Canadian Pizza Magazine

The pizza Chef: December 2013

By Diana Coutu   

Features Business and Operations Staffing

Training your ambassadors

Here are my tips for helping your staff become better representatives of your brand

Here are my tips for helping your staff become better representatives of your brand.

How do you get your staff to do a better job and to care about the job they’re doing? This is a common question discussed among pizzeria owners. It all begins with your training program. Your staff should see themselves as ambassadors of your brand.

Maybe you think of your pizzeria less like a brand and more like the “neighbourhood pizza place.” However, it is a brand and your employees represent its image in store, on the road and at the customer’s door. As the owner, you need to give your staff every reason and opportunity to see themselves as ambassadors of your pizzeria. These days, it’s not enough just to tell them they are (although I’m a big believer that repetition is important). You need to convince them that even though it may only be a part-time job for them, it’s much more than that, and the livelihood of the company depends on them. 


Your employees need to become invested in the story of your brand. Tell, don’t sell, the story of how you opened the business. What made you decide to open a pizzeria instead of a clothing shop? Or a burger place? What drives your passion for the business? What makes your pizzeria unique over the other pizza places in the neighbourhood? Most succinctly, what is your pizzeria’s reason to exist? Until you can define what makes you stand apart from other pizza places, it will be difficult to convince your staff that they are important to your operation.   

What kind of skills can your staff learn while they work with you that will carry them everywhere later in life? There are things like sales, communication, dealing with the public, managing complaints, dealing with co-workers, handling money, training other staff members and delegating.  These skills are too often overlooked as essential fundamentals for every successful human being at every stage of life. Let your staff know that their time invested with you will serve them well down the road. 

Here are some policies that I share with my staff to help train them to become the best ambassadors of my brand:

  • Lead by example. If it’s important to your brand that your staff look their best, wear a clean uniform and show up on time, then you should do these things as well. 
  • SMILE and be friendly.
  • Treat everyone with the utmost respect and courtesy.
  • Leave your personal problems and baggage at the door. Everyone has challenges, but your pizzeria shouldn’t be a place to vent. When you identify a staff member who always has a negative story to tell, pull them aside and ask them to save that story for a coffee date with a friend.  
  • Engage the customer in polite conversation. For example, let the customer know what a nice house he or she has or what a cute dog, or make small talk about the weather. These are good ways to build relationships with the pizzeria’s customers.
  • Delivery specialists need to drive safely and courteously.
  • Drivers should always have a map or GPS in their car and know the route before they leave the store.

Be diligent about order accuracy. Ensure the order is complete, whether in store or for a delivery. In store, ambassadors should remind customers to take their drinks before they leave the store. It is your responsibility to ensure the customer gets everything they asked for all at once, whether at the door or before they leave the store.

On a very important note, emphasize to your staff that they watch their language. Your pizzeria is not the place for locker room chatter. A good rule of thumb is “if you wouldn’t say it standing next to your grandmother, you shouldn’t say it here.”

Diana Coutu is a two-time Canadian Pizza magazine chef of the year champion, internationally recognized gourmet pizzaiolo, co-owner of Diana’s Gourmet Pizzeria in Winnipeg, Man., and was a director on the CRFA board from 2009-2013. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating systems to run a pizzeria on autopilot, along with marketing and positioning to help operators grow their business effectively and strategically. She is available for consulting on a limited basis. For more information contact her at

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