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Managing Halloween expectations


October 22, 2014
By Canadian Pizza

Topics

Oct. 22, 2014 – The busy party season starts with a
bang on Halloween night. With the spooky celebration landing on already-lucrative
Friday, pizzerias may see new opportunities, and along with these, a few challenges.

Oct. 22, 2014 – The busy party season starts with a
bang on Halloween night. With the spooky celebration landing on already-lucrative
Friday, pizzerias may see new opportunities, and along with these, a few challenges.

Halloween pizza store sales this year are expected to rise
between 20 and 25 per cent, said Andrew Curtis, director of operations of
Topper’s Pizza, in an interview with Canadian
Pizza.

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“It’s a double hit being a Friday and being Halloween.”

They expect a healthy increase in sales this year, if not
matching the unusually high percentage seen in 2013 over 2012.

“Last year we had a
110 per cent increase in sales from the previous year, said Kelly Toppazzini, chairman
and CEO of the company. That year, the kid-oriented day fell on a Thursday. Because
it falls on a Friday this year – a day that typically sees very high sales
performance – Toppazzini said the percentage sales increase is not expected to rise
that high. Nevertheless, it should bring a healthy increase.

Curtis expects stores to see two distinct waves of activity
that night. The first consists largely of parents with kids and includes
multiple pizza orders. For that group, they anticipate orders coming in around
3 p.m.

The second wave is largely made up of teenagers and adults.
The early activity drops off around 7 p.m., then builds again around 9 p.m.,
when teenagers are typically out and about.

Halloween falling on a Friday raises the possibility of a
third wave of adult activity from adults feeling the urge to go out on a
weekend night, said Toppazzini.

The company plans to prepare on several fronts. First, they
will ramp up dough production, with a 24- to 36-hour window on dough, said
Curtis. “On the Thursday prior, we will increase our dough production by about 50
per cent.” The order cycle, which normally starts early at 4 p.m., will start
early, at about 2, he said.

They schedule more staff, discouraging staff from booking
the day off while still trying to accommodate schedules, especially for
employees with young children. Some staff elect to make themselves available on
that day only, he said.

Toppazzini said they do two to three weeks of promotion
through flyers built around a Halloween theme.

The biggest challenge is managing time in the face of
increased volumes, he said. “This is our opportunity to really be solution
providers to our families, and because the pickup ratio goes up that night, we
want to ensure they have their order in their hands so they can go home and
take care of their young ones.” They don’t want to be “a cog in the wheel,” he
said. “Every year we talk to our staff and we rally around that to ensure
families are taken care of.”

Although no significant issues have arisen in the past,
safety and security, as always, are priorities for the company. “The
restaurants are well lit, said Toppazzini, and they encourage drivers to go extra
slowly while watching trick-or-treaters.

Halloween presents a great opportunity to motivate staff, he
suggested. Employees, many of whom are between 16 and 20 years of age, join in
on the fun by wearing costumes, giving out. “It’s all part of the fun.”