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Need Traffic? Create a Holiday


Alexis Lamster

There seems to be a holiday for just about everything, from National Hot Dog Day to Make Up Your Own Holiday Day—seriously, it's March 26. 

These holidays can be more than just something to talk about around the water cooler; they can drive material traffic and train customers to come in. Today, in fact, marks Dairy Queen's Free Cone Day. The event raised $140,000 for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals last year as the company handed out 1,330 free cones at each store. 

That's some great PR and something interesting to market, but it also means traffic, sales and reminding the customer what makes the brand special. 

Bruce Schroder, president of Moe's Southwest Grill said during a presentation at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference they created two holiday-like events to keep the concept top of mind as the seasons change. 

It "reemphasizes the brand going into and out of summer to create habits," said Schroder. 

Cinco de Moe's falls appropriately in May and Quesopalooza falls in September, both times when habits change going into summer as kids return to school. 

At Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Mike Rotondo celebrates and capitalizes on a holiday the company created 10 years ago: National Flip Flop Day.  Over the years, Rotondo and company have raised $3.7 million for Camp Sunshine, a camp for the families of children with life-threatening illnesses. Of course, it brought in a lot of traffic, too.

"We'll have half a million people experience Tropical Smoothie Cafe just on that day," said Rotondo. And once they're in the long line waiting for a free smoothie, they're seeing the new menu items and pondering coming back for lunch in the future. 

Creating a holiday allows a company to pick any day to spice things up instead of trying to cut through the noise on a traditional holiday—though that's still a great way to connect as well. Companies can either just name their holiday and start marketing, but companies can also create a more official holiday by registering the special day in an official capacity. 

The first thing to do to create a "real" holiday is register through Chase's Calendar of Events that features all those quirky holidays that go viral each year. Then, it's just a matter of getting support from other companies, charitable organizations or even local and regional legislators. Then it's just a matter of marketing that holiday and creating fun and inviting festivities. 

Who knows, maybe in a few years, that quirky company holiday will have families coming together to bask in the glow of the Queso tree or share smoothies with the in-laws. Just look at Hallmark—there's no better marketing than a tradition. 

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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