Canadian Pizza Magazine

The Pizza Chef: What’s Your Plan?

By Diana Coutu   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

The goal of any marketing calendar is to communicate your marketing plan

This is the perfect time of year to make a plan for next year. Unless
you opened your doors recently, you now have at least one full year’s
worth of data to review.

The goal of any marketing calendar is to communicate your marketing plan

This is the perfect time of year to make a plan for next year. Unless you opened your doors recently, you now have at least one full year’s worth of data to review.

Ideally, you should be able to see an overview of your sales grouped weekly and also monthly. If you’re really on top of things you should also see your food and wages costs grouped together in the same format.


And if you’re actually an accoun-tant turned pizzaiolo, then you should have your 2007 balance sheet for review. But these are just numbers on a page, they only say so much on their own. Over the years, we’ve developed a few tools to help us assess and plan for the coming year. To give you an idea, I’ll use broad strokes then give you an example of how to apply the tool.

Marketing calendar

This is a “year-at-a-glance” calendar that itemizes each marketing strategy we use, when we need to get it ready and what’s needed to implement it.
We’ve been doing one for years and so mine is usually a tweak of the past year. I review notes from the past year and drop strategies that didn’t perform, then I add any additional campaigns that I may have developed during the previous year.
The calendar format creates a schedule to stick to.  This becomes your marketing plan. The fact that it’s in a calendar form is just to help keep you and others organized. The goal of any marketing calendar is to be able to communicate your marketing plan schedule to yourself and others in a simple manner.

Marketing plan

This is a list, or a binder, that you can refer to in conjunction with a marketing calendar. It should include a sample and description of each campaign. Each campaign will have a brief description, focusing on the main points; duration, expiration date, value.

Marketing analysis spreadsheet

Starting A Plan?

How are you dealing with these common issues?

  • Increased competition?
  • Declining market share?
  • Risk of new competitors entering your market?
  • Risk of substitute products?

  • A squeeze from customers or suppliers?
  • A precarious financial position?


This is typically an Excel file with actual raw numbers data from each marketing campaign. This is where you add it all up and see if the promotion was worthwhile; how much each piece cost, how much it brought in, the return on investment, and assess if you want to repeat it. Plenty of promotions will pull, but leave you with less in the bank than when you started. That’s not a successful marketing promotion in my books, and I wouldn’t repeat any promotions that ended costing me money.

Some may argue about the lifetime value of a customer and I understand all that, and even so, I would need a very good argument that the promotion is solely directed at quality customers. In Winnipeg, I know of a place that opened up with really, really cheap prices. Okay, that’s not uncommon in Winnipeg, but this guy’s strategy was to open with ridiculously low prices and increase them after he got a loyal customer base. Well, it’s a year later and I saw an Anniversary special with the same ridiculously low prices, which I know haven’t changed all year.

Heavy lifting

This what we call numbers analysis and review – covering food cost, growth, potential additional streams of income, expanded operations and satellite locations.

No doubt many of your suppliers have increased costs over the last 12 months. Did you increase your prices as well?
You must expect that your costs will go up again in the next 12 months. By reviewing this year’s sales and inventory data you’ll have a better idea of what to expect for 2008. Are you expecting your sales to increase and if so, will you need additional equipment and/or staff to handle that increase?

Is there an opportunity to grow your concept, whether by franchises, licensing or company-owned stores? Are you in a position to pursue the opportunity, should one arise, without spreading yourself too thin? Are there any untapped markets that you could pursue? Take’n’Bake, frozen and ready-made-to-go are growing markets, are these markets right for you?

Efficiency and effectiveness goals

I grouped these two together because one is not necessarily any good without the other. For instance, you could be really efficient at re-filling a stapler, but that doesn’t translate into anything effective.

This is time spent by you and your key people brainstorming and thinking about your operations and seeing if you can improve upon any areas or processes. Everyone can improve in some way or another, but by spending time thinking about your operations and specific to what would yield the biggest end result is a powerful and productive use of your time (and key people).

It needs to be a reachable goal, and it needs to be written down in the simplest words possible, so all may understand the desired outcome. Once you’ve targeted a tangible goal, next write a step-by-step plan to reach the outcome. For instance, it could be something like training. Training is like toothpaste, for best results use twice daily.  So perhaps you decide that training is going to be a daily activity, but you don’t want it to be a snore chore, so you’re going to incorporate a pre-shift meeting to help keep things on track.  

A good meeting is five minutes or less and is kept light and fun. Then it’s posted so that staff scheduled to start after the meeting can see today’s focus at a glance.

At our pizzeria, we follow a template; you can check off of a list of what we’re focusing on today; things like friendliest customer service, up selling, cleanliness, order accuracy, portion control and so on.  The idea is that you only focus on one thing each day, and then it becomes a habit that you and your staff get better and better at. Then we have a star with “rookie to vet ratio,” “who to recognize today” and “who to recognize last shift.”

We also have a spot to identify any side work and any 86’d items. The main thing is to keep it simple. When you do, it’s a lot easier to get going and keep going on things and it’s understood that it’s not the encyclopedia of operations, just a snapshot tool to use daily as part of a master plan.•

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