The inaugural running of the GINNY 500 kicked off on June 28th, and will run through May 17, 2015. The GINNY 500 is and will be Jonathan Byrd’s biggest promotion ever. With what we are planning to do, we hope to make a big splash that keeps us on the radar screen for existing customers and will allow us to develop new customers.
During this time, any customer that spends $500 at Jonathan Byrd’s in any form (dine-in, take-out, drive-thru, gift cards, bulk orders, etc…), “qualifies" for the GINNY 500 and gets their name, the name of a friend or family member, their Twitter handle, or their company name on the Jonathan Byrd’s IndyCar that will compete in the 2015 Indianapolis 500. Naturally, the GINNY 500, as the Jonathan Byrd’s rewards program, will be an ongoing concern, and the second annual “running" of the GINNY 500 will commence on May 18, 2015.
In addition to the reward of the name on the car, and to incentivize our customers to go beyond their $500 in spending, there will be awards for the top spenders in the GINNY 500. Appropriately, we are calling our top spenders the “fast nine". The fast nine will be able to choose from a specific list of gifts and prizes made exclusively available to them, such as an original brick from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to being a member of our race day pit crew, to exclusive race day ticket, f&b, and credential packages, and more. Beyond that, as soon as we have our first 33 “qualifiers", who are the first 33 people to complete their $500 in spend (and who will receive a Jonathan Byrd’s Racing shirt), we’ll commence monthly drawings for a special set of prizes available exclusively to our qualifiers. These prizes will include things like dinner for four at Jonathan Byrd’s with Bryan Clauson, IndyCar 2-seater rides at the Speedway, all-access credentials for the month of May, an official crew shirt autographed by Bryan Clauson, a spot in the official Indy 500 team qualifying picture, and more.
At first it may seem difficult to achieve, but the customer that comes in to Jonathan Byrd’s five days a week for lunch and spends $8 each visit would qualify for the GINNY 500 in just over 12 weeks. The family of four that came in every Sunday and spent $50 per week would qualify for the GINNY 500 in just 10 weeks. Realistically, somebody could come to Jonathan Byrd’s once a week and easily qualify for the GINNY 500 in the available time period, if they were to throw in the occasional purchase of a whole pie or cake for a family gathering. The family of four could come in once a month and comfortably qualify for the GINNY 500 before next May. A single individual could place multiple names on the Jonathan Byrd’s Racing IndyCar.
It is our hope that this program would turn the once-in-a-while customer into a frequent diner. With our own history at Indy and its importance to our community, and with the incredibly popular Bryan Clauson as the driver, it is not difficult at all to conceive of a large number of people taking steps to reach the $500 level simply to get their name or the name of their business on the car, so that their business could be recognized as a sponsor of the team. In fact, an individual could simply purchase 10 $50 gift cards to give to family, friends, clients, employees, business associates, etc…, in order to complete the GINNY 500.
Of course, we also recognize that there are those that would like to get on board with this but will be unable to do so simply because they don’t live anywhere near Jonathan Byrd’s. For those individuals, we have made it possible to make a tax deductible $500 donation to our non-profit “Ev’ryman Victory" at the Jonathan Byrd’s Racing website (www.jonathanbyrdsracing.com). With that, the donor will qualify for the GINNY 500, get their name on the Jonathan Byrd’s IndyCar, and their tax deductible $500 donation will be used to purchase $500 worth of Jonathan Byrd’s gift cards that will be distributed locally to social service organizations, volunteer groups, veterans groups, military families, schools, health clinics, public safety workers, and more.
In addition to offering a reward to our customers, we are also making this reward available to those that are the heartbeat of Jonathan Byrd’s — our dedicated and hardworking staff. Every then current member of the Jonathan Byrd’s team that has worked at least 500 hours for Jonathan Byrd’s by the May 17, 2015 deadline, will also have their name added to the Jonathan Byrd’s IndyCar.
We have always believed that there were benefits to our business in having a Jonathan Byrd’s car at the Indy 500. From 1985 to 2001, the Indy 500 was a venture that provided tangible and intangible value to our restaurant operations in a number of ways. We lost those benefits when we stopped racing in 2001, and tapped into them again briefly with our Indy 500 effort in 2005. However, when it came to those intangible benefits, which is essentially the question of whether or not our racing involvement itself brought customers through the doors, we have never truly had a way to know if there was indeed a direct benefit derived from our Indy 500 program, though we always recognized anecdotal benefits to be sure.
So we decided that now was the time to change that and to know for sure. Thus, enter the “GINNY 500". For us, the GINNY 500 is BIG, NEW, UNPRECEDENTED, & TIMELY! We first conceived of this program about seven years ago, and with the changes that we were making, together with the plans that go along with those changes, we decided that now was the time to do this.
We believe that the GINNY500 will be an important and incredibly useful tool for maintaining existing customers and acquiring new customers for Jonathan Byrd’s, while also and just as importantly, creating a group of people that we hope to involve with the community outreach and development programs that we will be implementing as part of the off-track efforts of Jonathan Byrd’s Racing (house builds with the Fuller Center For Housing). We believe that, in tapping into part of the ethos and heartbeat of central Indiana, which is racing in general and the Indy 500 specifically, not to mention the tremendous volunteer spirit of our community, the GINNY 500 will provide the customers of Jonathan Byrd’s with something that is not being made available to them by any other restaurant in central Indiana.
The GINNY 500 also gives us a tool to maintain customer continuity as we continue to operate in the scaled-down and transition stage Jonathan Byrd’s restaurant, and while we begin executing our expansion plans to establish additional Jonathan Byrd’s locations throughout central Indiana over the coming years. It is part of our effort to let our current customers and the public at large (future customers) know that we are still here, that we are not going anywhere, and that we have even better and exciting things in store for us and for them.
Going beyond that, we believe that the GINNY 500 gives us a tool to develop new sponsor relationships for our racing effort tied directly to our business, as employers located in proximity to the current and future Jonathan Byrd’s location(s) will be able to structure relationships with us such that the cumulative spend of their employees can be used to create sponsorship and preferred charity engagement packages with the Jonathan Byrd’s Racing team, while each individual employee is still able to qualify for the GINNY 500 on their own and get their name on the Jonathan Byrd’s IndyCar.
Efforts at crowd-funding have been popular of late, and there are a number of entities that have tried to do that for an Indy 500 effort, but there is always an "if" attached to it — "if" we can raise enough money, we’ll run the Indy 500. Of course, this is NOT a crowd-funding campaign, and we are taking the “if" factor out of it. We have history. We’ve been there. We’re going back. We’ve signed a driver. We have a partner team. We’re doing it. We’re not saying “if we get enough people to complete the GINNY 500, your name will be on the Jonathan Byrd’s car." We’re saying “We’re running Indy in 2015. We’re doing it with USAC Champion and Indiana’s own Bryan Clauson. You get to be on board by spending $500 with us between now and May 17th of next year, so GET IN THE RACE with us!"
We believe that the GINNY 500, as it is linked specifically to the Jonathan Byrd’s Racing effort, complements our Colts’ sponsorship quite well (Jonathan Byrd’s is the Official Catering Company of the Indianapolis Colts), and capitalizes on our history to tie us and our customers directly to Indiana’s largest annual event—especially leading up to the 100th running!
No business in central Indiana, as far as we know, has ever offered something like this to their customer base, simply for doing what it is that they do all the time. There have been fan-funded efforts in the past, but something like this may very well be a unique opportunity in the 100+ year history of the Indy 500.
Bottom line, the citizens and race fans of central Indiana are going to go out to eat, and of course everybody in central Indiana is more than well aware of the Indy 500. By our way of thinking, we might as well give people an additional reason to dine at Jonathan Byrd’s, simply by linking their dining choice directly with being able to have their name on a car in the Indy 500.
As someone chooses Jonathan Byrd’s to do what they are going to do anyway, which is eat at a restaurant (or get take-out or hit the drive-thru), they can effectively become a sponsor of the Jonathan Byrd’s Indy car and do something special and memorable for themselves, their families, and their businesses, while also positioning themselves to access some pretty cool gifts and prizes. They will be able to take part in the Indy 500 in a way that they may have never thought possible. They don’t have to do anything extra or special to achieve this. Who else will be able to offer this to the racing fans, Indy 500 fans, and Bryan Clauson fans of central Indiana and the nation? Nobody else is doing this. We truly believe that a large number of people will make it a point to come to Jonathan Byrd’s to get in on this unique opportunity, while also enjoying what we believe to be our high quality and high value food.
By committing to the Indy 500 and by putting this in place, we are giving our customers a chance to have a direct involvement in the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, which has been a big part of our lives, our business, and our history. It is a way to tie into our past while moving forward. It is a way to gain new patrons. It is a way to turn current guests into more frequent guests. It will give us a chance to connect in a meaningful way with our best customers, and tell them that, apart from the great food and value pricing that they already get from us, that we want to give them the opportunity to be a part of an event that is of tremendous significance to our community and to our family. Indeed, it is a way to reward the central Indiana community by connecting them to the event that defines our community on a global stage—the Indianapolis 500.
It is an opportunity that they would not have anywhere else, and again, it comes from doing nothing more than they are already doing, which is dining out. We want to give our customers a reason to choose Jonathan Byrd’s more frequently than they already do. We want to give people who are not currently choosing Jonathan Byrd’s a reason to do so. As a restaurant operation, it is what we have always wanted, and we believe that this is a way to do it.