Business and Operations
Why it’s important to customize your pizza
By Giorgio Taverniti
Why it’s important to customize
By Giorgio Taverniti
We live in an age when customizing anything and everything is expected. The customer in each of us always wants businesses to cater to our every need. We want to personalize everything to make the product or service one of a kind. We want to be our own chefs or artists by choosing what we want and having it turn out great.
This is sheer satisfaction from the consumer side; however, from the business side it can be very challenging and potentially mean a loss of profit if not done wisely. As a business owner you want to be able to offer everything, stay on top of trends and never say the dreaded word: No. Allowing diners to customize their orders can set your business apart from others, make you a fan favourite and keep you current and trendy. Custom menus, toppings and specials can drive sales and satisfaction through the roof.
“I’ll have my special, please!” That’s what I hear from almost every customer. They have their own dish they helped create and they love it. I allow my menu to be almost 100 per cent personalized by each person who orders. My motto is this: “If we have it in house, then it can be made.” Even if it’s not on the menu, I will make it as long as I have the ingredients. I allow them to personalize their pasta, sauce, pizza and toppings, and to have their calzone fried or baked. I believe everyone should get exactly what they want made exactly the way they want it. I give them as much freedom to create their own dish as possible.
People appreciate the custom pizza or pasta option, but as much as I love to offer it, it has its pros and cons. We let you make a pizza with different toppings on each half for sharing. We let you make a pizza minus the sauce, add bacon, hold this or that. We rarely say it can’t be done. The customers love it because it allows them to be their own chef and gives them a level of pride when their creations turn out beautifully. This flexibility also sets my restaurant apart from others that don’t allow substitutions or custom items at all.
Although customizing gives an added special touch and satisfaction, it can also delay preparation of the dishes and overall service flow. Custom orders take longer to order and to make.
How do we gauge if we are over-customizing and whether or not it is the best option for our products, service and business? Customer feedback can help your decision-making process. However, it’s also a good idea to strike a healthy balance between customizing and sticking to your menu.
This is where as business owners you need to decide which custom options you offer benefit both you and the customer and which options derail the process. Once you evaluate what you will offer and what you won’t, it’s important to relay this to customers in a positive way. Don’t say, “No we can’t do that,” but rather, “We can’t do that, but we can offer this.”
Last but not least, we cannot forget about creating special menus for special events. Anniversaries, birthdays, showers and special dinners are important events in life that always requires food. Correction: amazing food! Ideally you want your business to be the first place someone thinks of when deciding where to celebrate their occasion.
This is one aspect of your business where a custom menu can set you apart from other restaurants. Rather than having a set menu and offering only the one or two options your competitors do, ask your customers what they want. Build a menu special menu for their event that includes items you might not usually have in stock or make but can and will just for them. Providing these choices will show them the range of dishes you can offer – and trust me, they will remember for future parties. It also allows them to work within what they had in mind for their menu and budget.
Yes, this custom-built menu will take more effort and time, but the benefit to your pizzeria is undeniable. People will recognize your extra effort and – in my experience – choose your establishment over another as you’re showing you care about what they want. There may be some items you are not able to offer, such as a half-baked and half-fried calzone (yes I have been asked for this before).
However, the fact that you have an open decision-making process speaks volumes to clients and will ensure they want your business and food for their event.
Giorgio Taverniti owns Frank’s Pizza House in Toronto, which has been in his family since 1990. A graduate of George Brown College’s culinary management and Italian culinary programs, Giorgio helped found a popular pizza-making workshop at the college and ran it for three years.