Business and Operations
Pizza on Fire: June 2012
By Tom Stankiewicz
Selling your story
By Tom Stankiewicz
This year started out on a very good note for my pizzeria. We competed
once again at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas and were
delighted when our pie won for best traditional pizza in the
This year started out on a very good note for my pizzeria. We competed once again at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas and were delighted when our pie won for best traditional pizza in the mid-American category. My colleague Mark Briand and I had spent countless hours choosing the best blend of pizza toppings to make this one a winner.
|Many customers don’t understand the time and effort it takes to create a great pizza, from preparing marinara sauce to washing and dicing veggies.|
Now, the big question is, how do I turn this great opportunity into higher revenue and, ultimately, more loyal customers? Anyone who has won an award must later concentrate on how to successfully market that accomplishment to the public. For one thing, it should be somewhat easier than everyday marketing because top recognition from judges from any competition signals a great product. It means that other people, not just you, believe there is something special about your pizza.
In the past, our biggest advertisement has been tried and true word of mouth. Our customers are our No. 1 marketing tool. We make sure they know, for example, we’ve been to Las Vegas and we’ve won. Of course, we want to share our joy, but we also know that people like to talk about winners. We have many new customers coming in saying that their friends buy pizza from us all the time, so they also came to try it. We put great emphasis on customer experience, which means that we try to talk with every customer who comes in for a pickup. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking how their day is going. They remember that personal touch.
Like most businesses in town, we invested some time ago in a huge sign that allows us to post any advertisement we need to for the pizzeria. It’s been working great. It lets our customers know about various pizza specials or new additions to our menu. If you plan on getting one, ensure it is placed in a highly visible area. I see too many signs hidden out of sight and that is simply a waste of money. People have to see it and read it in a few seconds because most of the time they are driving by your place. For the next little while, we will be using ours to sing about our success in Las Vegas.
The next thing on our to-do list is to make some adjustments to our current pizza menu. By analyzing our existing sales we have found out what works and what needs to be changed. A definite change will be the addition of our winning pizza from Las Vegas. The idea is to make it more visible on the new menu so customers can quickly spot it. We expect this new pizza to be very popular among our clients. We want this new item to be our next conversation starter, which in turn will lead to its status as the “next big thing” and more wonderful word of mouth.
Participating in various charity events in our city of London, Ont., this summer will provide further opportunities to share our success with our community. Those who have done it in the past know that it’s an excellent way to support and connect with your customer base.
Last but not least, we have designated a special area in our pizza store to showcase our awards. We have experimented with this strategy before when we introduced a take-and-bake pizza. We created a funky “take-and-bake” setup featuring a vintage oven in a very visible spot. Everyone who walked into the store noticed it right away and that, of course, led to questions. That was exactly our intention from the beginning because it allowed us to explain how to bake it and why it is a fantastic option for some customers. The idea behind the awards area is very similar. We want the clients to see what we have accomplished and ask questions. We’re more than happy to tell them the story that will very likely be repeated to their friends and co-workers.
Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza business for more than 15 years. He has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., since 2000, and is president of the Canadian Pizza Team.