Damon's Grill Seeks Catch of the Day: Franchisees

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Damon's Grill began its first direct mail recruitment campaign this month to lure franchisee owners of other restaurants to open Damon's Grill locations.

The chain, which has 143 restaurants mainly in the East, sent 150 mail pieces to prospects two weeks ago.

"Direct mail will allow us to be more targeted and proactive in going after the people we value as potential candidates," said Todd Peterson, director of franchise sales at Damon's Grill, Columbus, OH. "We are not sending out a huge number of mailings. The campaign is going to focus on the eastern part of the U.S. And while the pool of candidates isn't extremely large, we are being very specific about who we target."

That pool includes existing multi-unit restaurant owners who are looking to expand their portfolios. In particular, it is pursuing owners of quick-service and fast-food restaurants who have significant financial capabilities able to make an initial investment of $1.7 million.

"This group of people will be less likely to be prohibited from running another restaurant from a different franchise," Peterson said. "Some companies have restrictions and forbid those types of things."

A portion of the list was compiled in-house while consulting firm KMH Partners, Lexington, KY, helped with other parts.

The mailer contains a personalized cover letter and a brochure. The cover of the brochure has a photograph of a prototype Damon's Grill restaurant. Inside are more photos of the interior of the restaurants along with an outline of the financial opportunities that opening a Damon's Grill can provide. The piece contains a Web address and telephone number for people to respond. Sales representatives will call those who do not reply.

The next campaign will be mailed to another 150 prospects within 10 days, Peterson said.

"We want to allow time for our people to follow up to the first mailing," he said. "This will also give us time to see what the response is like and how receptive people are to this."

No plans are set for how long the campaign will run or how many people it will target. But Peterson expects 500 direct mail pieces will be sent in all.

"We want to target all of our best prospects in the mid-Atlantic region and develop that area before we expand the campaign and target people out West," he said.

The campaign so far has cost only $5,000.

Damon's hopes to add 20 to 25 restaurants in the next 12 months and sign several new multi-unit franchise development agreements.

Pia Tinsley Design, Huntington Beach, CA, worked on the creative for the campaign. KMH Partners helped with the text used in the piece.


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