Business and Operations
Focus on habits to increase sales at your pizzeria: From the Editor
By Colleen Cross
Human beings are creatures of habit. This pandemic has brought the idea of habit to the forefront, putting us all outside our comfort zones.
People all over the world have adapted to the pandemic threat by washing their hands frequently, practising physical distancing and staying home from work when they have symptoms as opposed to “toughing it out.” Families have adapted to pandemic restrictions by restructuring their days and creating new habits as the worlds of home, work, school and child care collide in a big way. Businesses have adapted by creating new policies and procedures to keep employees and customers safe.
In April, Technomic pointed out customer behaviours in its Canadian Foodservice View. The research firm said more than two in five consumers who were polled have been cooking meals at home much more often, while about 30 per cent have ordered takeout from restaurants much less often. Forty per cent say they will not order takeout from a restaurant while the lockdown continues: a sobering thought.
In our cover story, “Operating in a new normal,” Piatto Pizzeria and Enoteca’s Brian Vallis expresses concern about changing behaviour, noting that studies say it can take as little as 60 days to create a habit.
Maybe you can turn habit to your advantage in marketing by focusing on creating habits with current customers. Social media is great for drawing people in through momentary temptation: “Look at this delicious pizza we just pulled out of the oven!” This kind of call to action would be even more powerful if followed up with a message about the future, such as “Put Margherita Mondays on your calendar!” or “See you next week for Takeout Wednesday!”
Speaking of the Canada Takeout Day campaign, it is an exercise in creating habits. It seems to have caught on, after being launched in early April. Our informal Facebook poll told us some operators have seen a bump in sales on Wednesdays, while others have seen lower sales than on other days. As Erica Warlow of Black Rock Pizzeria & Bakery in Blairmore, Alta., cheekily (and rightly) points out, “Isn’t every day Takeout Day?!”
Plenty of pizzerias are advertising daily combos or weekly specials – strong draws for customer watching their dollars. And who isn’t watching their dollars?
People really want to support their favourite restaurants in whatever way they can – by liking the heck out of social media posts, by ordering curbside, by adding on drinks where offered, by buying gift certificates for future visits and by tipping for pickup.
That brings us to another side of the habit coin: the urge to break habits and routines.
We’re hearing from some operators that customers are happy to tip for the pleasure of getting a break from the monotony of cooking. While many people enjoy cooking at home, doing it day after day along with the pressure that comes with planning their family’s next meal has made them crave a change of pace.
“Tips have increased here. People are appreciating the fact that we are open and breaking their cooking monotony,” said Chris Evans of North of 7 Cod Father in Northbook, Ont.
Just as the world has been figuring out what’s really important in life, you have a chance to figure out what really matters to your business. That lands you right back at your unique selling point. Now is a good time to revisit it to see if it could be adjusted or improved. And to get in the habit of selling your products and business to the public!