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Thread: 'Wayland Coupons' could bring revenue

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb 'Wayland Coupons' could bring revenue to our town

    As printed on 11/6/08 in the Wayland Town Crier.
    I am floating an idea to bring in additional revenue to the Town of Wayland for both the general fund or for targeted portions of our town's budget.

    If this is a viable idea then it should be presented to the BoS and the FinCom for their consideration.

    Your feedback would be appreciated.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Selectmen’s FY10 Ad Hoc Budget Advisory Committee has been meeting and working to find ways to reduce town expenses and to solicit ‘out of the box’ ideas to generate more revenue for the town. An ‘out of the box’ idea, by definition, is new, different, untried, previously un-thought of or unconventional.

    Here is one ‘Out of the box’ idea that I call ‘Wayland Coupons’.

    The genesis of the idea started with a question: What is Wayland’s biggest industry? From a business revenue generation point of view, one might say Wayland’s biggest industry is its affluent earning and potentially loyal buying power. The consultants for the Wayland Town Center Project have reported that much of the significant shopping by Waylanders is done outside of Wayland. Waylanders spend their money at the Natick Collection, in Wellesley, in Sudbury, at the Burlington Mall and at numerous places in Framingham. When the developers of the Natick Collection conceived of upgrading their Natick Mall they must have been counting on nearby affluent shoppers coming and spending their dollars at the Natick Collection instead of going to Wellesley or Boston. They must have surely been counting on Wayland.

    We know that Wayland is an intelligent, proud and public service-oriented community. People become involved in Wayland activities and donate their time and effort to Wayland just because it’s Wayland. Waylanders can form a powerful buying block, and if one could leverage that buying block, our focused Wayland product could generate significant dollars for the Town.

    The Idea: Branded Wayland Coupon books or coupon cards, sold by the town for Waylanders to buy products within Wayland and at establishments local to Wayland.

    The core of the idea is not original; churches, synagogues, non-profits and local sports teams have previously done it. What is original is that this well-established fundraising technique might realize its full potential when applied to a municipality.

    Many of the coupons would be for goods and services that we tend to buy anyway. The coupons would be from businesses with identical competition that are in striking distance of Wayland residents. A book would sell for $X and it might provide $10X in coupons. Just two or three coupons might actually pay for the book itself, like a coupon for 10% off your shopping bill up to $40 at ABC supermarket. ABC supermarket would get a Wayland customer who might spend at least $400 and get the whole $40 off the receipt. If ABC supermarket didn’t go for the coupon then DEF supermarket might, and ABC wouldn’t want to be left out so ABC and DEF might both go for the coupon book. Why? Because it’s a Wayland Coupon book, and they want to seed loyalty in Wayland shoppers for all the reasons given above. Would car dealership XYZ not allow a $500 coupon to get a Waylander to come in and buy a car – especially in these economic times?

    I think the Wayland buying block leverage could be enormous and quite an incentive to encourage merchants to participate and the coupons would encourage Waylanders to use them at those establishments. Different versions of these books might eventually be published seasonally. Our town website could provide a mechanism to buy them and provide a listing of the current coupon contents. Signs might be posted at major Wayland intersections to advertise them. The coupons might be UPC bar-coded and have a shelf life of 1 year from publication date. Let’s say the books were $100 a piece and they potentially provided $1000 in coupons with the average person getting, at least, their initial investment back. Then for every 1,000 books sold, Wayland gets $100,000 in gross revenue. Coupon books could become stocking stuffers and gifts; they could potentially be sold via the Wayland Business Association, PTO and other civically responsible groups. If done right, a significant annual revenue stream could be established and sustained over long periods of time. Buying a Wayland Coupon book could become an object of loyalty, status and civic duty. Not so far-fetched.

    The Wayland Coupon books might be designed to target the funding of such projects as school athletics for a given season, cleaning up milfoil in a pond and/or funding the real estate tax circuit breaker programs for the elderly. These efforts would free up town money for other things. The possibilities are enormous.

    What about Sudbury Coupons? Well, Sudbury might copy this idea and they should. This would only cause more visibility and competition. In fact, this is the type of idea that can be replicated in hundreds or thousands of towns across the USA.

    The legal and logistical details would have to be worked out. This idea will take effort and organization. Anything that is worthwhile does not come with zero effort. There would have to be the will and perhaps, the wallet, of our leaders to get this started.

    Of course, it first has to be a good idea and I’d like to hear what you think about this.
    Last edited by AlanJReiss; 11-09-2008 at 11:56 PM. Reason: Enhance title of article

  2. #2
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    Alan,

    I'm amazed that none of the 25 people who have viewed this thread have responded.
    This is an inspired idea and I commend you for your ongoing "outside the box" thinking.

    I had a similar, but different idea a while back about volunteerism.
    We are very fortunate to be living in a town with such a collection of successful and experienced people. It seems to me that there are many needs in town that could be filled by tapping into this resource and asking people to step up to the plate and volunteer.

    For example, I was dismayed to hear that some months ago the School Committee spent $8000 on a technology consultant to help determine the best way to upgrade the schools' aging computer systems. Even if this consultant had come up with a better recommendation that had been realized from a previous internal study (which he didn't, according to our previous Technology Director), it seems to me that there are enough computer, technology, IT professionals in this town, some of whom probably have kids in our schools, that it would have been very easy to find one or more who would be willing to provide similar study pro bono. All we have to do is ask.

    Even for things like designing a new high school, if that should come to pass (perhaps unlikely in this economy), there are several well established architects in Wayland who could be tapped into that may provide at least some of their work at a substantial discount.

    We need to use what we've got - because we've got a lot.

    Like your Wayland Coupons idea, we need to be spending our money close to home and taking advantage of the terrific human resources we have right here.

    .
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  3. #3
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    The Superintendent's Technology Task Force is an excellent example of the suggested volunteerism. I don't know the exact head count, but there are on the order of 30 members of the community participating in this effort.

    Similarly, on the municipal side of the budget, the Town Administrator has convened (or is in the process of doing so) local expertise in the area of energy for the purpose of energy savings.

  4. #4
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    I responded to Alan on his post on the Town Crier discussion board, but will copy it here for posterity:

    Alan, this reminds me not just of the cards some of the Wayland sports teams have sold, but also of the 'Shop Weston' campaign that our neighboring town runs. It could serve several nice purposes - not just raising money for the town, but helping to get people thinking about shopping locally when possible, and supporting our local businesses. But since the shopping locally bit is green - let's keep it green, and do it as a multiple use card and not generate lots of big books!

  5. #5
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    Greener still, perhaps the "coupons" could be done completely online in some way.

  6. #6
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    Default Greener = Money for Wayland

    No doubt we want to be ecologically 'green' and I am a big fan of electronic transactions without paper or those 20th century techniques of commerce...

    BUT...

    We have to crawl before we can fly.
    Electronic coupons would require point of sale electronic interactions and some high tech logistics which don't make for an initial rollout of this idea.

    So putting this desire to be green aside...
    A book of coupons, done the 'old fashion way' which would prove viability and acceptability by both the citizens and the merchants would be my recommendation to commence this.

    The first group to gain acceptance would be the Selectmen and the Ad-Hoc committee... it is they who would have to allocate resources to get this started. It is my goal to present this idea to them soon but Jeff, you being on the Ad-Hoc committee might want to comment or speak to the other members of that group to get some feedback.

    I can tell you that the Wayland Business Association has given me positive feedback on this and I am now working on meeting with them in Jan' 09 to present the concept.

    Any help you can provide Jeff Dieffenbach would be appreciated.
    Last edited by AlanJReiss; 11-10-2008 at 06:14 PM. Reason: Of course - spelling

  7. #7
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    Default Great Idea!

    Alan,

    This is a super idea. I would happily buy a Wayland coupon book (and use it). I think it could really appeal to and be marketed on the "Act Locally, Think Globally" mindset. The only thing I might throw out there to mull over is to keep the price of the coupon book within an affordable range so that (at the risk of sounding like everyone's favorite former VP candidate) Joe Sixpack could buy/utilize the book as well. Or perhaps the books could be offered at different price levels and a correspondingly different volume of coupons? I just don't think everyone has an extra $100 to spend on a coupon book in the current economy.

  8. #8
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    Default Good Suggestions

    Mary,
    Your comment about the pricing of the book is well taken.
    Rhetorically, the price of the book should always equal the reasonable minimum that one would expect to get back through purchases of items that would have to be purchased anyway. In that vein, a $100 book should not matter but your point, that its expensive goes to the other argument which says that people may be reluctant to lay out that type of money for coupons which they may not feel they would use in any short period of time.

    So, perhaps $50 for a book might be a better price point and ultimately would result in a higher volume of sales and repeat sales.

    One other interesting feedback I get is that the coupons should be for Wayland only business's... it may not be legal for a municipality to exclude all comers to an enterprise like this but the idea is well taken and perhaps the vast majority of the coupons could be Wayland business's.

    I have contacted the Town Administrator to get the legal opinions going and will be presenting the idea to the Ad-Hoc committee as soon as I can.

  9. #9
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    At the Special Town Meeting tonight, I observed another example of where volunteerism could have helped save the town some money.

    Article 13 went through and provides $50,000 for the repair of the former railroad freight house - the little building between the library and the Wayland Historical Society.

    Granted, it's only $50,000 and it's for a good purpose, but it's the type of expense that could probably easily have been avoided by finding a local contractor willing to do the work pro bono, in exchange for some recognition for the contribution.

    My point is that we need to start thinking along these lines, as we are confronted with new expenses in difficult economic times.

    We've got a lot of talented people in this town and we should take advantage of that.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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