Canadian Pizza Magazine

From the Editor: Local connections mean ROI

Colleen Cross   

Features Business and Operations Community involvment Trends

Besides price, what is most important to you when choosing which pizza restaurant to order from? 

Mintel recently put that question to 1,743 internet users aged 18 or older who had had pizza from a restaurant in the past three months: 

  • 68 per cent said quality of pizza
  • 42 per cent said type of pizza
  • 32 per cent said convenience of location
  • 27 per cent said speedy service
  • 21 per cent said easily customizable pizza
  • 20 per cent said online ordering capability
  • 18 per cent specialty pizza options

This is good information – and it’s no surprise that quality still wins the day.

But two options not on that list are personal connection and community involvement. If the people surveyed had been given that choice, how high would they have ranked these as important to their pizza ordering decision?

Very high, we think. We’ve heard again and again from successful pizzerias how much time and effort they put into community causes and how their community rallies to support them.

There’s a definite return on that investment of time and effort.

Canadian Pizza looked at pizzerias and community at our recent Virtual Summit in October. You can get a taste of the conversation in “Tightening Community Ties.” Three successful owner-operators joined us to talk about how they connect with their communities and we are grateful to them for sharing their experiences and tips.

Where do they get ideas for making local connections?

“A lot of it is just paying attention to what’s going on around the world, in your neighbourhood and on social media,” said Joe Ward of Joes Family Pizzeria in Pembroke, Ont. I’m doing a lot more of the social media now – hours on TikTok, Instagram Facebook – putting posts out there and not just hitting the “like” button but replying and having an interaction with those customers. That’s how I get most of my ideas right now – talking to the customers, talking to charities, seeing a charity post something and saying, hey, we’ll throw in gift certificates for you. We’ve never turned away a donation: we’re actually looking for charities.”

Mikey Wasnidge of Nimrods’ in Charlottetown added: “It’s just fun to think about who are your end customers, what are they interested in and what can you do to engage them and make their day more interesting. Sometimes we’ll do colouring contests or we’ll hear a story of a customer that has an interesting story and we’ll snap a photo and tell their story. The ideas flow naturally when you’re putting the people at the forefront of it – and making it about them and rather than about the product.”

Kelly Black, co-owner of Una Pizza + Wine in Calgary and Saskatoon, told us they look for a need in the community. For example, they’ve donated tens of thousands of dollars to Mealshare, which fights youth hunger, and recently started a Community Love program targeting charities chosen by their employees.

These three smart businesspeople – and countless other we’ve connected with – have come to understand the importance of listening to their communities, fans and followers. The return on investment is a healthy bottom line that allows you to stay in business and a meaningful place in your community that people are happy to support.

Speaking of making connections, Canadian Pizza is planning two exciting in-person Canadian Pizza Summits for 2022 – West in Burnaby, B.C., in June, and East in Toronto, Ont., in October. Stay tuned for details! | CP

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