Canadian Pizza Magazine

Maximizing downtime in your pizzeria: Making dough with Diane

Diane Chiasson   

Features Business and Operations Health & Safety downtime making dough with diane pizzeria pizzeria downtime

How to take advantage of downtime in your pizzeria

Set aside an hour each day to review your invoices, point-of-sale reports and other accounting statements. This exercise should help you analyze food and beverage costs, labour costs, total revenue and guest counts. Photo: Fotolia

I am sure you have seen it happen every year – your pizzeria business slows down after the holiday rush. Your pizza counter lineups may have been long during the holidays, but when January hits you may not have the same number of customers.

This is the ideal time to get off your butt and do something different. Use this slow period to finally get some other chores off your to-do list.

There are many ways you can turn downtime in your pizzeria into a productive time for your staff and overall business. This is a good time to meet with your accountant for a mid-year financial checkup, clean your office, revamp your menu, and come up with your new marketing and business plans. Here are six tips to get prepared for the next burst of business coming your way soon.

1. Review your cash flow and do your accounting
Set aside an hour each day to review your invoices, point-of-sale reports and other accounting statements. This exercise should help you analyze food and beverage costs, labour costs, total revenue and guest counts. You should also review these reports every week, every month and every year. These analyses will help you predict food and beverage preparation, future scheduling needs, upcoming revenue and other operational trends.


I am sure that I am not the only one who hates accounting, but we all have to deal with it. Use this time to prepare your tax files. Enter all your revenue and expenses into your recordkeeping system, send your payments to your suppliers, and be sure to balance your chequebook. This is also the perfect time to meet with your accountant and get ready for the next tax season.   

2. Clean and organize your office
Personally, I find that I can’t start a new project or do anything fun until I get my business and my house totally in order. I am the rare person among my friends and colleagues who looks forward to cleaning and organizing my office, and I am not afraid to admit it. I call it my “Zen time.” So how does a person like me – a clean freak – get my business and home nice and clean without outside help? I envision one task at a time and try not to look at the entire job. I also try to simplify, simplify and simplify as much as possible. I go through the piles of papers and emails, photos, brochures, invoices and magazines that have been sitting around and I get rid of them once and for all; I simply declutter as much as possible. There is zero excuse for a messy place. My organizing mantra is “Do it, ditch it or delegate it.”

I file my papers inside an appropriately labelled folder, and I dust and vacuum my entire office. I try to organize my desk and my filing cabinets so that I can find everything I need within a minute or less. You will find that an uncluttered office is extremely easy to clean. If you don’t have the time or energy to keep up with everything, just hire some outside help in exchange for meals. It’s called bartering.

3. Go back to school, take time to read, attend a conference
More knowledge will garner you more business and boost your revenue. Any downtime is a great time to give continuing education a try – check with your nearby school, college, university, or with your restaurant association to find out about training courses, workshops or conferences. Don’t forget that you can empower your staff by offering additional training. Your employees can use these slower periods to learn new recipes and any new technologies your pizzeria will use.

Besides travelling, cooking, painting, three things I love are reading, researching and learning. This time of year is perfect to pick up a hobby or learn something new. Think of workshops you would like to take or books you would like to read in order to stay up to date with the pizza industry and hone your business skills. Do it, and when you are tired of your books, please send them to me!

4. Revamp your existing menu
Rather than add new products to your pizzeria’s menu, why not spend this time revamping it. Think of your menu as something that should constantly evolve. You may, for instance, experiment with ways to create a simpler menu. Try to keep things as simple as possible, and decide on what stays and what goes. Look at your POS and inventory systems, and afterward go through all your menus to remove menu items that aren’t selling. Keep only your bestsellers. If a special recipe is too technically complicated or difficult, remove it from your menu. You may wish to revamp your menu with healthier alternatives such as high-protein, low-calorie, gluten-free, and allergen-free foods. Consider providing nutrition information for your products and offering different portion sizes. Finally, now might be a good time to experiment with new flavours such as Sriracha sauce or curry pizza.

5. Get your own personal chores done
When business is slow, it’s time to schedule your annual eye and dental exams. It’s also a great time to clean your basement, garage or attic. Research what’s new out there in the pizza world. You may need a new computer or want to go online to listen to some new music that will inspire your customers to bring more friends to your pizzeria.

6. Take a break and spend time with family and friends
You should definitely walk away from your restaurant and enjoy a day or two of total relaxation. Invite a friend or a family member to a weekend retreat, or go to a day spa. Simply BREATHE. You deserve a break!

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping food service, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 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, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or, or visit

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