Canadian Pizza Magazine

Making dough with Diane: Implementing effective systems for your small pizzeria – Part One

Diane Chiasson   

Features News Business and Operations

Photo: shapecharge/E+/Getty Images

It’s your staff members who are going to deliver a “wow!” experience. If you want to develop good people and create a better culture in your pizza operation, you must have sound systems in place. Small independent pizzeria owners should keep in mind that every pizzeria chain began as a single independent operator. It’s by establishing systems and processes that they were able to duplicate the successes of their first pizzeria. 

You must learn how to develop and put in place effective systems. As an owner or operator, you should always think of new ways of helping your staff members do their job faster and easier by creating and designing proper systems geared toward meeting the basic service expectations that are common to all pizzerias, including:

  • Quick and polite greeting
  • Courteous and well-dressed staff
  • Timely service
  • Hot food hot and cold food cold
  • Consistency
  • Professionalism
  • Attentiveness
  • Cleanliness and sanitation
  • Comfortable eating/dining experience 

Unfortunately, business owners sometimes are too busy, and they get distracted and forget. If you want to ensure your customers receive the ultimate guest experience, you must focus your attention on improving your systems. Excellent and effective systems are the building blocks of every foodservice operation. They will help you stay on track and save your energy for giving your guests a great experience rather than struggling to remember details. Effective systems will not only ensure consistency and guest satisfaction, but they will also help you with your cost control, which is crucial during this economy. Your operational systems should include back-of-the-house systems, front-of-the-house systems, management systems, personal systems, catering systems and delivery systems. 

This is the first of a two-part series on creating effective systems to improve your pizzeria operation. Here we’ll cover implementing effective systems to ensure consistent guest experiences.


Effective systems and controls are the cornerstones of successful pizzerias. Most of you think that systems are challenging to put together, boring and time consuming. Get this out of your mind. A system is essentially the same as a recipe, which is putting together ingredients, steps and instructions designed to make a specific dish. The end result should always be the same-tasting and -looking pizza, calzone, panzerotti, salad, wings or desserts, regardless of who made it. Basically, a system is a process, procedure or series of steps designed to produce a standard result: it’s the perfect way to create results that are consistent, predictable, measurable and achieve the desired level of customer service and experience. 

1. Start with a product order form or template
A proper order form or template should list all the ingredients and products that your back-of-the-house uses. Having a streamlined ordering procedure and proper inventory control is crucial in maintaining the consistent cost of sales and product availability. 

You could easily make a basic multi-purpose form in an Excel sheet, then print it and post it on a clipboard in the kitchen, behind your counters or in your office. If you Google it, I am positive that you could also download a free order form or template. This form should be highly visible when ordering, receiving and maintaining accurate control inventory. Write at the very top of your sheet, the Month, and then below on one line, have many columns, and write the following:

  • Inventory ID or Item Number
  • Date of Last Order
  • Item Name
  • Description
  • Unit Measure (or UM for Unit of Measure – whether it’s a case, bag, sack, bottles, lb, kg, etc.)
  • Stock Location (Basement, Shelf 4, or Store Room A, Shelf 2, or Kitchen, on a pallet)
  • Supplier or Vendor Name
  • Unit Price
  • Quantity in Stock
  • Inventory Value
  • Reorder Level
  • Days Per Reorder
  • Item Reorder Quantity
  • Item Discontinued
  • Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4
  • Total Value
  • Employee Initial 

2. Continue with a kitchen utensil and smallware checklist
Another useful form to ensure availability and quality is the utensil, smallware and equipment checklist. This checklist usually includes listing all products such as utensils, smallwares, equipment and other supplies needed throughout the pizza shop. Just be aware that running out of products or having products disappear will cost you money. You should always keep track of your food items, smallwares, linens, uniforms, cleaning supplies and other merchandise. 

Here is a general checklist of utensils and smallwares you need to keep track of in your kitchen:

Cooking pans and pots: Regular (coupe) pans; wide-rim pizza pans; cutter pizza pans; cast iron pizza pans; pizza stones; pizza screens and disks, deep-dish pizza pans; pizza pan separators, pizza pan grippers; and pots and pans of all sizes with lids.

Cooking tools and utensils: Pizza peels and other oven tools; dough scrapers; pizza rollers; dough cutters and markers; rocking pizza cutters; expandable cutters; pizza bubble poppers; dough dockers; dough proofing boxes/trays; pizza pie server; rolling pins and accessories; cooking mats; citrus juicer; scoops; basting brushes; pan liners; flour sifters and sieves; kitchen scale; zester; timer; thermometer; dough sheeter; dough dividers and rounders; graters; spoons and slotted spoons; cheese shakers; spice and flour shakers and dredges; whisks; spatulas; tongs; ladles; measuring cups (liquid/dry) and spoons; mixing bowls; mixing bowl stand; bowl and bench scrapers; workbench scraper cleaner; cutting boards; cooling racks; squeeze bottles; commercial mixers/stand mixers/tabletop mixers; food processor; food mills; mortar and pestle; chopper; slicers; chef’s knives; paring knives; kitchen scissors.

Don’t forget to write items like coffee makers and drink dispensers’ supplies, food storage boxes and lids, utility carts, storage racks and covers, dishware, glassware, flatware, pizza paddles, linens for sit-down restaurants, as well as sanitary products such as aprons, hairnets and hats.

Countertop pizza display: Pizza display cases; cake, pie, stands and covers; pizza serving wares; sample domes, display stands; display trays and covers; pizza tray stands; pizza racks and shelf racks; napkin dispensers.

Packaging: Pizza boxes; dry wax paper, pizza slice holders, pizza circles, pizza box stacks, insulated pizza delivery bag; dessert trays; parchment paper; bags; boxes; serving trays, plates and cutlery.  | CP

Look up for the second article of this two-part series on creating effective systems to improve your pizzeria operation in the July/August issue. 

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years by providing innovative, revenue-increasing marketing strategies. Contact her at 416-926-1338 or, or visit

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