Bringing Exposure '2U'
Mobile gaming company delivers marketing boost for quick serves with video games, laser tag, and more.
When the Chick-fil-A in the Village at Westlake in West Lake Hills, Texas, held its fifth-anniversary celebration in December, operator Alan Williams decided to hire a company from Austin to come and entertain customers.
That company, Games2U, arrived with video games, a human gyroscope, and more to kick off year No. 6 in style.
"We heard that they provided some fun activities for children in the area, and so we thought that that would be a good partnership with Chick-fil-A," says Ginger Craddock, marketing director for the West Lake Hills Chick-fil-A.
"We cater to children, so we like bringing these kinds of events that focus on children and young adults."
Games2U Entertainment is a mobile gaming enterprise that provides parking lot entertainment for parties, festivals, and businesses, including quick serves.
"We set up and turn on all of the bells and lights and craziness and we simply create awareness and attract attention, which drives sales," says David Pikoff, who co-founded Games2U in 2007 with his brother, Stuart.
Games2U has 52 operational franchised units in 22 states, with 102 total franchises sold. In 2010, Pikoff says the company is projecting to sell an additional 300 franchises, including some international units.
Games2U, Pikoff says, is the first national branded home-entertainment company. Each franchise includes one or two employees who arrive at host sites with a truck that includes flat-screen TVs, surround sound, and games.
In addition to video games and gyroscopes, there's laser tag and human hamster balls, as well as proprietary equipment like a 4D movie theater and a seven-foot operational robot.
"When you try to create an attraction and you have unlimited choices, you can do … magicians and balloon artists and things of that nature," says Joe Connors, an Austin-based Games2U franchisee. "But it doesn't have the snap, sizzle, or the exposure that Games2U has pulled up to the front of your restaurant."
Pikoff says Games2U has had success with several quick serves, including Chick-fil-A and Whataburger franchises.
"We've had many locations report that they've had a greater than 30 percent increase in their sales just based on the fact that they've got us creating awareness, visibility, and momentum in the parking lot," Pikoff says.
"If you give the consumer just one more reason to pick your store rather than one of the others right next door to you, then you win, you'll capture their business."
Connors says he bought into the company in April 2008 because he was a friend of the Pikoff brothers and knew the company was innovative.
"It's such a unique concept, and frankly I think in today's economy, those businesses that have figured out how to take their business to the customer are doing really well," Connors says.
Though Connors says that less than 10 percent of his franchise's business has been with quick serves, he plans on making a push for more in the future. He calls the company's relationship with quick serves a "win-win," as restaurants tend to use Games2U's services on weekdays to boost slow sales.
If you give the consumer just one more reason to pick your store rather than one of the others right next door to you, then you win, you'll capture their business."
"We're very, very busy on weekends, Friday through Sunday," he says. "We're always looking for new and different things to do Monday through Thursday, and quick serves always seem to make a good fit."
Pikoff agrees. "We're challenging ourselves to create weekday business, and this is proven to be probably the best for us."
He says events are typically about $300 for three hours of service, and Games2U does the marketing for its clients.
"The manager hires us to be there, we set up in the parking lot, and that's the extent of it," he says. "Kids go over and they play some of the games and they walk inside and get a burger, fries, and a shake."
Craddock says she will definitely hire Games2U for future events—but maybe with a more specific focus next time.
"I will not do the gyroscope," she says. "I will do the video games, which appear to be more popular."