How to open a successful pizzeria in nine easy steps: Making Dough with Diane
By Diane ChiassonFeatures Business and Operations Catering & Expansion Marketing Premises editor pick opening a pizzeria
Experienced owner-operators know that it’s essential to be prepared both financially and mentally before venturing into the pizza industry.
With more than 90 per cent of North Americans consuming pizza at least once a month, it’s no surprise that pizza shops are some of the most popular restaurants. So, if you are ready to take the leap to become a pizza restaurateur, it’s important to go into it with both eyes open.
In the early days of the pandemic, people got used to eating their restaurant food at home. After COVID-19, a lot of people still prefer to get their meals via a pickup window, the drive-thru or delivery. A lot of sit-down restaurant operations have switched to quick service only. There has been an increasing demand for to-go food, and it’s no surprise that pizza shops are some of the most popular restaurants.
Here are nine easy steps to opening a successful pizzeria – and a review for those already operating.
1. Conduct market research and analyze the competition
Before launching your pizzeria business, it’s essential you conduct market research. This is an important step to check whether there is enough demand to open your pizzeria operation successfully. Still, it will also help you develop the best selling strategy for pizzas.
You must understand the current industry trends, who your competitors are and who your potential customers are. Once you have a location in mind, sometimes a nearby owner or employee of another pizza shop will volunteer their products and sales information; if not, you must become a pizza spy. What about taking note of the food being delivered from some distributors’ trucks? This is the best way to find out who the distributors are. Check the competitors’ menu and their average price for a meal.
Once you have done your research, the next stage is to decide if you will launch an independent pizzeria or join a pizza chain.
Keep in mind that it’s mandatory to respect all safety and health regulations.
2. Find the right location
“Location, location, and location” are the three most well-known words in commercial real estate. I suggest you hire a commercial real estate representative to work with you to find your ideal and best location. Try to find a spot that is easily accessible and has maximum visibility, facing a busy street and a street that gets heavy foot traffic, or offers plenty of parking spaces. Avoid locating near too many pizza shops: the last thing you need is more competition. Finally, check the area’s demographics. Areas with higher incomes, younger populations and a dining-out culture often attract more pizza shop customers. An ideal location would be near schools, universities, shops, apartment buildings and office buildings because people in these areas often order pizza for lunch or as an after-school snack.
3. Choose the right style
Determine what style of service you want to offer. Will your pizzeria operation be a ghost kitchen pizzeria, also known as a virtual, dark or cloud kitchen, which operates for delivery and takeout and where the orders are received online or by phone, while the kitchen mainly produces pizzas for delivery apps?
Will it be self-serve, takeout, delivery, mobile? Will you be crafting gourmet or artisan pizzas? Will you sell pizza by the slice? Will you offer pre-made pizzas with recipes on how to bake them? Customers love to buy pizzas to take home and bake them themselves.
4. Decide on the brand and name of your pizzeria
Whether you sell low-budget pizza, fast-casual or gourmet pizza, you should create your own memorable brand. When naming your pizza shop, the name should be unique and easy to pronounce. Once everything is evaluated and selected, you must implement the brand consistently across various platforms, including your website, social media platforms, marketing materials, store signage, uniforms and delivery vehicles.
5. Create a thorough business plan
A comprehensive business plan is essential for structuring your business. Your accountant should help you create a business plan. To start running your pizzeria, you may need to secure funding: a business plan is a document that lenders will require before they process a commercial loan application. The business plan should explain in detail who you are, where your pizza shop will be located and how you will be successful. Your plan needs to include the following elements: an executive summary, company overview and pizzeria description, market analysis, business offerings, location analysis, investment plan, financial projections, vendors/suppliers, management team and marketing plan.
6. Design your pizza shop layout
After defining your brand, take some time to design an attractive interior for your pizzeria properly. The interior design of your operation needs to match your brand identity and the colour palette you have chosen for your logo design. Choose appropriate furniture and equipment, decorations, lighting, packaging and eye-catching signage. These 4 Ps are the key ingredients for the success of your pizzeria: product, price, place and promotion.
7. Design your pizza menu
What kind of pizza will you be offering? Your menu should offer a good variety of pizzas and other food items such as calzones, panzerotti, pasta and salads. Will you make Greek pizza, New York-style pizza, Sicilian pizza, California pizza, Margherita pizza or vegan pizza? Make sure you know how much it costs to make everything on the menu and how much gross profit you will generate per transaction. Next, you will have to establish proper and exact recipes and procedures.
8. Recruit and hire the right team
Your management team and employees will be the face of your pizzeria, so make sure they will represent you in the best way possible. Look for positive candidates with warm personalities. Make sure to look for competent, reliable and experienced cooks, cashiers, delivery drivers and customer service representatives who can help you deliver quality products and services to your customers.
Remember to train, train and, again, train your employees using the appropriate tools and training manual to offer the highest quality of service.
9. Promote your pizzeria
Always promote your pizzeria through various marketing channels such as social media platforms, websites, online directories and through word of mouth.
Being prepared financially and mentally before venturing into the pizza industry will help ensure your success.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 35 years by providing innovative and revenue-increasing food service and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Contact her at 416-926-1338, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit chiassonconsultants.com.
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