Business and Operations
From the Editor: September-October 2012
Kicking it up a notch
By Laura Aiken
Two key messages came out of our inaugural Canadian Pizza Business
Forum: Position yourself based on quality rather than compete on price
and get involved with your community
Two key messages came out of our inaugural Canadian Pizza Business Forum: Position yourself based on quality rather than compete on price and get involved with your community. Of the countless other tips and tricks shared on June 26, many revolved around these basic principles for independents.
To compete on quality and commune with your community, you must avoid one very common pitfall for all business owners: Complacency. At first our ear hears that word and we think of laziness and sloth, things that certainly we cannot be simply by virtue of how hard we work. But complacency is something a little different and it can sneak into our businesses undetected. When things are going well and life is a success, there is a natural human tendency to ride the wave and kick back for a while. Yet this is when you can be at your most vulnerable. You never know when a new restaurant will move into your customer catch zone and start taking advantage of weaknesses that perhaps you don’t even see. Complacency is a death sentence for a business, particularly in an industry as competitive as pizza. For one business to grow, it generally needs to take customers from another.
Complacency also happens when things get repetitive, or easier. It’s easy to let the flames of motivation dim to a steady burn after surviving the initial stages of growth that are typically so rigorous and demanding. Be wary. Pride will allow you to rest in contentment and success can make you fear trying new things and revert to “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” ways of thinking. It’s when good enough actually becomes good enough that someone can slip in quietly and start stealing your livelihood right out from under your nose.
One way to fight this oh-so-common human habit is to become accountable for the goals of your business.
Make a commitment to change, to exceeding expectations rather than simply meeting them. Involve your staff. They are on the front lines of delivering goals. Cultivate a culture of your collective ideas, for that is what you should always be focused on and for more reasons than just beating the competition. Encourage your staff to speak their mind and be creative. It’s a way of thinking that will keep you out of autopilot.
Be your customer for a day. Sample every dish, call your own store and order delivery. See what your service is like. Every pizzeria owner ought to be a little afraid of losing his or her customers, even pizzerias with lineups down the street. It is very easy for the next big thing to come along and if you haven’t been earning loyalty and keeping a watchful eye, that line could easily shift down the street. Just look at what complacency did for the juggernaut Research in Motion.
Contests and industry events that surround you with your peers are great avenues for idea exchange and seeing if what you do is similar to what other pizzerias are doing. Contests, in addition to promoting your products, are one way you can put your finger on the pulse of the industry. Our Pizza with Purpose contest sponsored by Saputo Food Service has been extended and is now open for nominations until Nov. 1. Let us know if you want to participate!
From the feedback we received, we learned the Business Forum was another such informative event for all. Thank you to the sponsors of the Canadian Pizza Business Forum: Pizza Master distributed by Alfa Food Service (platinum), Stanislaus Food Products (gold), Saputo Foodservice (silver) and Dairy Farmers of Canada/Santa Lucia (bronze). Also thank you to XLT Ovens for sponsoring our breakfast and coffee breaks, and to Moretti Forni/Faema Canada for lunch, with ingredients donated by Stanislaus Food Products and Saputo Foodservice. Stay tuned for details on our next event coming to you in 2013!