Canadian Pizza Magazine

The pizza Chef: June 2014

Diana Cline   

Features Business and Operations Staffing

Making managers - How do you identify and bring along internal staff to management positions?

The pizza business is not a business of one; even independently owned
take-out and delivery operations require additional staff to answer
phones and to make and deliver pizzas.

The pizza business is not a business of one; even independently owned take-out and delivery operations require additional staff to answer phones and to make and deliver pizzas. And every owner needs a day off to rest and recharge, although I think for many of us these days are spent catching up on dozens of other things. Many independent operators I know feel that they cannot take a day off because the business doesn’t run as it would if they were there and because there are problems that come up whenever they aren’t on site therefore it’s not worth the time off.

what you expect  
It’s important to inspect what you expect


This is your warning flag that you’ve set yourself up with a job, not with a business that creates an income. This is one of the most fatal flaws that many independent operators commit. A business set up this way is no way to live. Think about it, if you worked for anyone else, you’d at least have a limited number of hours you’d be working with time off and vacation pay accruing.


Working for yourself with this design is a certainty to total burn out. You must make the mental shift from employee to business owner and go from working for an hourly wage to increasing the value of your business. Some independent pizzeria owners I’ve known have shut down their store for a week or up to a month so they can take a vacation. I understand why, however consider if your store was set up to operate without you and you could take that vacation and still have the income from your business?

Which brings me to the main point of this column: you need additional help to work your business and key individuals to manage your business, yet how do you find the right individuals to promote to those positions?

Take a step back for a moment and put first things first: you must systemize your operation. I mean that everything must be written down as a step-by-step manual on how to run your operation. This in turn creates a system of checklists that automate your operation. Do you personally open your pizzeria every day? What is the first step? And the next? And the next? Write all these steps down and now you’ve created your “opening checklist.” Print up a dozen and make it a policy that every staff member who opens completes the opening checklist. Now any one of your staff can follow this simple checklist, it’s not a matter of leaving it up to the employee to remember it’s either done or it isn’t. Next, follow the same process for the step-by-step checklist for closing your pizzeria. Identify the essential jobs/tasks that a supervisor or manager need to perform the way you do, and then create a document that could also be used as a checklist for these jobs.

Initially, it’s not a matter of the “who” as much as it is the purposeful systemizing your operation in the simplest steps imaginable. An opening checklist usually looks like this: 1. Turn on air make up unit/hood exhaust; 2. Turn on oven – make sure it’s set to the correct temperature; 3. Pull out dough to warm up; 4. Pull out pizza sauce bucket(s) to warm; 5. At 11 am turn on the open sign and unlock the front door. And so on.

It’s important to inspect what you expect. Verify that the checklists are being completed to the standard you have set. The staff members who you have verified to consistently follow your checklists are the best candidates to promote to supervising and/or managing positions. They have demonstrated that they are capable and willing to follow your directions on how to operate your pizzeria. They are the likely natural leaders for your operation to run smoothly whether you are there on site or not. It’s really that simple.

Diana Cline is a two-time Canadian Pizza Magazine chef of the year champion, internationally recognized gourmet pizzaiolo, former owner of Diana’s Gourmet Pizzeria in Winnipeg, Man., and a director for the CRFA from 2009-2013. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is also 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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