Anyone who opens an activity is located in a market that is an organism of rules and customs which s/he has to deal with. It’s unthinkable to claim to go deeply into the argument here, as fascinating and important as it is, so we dwell upon only a few simple concepts, interpreting this informal chat as an exchange of ideas among colleagues, an opportunity to collect tips and suggestions.
Let’s start with the suppliers, a category that brings together diversity amongst them, but intended only as a convenience to those primary materials, namely flour, mozzarella, tomato etc. Already the use of this term assumes a choice in their comparisons, but based on what, which factors are considered and which overlooked?
If we are able, it is better not to leave anything out because they are all useful for the final result, but as you select them based on the quality of their products, analyse even if they have a constant or short lived quality standard, if their prices are competitive or if they are only at the beginning. Checking the frequency of deliveries should be as close together as possible because many products are perishable otherwise you will have to equip yourself with adequate storage facilities, consider the company costs the inevitable waste that you will have to live with, or turn to a preserved product. In addition, sporadic deliveries force you to purchase large quantities with a few large invoices to be paid, and a storing room big enough for their conservation.
It is however in your clients that you should pour the main part of your attention because the success of your business derives from their satisfaction.
Traditionally, the absence of publicity and reliance solely on word of mouth was considered the only suitable system for a good and well known pizzeria because it had to be “the product speaks for itself”. This is certainly true. But today the consumer has a range of countless options available and also some ancient pizzerias have begun to understand the advantages of more modern forms of visibility which they turn to more or less timidly, but they start with an advantage that you will not have: being on the market for a long time, having great experience, an established client base and a “name”.
For those starting from scratch, it would be good to also rely on other things, first of all the location of the pizzeria and the identification of your customers. Getting the location wrong is equivalent to losing a good chunk of customers: it’s difficult to make your premises VIP in a suspicious suburb and there will be no passersby if you are not in a high traffic place. The large organisations make use of high paid consultants and carefully studied questionnaires in order to carry out large scale market research to know their customers, their lifestyles, their buying tendencies and to put suitable strategies into place. More modestly make small talk with them, try and get to know them, to understand what you would like and what you could offer them. As well try to understand why your competitors have such a successful business: sublime and unattainable quality product, additional services that customers like, friendliness, low prices…
In the mode of acquisition, word of mouth is the final moment that intervenes when the customer has already consumed the product, whose positive or negative effectiveness has however a great impact, although it seems a little risky not having relied on others. A little is enough, a national billion dollar campaign isn’t necessary if you reach your local target, but local advertising in the area, if done well, can give good results.
Here to follow are some actions you could implement. These are not the only or the best, but just a list of the most popular.
Before the opening: leaflets and posters, but above all a sign that make the public notice the presence of something new. You put it there to attract the curious, so do not be surprised if lots of people will feel entitled to inform themselves a bit…
Opening: inauguration, perhaps with free tastings. If you have put aside some surprises set a timetable.
In progress: endless opportunities of choice. From small brochure or normal leaflets where you let people know the different types of pizza and their cost, your telephone number and all the information you wish to give finishing with a website made by experts, so that you can always be reached by anyone.
I remember a pizzeria where they had covered the walls with photographs of pizzas, of course the most expensive and of course the best selling. Also the owner thought that the restaurant was a little kitsch, but waited to remove the giant posters after having found another system that yielded the same.
Publicity in local newspapers and radio are widely used, but don’t forget about the participation of social life. It isn’t only colossal companies that make news, even sponsor the sport team where your children play or putting up your posters during local events is good because it makes people talk about you and your restaurant, there will be people who will come and see and someone will stop.
Interesting posts are the associations or synergies with other activities. For example you could make a contract with local businesses to give employees pizza: initiatives like this will ensure a constant and fixed business and more word of mouth.
Here is a draft letter you can send.
We are X and Y, the new owners of the pizzeria So and So, and we are pleased to inform you about a new service that we have made available to our customers. As you know, our product continues to meet the wishes of the market and the increasing number of requests has led us to develop some proposals that we believe advantageous also for you.
We are able to deliver pizzas to you that we will be ordered in these days…
- At an agreed time to suit your needs…
- Including a complimentary drink of your choice…
- With free delivery from X pizza reservations…
We guarantee the possibility of choice in a wide and varied menu, competitive prices, prompt and fast delivery with the pizzas still hot thanks to a system that doesn’t lose the fragrance of our freshly baked product, and the same quality and service that many customers already appreciate in our restaurant.
Certainly you would also like to take advantage of the opportunity, we are at your disposal for eventual contacts / one of our representatives will contact you to explain in detail the validity and advantages of the proposal.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
X and Y
Theme nights are very popular, they give a nice touch of something new, for example a special night with spicy pizzas, a two for one pizza weekend, a week of aphrodisiac pizzas, a month of the house speciality pizza, and anything else that fantasy suggests.
Benefits are additional services you can provide, but make sure to offer only those that you can guarantee long term because one time enticed the customer is put off if an advantage is taken away from them. Besides standard telephone reservations and the possibility of personalisation, there can be:
Happy hours: discounts for those who buy in off times. This serves to increase customers by encouraging them to come when we want to distribute the flow during the less popular hours.
Home delivery: that in recent years has revolutionized the world of pizza and pizzerias.
Direct marketing: the tendency to turn to individual consumers by pretending to offer them and only them very advantageous initiatives, like all that mail sent from who knows that is always found in the letter box. Some time ago an invitation was delivered to me for an “organic pizza evening” by a pizzeria where I had carelessly left my address. Prepared and filled only with organic and locally grown products it was an opportunity that we didn’t want to miss.
This, of course, is but a short list of everything that is possible to do. Before money though, comes your imagination and will, to decide if, how, and which to do.
The diversity of operating in a still young or highly competitive market is obvious. This is one of the great lessons of the industrial groups that produce and sell pizzas, where attention to market dynamics should have the same importance and the same honour that traditionally many pizzerias reserved for the product.
But there is no dichotomy. Affirming the importance of an aspect is not the same as underestimating others. It’s in the intelligence and in the ability of each to estimate the value of both.