Take Sandella’s Flatbread Cafe on I Street in Washington. It’s been a go-to establishment on my weekly lunch tour for a while, and I had grown fond of the place since they first opened a few years ago. My better half, the Bitchin’ Dietitian, would approve of my faves: the Mediterranean Quesadilla (400 calories) and Chicken Fajita Quesadilla (510 calories).
Sadly, last week I went to grab a flatbread sandwich and the doors to Sandella’s were locked and it was dark inside. I think this location has just gone out of business, a real shame. I guess I’m not totally shocked since they were in a high-rent location and the place was never really packed with customers. The recession likely didn’t help.
But I can’t help but wonder if Sandella’s on I Street did everything it could to survive.
Lack of Social Media Engagement
Men’s Health magazine recently named Washington, DC, America’s most socially networked city. Not Palo Alto (aka Zuckerburgh) but your Nation’s Capital. Woot! Yet in my experience with Sandella’s, they never took the opportunity to engage and interact with these tech savvy customers. Here are some thoughts that may or may not have helped.
Though several Sandella’s franchises around the country have fairly active Twitter pages, the main Sandella’s page (@sandellas) is really sad. It has over 100 customers following it, but the page hasn’t been updated since 2009. Actually, Sandella’s has only sent out 3 tweets! I’ve tweeted several times about my delicious lunch at Sandella’s but never had any response at all. It’s hard to imagine customers saying nice things about a business and them not taking the time to discover this easily accessible information and hitting the engage button.
I’m proud to say I was a one-time Foursquare Mayor of Sandella’s on I Street until Zack L. ousted me. You already know that Foursquare is the super popular geo-social application with which users check-in to local businesses. These check-in’s can be announced on Twitter alerting the entire Twitterverse that customers are in your store. In general I think businesses have been slow to take advantage of people saying, “I’m here at [insert name of business!]“. For example, could Sandella’s offer perks for the mayor of each of it’s stores? $2 off a sandwich or free chips? And what about special deals for customers who check-in a certain number of times? In social media, I really think offering something as trivial as a bag of chips can create buzz. Crazy, don’t you think?
Brown Bag, just around the corner from Sandella’s, offers $5 off lunch for customers who write a restaurant review on the social networking site, Yelp. What’s interesting is Brown Bag wants both postive and negative reviews. They actually care about what their customers think about Brown Bag! Could Sandella’s have done something similar?
What do you think?
Could these small social media steps have helped Sandella’s on I Street survive? What else do think may have made a difference?