Canadian Pizza Magazine

From the editor’s desk: June 2016

Colleen Cross   

News customer service marketing

The fifth P of marketing

Chances are when marketing your pizza and restaurant you turn to the traditional four Ps: product, price, promotion and place.

Consider adding a fifth P to your marketing mantra – one that stands for politeness, personal service or people. Putting time and effort into training your staff in providing great customer service makes good business sense. It costs five times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an old one, as food service consultant Jeff Dover told the audience at our last Canadian Pizza Show.

It also makes sense as a way to set your pizzeria apart. “Everything is marketing,” Diana Cline writes in her column this issue. Everything you do reflects on your brand whether you realize it or not, and it behoves any business to make sure the word of mouth is on the positive side.

Independents excel at keeping things personal. Customers love it when you remember their name or their usual order. They prize and are willing to pay more for a satisfying experience that only superior attention to detail can deliver.


Good service is important, but how do you improve it in your store? One method is to steal shamelessly from the playbook of the most successful businesses.

Managing editor Laura Aiken put me on to the magic of Nordstrom’s almost legendary interest in the well-being of their customers. One of the high-fashion department store’s strategies is to empower their staff to make things right when customers are dissatisfied, simplifying employee guidelines into one rule: “Use good judgment in all situations.”

It may not be practical to give all staff the power to make on-the-spot decisions when a customer is unhappy. Certainly it helps to have guidelines for different situations, and younger workers in particular have expressed a desire to have expectations spelled out for them. But giving employees the freedom to turn a bad experience into a great one tells them you trust their judgment, helps them develop problem-solving skills and possibly gives you more time to do other tasks.

As Nordstrom’s strategies demonstrate, great customer service doesn’t have to cost a lot. While you might not be able to afford the latest technology, the service itself doesn’t have to cost anything beyond the time it takes to properly train people and build a culture of service.

Here’s a pizza-world example that illustrates empowerment and empathy rolled into one gesture. The Consumerist reported an employee at a take-out pizza store rushed a pizza out to a customer who was planning to forgo his order so he could catch his bus. The surprised customer got a free pizza for the inconvenience of waiting and the store got a customer who is likely to return, to tell his friends and to tip generously. The employee made good on a promise, confident he would not get into trouble with his boss.

There is always a time and a place for the extraordinary gesture. If you and your staff make an effort to know your customers, you’ll naturally empathize with them and find ways to make them smile – a smile that translates to priceless word-of-mouth endorsement.

As you may have guessed, marketing is our focus this issue, and our writers have stellar tips on how to do it better. It is also the focus of an exciting panel Canadian Pizza will host at the Canadian Pizza Show on Oct. 17 (see the Canadian Pizza Show website for details). Join us and bring your ideas, questions and sample material from your favourite campaign. See you there!

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