We created The Regulars Business Alliance (TRBA
) because we believe in the magnetic power of mutualism. Local business owners and other independent professionals, like artists and freelancers, can thrive financially by banding together strategically.
In early 2015, The Regulars
had the goal of helping local business establishments make new forms of predictable, up-front revenue that could at least
offset their astronomically high fixed costs, like rent. By analyzing cash register data, consumer behavior, and a variety of other factors, we saw Pareto's 80/20 Rule in full effect: 20% of a business' customers almost always drive 80% of the revenue. These 20% are regular, repeat customers (commonly referred to as "Regulars").
Instead of investing time and money into acquiring new customers through traditional advertising, why couldn't business owners focus more heavily on converting their Regulars into an extremely loyal marketing engine? If their Regulars, who already account for 80% of sales, were to make purchases 3X more often, and bring friends & family with them more regularly, it was mathematically possible for revenue to double or triple rather quickly. But in reality, few business owners had the bandwidth to strategize, much less experiment, with this kind of plan. That's where TRBA steps in. After working side-by-side with thousands of local businesses, we have good data on the incentives and programs needed to effectively mobilize your Regulars.
We were initially inspired by the story of Borderlands books. A longtime fixture in SF's Mission District, Borderlands has the alluring musky scent of wood, books, and freshly brewed coffee. For decades, locals and tourists have come to Borderlands not just to read and relax, but also to relish in the history of one of the district's landmarks.
Like so many local establishments in SF in early 2015 however, the place had been struggling to make ends meet. Then, adding salt to the wound, the City of San Francisco imposed a $15/hour minimum wage law, which could easily have sounded the death knell for Borderlands Books. But Alan Beatts, the owner, decided to write an impassioned letter to the community, asking for help.
In order to continue operating the bookstore, Beatts wrote, Borderlands would need to find at least 300 sponsors willing to contribute $100/year. The logic was: "If there aren't 300 members every year, it's time for us to pack it in." In exchange for the membership fee, sponsors would receive VIP access to events, priority seating for author discussions and booksignings, and other perks. Unexpectedly, a whopping 800 people came through, many of them ushered in by Borderlands' Regulars. The following month (February, 2015) brought in the most sales in the history of Borderlands. And year later, over 600 people renewed their memberships!