The Pizza Insider: September 2013

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Creating Memorable Memorabilia

I'm a sucker for collectibles and memorabilia. I don't personally collect much of it (well, I guess I have some Winnie the Pooh stuff, but we won't go there). Anyway, what I really like is seeing what other people collect, experiencing the nostalgia of vintage items, and the thrill of finding out if something has risen in value over the years.

On my DVR at home you'll find episodes of American Pickers, Antiques Roadshow and Storage Wars (my favorite bidder is Barry, the collector).

I'm telling you all of this because someone has finally taken my love for memorabilia and married it with my love for pizza!

I'm leaving tomorrow on a road trip to visit the world's biggest collection of pizza memorabilia--Pizza Brain in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The country's only pizza museum (also one of the city's favorite pizzerias) just celebrated its one-year anniversary, which PMQ covered in its October issue (hitting mailboxes soon), and I've been wanting to visit it since before the opening.

I can't wait to report back to you about all of the things I see while there!

In the meantime, think about what types of pizza memorabilia you might have gathering around your store. Your very first menu, photos of when the shop first opened, your first pizza peel, and more. Consider framing some of your own memorabilia and putting it on display. Customers love to see your memories and hear your stories; welcome them in.

Come back next week when I'll share photos and stories with you from my trip to Pizza Brain.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Products with Pizza Envy

Pizza is America's favorite food. So it's no surprise that we see so many products that aren't pizza, wanting to be pizza. They know that they are not pizza, but if they could just taste like pizza...

USA Today recently covered some of the more unusual products to boast pizza flavoring, including Doc Popcorn gluten-free pizza popcorn; a pizza marinara nutrition bar from Journey; Eda's sugar-free pizza-flavored hard candy; pizza ice cream from Little Baby's Ice Cream; and Mama Mia! Pizza Beer.

I love to see pizza-flavored items in stores; sometimes I even snap pictures of the fun packaging (see photo above). I believe that pizza-flavored products serve a very important purpose--they inspire the ordering of real pizzas.

The fact is, these products will not cure a pizza craving. In fact, they've been known to cause pizza cravings! They do taste reminiscent of pizza (usually a hint of marinara or spicy oregano flavor). However, once consumers see them or taste them, they usually want the real thing, which is a big bonus for you.

Here are some other pizza-flavored snacks I've seen over the years. Have you tried them? Which ones am I leaving out?

Combos Pizzeria Pretzels
Brim's Pizza Balls
T.G.I. Fridays Pizza Chips
Doritos Pizza Cravers and Pizza Supreme
Pirate's Booty New York Pizza
Pringles Pizza chips and Stix
Herr's Pizza Flavored chips
Knorr Pizza Noodles
Pepperidge Farm Extreme Pizza Goldfish
Tribe Pizza Hummus
Lay's Stax Pizza
Canine Carry Outs pizza flavor (dog snacks)
Go Raw Organic Pizza Flax Snax
Annie's Pizza Snack Mix

How can you use these in your marketing efforts? Try the following:

  • Ask customers to bring in a new or empty container of their favorite pizza-flavored snack for a free appetizer.
  • Run a social media contest to name as many pizza-flavored snacks as possible.
  • Have an in-store blind taste-test contest to match up the pizza-flavored snack to its package.
  • Run a Facebook contest where the first person to post a pic of a pizza-flavored snack wins a free pizza.
  • Ask customers what kind of snack they would create if asked to make something with pizza flavoring.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

7 Signs You May Be a Bad Boss

I worked for several different types of companies before I found my home at PMQ--a video store, a bank, a home insurance company, a mortgage firm, an interior design company, an Internet start-up, etc.

Over those years I had my experiences with both good--and bad--bosses. 

Many times, those who are left in charge of others often ask themselves, "Am I being a good boss?" If you're a new owner or manager, you could be asking yourself this same question.

Thankfully, there are some tell-tale signs that someone may be a "bad" boss. While it may be scary to find out that you are falling prey to one of these common symptoms, don't worry, there's still time to turn things around. Once you have identified the problem, a solution is usually not far behind.

1. You micromanage. Do you often feel like no one can do a job as well as you can? Do you find it hard to trust employees and sometimes go back and redo something they've already done or watch over them as they perform a task?

2. You steal ideas. Have you ever caught yourself liking someone's idea and then taking credit for it?

3. You are critical. You find it hard to give constructive feedback and instead, criticize.

4. You see the glass as half empty. As a boss, part of your job is to keep the team in good spirits. If you find yourself with a constant negative attitude, those around you may follow suit.

5. You are borderline abusive. Have you ever yelled, screamed or used profanity while arguing with an employee? As the boss, you set the tone for how employees interact with you.

6. You are too friendly. While abusive bosses are bad, so to are bosses that are too friendly. No employee should ever feel that a boss is flirting or making unwelcome advances. Work is for working.

7. You are absent. You can't function as a boss if you are not around. Your team needs a leader; if it's not you; hire someone who can be there to make sure they can succeed.

So how did you fare? Did you pass with flying colors? I'm sure it wouldn't surprise you to know that I have had every type of boss listed above in past jobs. Not everyone is cut out to be a boss; it's a tough job to manage a team of people that are all counting on you.

If you're doing things right, keep up the good work!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Becoming The "Popular" Pizzeria

Eater National just released its list of the 38 Essential Pizzas Across the Country. I think it's a pretty precise list, considering there are nearly 70,000 pizzerias to choose from in the U.S. They attempted to cover most of the country and asked some expert pizza opinions in order to get the mix just right.

At PMQ Pizza Magazine, we sometimes sit around a big pizza (or two) and talk about what makes some pizzerias more popular than others. While historic significance certainly brings in a crowd, there are also new pizzerias that do just as good of a job of drawing people in and bringing them back.

So what's the magic formula that results in some pizzerias ending up on lists like the one at Eater while others struggle to bring in customers? And is it something that you can replicate in your own pizzeria?

If we look at some of the common denominators found at the pizzerias listed on Eater's list we find the following:

  • They often offer nontraditional and creative toppings
  • They offer super-fresh ingredients
  • They almost always have a fun vibe
  • They often create ingredients in-house (house-cured bacon, homemade sausage, hand-pulled mozzarella, etc.)
  • They try to offer something unique (coal-fired oven, pizza happy hours, beer/wine/pizza pairings, etc.)
  • They strive for authenticity, through Neapolitan methods, antique ovens and special ingredients
So out of the list above, is there anything that you can take inspiration from and incorporate into your business? Maybe you want to experiment with more inventive toppings or try your hand at making your own mozzarella. Introduce a beer and pizza pairing night or a special pizza brunch on Sundays.

The bottom line is, it's all about standing out among your competitors; creativity goes a long way in the eyes of your customers.

Let me know what you try!