From the Editor’s Desk: December 2016
The holidays are a time to indulge. That is why the question “Is that all?” should be banned from all pizzerias for December and beyond!
Too often after placing a food order, I still hear these words – often delivered in an impatient or bored tone. They never fail to make me feel rushed, pressured and dismissed all at the same time.
Operators can remedy this customer service ailment by tweaking that question. “What else can I get for you?” or, better yet, “Would you like to try one of our salads?” In a recent column, marketing pro Michelle Brisebois suggests managers train staff to actively listen to customers and to make the most of what they hear. “Role-play with your staff to help them develop a knack for identifying an opportunity,” she advises.
They can also increase their average eater cheque, which is thought by many to be a major driver of sales growth. The 2015 Canadian Chain Restaurant Industry Review, for example, reported that sales at quick-service restaurants increased by more than four per cent, driven primarily by average eater cheque gains.
Focusing on raising your average cheque can dramatically improve your bottom line. Pizza Pizza, in its latest shareholder report, reported an increase in its average cheque in spite of a decrease in customer traffic.
The potential for profit is there, but there is definitely room for improvement. Roughly half report an average cheque of $7-10, according to CHD Expert, a company that collects, manages and analyzes data for the away-from-home foodservice market in 50 countries. Nearly all independent, full-service cafés, family-style restaurants and diners with fewer than 10 stores each report an average cheque of $10-15, CHD reports, and most independent traditional restaurants that offer casual dining fall into the $15-20 range.
Wouldn’t it be great to get your sales to the next level? The simplest way to make this happen is to ask. Give customers every opportunity to add a drink, salad or side dish to their order. There also are subtler ways to encourage customers to spend more, for example, offering greater variety in drinks, including specialty coffees or premium pressed fruit juices that are popular with many younger customers. This strategy has the added benefit of letting you gauge customers’ interest in new items.
You won’t know until you try it. The same goes for the customer-service end of things: you won’t know unless you ask.
We at Canadian Pizza extend the best of the season to all of you out there working hard and spreading community spirit. A special thank-you goes out to the owners, operators, pizza makers and exhibitors who helped make the 2016 Canadian Pizza Show an exciting gathering place for Canada’s pizza industry. We are especially grateful to our generous show sponsors, Saputo Foodservice, PizzaMaster distributed by Alfa Food Service, and Stanislaus Food Products, and to our Chef of the Year competition sponsors, Saputo Foodservice, Moretti Forni distributed by Euro-Milan, Escalon Premier Brands and Ardent Mills, for their financial support and enthusiasm. Without these folks, the show wouldn’t be the meeting place it is today.
I will now pose an open-ended question: “What can we bring to next year’s Canadian Pizza Show that will make it a must-attend event for you?” I hope to see your wish lists in my computer inbox and mailbag by Dec. 24.