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Giorgio’s corner: November 2016

Why it’s great to be the ‘little guy’


October 26, 2016
By Giorgio Taverniti

Topics

“George, it must be so nice to have your own restaurant!” Whenever I hear this, I pause, and then a grin spreads across my face, like a kid about to get a piece of cake. I then answer, “Yes, I LOVE it and am grateful every day . . . but I could use a vacation every now and again.” This usually receives a chuckle followed by a nod of the head and a response of “I’m right there with you, bud.”

Make no mistake: owning your own business is a dream come true; however, it involves hard work and constant hustle. I love the late nights, the spring in my every step, the nonstop flow of orders, and of course, my patrons. Let‘s face it: I thrive on the hustle! I am, after all, the “little guy” so my hustle is real and my game’s got to be strong to go head to head with the big chains. The mamma and pappa shops have a real challenge to keep up with the “big guys,” but we also have a lot of advantages that sometimes can be overlooked and not always maximized.

As an independent, I am fully in control of my business at all times. I don’t need to check in with upper management to know my sales, my inventory or my staff issues, if any. I know what’s happening at all times and I take ownership of everything. I am a part of every aspect of my business. It’s easy to be an owner and only an owner. I believe knowledge is power and I know my products, my market, the demand, my staff, and most importantly, my patrons. If you ask why or how I could possibly know all this, it’s because I’m there every day. Sickness, fatigue and days off don’t exist in my world. I’m in control of how my baby runs and I make sure it runs like a well-oiled machine by being there and being present. Big chains have a hierarchy of management and sometimes the control and order gets lost among that hierarchy. I am in control of my business and its future. There’s nothing more powerful than that.

Price point and buying source are key factors that can make or break any business, and I can control these. The right price point, with the right balance of cost and profit, is what keeps a business alive. It keeps patrons happy with fair and justifiable pricing. The food market is constantly changing and will continue to do so. This continuous change affects my price points and the products I am able to offer. A spike in the cost of seafood can cripple my demand for it. Not only may the client think the product is overpriced but it will be a loss for me. I can’t keep the same price point on a product that’s tripled in its cost.

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As an independent, I can lower the cost of a product should I receive a better cost price. Adjusting the price point on products is something I can do instantly without approval from anyone. I can even take a break from a certain product and avoid a potential loss. My buying source is also mine to select. I can choose to give my business to the little guys as well as the bigger suppliers. I can choose locally grown food because my demand is much smaller than that of a larger company. These executive decisions are mine and mine alone to make.

However, poor time management is what can trip up even the most energetic owner. If you haven’t yet mastered this skill, I suggest you do because it’s a lifeline you desperately need. As my own boss, I make every minute count. There is no downtime or wasted time.

However, I also am realistic enough to know I’m not Superman and that sometimes I need to delegate. I change my schedule and to-do list according to my business’s needs. I constantly prioritize and multitask. I never pull the, I’m-the-owner-and-I-don’t-do-that card. Every task can be done by me and is when I’m able to. Management of my time and the time of my staff is decided by me and not someone who isn’t at my business every day.

As a little guy, I am a part of this community as an individual and also as a business. I have a great relationship with the other local shops and maintain a friendly, positive approach in every aspect of business. I often support and participate in community events. The face customers always see and know is George or Georgie from Frank’s Pizza House. They often call me Frank, and yes I do answer to that as well. I have had customers follow my business from my previous location to where I am now because of that real-feel family stamp that keeps them coming back.

Customers often tell me they’d rather support me over the big guys because our pizzeria provides the same quality of food I would serve to my own family and because I care about the community.

Everyone benefits from a supportive and united community, and that includes the little guys.


Giorgio Taverniti owns Frank’s Pizza House in Toronto, which has been in his family since 1990. A graduate of George Brown College’s culinary management and Italian culinary programs, Giorgio helped found a popular pizza-making workshop at the college and ran it for three years.