Canadian Pizza Magazine

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Pizza on Fire: Pizza buyers guide


July 24, 2008
By Tom Stankiewicz

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It’s not unusual to have four
pizzerias operating on one street and competing for the business and
loyalty of the same customer.
That’s really great news for the customers who are hungry and eager to
spend their hard earned money. It offers them freedom to choose,
because ultimately they are the ones who decide who among us will get
their money.

tomstankiewiczIt’s not unusual to have four pizzerias operating on one street and competing for the business and loyalty of the same customer. That’s really great news for the customers who are hungry and eager to spend their hard earned money. It offers them freedom to choose, because ultimately they are the ones who decide who among us will get their money.

For us, pizza owners, such a scenario may be less exciting because now we have to fight with each other for that customer. How you choose to approach this situation will ultimately be reflected in your sales. Will you sit back and hope people will call you without you putting any effort into it or will you let your innovation and creativity do the fighting for you?

One thing is for sure, your sales will go up or down based on what decision you will make. 

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So what’s the best way to attract new pizza lovers?

We all know someone, or have heard about someone, who hardly does anything to improve their business but still expects their sales to go through the roof. The strategy here is to sit back, relax, and the customers will just come.

In today’s world of constant advertisement, it’s hard to imagine how a business like this would survive, let alone make substantial sales. I’m sure that there are a few unique pizzerias for which word of mouth does wonders, but for many of us that alone wouldn’t be enough.

Most pizzerias have to keep coming up with some ways of keeping their existing customers and attracting new ones. 

There is no question that the pizzeria business is very competitive. Customers are no longer satisfied with simple pepperoni and cheese pizzas. These days, they even expect different dough flavours. As a result, I know most of us now offer such crusts as whole wheat,jalapeno cheddar, or herb and garlic.

Customers are also becoming more health conscious, so they look for items with less fat and more vegetarian options. Gourmet pizza toppings are also more popular, as customers experiment with new tastes. They are willing to pay more money as long as they get better pizza quality. 

Without fail, the very first thing a new customer will ask for is your pizza menu. And this is pretty much when you break or make a deal.
Generally speaking, customers who are ordering pizza don’t plan on waiting for a very long time.  If they don’t have time to wait, then they certainly don’t have time to read your menu as if it were a novel.  They want it to be simple, concise, and easy to read.
How about family deals for those who don’t know what they want to order?

If clients are asking you 10 questions about the menu before they even order, that means that they are either picky and undecided, or your menu is simply too confusing to read. Pay attention if this happens often or only once in a while. 

Another tool that we can certainly take advantage of is the Internet. Many people who have access to the Internet shop online and this trend keeps increasing year after year.

Having a website for your pizzeria is definitely a win/win situation for you and the customer. It allows the customers to look at your menu from the comfort of their own home, or office. They can read it ahead of time before they call to place an order, hopefully making the call itself shorter and right to the point.

Customers can compare many pizzerias online for prices and specials. Some websites offer pizza calculators, so the customers can use them to calculate the cost of their order. For someone who’s looking to try a new pizza it’s certainly easier to surf the net than drive around the city to see what is available.

This is important to remember because your website might be the first and only advertisement the customers see before they decide to call you or move on to the next one. Review it regularly and pay close attention to what is posted on it to avoid sticky situations. 

And as mentioned earlier, it never hurts to advertise your great pizza taste through word of mouth. Your existing clients are the best weapons against your competition. The reason is simple: they already know that your pizza is the best, otherwise they wouldn’t be eating it. 

There are many advertising options one can concentrate on that would ultimately familiarize customers with your product and business. All of us pizzaiolos have a different take on how to make sure the customers will come to us and not our competition across the road.

Through various media outlets customers are told over and over again that they should be able to pick and choose until they are satisfied with a product because it’s their money. Remember, when customers are undecided, but hungry, it’s your biggest opportunity to guide them in your direction.

Tom Stankiewicz, owner of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., has been working in the pizza industry for 15 years. You can reach Tom through pizza@annexweb.com .


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