A Practical Guide to
How to Start a Home Based
Restaurant Advertising Business
James West Marketing Company
5000 Owls Nest Drive • Imperial, MO 63052
Copyright © 2008 James West
A PERSONAL MESSAGE
I’m pleased that you’ve decided to invest in your own business. With this
manual, you have all of the tools you need to begin and succeed in the business
of producing high quality restaurant placemats and menus in your own
I’ve tried very hard to avoid outrageous or empty promises about this
business and about the success you can expect. I’ve included only practical and
established techniques and verified methods to get your business up and
running. In fact, everything in this manual is based upon over 50 years of
experience in printing and in selling to local advertisers
A few of the questions I’ll answer for you include:
• How much it will cost to get started?
• How do I price the ads for maximum profit?
• Should I hire employees and sales personnel?
• Which restaurants and business firms should I call on?
• Are there any firms I should not call on?
• Should I include “trivia” or other games?
• Can I sell ads for more than one restaurant at the same time?
• What about restaurant and advertiser contracts?
Let me suggest also that you don’t need a lot of money, or expensive
equipment, or additional employees, or special skills, or licenses and permits.
And you can get started right away.
This business is not complicated, yet it can be very rewarding. Like any
successful business venture, however, the advertising profession requires
effort. But with this manual in hand, you have the roadmap you need for
reaching your goal of financial success. That goal is now much closer to you.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d really like to hear about your
success. And if you have questions about your business, I will be there for you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Personal Message...................................................................................................... 2
Table of Contents .......................................................................................................... 3
Before You Start ........................................................................................................... 5
Do you Need a Lawyer? ................................................................................................ 5
Your Accountant............................................................................................................ 6
Your Banking Partner.................................................................................................... 6
Your Company Name .................................................................................................... 7
Business Supplies......................................................................................................... 7
Your Target Market........................................................................................................ 9
Now Let’s Get Started ................................................................................................. 11
Start Up Costs ............................................................................................................. 11
Signing Up Restaurants .............................................................................................. 12
Selling Ads to Business Firms ................................................................................... 13
Pricing Your Ads ......................................................................................................... 16
Paper or Plastic ........................................................................................................... 17
Collections. .................................................................................................................. 18
Do You Need Employees? .......................................................................................... 19
Creating Your Ads ...................................................................................................... 19
Printing Your Placemats ............................................................................................. 20
Renewals ...................................................................................................................... 22
Take Home Menus ....................................................................................................... 23
Questions & Answers ................................................................................................. 24
Restaurant Contract. ……………………………………………………………….………. 29
Advertiser Contract ………………………………………………………………………… 30
Suggested Trivia Questions………………………………………………………….……..31
Restaurant Letter …………………………………………………………………………….33
Restaurant Referral Sheet .......................................................................................... 34
A Final Word. ……………………………………………………………………………..…..35
Everywhere we look we see advertising messages. When we watch television, or
listen to the radio, or drive our cars, we are bombarded with advertising. When we’re on the
Internet, we have pop-ups and billboards screaming at us. Whether we go to the
supermarket, or to school, or to sporting events, or even to church, we see hundreds of ad
Advertising is an accepted part of today’s culture. As long as there are businesses,
there will be advertising. But the advertising industry today is fiercely competitive. How can
any small business expect to succeed in this type of environment?
The good news is that you’re tapping into a segment of the advertising industry that
has almost no competition. You are providing a unique service that is FREE to restaurants in
your own area. And business firms that want to reach the restaurants’ customers pay all of
the costs, including your salary.
For any advertising campaign to be successful, it must serve the best interests of
everyone involved. This is particularly important in the restaurant placemat business.
Following are five major groups who will benefit from your efforts.
• The Restaurant Owners
• The Local Business Firms
• The Restaurant’s Customers
• The Printers and other Vendors
• The Advertising Company (That’s YOU!)
This manual will enable you to serve the best interests of all five of these groups, while
providing an enormous income for yourself and your family. We will get into detail about this
later in this manual.
You will learn how to approach restaurant owners and managers. You will learn how to
call on local business firms, and to convince them to advertise with you. You will learn how to
price your ads for maximum profit. You will also learn how to work with printers and other
vendors. In short, by applying the business strategies found in this manual, you will soon be
earning a very nice income working from your home.
This manual is not about how to get rich fast. It’s a guidebook that will to help you to
build a strong, viable business providing much-needed services to other firms, and to receive
the financial rewards for your efforts. It’s about working hard, treating everyone fairly, and
using your God-given talents to improve your own family’s financial condition. By applying
sound and proven business practices, you will be able to build a reputable and successful
BEFORE YOU START
As an entrepreneur, you are eager to get started. But let me offer a word or two of
caution. First, I suggest that you read this manual very carefully. I’ve included all of the hints
and suggestions that I have learned through the years. Study your manual very carefully and
be sure you are familiar and comfortable with the most important points.
Next, make sure that you have all of your supplies. You will find a list of what you will
need later in the manual. You don’t want to get started too quickly, and then discover that you
need certain items.
You might also spend some time visiting restaurants, in order to get an overview of
your market. I suggest that you don’t start selling before you are ready. You should never
show your hand before you are to take orders. Remember the old adage, “First
impressions are lasting”.
Following is a list of steps that you should take. These suggestions are not expensive
or time consuming. By adhering to these steps, however, you will be recognized as a
professional and serious advertising executive. Your business will also be much more
profitable if you get started right.
I’m not suggesting that your success is based strictly upon blind adherence to these
guidelines. But I have started and operated many different businesses, and I’m giving you the
benefit of that experience. So let’s just go over the steps you need to take.
DO YOU NEED A LAWYER?
I’m not an attorney, and I’m not offering legal advice. Please consult your own
attorney for proper legal counsel. But I will make a few observations. In my opinion, this is a
very low-risk business, as far as lawsuit exposure is concerned. I‘ve never had even a hint of
legal problems from customers, from restaurant owners, or from anyone else.
But we do live in a litigious society, in which many people always seem to be seeking
an excuse to bring lawsuits. You may feel more secure if you create an entity that protects
you from legal liability. Perhaps incorporating your business is something you might consider.
There are several different legal forms your business can take. Among your choices
are (a) sole proprietorship; (b) a partnership; (c) an “S” Corporation; (d) a regular corporation;
and (e) a limited liability corporation (LLC). Depending upon your personal circumstances,
each of these business models has its advantages.
Among the advantages of incorporating your business include limited liability, possible
tax savings, and greater borrowing ability.
My suggestion, however, is that you operate as a sole proprietorship for now, and
defer other decisions until your business has begun to grow. But be sure to seek qualified
counsel if you are in doubt.
But there is one possible reason that you might want to speak to an attorney. The
contracts that your restaurants and advertisers will sign are binding documents, and your
attorney might recommend changes that are appropriate for your state or country. I have
enclosed contracts in this package that you may use by simply having your own company
name and logo printed in the appropriate places.
A good working relationship with an accounting or bookkeeper can be critical to the
success of your business. As an entrepreneur, you need to know how you can benefit from
tax laws that will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Your accountant not only will
help you to avoid tax problems, but also will help you take advantage of tax laws that were
written especially for small businesses. Some of your accountant’s areas of expertise are the
• Filing a fictitious name with your state (if required)
• Using your home as a business expense, including utilities, taxes, & maintenance
• Capturing your sales and auto expenses (the IRS allows a very generous
• Hiring family members
• Hiring sales people (you might consider independent contractors instead of
• Preparing your monthly or quarterly estimated tax forms
• Preparing your annual state and federal income tax returns
• And many other business matters
Just remember that you can save an enormous amount of money as well as time and
grief by consulting with professionals.
YOUR BANKING PARTNER
There is not a great deal to discuss here, except for a couple of matters. First, you
should set up a separate checking account for your business. It is never a good idea to co-
mingle personal and business funds. A separate business account will save you a lot of time
and money. You will know exactly where you stand as far as profits; expenses, taxes, etc. are
concerned. You also will have the financial records you need at any time. It just makes
Secondly, a business account is necessary for you to maintain a professional image.
If you want to be successful, you must look and act successful.
And thirdly, a good banking relationship is essential if you need additional funds in the
future for expanding your business.
YOUR COMPANY NAME
I’m sure that by now you have already started to think about your company’s name. I
can make a few suggestions, but they would be no better than any that you can think of. I
might suggest that you not spend too much time on a name. When you have decided upon a
name for your company, it will be accepted as long as you are providing needed services for
But don’t let the name of your company place limits on your possible future activities.
For example, if your company is called Bob’s Placemats, you are restricting your activity to
selling placemats. If you name your company Bob’s Restaurant Services, you are restricting
your sales to restaurants.
In my opinion, the best name for your company is one that has greater future
expansion potential, such as Bob’s Advertising Company, Bob’s Enterprises, or a generic
name such as Spotlight On Advertising, Effective Marketing, or On Target Sales.
The main thing you need to focus on is sales and marketing. Nobody really cares what
you call your company, as long as you provide needed services for the businesses in your
But a word of caution is in order. Make a quick check with your state to be sure that
another firm is not already using the name you choose. You can do this very quickly on the
Internet, or your accountant will look it up for you. It will save you a lot of time and money if
you make sure that your business name belongs to you, and to you alone.
Many years ago I began a business without checking whether the name I had chosen
belonged to someone else. About a year later I received a letter from an attorney, informing
me that his client was already using a similar name. I was forced to change my company
name. Don’t let it happen to you!
There are several forms and business items that you will need. We have included
some sample business contracts. Of course, you can create your own contracts. If you do
so, please run them by your attorney to make sure they are appropriate for use in your state.
I will discuss these with you, and explain why they are so vital to the success of your
1. Restaurant Contracts. By signing the contract, the owner or manager of the
restaurant agrees to several terms. These include (1) a hold-harmless clause in the
event of typographical errors (errors should never occur if a proof is submitted,
carefully looked at, and signed); (2) an agreement by the owner or manager to
provide a list of potential advertisers for you to call on (this is optional); and (3) an
agreement to use the placemats and menus as agreed. This is important for the
benefit of your advertisers.
I suggest that the restaurant contracts be printed on 2-part NCR (no carbon required)
paper. You can then leave the bottom copy with the restaurant, and keep the other for your
Let me share a couple of unusual experiences. One of my customers was a
Chinese restaurant. The owner of this restaurant decided to attach the
placemats to the walls. I had to convince her that although they made beautiful
wallpaper, the advertisers wanted their ads to be displayed on the tables, in
front of the diners!
Another situation was a very nice Mexican restaurant. Instead of putting the
placemats on the tables where the customers could see them, the manager
chose to stack them by the front door, along with newspapers and other items.
Again, the advertisers were not very happy with this arrangement.
2. Referral Forms. This is a simple one-page sheet for the restaurant owner to list
different businesses with which he has a good relationship. This list can contain the names of
his attorney, accountant, insurance agent, real estate agent, tax advisor, bank, or even
customers. Ask the owner or manager to take a few minutes to fill out the form for you.
Another suggestion: you may request that the owner provide a letter on his
letterhead that you can send or take to customers when you make your personal calls. Many
times this will open doors for you.
Of course, the use of these is optional. You may find that you do not need them. But it
helps to have recommendations from the restaurant. And restaurant owners are usually more
than willing to provide these forms and letters for you.
3. Advertisers’ Contracts. The contract that is signed by the advertiser should
contain at least the following clauses: (1) a hold-harmless provision in the event of errors
(ALWAYS insist that your customers approve and sign their proofs); (2) a suggestion
that the customer cooperate with you in producing his ad, if needed; and (3) a statement that
the ad is to be paid in full before the placemats are printed.
The contract should have a place for filling in the name of the restaurant(s) in which
the ads will be placed. These contracts should also be printed on 2-part NCR paper. Always
leave the bottom copy with the advertiser for his records.
4. Business Cards. There is not a lot to be said about business cards, except that
they are essential to business. You do not need expensive embossed cards with gold or
silver foil stamping, or other fancy designs. But you do need a card to present to the person
you are meeting. It can be a real door opener. They are inexpensive yet necessary.
5. Stationary. This is really optional for you. Initially you will have limited use for
letterheads, invoices, and printed envelopes. But as your business expands, these items may
become necessary. If you are starting on a limited budget, you can wait before buying
stationary items. Many people design and print their stationary items on their own computers.
YOUR TARGET MARKET
The last area that I want to discuss before you get started is your target market. You
should be aware of the types of businesses that you should call on, and those that you
should avoid. Of course, you will decide for yourself whether or not to call on certain types of
businesses. The following suggestions are based upon my personal beliefs only.
Restaurants. I feel that you will have greater success by calling on locally owned
restaurants, including family owned and operated. I have also had great success with
Mexican, Chinese, Oriental, and other ethnic restaurants. There are scores of restaurants in
any community that would appreciate FREE placemats and menus. You should never run
out of potential restaurants in your town.
There are a few types of restaurants, however, that you should avoid. These include
very small diners (they are too small to attract advertisers); truck stops on major highways
(most of the patrons are just driving through your area); large national chains (corporate
restrictions, although some McDonald’s, Pizza Huts, and Burger King restaurants use them
as tray liners); and some upscale restaurants that feel placemats do not fit into their decor.
Restaurants that use tablecloths and fabric napkins are not likely to use placemats.
Advertisers. Most of the businesses in your community are excellent prospects for
placemat and take-home menu advertising. Following is a list of different types of companies
and organizations that have been on the placemats that I have produced:
Auto sales Auto repair Auto parts
Churches Chiropractors Funeral homes
Hair salons Roofers Day care
Accountants Insurance Nail salons
Shooting ranges Yoga Therapeutic
Satellite television Opticians TV & appliances
Real Estate Network Marketing Video Stores
Banks Tires & batteries Specialty stores
Lawn equipment Mortgage services Ice cream parlors
U. S. Marines U. S. Navy Appliance repair
Martial arts Orthodontists Home furnishings
Antiques Flea markets Attorneys
Hypnosis therapy Rescue missions Tanning salons
Pregnancy crisis Flooring Transmissions
Florists Private detectives Bail bondsmen
Weight Loss Outdoor produce Pet stores
Children’s clothing Lawn equipment Political candidates
Women’s fitness Used clothing Copy centers
Computer repair Concrete service Printers
Tile & marble Excavating Dog grooming
Auto body Barber shops Power washing
Motorcycles Dentists Medical doctors
Vein doctors Photographers Towing
Travel Snow cones Tattoos
Body piercing Gift stores Auto painting
Hardware stores Tool rentals Auto detailing
And this is just a partial listing. As a matter of fact, almost every business that you see
is a potential advertiser. If you spend an hour or so driving around your community, you will
see enough companies to fill several placemats and menus.
But let’s remember a few basic principles. First, you might offer advertisers a non -
compete agreement if they ask for it (this makes selling ads easier). Don’t make it a central
part of your sales pitch, though, because you may need to fill one or two spaces with
competing ads. I have violated this rule a few times, especially when the competing
companies were friendly, and did not object to their competitors being represented on the
Secondly, you must never advertise businesses that will compete with your host
restaurant (exceptions could be ice cream parlors, doughnut shops, etc.). If you’re in doubt,
just check with the restaurant owner or manager. Sometimes they will not object. But if in
doubt, always ask. You certainly do not want to deliver the products and later find that the
restaurant owner refuses to use them because he objects to one or more ads. I’ve made this
mistake twice, and it is a very uncomfortable situation.
The restaurant managers are eager for you to get the advertising spaces filled. And
they know that it is your job to sell ads for his restaurant. I‘ve never encountered a situation in
which the restaurant owner disapproved of ads that appeared on the placemats, except for
the two mentioned above that competed with his restaurant.
Just be careful about the types of businesses that you solicit to advertise in your
placemats and menus. By doing a quick scan of the types of business that I have sold to, you
can see that every community has plenty of potential advertisers.
A WORD OF CAUTION
Due to the “family friendly” nature of this type of advertising, there are
some types of ads that should always be avoided. These include
“adult” bookstores and lingerie shops; gambling casinos; smoke
shops; bars and package liquor; illegal activities; and any type of
business that may bring embarrassment to the host restaurant, to the
advertisers, to the dining public, and to yourself.
NOW LET’S GET STARTED
The following pages should cover most of what you need to do to get started. I will
discuss the following topics.
Startup costs Signing up restaurants Selling the ads
Pricing your ads Paper or plastic? Collections
Employees Creating your ads Printing your placemats
Renewals Take home menus Questions & answers
Naturally, one of your greatest concerns is how much money you may need to get
started. Earlier I listed some of the first steps you need to consider (legal & accounting, your
company name, banking relationship, business supplies, and target market). Of these, the
only one that should require any appreciable upfront expenses is for your supplies.
In this package are sample contracts and other items. You may take them to a printer
or office supply house (Kinko’s, Office Depot, Staples) in your area and have them printed
with your company name on them.
Business Supplies: I recommend that you start with about 50 restaurant contracts,
500 or more advertising contracts, 500 business cards, and 50 referral sheets. The cost for
these items should be no more than $150 or so, depending on your area. But you will find
that the cost to print a greater quantity is not appreciably higher.
Home Office: You probably already have your basic office needs. You don’t really
need an office. All that you need is a telephone, a desk or other work area, and a fax
machine (optional). If you don’t already have one, fax machines can be purchased for around
$60.00 or so. If you are computer literate, and you own a computer with design software, you
may want to create your ads and save the design costs. More on this later.
SIGNING UP RESTAURANTS
Following is an approach that I have followed on numerous occasions, and it has
always been effective. You, of course, will alter your approach to match your own personality
and particular circumstances, including your geographic area.
When you have selected a target restaurant, simply ask for the owner or manager. If
he or she is not available, do not discuss this with anyone else! Just inquire about setting an
appointment, and return at that time.
Always introduce yourself, and present your business card. This is very important,
because it lets him or her know that you’re are an advertising executive, and that this is a
professional business call. You might also ask for a card; or if one is available on the desk or
table, feel free to pick it up.
With some variations, I always start my conversation like the following:
“Hello, Mr./Ms ________________. I’m ___________ from ________________. My company
provides FREE placemats to restaurants. There is absolutely NO CHARGE to you.” (Note
that I have told him twice that they are free). “These are beautifully laminated placemats that
can simply be wiped off when your customers leave. Your customers will love their
appearance, since they are professionally produced. They are printed in full color, and will
last for many months. How many people can you seat in your restaurant?”
If the owner suggests that he prefers paper placemats, you might simply ask how
many customers he serves per week. Write down that number, and roughly calculate how
many placemats to print.
“Mr./Ms _________________, it looks like you need about ______________ paper
placemats to last you for _______ months. Does that sound about right?”
“Oh by the way, we can also provide FREE take-home menus for you also. We usually
provide enough to last for 6 months or so. How many do you think you will need?”
At this time you can briefly discuss the Trivia or Game corner (if you are offering one).
You might explain how these games will capture the attention of the dining public.
Although offering these games or contests removes one of the spaces that can be sold
for profit, it offers benefits to you. Your sales effort is much easier, and your designated
corner becomes your company’s “signature” identity. Everybody who sees your placemats
will immediately recognize them as having come from your advertising company. I have
always called mine the “Trivia Corner”, but you may want a different name for yours.
I have included a list of trivia questions. I have used most of them. Please feel free to
reprint them or come up with some on your own. You probably won’t want to use those with a
Missouri connection, but you can easily substitute others from your own state or country.
You can also mention some of the other benefits of placemats, such as cleanliness, a
new image, community involvement, creating happy customers, etc.
The remainder of the conversation should center on the restaurant’s ad, any special
logos or company designs, ink color(s), quantity needed, and approximately when you will
start selling the ads. Mention also that you will not allow any objectionable or competing
restaurant ads on his placemats.
Be sure to mention that your only requirements are that the placemats be displayed on
the tables and that the menus be distributed, since the advertisers are paying for exposure.
You might also request that he fill out the referral sheet and provide a letter on his letterhead.
You are now ready to start calling on the real customers, the ones who will pay you.
There are some who suggest that you agree to pay the restaurant for using the
placemats. My feeling is that since you are providing a valuable product, you should not give
away even a part of your profit. I have never paid a restaurant for the privilege of providing
free placemats or menus to them. One restaurant owner asked me to remit a percentage of
my profit, but I politely declined. I don’t ask for free food, and I don’t give away the profit from
However, if you feel inclined to provide the manager or owner with a small check when
the placemats are finished, and after you have been paid, I see nothing wrong with it. And it
may help when it is time for renewal. This is a personal business decision for you to make.
But from my experience, it is unnecessary.
SELLING ADS TO BUSINESS FIRMS
Your approach to selling the ads is somewhat different from signing up the restaurant
owner. But the caution I mention previously is even more important here. “NEVER EXPLAIN
THIS PROGRAM TO ANYONE WHO CANNOT MAKE A BUYING DECISION”. Even
though you may be speaking to the owner’s wife, husband, daughter, son, parent or partner,
the only person with whom you should discuss is the person who can write out a check.
After many years in advertising sales, I can think of NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule. You
will NEVER get the sale if someone else tries to describe it to the Decision Maker, and you
will NOT get an appointment later. When a person has once said no, it is very difficult to
convince him to change his mind later.
All businesses have one thing in common. They all need to find and retain customers
for their products, services, or ideas. Bear this in mind when you start to call on business
firms. They really need to get their messages out to the public. And restaurant advertising will
be a refreshing and novel type of advertising. Don’t ever be ashamed of what you do for a
living, because you are providing a much needed service. You are needed.
When you get in front of the owner or manager, the old proverb “Sell the sizzle, not the
steak” is very appropriate. Needless to say, it is always important to maintain a positive and
professional image. This applies not only to your demeanor and your attitude, but also to your
appearance. And you should never over-promise. Businessmen and women can see the
value of this program right away. Exaggeration is not needed, and can be counterproductive.
Following is how I approach advertisers. You can alter your sales technique to fit your
“Hello, Mr./Ms. ______________. I’m _____________with _______________ Company.
Mr./Ms _____________of _________________________(name of restaurant) has asked me
to put together an exciting new promotion. We’re producing attractive placemats (and
menus). The restaurant has assured me that these will be seen by all of their customers for at
least ________months. And that means your ad will be seen over and over by many
thousands of people.
(OPTIONAL) If you plan to place a “Trivia Corner” or other game in one of the
corners of the placemat, you might describe it now. Mention that all of the answers to
the trivia questions are hidden near the ads, and that people will actually be directed to
look for the ads as they wait for their food.
Depending on the circumstances, I often ask a couple of trivia questions to
lighten up the conversation. For example: “Do you know how many states begin with
the letter A? Can you name Donald Duck’s nephews? Who was the second
President? What’s the capitol of Arkansas?”
You will be asked how much the ads cost. Tell them that “it’s only $_________, and
that’s for a full ________months of targeted advertising. That comes to only ________ cents
for each person. Can you believe that, Mr/Ms __________________? It’s really low cost, but
highly effective and targeted advertising.”
NOTE: If you have contracts for more than one restaurant, you should discuss
discounted prices. I have sold hundreds of additional ads by giving special prices to advertise
in more than one restaurant at the same time.
Some additional points that you can make:
• There will be no have competing ads (only one of each type of business)
• The cost is very inexpensive, compared with newspaper and radio ads
• The advertiser will have a targeted market (restaurant customers)
• Potential customers will look at his ad for about a half hour
• The ad will be seen every time customers go into the restaurant
• Customers are encouraged to take the placemats home with them (paper only)
• The ad can be made into a coupon (unless the placemats are laminated)
• There is no charge for graphic design
• A proof will be provided at no extra charge
• The customer need pay only one half down, and the balance upon proof approval
(You can often receive full payment in advance if you offer a small discount, say 5% to 10%).
Simply tell the advertiser that you need to get his space reserved. Show him a
template, and let him choose where he wants his ad to appear. Be sure that he sees you
mark the location where his ad on the template. You really want you customer to assist you in
the selling process, and any positive action he takes is part of firming up the sale.
Ask for a business card and other information that you can use to design the ad.
Then just draw a rough ad on a sheet of paper. Ask relevant questions, such as hours of
operation, telephone number, etc. Don’t worry about how the draft looks. Your customer
knows that it will look very professional after your graphic designer finishes it.
If he offers any kind of resistance (such as there’s no money, advertising budget is
used up, business is slow, etc.), you might tell him that you don’t really require payment up
front. Just say you can take care of the check in a couple of weeks when the ad is ready. But
right now you just need to get his ad started, and get his space reserved. (About 95% of my
customers pay in full when the ad is approved). Occasionally someone will ask for two or
three weeks to pay, and I always grant the additional time.
Most business people are honest. Based upon many years of selling, I will say that
most advertisers will not question your credibility. They will accept your company as a
legitimate advertising firm, and will not challenge your integrity. But if that should occur, they
can easily determine that you are working with a local restaurant by calling the
owner/manager for verification. If you have a letter from the restaurant, this will also dispel
any apprehension about your credibility.
At this point you just assume the sale by starting to fill out the contract. Then get the
contract signed and give the bottom copy to the customer. After you have the signed
contract, don’t spend time making small talk. You should not give the customer the
opportunity to change his mind. Besides, there are other people who need to see you.
After you have sold the ads, you need to get them to a graphic artist (unless you can
design them on your own computer). You might make suggestions to the designer, but he or
she usually has a good eye for balance, type styles, position, etc. Just show your designer
some of the other ads that have been produced, and your designer will do the creative part.
Here’s one very important point. After the proof has been made, and before it is
presented to the customer, ALWAYS CHECK IT FOR ERRORS. Don’t rely on the printer or
the designer or the customer to catch typographical errors. The key to getting your ads right
is a simple three-word caution: check, check, check.
A REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE
I once reprinted a take-home menu because the proof was not checked closely
enough (wrong telephone number). The customer (a pizza restaurant owner)
saw the proof, but did not catch the error. Checking the proof is easy, takes just
a moment, and will save you untold grief and money.
PRICING YOUR ADS
This can be one the easiest, or one of the most difficult, decisions that you will make
when you start selling your ads. I am going to give you a few suggestions that will help you to
know how to price your ads. Since there are no objective standards for placemat advertising
pricing, you will make your pricing decision based upon several factors.
• What are your production costs (graphic design, printing, delivery)?
• What are your sales costs?
• Are you doing the sales yourself, or must you pay a commission?
• What kind of an economic market are you in?
• How many months will the advertisers have exposure in the restaurant?
• Is there any kind of viable competition in your area?
• How reputable and how busy is the restaurant?
• How much money do you want to make?
In the St. Louis area, we have sold ads for about $125 to $180, depending on the
sizes and quantities of placemats printed. (Our placemats have two different size ads.) Most
of our placemats have 17 ad spaces, and the menus have about 15 to 16 ads. Our placemats
normally have gross sales from $2200 to $2500. You should realize a net profit of at least
40% to 50% on each. It will be appreciably higher if you are able to do your own design work.
Depending upon the previous factors, some cities can support $190 to $200 for the
ads. One observation I will make here is that once a business owner has decided to place an
ad, the cost becomes less important. If he wants the ad, he’s willing to spend the additional
money (especially when he can defer payment for a couple of weeks).
Another thing you might consider is this: you don’t have to sell all spaces for the same
amount. I have raised or lowered prices for several different advertisers on the same
placemat, depending upon the particular circumstances. Your only concern is how much ad
revenue your placemat will bring, not on the amount received from each particular customer.
You can also use different kinds of “special offers” to entice advertisers to sign up.
There is nothing unethical about giving one advertiser a special price break. Following are
some of the inducements that you might consider for some advertisers:
• A Special Introductory Offer
• Deferred payment
• Discount for Multiple Placemats
• Discount for long-term contract
• Barter (trade ad space for services or products) This could work very well with
your bookkeeper, attorney, printer, designer, or other firm with which you need
to do business
Please bear in mind that you are not in the business of giving away your services. You
have something that is needed by almost every business firm. And you have a right to earn a
good income. You should not allow others to dictate your prices and your profits to you. In
almost every community there are enough other businesses that will see the value of your
offer, and allow you to make a great living. If you treat your own business with respect, others
will do the same.
Incidentally, on several occasions I’ve sold advertising for as many as three different
restaurants at the same time. How well might you do if you have two or three independent
reps working for you? If you decide to work more than one restaurant at the same time, be
sure you give your advertisers an opportunity to be in all of them, at a discounted price. You
just might be surprised how many people will appreciate the opportunity. And you can also
dramatically increase your income.
PAPER OR PLASTIC?
The cashier at your local supermarket may have asked if you want paper or plastic
bags for your groceries. This question is one that you may want to ask the restaurant owner.
When I first began producing placemats, I didn’t even consider producing laminated mats.
But a couple of owners suggested it to me because they were concerned with the waitresses’
additional time and labor, the paper debris, etc. I have since produced many laminated
placemats. Here are some of the advantages of each:
• Customers can take them home • Less debris
• Advertisers can use coupons • Easy to wipe clean and reuse
• Print predetermined quantity • Print only one for each table setting
• Supply limited, will be depleted • Never wear out
• Can be reprinted for add’l revenue • May have better aesthetic value
Your printer can provide for laminating your mats if that is what the restaurant owner
prefers. If he cannot laminate them in-house, they can be outsourced, although it may take a
while longer. It is generally much less expensive to produce laminated mats, because the
cost of copying and laminating a hundred or fewer is less than printing several thousand
paper placemats. But always consider the desires of the restaurants. It is the restaurants, not
the advertisers, that make the decision between paper and laminated placemats.
In my opinion, laminated mats are far superior. Many restaurant owners prefer them,
customers like them, and advertisers don’t care whether they are paper or plastic. And I am
firmly convinced that your profit margin is much greater with laminated rather than paper.
If you don’t give restaurants a choice, they will accept laminated placemats readily.
Some time ago, I signed up five restaurants. And I didn’t even mention paper placemats.
Instead of using a truck to deliver them, I carried them into the restaurants tucked under one
While we are discussing laminated mats, I might mention one other important thing.
Unlike paper mats with a limited life, laminated ones can last indefinitely. It is thus important
that you tell both the restaurant and the advertisers when the contracts are signed that this
promotion is for a specific time, usually six months. Inform them that you will retrieve the
placemats at the designated time, and that you will replace them with new ones. Of course,
you will give all of the current advertisers an opportunity to sign up for renewals.
There are several reasons that you will want to do this. First, the advertisers should
not get indefinite advertising exposure. They are paying for a limited amount of time, and
should pay for the next six months (or whatever time you decide). Secondly, the restaurants
and their customers will appreciate the fresh look of new placemats, as well as new puzzles
or trivia corners. And you will get additional revenue from the renewals.
We have already touched on the issue of collections. Needless to say, it is preferable
that you collect some or all of the money up front. But unless the business owner knows you
personally, he may be unwilling to pay in advance. Usually, however, this is not a problem. Of
course, sometimes there are mitigating circumstances that might force a business owner to
request more time before paying his bill.
I realize that, at least for some people, the issue of collecting money can be a difficult
and even unnerving experience. But it is very much a part of the business process.
Companies that don’t collect their money don’t stay in business very long. Advertisers know
that they are required to pay, and most of them will pay on time. Just don’t be timid,
especially when it comes to collections!
I have learned through the years that the best way to get your money is just ask for it.
You can also offer a discount of 5% to 10% for full prepayment. If there is further
hesitance about paying in advance, simply suggest that your normal terms are 50% up front,
with the balance paid upon submission of the proof. You might explain that you have to pay
other expenses, including your graphic designer. If he still hesitates, let him know that you
trust him, and that you will go ahead without any prepayment; but you will need full payment
upon delivery of his proof. Most business owners are honest, and will pay when the proof is
DO YOU NEED EMPLOYEES?
This can be a very difficult issue for you to deal with. As one who has had as many as
50 employees at one time, I can assure you that employees can be a headache, and a very
expensive one at that. But the time may come when bringing on someone to work for you
In the beginning, I suggest that you do not hire anyone. An answering machine or
answering service (available in most areas) will suffice for a while. You can have an
accountant take care of your quarterly and annual tax matters. Perhaps even a family
member can help with the office duties.
As far as sales help is concerned, I strongly recommend having commissioned
independent contractors instead of employed salespeople. Your accountant can provide you
with the necessary forms, and go further into the reasons for not having employees. You can
probably get these forms at an office supply store.
One thing I might suggest is that you do not reveal too much inside information to
others, even to people with whom you are working. It will not be long before people start to
envy your success, and decide that they can start their own business. Very soon your most
trusted employees and confidants may become your rivals. If you have anyone working with
you, it would be advisable to have him or her sign a non-compete and a non-disclosure
agreement. Again, speak to your accountant or attorney about this.
CREATING YOUR ADS
If you are good at Quark, PageMaker, or other computer design programs, you can
save money and time by producing your own ads on your computer. You can also take
courses at many high schools and junior colleges. I heartily recommend that you do so. Even
though you may have someone else doing the creative work for you, it is good at least to
know the basics of graphic design.
Most printers have designers on staff, who can produce your ads for you. If your
printer cannot do creative design work, there are many people who do this work in their
homes. They will create your ads at much less cost than many large firms. If you have a good
working relationship with a designer, he or she will in turn do a good job for you.
One thing that I want to stress is that when you find someone with whom you can
work, you should stay with that person. This applies to your printer, your graphic designer,
your accountant, and all of your business associates. Don’t try to “nickel and dime” them for
the very cheapest price. Everyone in business deserves to make an honest living. And by
building long-term relationships, your company will be poised for long-term growth.
PRINTING YOUR PLACEMATS
If your business is to succeed, you need a good and reliable printer. Almost every
community has several printers. The success or failure of your business rests upon the
quality of the printed products. The cheapest printer is not necessarily the best one, and you
should choose carefully.
You don’t have to know a lot about the printing industry to get your printing done.
There are many professional printers who are very good at what they do, and they will be
happy to let you observe your work on the press. Just ask, and they will tell you more than
you want to know. By their very nature, printers like to showcase their equipment and their
talents. I know from experience, having worked for many decades in this industry
When you have found someone with whom you can work, you should remain loyal to
him. Just as you hope that your customers are loyal to you, and pay their obligations to you,
you should treat your suppliers with the same courtesy. You will also find that it’s to your
advantage, since you will need to build up a credit relationship with your vendors. And when
the printer is very busy, you may find you have additional leverage to get your work produced
The printer you select should have some basic equipment, such as AB Dick, or
Multilith, or other small equipment - preferably presses that have two colors capability. All of
your paper placemats and menus can be printed on an 11 X 17 sheet, and trimmed down to
the correct size.
Some of the questions most often asked concern the printing process itself. So I will
go into some detail about printing your mats, as well as other information you need to know.
PAPER COLOR: I suggest that you print on white paper only. Not only is it less
expensive; it is also more readily available. Your profits will be higher if you use only white 20
lb. paper. Your placemats will also be more attractive (this is just my opinion).
An exception to this may be if your mats are going to be laminated. In that event, since
you are printing a small quantity of placemats (one per table seating) the difference in price is
negligible. You might even consider pastel colors if that is what the restaurant insists upon.
But I still prefer white.
PAPER QUALITY: One word should suffice, and that word is CHEAP. Use the least
expensive and the lightest weight paper that is available (generally 20 lb.) Never use a
coated (glossy) stock. Just remember that paper placemats are going to be thrown away or
taken home, and they should be as light as possible. Also, coated stock is much more
expensive. Bear in mind that some are used for doodling, for playing games, for taking notes,
for making paper airplanes, and for many other purposes. Don’t forget the cardinal rule is to
“keep it simple”.
INK COLORS: Although there is virtually no limit to the ink colors that you can choose,
it is better to stay with standard colors. The printer will charge more if he has to mix the inks
to get specific colors. Every printer has certain colors already factory mixed, and you should
stay with them. The most common colors are magenta, warm red, blue, green, reflex blue,
orange, brown, and black (I don’t recommend black by itself, but only as part of a two-color
I usually let the restaurant owner determine which ink color he wants. Sometimes his
interior décor, menus, favorite colors, and other factors determine his choice. But you can
usually steer him toward using standard colors.
Some of your placemats and menus may be printed in one color, and others two
colors. For the most part, it is your decision whether to print in more than one color. But
since printing in two colors increases your costs, you will need to adjust your ad prices to
reflect the additional expense. Always check with your printer about his prices for one color
versus two colors.
I strongly recommend against printing your paper placemats in more than two colors.
They will cost a great deal more to print, and additional colors do not add to their value. And
of course, your profits will be dramatically reduced by the additional expense.
On the other hand, if you are producing laminated placemats, the costs are not
increased by additional colors, since they are produced on a color copier. When
producing laminated placemats, you will bypass the printer completely. Just copy as
many as you need and have them laminated and round cornered.
SIZE: The most common size placemat that I have produced is 11” X 15.5”. Larger
sizes seem to crowd the tables, even overlapping each other. And smaller sizes will not allow
for as many ads. This size is a good compromise. The height should always be 11 inches,
since this is the standard size of paper. The only exception to this is if you sign up a cafeteria
or fast food restaurant that uses them for tray liners. These generally are 10” X 14”.
When designing your placemat, remember to never run your images to the edge of the
mats. You should leave a half-inch of non-printed space around the edge. The ink should not
“bleed” off the edge of the paper.
QUANTITY: If you are producing paper placemats, the quantity that you print is
determined by how long you expect them to remain in the restaurant. You can come up with
a good number by knowing how many customers are served weekly, and then computing the
need for 3, 4, or 6 months of usage. (The longer they are in the restaurant, the more you can
charge for the spaces). My quantities have ranged from 5,000 to 25,000 placemats.
With laminated placemats, I suggest that you recommend two for each table. If the
restaurant puts one for each place setting, it will probably cover the entire table. For a
restaurant with a seating capacity of 120, I would suggest that you tell the restaurant owner
that you will provide 60 placemats, plus a few extras to compensate for losses, thefts, etc.
The same rule applies to take-home menus. Just ask the restaurant owner about how
many menus he will need for the next six months, and print accordingly. I usually print a
couple thousand more than the agreed upon, since the cost to print additional placemats and
menus is not appreciably greater.
LAMINATED vs. PAPER: The question of paper versus laminated placemats has
already been discussed. But if you provide laminated mats, ask your printer to round corner
the paper before it is laminated, and then round corner the finished placemats. This will
eliminate sharp corners, and will give your placemats a much more professional and pleasing
SPECIAL OPERATIONS: I have been asked about coupon perforations, die cutting,
oval shapes, round cornering on paper mats, and other special printing operations. And my
answer is unequivocal. It is not necessary, and you should not even consider it (except for
round cornering plastic mats, as discussed previously). You are in business to make money,
not to create works of art. Leave the fancy handling for annual reports and sales promotional
And please don’t try to get too artsy; you are paper printing placemats and menus that
will be gravy-stained, doodled on, and thrown into the dumpster. Everything must be kept in
You will need to check occasionally with the restaurants to see how their supplies of
placemats and menus are holding up. You should not let them run out. Renewals are very
important to you, and are generally much easier to sell than the original ads, especially if they
have been effective.
Often the owner will call you to let you know he is running low. But that is not his job!
He is busy running a restaurant. So check often. Another tip: if you patronize the restaurant
and the advertisers occasionally, you will build up a great deal of good will. It will certainly
help when it is time for renewals.
When your restaurant is within a few weeks of running out of placemats and menus,
you should start the renewal process. Ask the owner if he wants to change his restaurant
design, and tell him you’re starting to renew ads for the next period (3, 4, or 6 months). Then
just start calling on business firms.
Some of the advertisers may request a discount for renewing their ads. It is probably
worth offering it in order to expedite the sales effort. Renewals will also show prospective
advertisers that placemat advertising really works!
I have discovered that renewal rates are higher with advertisers who use coupons in
their ads. This is because they can actually track their ad responses. But not all businesses
can use coupons. (But this is not an option for laminated mats). Coupons are not appropriate
for some advertisers, such as attorneys, funeral homes, insurance agencies, doctors,
So go ahead and call on the companies that have previously advertised with you. But
also keep a keen eye out for new advertisers. And don’t forget the “new” business firms that
have opened up since your last promotion. They are also prime targets for advertising.
I suggest also that you print the date (month and year) on all of your printing. This will
help you to keep track of when the items were delivered. I usually put the date on the bottom
You should always print your company name and telephone number on every
placemat and menu that you produce. There are several reasons for this. First, it grants
legitimacy to your company. Second, it lets the restaurant and the advertisers know that you
are not only available, but also accountable. And third, you will receive many calls from
potential advertisers who see the placemats in the restaurants, and want to advertise their
own businesses. I always use the bottom left-hand corner.
All of the emphasis thus far has focused on placemat advertising. But some time ago a
couple of restaurant owners asked about printing “take-home menus”. This opened up a new
venue for our services. Many restaurants have an extensive carryout or delivery business,
and they all need menus. And it is very expensive for restaurants to have take-home menus
produced at their local printing company.
The businesses that advertise in take-home menus all appreciate the opportunity to
“go home” with the restaurant customers. These menus often end up on refrigerators, coffee
tables, handbags, glove compartments, and bedroom night stands.
Some time ago, the owner of two pizza restaurants asked me to produce two different
take-home menus (he has two locations) as well as laminated placemats for both of his
dining rooms. He has a very extensive menu, and decided to use the placemats instead of
the table menus he had been using. And many of the advertisers actually purchased ads on
all four items.
Needless to say, this was a very good promotion for the pizza restaurants, and very
profitable for my company. And the pizza customers love them. Everybody involved (the
restaurant, the advertisers, the restaurant diners, the printer, and my company) benefited
greatly from this promotion. Total ad sales came to almost $6,000.
I think you should consider offering this additional service to your customers. You will
find that some restaurant owners may be hesitant about using placemats, but will really
appreciate receiving free take-homes menus.
You may need to experiment with different formats for the take home menus.
Depending on the type of restaurant, as well as the number of food items, you can come up
with several folding scenarios. If you are in doubt, talk with your printer. The most common
size I have used is 11” x 17”, folded to 8 panels of 4 1/4” x 11”. This is the easiest one to
print, and allows for 15 to 18 ads, depending upon the number of menu items.
The main thing to bear in mind when you are designing a menu is that it should
conform to certain press and folding requirements. Your printer will be happy to let you know
the most cost-effective way to provide this service for your customers. Don’t hesitate to solicit
advice from your printer and other professionals.
I might mention here that whether you are selling placemats or take-home menus, the
principle is the same. You are simply providing local business firms and other organizations
the opportunity to be seen by thousands of people over a period of several months at a more
than competitive price.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q. What is the most common placemat size?
A. Our most popular size is 11” X 15.5”. Remember that most tables have seating for four.
The printing cost to produce an 11” X 17” would not be any greater. But you don’t want the
placemats to overlap each other, and the 11” X 15.5” seems about right.
Q. Do restaurants always allow one placemat for each table setting?
A. A number of my restaurant customers use only two placemats per table, even though the
table seats four. They seem to feel that four mats will take up too much of the table’s surface.
Others will put out four placemats on each table.
Q. Can I sell to Fast Food Restaurants?
A. Most of them are chains, and advertising is regulated by corporate policy. However, some
of the franchises (McDonalds, Burger King, etc.) are locally owned. And they all have to buy
mats for their trays. I have approached one of the Burger King franchises (this company owns
about 60 different Burger King stores) and have received a very good feedback. Incidentally,
most trays require a 10” X 14” mat. It would be very easy for a printer to reproduce the
corporate logos and colors.
Q. Does this apply also to cafeteria-style restaurants that use trays?
A. Certainly. I recently sold a tray menu to a Chinese restaurant. They were printed in green
and brown, which are the store’s interior design colors.
Q. How many months should the placemats be in the restaurants?
A. I have found that a six-month campaign works best. This length of time seems to be about
right for the advertisers. It is easier to sell space for six months than for only three months.
But there is no hard and fast rule here. You might try a three or four month campaign. But if
there are several restaurants within a radius of ten miles or so, I would consider giving your
advertisers more time. You will be busy enough selling to others that you may not have time
to get back for six months.
Q. How many colors of ink should I use?
A. I feel that the most aesthetically pleasing mats are printed in only one or two colors. Too
many bright colors create eyestrain. My paper mats have been in blue only; blue & black; red
only; red & black; burgundy & black; red & blue; green & black; and several other color
combinations. Keep it simple.
Q. Should I give money to the restaurant owner?
A. Why should you want to? He is getting free placemats to use for many months.
You are a professional advertising executive. Don’t ask for free food, and don’t give away
Q. Why must the restaurant contract be signed?
A. This is for your protection. If an owner should decide to not use the mats, the advertisers
would understandably be upset. A signed contract gives you confirmation that the restaurant
had agreed to use them properly. It also puts pressure on the owner to use them.
But you cannot force him/her to display them. A restaurant owner should not want to upset
business people (they also eat in restaurants). It gives you additional clout, and a degree of
comfort to your advertisers.
Q. Is it necessary for the advertiser to sign the contract?
A. Yes, and even more so than for the restaurant. Although most business owners are
essentially honest, you want them to know that this is a legally binding document that
requires both of you to perform. If for some reason someone hedges about paying, you need
some clout. And since they sign for other types of advertising, they generally will sign your
contract. The only time someone did not sign was when I forgot to ask him to do so. He still
paid his advertising bill!
Q. Is it more difficult to sell ads for more than one restaurant at a time?
A. No, but it does take more time. If you approach businesses correctly, they will actually
want the greater ad exposure, especially if you offer a discount for the additional
restaurant(s). And your profits will skyrocket. I have sold three at the same time on several
Incidentally, It is not necessary for you to inform restaurant owners that you are providing
placemats for competing restaurants. As long as you are providing a valuable service for
them, they will not really care. You are an advertising executive, and must use your time and
resources to your best advantage.
Q. When should I start to add sales people?
A. That’s entirely up to you. I suggest first that you produce two or three so that you can have
some practical experience. You also will be a better trainer. You will have plenty of time later
to think about expanding your business.
Q. Why is it better to use independent salespeople than to hire people?
A. Speak to your accountant or bookkeeper about this. With independent reps, you do not
need to pay benefits, mileage and other sales expenses, social security taxes, or to withhold
taxes to submit to your state and local governments. Just pay commissions, and let them
take care of their own taxes and personal expenses.
Q. What are the disadvantages of using independent salespeople?
A. You have less control over their activities. They are more likely to work short hours, and to
take off work at will. But speak with your accountant for more details.
Since this is the type of sales that is normally done during weekdays, you might consider
using senior citizens or unemployed housewives. They are always looking for additional
income, and can work a few hours during the daytime.
I would suggest that you do not pay commissions to the sales people until the projects
are completed. Otherwise some may sell a few ads and stop working, thus forcing you to
finish the project yourself or to assign it to another person. I have found that it is better that
the person who begins selling ads for a given project be the same person who finishes it.
There is much less confusion with all parties concerned.
Q. If I hire independent reps, how can I prevent them from competing with me?
A. The same way you might prevent employees or anyone else from doing so. Just insist that
they sign a non-compete agreement and a non-disclosure agreement. This will not
necessarily prevent some people from going into business against you, but you will have
additional leverage in the event that they do so. Bear in mind, however, that when your
business becomes successful, someone will decide to compete with you. Don’t fret about it.
There’s enough business for both of you. Treat your customers right, and you will be treated
Q. What if I cannot sell all of the ads?
A. Give yourself enough time to finish the job. However, there may be occasions when you
feel that you simply need to get one project finished to free you up for another one. Here are
a few of my recommendations:
a. Use one of the spaces for a trivia, word search, puzzle, kid’s corner, etc.
b. Discount the remaining unsold spaces
c. Donate the remaining spaces to a local church or charity
d. Advertise your own business in one of the remaining spaces
e. Barter the ad for services or products that you need
Q. Tell me more about the “Trivia Corner.”
A. Our “Trivia Corners” are always on the upper right hand corner. Enclosed in your manual
are several suggested questions that you may freely use; or you may come up with your own.
You should be able to find space for at least twelve questions on each mat, depending on the
size and style of type you use.
These questions should be of general interest, and not obscure questions that nobody
knows or cares about. Just remember who the people are who will be reading them. I always
use questions about sports, cartoon characters, old TV programs, the Bible, U. S. Presidents,
American history, cities and rivers, etc. If you like the questions, chances are that the diners
will also like them. Make it fun!
We always “hide” the answers somewhere within or near the ads. The customers are
instructed to search for the answers. Sometimes the answers are upside down, or reading
backwards, etc. They are usually is smaller type.
Advertisers like them because they force restaurant patrons to look for their ads.
Restaurant customers like them because they make their eating experience more
enjoyable. Restaurant owners like them because it makes the customers happy. And you
will like them because it certainly makes the selling process easier.
Restaurant owners have told me that their diners spend a lot of time reading the trivia
questions, and looking for the answers. I have witnessed parents quizzing their children, or
couples trying to stump each other.
I suggest also that you always use different trivia questions each time you produce a
placemat. By doing so, your placemats will have a fresh feeling wherever people see them.
And you will never run out of questions that you can use.
If you prefer, you can use word searches, puzzles, brain stumpers, or a kid’s corner. Just
be creative, and your placemats will begin to take on a life of their own.
Q. What about printing on the backside of the placemats?
A. I have heard some people suggest that the backside can be printed as a children’s
coloring page or for games, puzzles, etc. I don’t think it’s a good idea to do so. And I have
several reasons for feeling this way.
• First, the advertisers are paying for exposure for their ads, and you do not want people
turning the sheets over. Their ads should be seen as much as possible.
• Secondly, there is an additional cost for you to print on both sides of the sheet. Of
course, selling advertising on both sides can offset this additional cost, but then there are
even more business firms whose ads will not receive proper exposure.
• Third, selling ads on both sides will take a lot longer, and will keep you from completing
the project. And since there are a lot of other restaurants and business firms to call on, you
will want to finish teach project as soon as possible.
As I cautioned earlier, this is a simple business. Don’t complicate it unnecessarily.
Q. Should I bring on a partner in my business?
A. Like any other type of business, you can share this business with others. Good candidates
would be those who have skills you need, such as sales, graphic design, or printing. And be
sure you are in agreement on most business issues.
I know of one person who teamed up with the printer. He sold the ads, and the printer took
care of the ad design and the printing. It seemed to work out well for both parties. Another
example is two elderly gentlemen who were in partnership with each other. And many times
this becomes a family affair. The important thing to remember is that all parties should be in
agreement, especially on the major issues.
Q. Do I need a web site?
A. Generally speaking, I would say that you do not need one. I have never been asked about
a web site. Fax machines and E-mail capability may be helpful for corresponding between
you and your designer, and for occasionally sending and receiving proofs. But since most of
your contacts will be face-to-face, those items are not required. Just don’t get top heavy with
expenses. As I said earlier, this is a simple business. Don’t make it complicated.
Q. Can I work this business if I cannot drive, or if I am confined to my home?
A. As long as you have someone else to get in front of customers, I see no reason why you
cannot run a successful business. You can motivate, handle the phone, take care of
proofreading, or perhaps do the graphic design. How about family members? How about
independent salespeople? Be creative, and you can make it work.
Q. Do I need to set up credit cards for payment?
A. Most of your customers will pay with checks or cash (yes, many of them still pay the old
fashioned way!). I can’t recall when anyone wanted to pay with a credit card. But it is a very
easy to get set up with credit cards. Just check with your accountant or bank.
You might also consider setting up a PayPal account, if you have not already done so. It’s
free and easy to do. Just click on www. Paypay.com for details.
Q. I don’t know anything about printing or design. Can I still be as successful as
people who have a technical background?
A. Good question. Most people who come into this business don’t have a printing or graphic
arts background. And many of them have never sold anything before. But they all have one
thing in common. They are driven by a fierce desire to succeed. And you would not be
reading this manual if you did not possess that desire.
Rest assured that you can find professionals to help you in any areas in which you need
help. Just as I mentioned in an earlier section about getting help from attorneys and
accountants, so you can find printers and designers who will help you in their fields of
Q. I want to get started right away, but I don’t know any printers in my town. How can I
get my placemats printed?
A. If you do not have access to a printer, I suggest that you ask other business firms for
referrals, or just look in the Yellow Pages. Most communities have several competent printers
who will be glad to work with you.
Q. Can I get further information or support from you?
A. Certainly! If you have questions, concerns, suggestions, or success reports, I want to hear
from you. Please feel free to contact me, and I will personally help you in any way that I can. I
want your business to succeed. Very soon your company will be running smoothly, like a
well-oiled machine. But until you have smoothed out all of the rough places in your path,
please feel free to contact me.
On the following pages, I have reproduced the actual contracts that I have used in my
business. You may feel free to use them by simply changing the letterhead and other
James West Marketing Company
5000 Owls Nest Drive • Imperial, MO 63052
636-464-3040 • (Cell) 314-779-7125
Name of Restaurant _________________________________________________________
City _______________________________________State _____________Zip ___________
Telephone _________________Fax __________________ Manager __________________
Paper Placemats Laminated Placemats Take Home Menus
Placemats: Quantity ––––––––––– Size ____________ Ink Colors ____________
Menus: Quantity ____________ Size ____________ Ink Colors ____________
Special Instructions __________________________________________________________________
We agree to the Following Terms
1. These placemats and/or menus are supplied to our restaurant FREE OF CHARGE
2. We agree to use them in the normal course of our business until the supply is exhausted. If we
are supplied with laminated placemats, they will be in use for a period of ________ months.
3. We encourage our customers to patronize the advertisers.
4. We will hold James West Marketing Company and its agents harmless in the event of printing
or typographical errors, or in the event of problems beyond the control of James West
Marketing Co., its agents, and its suppliers.
Official Signature Title
James West Marketing Company
5000 Owls Nest Drive • Imperial, MO 63052
636-464-3040 • (Cell) 314-779-7125
City _______________________________________State _____________Zip ___________
Telephone _________________Fax __________________ Manager __________________
We agree to purchase ads to be displayed on Placemats Take Home Menus at
Name of Restaurant(s)
Cost of Ad(s) $ ____________
Cash $ ___________ Check $ ____________ Less Deposit $ ____________
Balance Due $ ____________
Special Instructions __________________________________________________________________
We agree to the Following Terms
1. Proofs must be approved and signed before printing begins.
2. We will hold James West Marketing Company and its agents harmless in the event of printing
or typographical errors, or in the event of problems beyond the control of James West
Marketing Co, its agents, and its suppliers.
3. Payment for ads is due upon submission of proof, unless other arrangements are agree to in
Official Signature Title
Suggested Trivia Questions
1. What is the capitol of New York State? Albany
2. How many Presidents have died in office? Eight
3. Name Sarge’s dog in the comic strip Beetle Bailey? Otto
4. Name the only bird that can fly backwards. The hummingbird
5. Who shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel? Vice-President Aaron Burr
6. What year was the Lincoln Penny first minted? 1909
7. What is Dagwood and Blondie’s last name? Bumstead
8. What is the largest island in the world? Greenland
9. Which state has the largest population? California
10. What year was the Declaration of Independence signed? 1776
11. Who was the second President of the US? John Adams
12. Who invented the sewing machine? Elias Howe
13. Name Bob Hope’s comedy partner in “The Road to Rio”. Bing Crosby
14. Approx. how many miles to the sun? 93 million
15. Which President of the US lived the longest? Gerald R. Ford
16. Who succeeded John Kennedy as President? Lyndon B. Johnson
17. Name the longest book in the Old Testament. Psalms
18. How many feet are in a mile? 5280
17. What is President Richard Nixon’s middle name? Milhous
18. Who was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic? Charles Lindbergh
19. What is the capitol of Illinois? Springfield
20. Who was the first person to walk on the moon? Neil Armstrong
21. Which was the first state to ratify the Constitution? Delaware
22. Who wrote the children's book Green Eggs and Ham? Dr. Seuss
23. Which bird produces the largest egg? Ostrich
24. A woodpecker can peck how many times per second? 20
25. What is the capitol of Illinois? Springfield
26. Which is the fastest flying insect? The dragonfly
28. Who was the youngest person when he was elected President? John F. Kennedy
29. Who is Donald Duck's girlfriend? Daisy Duck
30. What is Missouri's state animal? The Mule
31. Flying due east from New York, which country do you land in? Portugal
32. Name Caroline Kennedy's pony. Macaroni
33. What is Gerald R. Ford's middle name? Rudolph
34. Who was Robin Hood's lady friend? Maid Marian
35. Which is the largest of the planets that orbit our sun? Jupiter
36. What was the first American novel to sell 1 million copies? Uncle Tom's Cabin
37. What popular Civil War general became President? Ulysses S. Grant
38. Name the shepherd boy who killed the giant Goliath. David
39. What famous artist painted the Sistine Chapel in Rome? Michelangelo
40. Who painted The Last Supper? Leonardo da Vinci
41. What is the capitol of Texas? Austin
42. Who wrote The Grapes of Wrath? John Steinbeck
43. Who discovered the wonder drug Penicillin? Alexander Fleming
44. When did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor? December 7, 1941
45. What year did Israel become a nation? 1948
46. Who starred as Brett Butler in Gone With the Wind? Clark Gable
47. Which President served the longest time in office? Franklin D. Roosevelt
48. Who was Jimmy Carter's Vice-President? Walter Mondale
49. Name the smallest state in the USA. Rhode Island
50. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? Thomas Jefferson
51. What is the longest river in the world? Amazon
52. Who was the only President to be granted a patent? Abraham
53. Name the capitol of Spain. Madrid
54. What was Mickey Mouse's original name? Steamboat Willie
55. Which is the only state with a one-syllable name? Maine
56. Which President was married in the White House? Grover Cleveland
57. In which war did the British burn the White House? War of 1812
58. Who wrote The Star Spangled Banner? Francis Scott Key
59. What was President Eisenhower's middle name? David
60. What is the Missouri's State tree? Dogwood
61. How many counties are in Missouri? 114
62. Which two states are bordered by 8 other states? Missouri and Tennessee
63. What is Missouri's State Bird? Bluebird
64. Who first recorded The Tennessee Waltz? Patti Page
65. What was Elvis Presley's middle name? Aron
66. What was Benjamin Franklin's choice for the national bird? The wild turkey
67. How long is a newborn kangaroo? One inch
68. Name the capitol of Kansas Topeka
69. Who is Beetle Bailey’s general? General Halftrack
70. How many members sit on the U. S. Supreme Court Nine
71. Name the last state admitted to the United States. Hawaii
72. How many members are in the US House of Representatives? 435
73. What is the minimum age for a US President? 35
74. How many days are in a leap year? 366
75. What is the capitol of Texas? Austin
We are very excited to let you know that we have teamed up with (your
company name) to provide a new forum for reaching the people in our
community. (Your company) has agreed to provide attractively printed
placemats. They will be in use at (restaurant’s name) for at least the next six
By placing your ad in these colorful placemats, you will reach everybody who
comes into our restaurant. Thousands of people will see your ad every time they
visit us. In addition to the fine menu items they always expect to find at
(restaurant name), they will also see your ad tastefully displayed on our tables.
And don’t worry about your competition. (Your company) has agreed that once
you have signed up to appear in the (restaurant name’s) placemats, only non-
competing ads will appear for the duration of the ad campaign. All of the ads will
reflect our community values. We will not permit any ads of questionable taste.
This is perhaps the least expensive way to reach a targeted market, since the
cost is equally shared by all of the advertisers.
A representative of (your company name) will give you all of the details. We look
forward to seeing your ad prominently displayed in our restaurant.
Restaurant owner’s signature
Suggested Referral Letter
RESTAURANT REFERRAL SHEET
Name Address Phone
A FINAL WORD
You have taken the necessary first step toward your own “Declaration of Financial
Independence”. I applaud your decision to start your own business.
I have been writing, editing, and rewriting this manual for several weeks. It has
become a consummate passion. And having completed the task, I am most eager that
aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs shall benefit from my many hours of writing.
I realize that the low price that I charge for A Practical Guide to Placemat Advertising
may diminish its value to some people. Many people may feel that any manual that enables
people to start and run a viable business should cost a great deal more, even several
hundred dollars. And there are those who are charging as much as five thousand dollars to
help others to get started in the placemat advertising business.
But let me assure you that not only am I the author of this manual, but I have been
directly involved in calling on restaurants and selling ads to business firms. This book is not a
copycat version of some other person’s work. It is an original manual that reflects my own
experiences in this field. A book, manual, or other publication does not have to be
expensive to be a valuable source of information.
You now have most of the essential tools that you need for successfully running your
own advertising business. I sincerely wish you great success. I hope that you will contact me
from time to time. And please send me samples of your placemats. I would love to hear from
you. Send me your success stories.
Even though we all want to succeed on our own efforts, it is always in order to seek
counsel from professionals. No one can be an expert on everything.
On the following page, I have printed a poem that I committed to memory many years
ago. I hope you enjoy it. This poem somehow puts things into perspective. It reminds us that
nobody can do everything alone; that there are times when we need the skills and counsel of
other people. The poem is titled The Indispensable Man.
THE INDISPENSABLE MAN
Sometime when you’re feeling important
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom
Sometime when you feel really certain
You’re the most qualified one in the room.
Sometime when you feel your departure
Would leave an unfillable hole
Just consider this little example
And see how it humbles your soul.
Take a bucket and fill it with water
Put your hand in up to the wrist
Then pull it out, and the hole that’s remaining
Is the measure of how you’ll be missed.
You can splash all around when you enter
You can stir up the water galore
But take out your hand and you’ll notice
That it’s quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example, is
“Just do the best that you can.
Be all you can be. But remember . . .
THERE’S NO INDISPENSIBLE MAN