The Pizza Chef: Setting the direction for 2023
Diana ClineFeatures Business and Operations Finance Marketing Trends
With a new year often comes goals, aspirations and setting the direction for yourself and your business for the year ahead.
Some owners hire a coach to help outline their aims and then set the agenda and keep accountability. It’s incredible how the right coach or group can increase your focus and momentum. I can attest to the power of having a good coach and/or belonging to a group of likeminded folks with similar aims to achieve and problems to overcome.
Sometimes we just need to get out of our own way. Rather, the habitual way of the excuses and the doubts and the fears. I’ve found that many people already know what they need to do but get tripped up in the execution of getting it done. Procrastination is a comfortable blanket, that we all cling to from time to time. Sometimes we suffer from a perfectionist’s affliction, which is the notion that everything must be perfect before beginning. This affliction is often paralyzing; trying to be perfect at something new to us is absurd. Because of the evolving idea of perfection, we never get enough momentum to get started. Sometimes there is a bigger issue that needs another set of focused eyes to make clear the next right action.
One of the simplest things you can do to create positive change in your life and your business is to set yourself up with a healthy habit. An example for your personal health could be recognizing that you need to drink more water, and so you buy yourself a nice water bottle and make a habit to drink at least that amount each day.
A common goal for almost all owners and operators is to increase sales. However, unless you’ve gone through the process of recipe mapping and regular inventory counts, with updated food invoices, you may just be increasing the workload for yourself and team members without increasing the bottom line. First things first: assess your actual food cost for four to five weeks. That means regular inventory counts and some basic math. Your overall weekly food cost should sit in the 28 to 32 per cent range. Anything higher and it’s time for a price adjustment and also a look at your actual portion amounts. It’s one thing to have a portion chart near your makeline that says your medium cheese pizza ought to have five ounces of sauce, six ounces of mozzarella and 12 ounces of dough. But if in practice you and your team members put six ounces of sauce, 6.5 ounces of mozzarella, and 13 ounces of dough, then it doesn’t matter what your portion chart says, you might as well put up a cute cat poster with a nice motivational quote. At least the latter will brighten someone’s day.
Next thing, and don’t skip the first thing. If you did, go back to the first thing, then come back here. Look at ways to increase sales. We’re really lucky to live in a world where we can use social media platforms with low dollar investment. The days of having to spend thousands of dollars on mailing out menus to neighbourhoods as the only option to reach your local market are gone. The caveat for that is the time it takes to create and post regularly. Facebook, Google and Instagram are still the top-tier social media platforms for most Canadians over 25. If you’ve never done any social media for your pizzeria, and you’re not sure where to start, claim your Google business page and start adding your information there. Many affiliate sites get their information from your Google business page, so make sure you keep your address, phone number, website and hours of operation up to date here.
Next, create regular content for your social media pages. One suggestion that has worked for me is to engage your team members to take pictures and short videos of their artwork and send them to you. You’ll quickly amass a large portfolio of content to choose from for your posts. It’s helpful if you think of your social media pages as a storytelling venue. Tell a story close to your heart: why do you do what you do? Tell that story, and then tell it again, and again.
Facebook best practices recommends keeping the writing for each post simple, clear and to the point. Also, using standout visuals and a call to action such as “download this,” “sign up for our ezine,” or “give us a call.” Even if you’ve only created one post, you can opt to “boost your post” and, with a small budget, you can reach a larger, target market based on criteria you set. This is where looking at your Facebook Page Insights can help you understand who your target market is. But even if you don’t look at that at all, Facebook will use that data for you to create a campaign, and you can still get started.
There are some decent apps, such as Meta Business Suite, that can help cross-post on all your social media sites, and reduce the time you spend posting. Some of them helpfully allow you to schedule posts in advance. If you block off a couple of hours a week to create your content for the next week, you can create the content ahead of time, schedule it in this type of app, and it’ll get posted when you’ve set it. Like everything, it’s all in the habits, so once you get in the habit of creating your content, and posting, it’ll be easier to keep going. The toughest challenge is to factor your return on investment. Did the ad campaign bring in new customers? Did the post bring your regulars back an extra visit this month? Those matrices are more difficult to track on social media pages. But the one thing that social media pages can do well is keep your brand top of mind.
Diana Cline is an award-winning pizza chef, a partner with Diana’s Cucina & Lounge in Winnipeg. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating operational systems and marketing to help operators grow their business strategically. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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