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The Pizza Chef: Another Year, Another Hike

Another Year, Another Hike


March 7, 2008
By Diana Coutu

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So I hope that Santa was good to you. I hope you all took some time off to spend with your family and loved ones.

So I hope that Santa was good to you. I hope you all took some time off to spend with your family and loved ones.

Here we all have the same opportunity, a whole new, fresh year. Regardless of who we are, where we came from, or how we got started in the business, we each have the same 365 days to do with what we want. Throw out all your baggage from last year; leave your disappointments and bitterness with it. Believe me, it only weighs you down. Besides, why would you want to carry around your worst moments? Why not only keep your best?

What you think about the most is what you become. It’s what you manifest, unconsciously. It’s called the universal law of attraction. Like attracts like, same attracts same.

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Think of it like cheese. If you have some cheese that has gone bad would you mix it in with your fresh cheese? Would you let it sit around in your walk-in for months, even years, smelling up the place? Would you bring it out at every opportunity and show it to whoever will listen to you? Of course you wouldn’t!

If you did, all your good cheese would spoil faster than ever, all your employees would not want to work in a stinky, rotting place and all your customers would run away as fast as they could. And they should.

Your brain works the same way. As one of my mentors likes to say: garbage in, garbage out. I’m not talking about Pollyanna positive thinking; I mean if you’re caught on a sinking ship, thinking positively will not change your fate.

But focusing on that sinking ship will only bring it down faster, whereas knowing that you still can exert some control over your fate changes everything.

But there are more than enough people who do that with the worst events in their life, holding on to them like some badge of honour, bringing it up every chance they can, ignoring the good things right in front of their face. People like that have a way of seeing the worst in everything. What a way to live. Too many relationships are spoiled this way. Between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, lifelong friends who never speak another word to each other.

Hey, $&!# happens. This is a tough business and you’ll never receive a ‘get out of it’ card for life.  There will be plenty to deal with this year. But it’s what you do about it, how you let it affect your life that will determine who ends up on top.

Well, one thing hasn’t changed: cheese prices are going up again. We call it ‘white gold’ in our store.

It’s a fact that our voices have fallen upon deaf ears at the Canadian Dairy Commission. Perhaps we’ve grown weary of the battle and are no longer adamant for change.

I know some of you have followed my advice and gotten your 5A permit and now have another revenue stream, frozen pizza. Good for you, if you can’t beat  ’em, join ’em.

But what about the neverending increasing costs for real cheese?  Will you cut your cheese with a fake cheese? Will you put less cheese on your pizzas?

Or will you refuse to cut any more out of your bottom line and finally raise your prices?

I hear from many hardworking pizzeria owners that they are struggling. They are working 65-80 hours a week on the floor and then running store errands on their day off. When I ask them about their pricing structure I can immediately see why they’re having a difficult time making ends meet. Two large two topping pizzas sold for $19.99 in the ’80s. How come some pizzas haven’t kept up with inflation?

What do you want to accomplish this year? What do you want your life to look like this time next year?

Do you want more sales? Or more profits? Do you want more time off? Have you forgotten that you have outside interests?

It’s your decision, not your suppliers’, not the Canadian Dairy Commission’s, and not your customers’.

Provide a great product, ‘wow’ service and you can charge a fair price so you can have a lifestyle, not just make a living.

Life is not perfect. But it can be pretty spectacular, you can have some great moments, and that’s what you should keep with you – always.

It’s up to you to decide. •�

Diana Coutu, owner of Diana’s Gourmet Pizzeria in Winnipeg, is Canadian Pizza Magazine’s Chef of the Year for 2005 and 2006.