From the November 1998 issue of Entrepreneur

There's only one way to describe it: It's diner theater. That's our take, anyway, on restaurateurs Bambi-Lynn and Coy Ramsey's novel notion of selling movie tickets to the patrons of their diner.

"I thought it was a neat idea," says Bambi-Lynn Ramsey, 39, explaining why Simpson's Diner in Houston, which the couple recently sold, began offering customers tickets to a nearby cinema last November. "I thought that if we could provide movie tickets at the diner, people wouldn't be in such a rush to eat."

As it turns out, she was right. Not only was their movie-ticket service a much-appreciated convenience, it was also an opportunity for customers to spend their extra time ordering extra menu items--say, appetizers or desserts. "We took no profit whatsoever from the tickets," explains Ramsey. "It was just [a way] to help our business [through higher check amounts]."

And it did. Ramsey, along with her husband, Coy, 44, is planning to open the doors to a new Houston diner--Avalon Diner II--by the time you read this. The Ramseys plan to implement their movie ticket promotion at this new location as well.

"I really believe it brings people to your restaurant," says Ramsey, who spurred on employee enthusiasm by offering free movie tickets to those with the best sales records. "It's very simple to do as long as you're organized and have good communication [with your staff]."

Simple. Effective. And it sounds like the ticket to us.

Sales Force

A road map to getting new business.

Wouldn't it be great if that old axiom about the world beating a path to your door were actually a reality? All you'd need do would be to sit back and let your work simply speak for itself. There'd be no cold calls or expensive ads--and the profits would just roll in.

OK, stop dreaming. Given the fact that opportunity knocks only when called upon, it's clear that every entrepreneur must a savvy marketer be. You have a road map, however: Ample direction is provided in Getting Business to Come to You (Tarcher/Putnam, $18.95 paper).

As promised in the title, homebased business experts Paul and Sarah Edwards, with the help of co-author Laura Clampitt Douglas, tell you everything you need to know when it comes to generating business. You learn which marketing methods most suit your personality, how best to present your business and how to fire up that all-important word-of-mouth.

"The ideas in this book have been tested in seminars throughout the country," the authors assure. It's probably the next best thing to having the world beat an actual path to your door.

Mail Call

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas--you know, the holiday that turns gift-shopping into an extreme sport. With all the hype, it's no wonder many consumers are turning to mail order catalogs. Here's a breakdown of the top five growth categories:

42.9% Gardening

31.7% Jewelry

21.9% Shoes

17.4% Women's apparel/accessories

13.4% Sports and outdoors

Contact Source

Wessels & Pautsch PC, 2035 Foxfield Dr., St. Charles, IL 60174, (630) 377-1554