise you, come 1am, there will be a mutiny if the group knows there is food somewhere and no one will go out to get it. lol
  3. lightly sell in the lines
    this one is going to take the permission of the store, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. maybe they will do a partnership deal or something. i would suggest sending a couple employees to wherever the lines are with a cooler filled with one of your products (ex. if you are chickfila, a cooler filled with chicken sandwiches) and then sell them for $2-3 a piece, cash. that way the people in line don’t have to leave (in case they’re by themself) and you still make money. i would strongly recommend that you do not overprice these products you’re selling. THAT will turn off your customers and though they may buy from you that night (for whatever reason), you will suffer in the long run.

i hope this helps. if some place were to do this, their testimony would change the face of pre-black friday morning. i hope it happens. if it does, i’ll stop in and say thanks. 🙂 your faithful young supporter, matthew manchester


4 comments on “An Open Letter To Fast Food Chains Concerning Black Friday

  1. christina says:

    i whole heartedly agree…. but i had some problems with the last point (prob cuz of where i come from and know that we cant do stuff like that here. let me explain)first off, its amazing to me that u can sleep outside a store all night and have no worries about being robbed, held up, mugged, or anything else (even though u’re in a group). LOL that jus does NOT happen here.i agree with points one and two, but point three regarding the cooler may not be so attractive for the restaurants and here’s why. The minute the food leaves the restaurant in coolers, it already becomes “inventory” that has gone out with no revenue earned on it. That means, all of the costs associated with that inventory are completely finalized, but the revenue is up in the air. Now, if you absolutely 100% trust the employees that u send out with those coolers (which, lets face it, isnt really realistic for a “big wig” decision maker high up in a company who has to approve this decision, because they dont know the employees) then u have the worry (somewhat justified) that the employee could steal the food, give it away, trip and lose it if it falls to the ground. Or, the employee could just pocket the cash from the sales. So, in order to combat this, you MUST have some sort of control system, i.e. if 10 sandiwches went out at $2 a piece, then the employee shud return with $20. right?Some restaurants may see this as more of a hassle, and may prefer to just avoid it.However, the mobile idea is an excellent idea – if you could think of another way to work it, like perhaps small mobile hut-like kiosks that can make fresh chicken sandwiches located in some central location, like a mall parking-lot, i dunno… but sumthin like that may work better in your plans of trying to bring the food to the final consumer.those are just my thoughts. mostly cuz i dont come from a culture where u can trust ppl to go out with ur goods and to return with money. so i may be wrong, but i do acknowledge that there is ALOT of merit to the idea. =)

  2. Hollie says:

    I went to Best Buy in Jacksonville last year at 4am and there were people doing exactly what you’re suggesting. Starbucks happened to be in the same parking lot at they were open especially for this. Someone else was wheeling around one of those silver coffee dispensers and selling coffee for like 2 dollars a cup or something. Also another business was selling sandwiches for a few dollars (could have been chick fil a I can’t remember) so anyway Matt I think your problems just come from living in a small town, but great ideas anyway!

  3. Matthew says:

    thanks hollie! :-)technically i was in sanford people watching this year. i’m normally in daytona. i would never expect businesses in deland to do this…unless they read my blog. 🙂

  4. Lynne says:

    I guess we differ. I take the time to thank ALL fast-food managers for closing their establishments on such holidays to give their employees a well-deserved break.Too many kids have to do without mom or dad, especially those in low-paying jobs such as fast-food, at odd hours anyway. Its nice to know that businesses are willing to forgo extra profits to do what is RIGHT by their employees.Kudos to those businesses!!!Perhaps people today are so busy thinking what ELSE could I be doing, why do I have to stay at home, i’ve been here all day… that it just KILLS them to stay home for one day. I dunno.As for the Black Friday morning ideas– those are great. I”ev noticed at large malls, many places like Starbucks DO have a temporary table set up outside with quick coffee & such. Given the horrible incident at the NJ Walmart, I doubt busineses will want to put their employees in possible harms way to help feed & warm up all those people standing in lines in the wee hours of the morning. Good idea, but probably never applicable after that disgusting display of ‘humanity’. Who wants to put up with that kind of crap AND risk law suits by employees if one of them (the employees) were to be trampled if they were in the wrong spot once the store doors opened?

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