Canadian Pizza Magazine

Seven ways to adjust your pizzeria services: Making Dough with Diane

By Diane Chiasson   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

Photo credit: © pavel_shishkin / Adobe Stock

This pandemic has dramatically overwhelmed lives and livelihoods worldwide, and it has undoubtedly changed the way we interact with people around us. It has impacted all businesses, and just about everyone in the food industry. It has also changed customers’ shopping habits, and pizzeria operations are now looking for ways to adapt to the current reality.

As you know, every day, consumers are buying more and more online. They are also looking for curbside and parking lot pickup and delivery for products they would have typically purchased or eaten in a restaurant. You are perhaps wondering if this is the end of your restaurant business. Not a chance. Based on consumer research, more than 95 per cent of the Canadian population still prefers to buy at a physical location, particularly when it comes to eating in a restaurant. Canadian consumers still prefer to go to their local pizzeria store to see and evaluate the freshness of their products, buy “freshly baked pizza on the same day” items and experience personalized customer service.

Freshness should always be the core value of your pizzeria, and it should be a point of differentiation when it comes to driving physical traffic to your store. There is no known evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted through foods such as pizza items. Make sure to tell your customers about this fact.

Here are seven ways to adjust your pizzeria services:

1. Evaluate, adapt, and adjust your product range and pricing

You should take a thorough look at your product range and pricing. Check all the changes that you should make to meet consumers’ needs, priorities and behaviours since the beginning of the outbreak. You may need to increase, adapt and stock product range.

As a small pizzeria owner, one of your most important decisions is how to price your food items accurately. If your prices are too high, you will lose buyers to your competitors, but if your prices are too low, you will lose money. You may want to look at bundle pricing to offer your customer a group of related products, features or services all for one price. Bundle pricing will simplify your marketing and selling strategies since you will not have to create promotions for individual products.

Your near-term success will likely depend on maximizing the inventory you have available while redefining your pricing strategy to optimize your sales. You should identify and focus on products of high interest that represent your brand. Now it’s the time to keep your costs lower and to appeal to a broader audience. Put a pause on more complicated recipes, and start to focus on what you can make quickly, at a low cost and with minimal waste.

Your near-term success will likely depend on maximizing the inventory you have available while redefining your pricing strategy to optimize your sales.

2. Explore new toppings options

Give your guests something that none of the other pizza shops can offer them! You should really look at implementing new exotic toppings. New topping options can be an exciting addition to your menu. Experiment with new ingredients and flavours to bring a completely unique eating experience to your customers. What about bacon and pickles, or bacon and clams, mac and cheese pizza, or ham, egg and cheese grilled breakfast pizza, Sloppy Joe pizza, chicken Tikka Masala pizza, barbecue pulled pork with pineapple or shrimp scampi pizza?

3. Sell more during peak hours

Selling more during peak hours is a must for any pizzeria operation that wants to grow and increase its sales. Make sure that your store is always open on time, and at the same time. Your pizzeria should always be clean and fully stocked. Maintaining a clean environment for both your customers and team members should be your number 1 priority. Allow yourself and your team members plenty of time to follow up on new hygiene guidelines, restock and keep your customers and team members healthy at all times.

Your pizzeria operation is probably operating at some level of reduced hours. You should make sure that your hours of operation coincide with when people are thinking of buying pizza or other related items. Start by evaluating the volume of people in your pizzeria and when they are most likely to purchase. Lunch can be hectic at restaurants when customers like to buy fresh-from-the-oven baked pizzas. It’s also the perfect time for cross-selling and upselling chips, wings, fries, salad, soup, cold drinks, coffee and desserts. The afternoon selling period will also give customers the chance to pick up a slice of pizza for their afternoon break. You could also strengthen the value equation of your pizza programs by rotating your limited-time flavours and offer bundled deals with beverages and seasonal specials for a lower price.

4. Start a loyalty program and promote loyalty cards

A loyalty program can simply be the shape of a business card that gets stamped or punched with every customer visit. After a certain number of purchases, customers receive an automatic reward. It could just be something as simple as “Buy 5 pizzas and get the 6th free.” Promoting loyalty cards is a great way to offer your customers a safe way to handle purchases in the future as well as increase sales and boost revenue. In addition to boosting revenue, a loyalty program will yield world-of-mouth marketing from your existing customers.

Did you know that 50 per cent of consumers will join a loyalty or VIP program? According to a Nielsen study, over 70 per cent of global consumers would rather purchase from a retailer with a loyalty program than one without. As we all know, it often costs more to acquire new customers than to keep existing ones. You should look for a program that will work with your budget, your point-of-sale (POS) system and your actual pizzeria. The main thing is to just get going on promoting loyalty cards. Advertise your loyalty program on your website and in your social media campaigns.

To help reduce the risk of human contact, you should consider a digital gift card program to include in your social media and email marketing campaigns.

5. Promote gift cards

Your expenses will still need to be paid: wages, rent, utilities and supplies. Gift cards will not only provide you with an immediate infusion of cash, but also ensure that customers will return to your business in the future. If your pizzeria operation has thin margins, gift cards will certainly help you stay afloat until the crisis is over. Gift cards will provide customers with a safe option to make a purchase they can redeem at a later date, which can help free up cash flow for your business. To help reduce the risk of human contact, you should consider a digital gift card program to include in your social media and email marketing campaigns.

6. Be creative and unique

As families are spending more time together at home, they could benefit from fun, kid-friendly activities to do around the house. You may consider offering “Bake Your Pizza At Home” kits where customers can buy fresh or frozen pizzas that they can take home and bake themselves. Or, sell “DIY Pizza” kits with pre-measured ingredients, supplies, recipes, instructions and tips from your team. Make sure you always spread the word about the kits on social media.

7. Focus on serving your customers

Your staff members are the people who are in front of your customers. If you are looking to increase sales, start by investing in your staff. Instead of trying to sell, they should focus on finding ways of helping your customers. Make sure that every member of your team is passionate and knowledgeable about the products and services that you sell.

You should train your employees to identify a customer’s needs and wants and to create great buying experiences with every customer. Empower your sales associates to interact with your customers and to wow them within the first few seconds.

Just remember that in-store expectations have changed towards a focus on customer and employee safety, and this will require clear and thoughtful communication throughout your pizzeria. You may have to spend some time adjusting the visual merchandising and pizzeria layout to focus on categories of high interest.

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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