Canadian Pizza Magazine

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The pizza chef: When opportunity knocks


January 6, 2011
By Diana Coutu

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Working for yourself means you can be the architect of your success. As an entrepreneur you need vision to steer your business. You must also be able to develop the many opportunities presented to you. Timing is key. Most opportunities present a very small window in which to seize them. Not all opportunities are good fits for your concept nor should be pursued, but if you are open minded and paying attention, you just might spot a great fit and ride the ensuing wave of success.

Working for yourself means you can be the architect of your success. As
an entrepreneur you need vision to steer your business. You must also
be able to develop the many opportunities presented to you. Timing is
key. Most opportunities present a very small window in which to seize
them. Not all opportunities are good fits for your concept nor should
be pursued, but if you are open minded and paying attention, you just
might spot a great fit and ride the ensuing wave of success.

A few years ago I wrote an article about our move from our cramped and
crumbling location into new bigger, brighter and better digs. In 2006,
sales exceeded expectations and we outgrew our tiny pizzeria. It was a
good problem to have, allowing us to create a space better suited to
our operations. It was quite the ordeal, and frightening at first
because it was a big stretch. There were bumps along the way but it was
one of the best things we could have done for our business.

Fast forward to today and business is great. Our financial commitments
have been mostly fulfilled and we find ourselves facing a similar
opportunity where the stars have all aligned: the unit next door to us
is available and still undeveloped with a dirt floor. It’s almost as if
it’s been waiting this whole time for us to see it for the great
dine-in space that it could be. Six months ago this opportunity was
just a distant thought and now the window is closing. This is a perfect
example of an opportunity and timing that’s a great fit with our
concept. We always thought our future growth would be through opening
more locations since we have regulars in areas of our city that we
don’t currently deliver to. But, if we don’t act now, the opportunity
to add a dine-in space to our present location may be lost forever.

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After carefully considering expansion rather than opening a second one,
the choice seems obvious. A second location is very costly in manpower,
time and resources, not to mention it’s difficult to split your time
between two locations. To grow the business under the same roof is
attractive and ideal in many ways. We need very little kitchen
equipment as the infrastructure is already in place, so the majority of
the space can be used for seating. The biggest asset is that we aren’t
dividing our energy between two locations. I’ve met many pizzeria
owners who had one location, then opened a second and struggled to keep
both afloat. I’ve also met many restaurant owners who tell me from
experience that opening your second location is much more difficult
than opening your third. From my observation, the restaurants that do
well are those who have good systems and good people to manage them.

We decided to pull the trigger on expanding our current location and
jump in with both feet. If we’re going to move ahead with the
opportunity then we are going to invest fully in it. It’s a lot like
what we went through three years ago. It’s frightening at first, but
also fresh and exciting. The direction that this new beginning takes us
in is guaranteed to have some bumps along the way, yet it’s also
guaranteed to offer immeasurable rewards.


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 a member of the CRFA
board of directors. 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
Diana@dianasgourmetpizzeria.ca.


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