The Pizza Insider: June 2015

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

3 Pizzerias Making Millions

When it comes to standing out in the pizza industry, you want to be unique and represent your own style. However, there's something we all can learn from those who are bringing in millions of dollars every year. I'm not talking about the big four pizza chains here, I'm talking about stores that most of us would consider to be "independent" pizzerias.

Let's take a look at three pizzerias that made close to $20 million last year. See if you can identify what it is that makes them stand out from the other 70,000 pizzerias in the U.S.

Scroll down for my opinion, and let me know your insights in the comments.

successful pizzerias

Example A
Pitfire Artisan Pizza
Los Angeles, CA
Facebook Fans: 1,885
Online Ordering: Yes
Catering: Yes
Beer Sales: Yes

At Pitfire, customers order wood-fired pizzas at the counter and they are delivered to the table. Beer, wine (and at some locations, a full bar) are available to diners. Each location is deliberately different in its styling in order to match its neighborhood surroundings.

successful pizzerias

Example B
Woodstock's Pizza
San Diego, CA
Locations: 8
Facebook Fans: 7,330
Online Ordering: Yes
Catering: Yes
Beer Sales: Yes

First opened in 1977 in Oregon, Woodstock's offers its pizza with a fold-over crust with the sauce inside. All of the Woodstock's locations are in close proximity to college campuses to take advantage of active pizza eaters, and the company minimizes turnover with its employee stock ownership plan. 

successful pizzeriasExample C
Marion's Piazza
Dayton, Ohio
Locations: 9
Facebook Fans: 3,820
Online Ordering: No
Catering: Yes
                                                         Beer Sales: Yes

In 1965, Marion Glass opened Dayton, Ohio's first dine-in pizzeria. Today his son Roger runs the business, where dine-in service and award-winning thin-crust pizza is still the big draw with some locations seating up to 500. The pizza has been voted #1 in more than 35 local surveys. Offers pizza shipment to select areas.

While all three of these powerhouse pizzerias are unique in their own way via the ordering concept, historic significance, or creative topping placement, there are more interesting similarities I noticed right away, and maybe you did, too?

Almost every one of them is taking advantage of sales-boosting tactics that all pizzeria operators have access to and can start integrating almost immediately: 

1. Online ordering. We all know that online ordering can immediately increase check averages by up to 20%. This is a no brainer for every pizzeria.

2. Catering. If you don't already have someone on staff who is in charge of promoting and handling catering orders, this should be your plan of attack for 2016.

3. Alcohol sales. The simple addition of a beer or glass of wine with an order has the power to increase check averages exponentially and inspire repeat visits (with friends).

Notice that I didn't mention social media? Social media is great, but it's not everything. Two of the pizzerias above have less than 5,000 fans on Facebook and don't even link to the page on their websites. Social media, in this case specifically, is not one of the marketing tactics these businesses are focusing their time on.

It's not impossible for you to be the next pizzeria making almost $20 million per year. You'll be surprised at what an impact a few small tweaks can make to your bottom line.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

7 Ways to Team Up for Profit

Have you ever teamed up with another business in order to promote both businesses using a smaller marketing budget? Think of all of the business owners you already know in your area. Would any of them be open to the idea of pairing up to save?

Let's look at what you need to do and consider in order for this to work in your favor.

1. What Makes You (and them) Different?
As with any promotional strategy, you’ll want to have a plan of attack before you start approaching other business owners. Take some time to figure out why someone would want to come to your pizzeria. What makes you different? What can someone get from you that cannot be gotten from anyone else? It might be your price, your quality, or your innovative menu. In approaching other businesses, choose ones who stand out as well.

2. Go Beyond "What's In it For Me?"
Once you know what you have to offer another business, remind yourself what your objectives are. Before you call or go meet with any prospective business ally, keep in mind that you are suggesting a marketing partnership—both parties have to get something out of the alliance. Think beyond, “What’s in it for me?” to what’s in it for the other business as well.

3. Search Outside the Box.
Be creative in the businesses you approach. Try florists, dress shops, jewelers, tanning salons, photographers, hair salons, car washes, realtors, website designers, publicists, printers, newspapers, magazines, radio shows, TV shows, direct mail companies, sign companies, bakeries, taxi services and car dealers. You never know who will be a good partner.

4. Start with Who You Know in the Beginning
With a pizzeria, this is a little easier because everyone loves pizza! You can swap ads on your websites, flyers, etc. and even exchange stacks of business cards. The best businesses to approach are those that you have some affiliation with, whether it be through the chamber of commerce, church, or a club.

5. Present a Great Offer
What type of offers should you present to other businesses? Try donating gift certificates to local florists and car dealers to use as a value added gift for some of their best clients, and ask for an equal set of gift certificates for their businesses in return. Try to work with local radio and TV stations to barter advertising space as well as prizes.

6. Ask about a Raffle Box
We’ve all seen the boxes offering a prize or discount for filling out an entry form or dropping your business card. This is a great tactic for gathering names of prospective customers because you’ll know that they’re interested in your pizzeria if you make the prize something such as a free pizza party. To maximize the power of the enter-to-win boxes, make sure there’s something in it for the other business to encourage their clients to participate (i.e., a company pizza party at the end of the month).

7. Throw a Party!
Who doesn’t enjoy a party? When you’re launching a new menu or introducing a new appetizer line at your pizzeria, invite people in the community who have highly visible jobs to come in and try the menu. Target the opinion leaders in your community (PTA presidents, health club managers and bartenders) and ask them to bring a guest. When they're at the party you'll have another opportunity to gather business cards and network.

In all your planning, don’t forget to look ahead at what you envision the final result to be. Having a goal will help propel you forward toward success.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

8 Ways to Keep Customers Loyal

loyalty programs
Your customers are already members of, at minimum, three or four loyalty programs tied to the local grocery store, office supply chain, drug store or elsewhere. Offering a program with rewards and discounts from your pizzeria would is sure to be welcomed with open arms. However, printing out a business card and purchasing a fancy hole punch doesn't cut it anymore.

Let’s look at some of the most important steps in running a successful loyalty program, and why you’ll need to implement them if you want to build a bevy of happy members. If at the end you decide that you aren’t ready to begin a loyalty program, many of these same tips can still assist in getting you in the right mindset for other customer engagement projects that will prepare your customers for a loyalty program down the line.

1. Check Your Budget
Loyalty programs can be one of the best ways to build brand awareness and customer loyalty, but figure in the costs of setup, product rewards, accounting fees, possible software or computer upgrades and any additional staff you may need to hire. Most importantly, figure in the time output it will take to market and promote the program properly (i.e., regularly).

2. Give Them What They Want
Many retailers neglect to ask what customers actually want from a reward program. Do they favor discounts? Free delivery? Exclusive invites to store events? The short answer is that they want relevant rewards that are tailored to them. The only way you’ll know for sure, however, is by asking them—either during the sign-up process or through email and social marketing polls.

3. Put it In Writing—and Make it Easy!
No one wants to read five pages of small print to figure out how many points they just earned from the pizza they purchased; they also don’t want to spend a year gathering points that go toward a mysterious goal or possibly nothing at all. Find a happy medium by laying it out for customers from the beginning.

4. Know Your Members
One of the reasons so many stores have transitioned away from punch cards over the years is because you will never know anything about a customer who carries a punch card. The technology available to you today gives you the ability to gather important information about your customers upfront and on an ongoing basis that will help you with future sales, promotions—even ordering. The knowledge gleaned from being able to monitor customer purchases through a software-based loyalty program lens is priceless.

5. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
All too often, loyalty cards end up in a desk drawer or at the bottom of an old purse. In order for a loyalty program to succeed, it’s imperative to follow up with your members. Whether that means through periodic emails, mobile alerts or a note dropped in the mailbox, your customers need to be reminded why they are being loyal to you and not the store down the street.

6. Keep the Perks Coming
If you want people to eat at your pizzeria, offer regular bonuses and perks to your VIP customers. Have a new menu debuting in a couple of weeks? Reveal it to loyalty members before everyone else. They’ll love the exclusivity of their preview.

7. Take it Mobile
The ability to tie a loyalty membership number to a mobile phone not only dramatically increases consumer participation in a loyalty program, it also enhances the data that is collected about the consumer. A mobile phone allows you to gather extra data in addition to information about what the consumer does at the register. With a loyalty program that’s tied into a mobile phone, the consumer also has constant access to the loyalty program, benefiting you and them.

8. Stand Out!
With billions of loyalty memberships in the U.S., how will yours stand out from the competition? Will you reveal secret specials to members or invite them to share what they’ve earned through social media for the chance to earn more rewards? Making members feel special and valued will show them that loyalty is a two-way street at your pizzeria—one that they’ll want to return to again and again.

Do you offer a loyalty program at your pizzeria? What types of perks do you provide? Tell me in the comments below.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Top 3 Pizzeria Marketing Tips

pizzeria marketing
A couple of weeks ago I took to Facebook and asked pizzeria operators to tell me their top three marketing ideas. One of the owners who responded will now be featured in an upcoming issue of PMQ Pizza Magazine!

Another respondent, who is not a pizzeria operator, but knows a thing or two about pizzeria marketing, also replied. I liked his feedback so much, that I'm sharing it with you here.

Bryan Mull is the internet marketing manager for Mail Shark, and had the following marketing tips to share....

bryan mull mail shark
Bryan Mull, Mail Shark
1. Spend the money to have awesome logo and branding elements. Don’t skimp on the “look” of the business. Just like dating, physical appearance and vibe of your business will matter when trying to get people in the door. Look the part and make sure your branding is memorable. Remember that your brand and quality of design is a direct reflection of your business in both your food quality and customer service. 

2. Verify your business with Google My Business. This is probably one of the single best tactics a pizzeria owner can do (for free) that will actually help them get visibility on the web. As much as I would like to add “create a website for your business” or “setup a Business Facebook page” to my top 3, I know from past experience that a well optimized Google Plus page can go a long way in local search visibility. 

3. Conduct a direct mail campaign to your local area featuring your menu. This is not a plug for my company. The menu mailing is huge, especially if it’s a new pizzeria or a franchise chain that is coming to a new area. Menus make it extremely easy for the consumer to place an order because it features all menu items, pricing, and tells a the story about the pizzeria. This is a proven tactic to jump start customer campaigns. The big guys like Pizza Hut do this all the time when they open a franchise in a new area. 

Have some great marketing ideas to share? Tell me in the comments section below!