Concerning corporate spying

Just outta curiousity, how much do you care about what your competitors are really doing? Do you have contacts in those places?

Do you ask your food vendors about other places, and do they tell?

I’m certainly no advocating anything illegal, but in general terms, do you get info from sources somewhat inside the competitors’ loops?

Do you even care?

Just wondering. Thanks, this is a great resource.

what kind of store are you with? a total indie, a small local chain, a major nationwide/regional?

I get lots of general info from vendors, “how are other people doing” kinda things, but not “how much more are they buying than before”, much less sales numbers. I’d hope vendors aren’t privvy to that info, aside from a self-contained chain operation.

Too many people get caught up in what their competition is doing. As long as my business and profit are growing above my expectations each year, I couldn’t care less what they do in sales. I do look over their ads to see their pricing, but I don’t follow suit. Big Dave talks of dumpster diving to both steal customer data and keeps tabs on the competion. My belief is that when you start worring that much about your competion, your competion will soon have no worries about you. Focus on your own business and your energy will be much better rewarded.

I agree with you Paul worry about what you are doing and the rest should take care of it self.


Paul and Thin,
To Big Dave’s defense, he has mentioned dumpster diving as something that actually happens. If you don’t believe in it that is perfectly fine, but what if your competitor does? How much data are you throwing away every evening with your blown dough?

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt”

-Sun Tzu - The Art of War

Exactly what “data” could someone throw in the dumpter that would be helpful?

I can’t think of one thing that I’ve thrown away in the past 3 years that someone could make use of in any way.

You obviously don’t have a POS system. My order tix include the customer’s name, address, and phone #. What better way for my competitors to take my customers?

Every one of my tickets gets shredded. It’s my 4 year old’s favorite job! Keeps him busy for hours.

While I’m not an advocate of dumpster diving, we have a fairly regular customer who happens to be a driver for one of the big 3. Every time he comes in, he puts his delivery slips in my garbage can. You bet, every one of those customers gets a free pizza coupon from me.

I completly realize that dumpster diving does happen. It doesn’t change what gets thrown out at my store. I would almost welcome my competitors to jump into the dumpster that I share with a Chinese restaurant and a pet rescue place. It would be worth the laugh to see them emerge covered in dog sh*t and rice, which has grown legs after a couple days in the Florida heat just to get a few run slips.

Well, yes, in fact I do have a POS system.

You mean that if your competitor knew the address and/or phone number of your customer they could steal them away? Hmm. That infomation is available from many other (easier and cleaner) places than your dumpster.

I’m sure my customers know and have probably tried my competitors. I bet they sometimes order from them instead of me. I don’t know how they could steal them away unless the customer simply likes them better - and if they do, well, then they aren’t my customer now anyway.

I am always trying to take a customer from the pizza joint down the road! I think its one of the best feelings to have someone come to me and say “I used to order from xyz but since I tried your place I come here all the time” So if the guy down the road wants to leave his garbage bin open and they have a list of customers in it you bet I will use it. I dont worry what the competition is doing in fact I dont have to go garbage picking if I dont want to I am already to busy as it is but I do it because I am curious I just have to know how I compare!

There is no other place where you can get a list of pizza purchasing customers that is so accurate. Use the phone book, and you might get a 2-5% response. Take you competitors pizza ordering customers, send them a post card, and you will pull in 25-30% response. There in lies the difference.

Those people aren’t going to double the volume of pizza they eat. They are just going to not order from your competitor. Say you take half of the ones who tried you out as regulars, you can drop your competitors sales volume by 10%, while increasing yours at the same time.

Chris, where are you getting these percentages?

Personal experience?

Well, aren’t those 25% included in the 2%-3% either way?

Of course you’d save some marketing money sending out postcards to fewer people, but even a mass mailing would still cover your competitors customers. So, overall, what you are saying is that by sending out postcards you can steal 10% of your competitors business.

Even if your competition didn’t throw away their customer list you can still contact their customers - though not as efficiently. Why aren’t we all stealing away 10% of our competitors business?

It is all about ROI. You have a list of your competitors customers. These are proven pizza users. Send them out an agressive coupon, say 5-7 off. They will more than likely try it. Get 25% trial and that is $1150 in sales. The average good customer will spend$350 a year. Send out those offers to 300 people, keep 30 of them and you can do the math there. The initial mailer cost $72. Hell of a ROI there

Mail your entire area (30k addresses x .24=$7,200) and you will get some trial, but no one in their right mind would mail out a very agressive order to their entire delivery area in an attempt to target a single competitor. You would be discounting your regular orders as well. I am not saying do not bulk mail at all here though.

Like I said before guest, the big 3 are doing it. You can choode to stick your head in the sand and believe you are above this type of marketing, but just take a quick look at what you are throwing away. For example:

Pinks from DOOR slips, the make line copies of your order slips.
Make line print outs from a POS
Driver slips. They have all your info on them. Do you know where they are going? Heather’s garbage is a gold mine, and I am sure she has similar numbers (or better) for those free pizza copupons she sends out.



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Re: NewYork

I am constantly watching what competitors are doing both locally and nationally. Not watching what they are doing is like a sports team not scouting other teams. Sure you can just concentrate on doing your best and provide great service but you will never be maximizing your “potential”.

There is no way I have all the answers. There are things to be learned even from the worst operations. Sometimes that is just positive reiforcement of what you are doing right. Maybe its just a napkin dispenser that would make life easier at the store.

If there is a store in my niche doing better than me I want to know all about them. If I am doing better than them I still want to keep an eye on them lest they do something different to catch up.

Why would he be doing this? Isn’t he hurting his own delivery volume by giving you customers?

Are you paying him for these slips?

Do you think he’s only giving you the non-tippers, and keeping the tipping customers at is place of employment?

I like to know what my competitors are doing, but am I going to go out of my way to find out? Probably not. I work for a guy who used to be with Papa Johns as a regional manager, he would always call up the dominos in his town and pretend to be the corp office and get their sales every week!. It’s nice to know what kind of business they do, so you can gear up to beat the stuffins out of em.


Don’t fool yourselves. You want to know everything about your marketplace, including what the competition is doing. Even if it’s just for sales information to see how you stack up you want to know where you are. By knowing where you are, you’ll know which way you want to go.

Yes, you can stick your head in the sand and only concentrate on your shop and that works for some operators. My take on the whole thing though, is that this is an extremely competitive business and if I can get the leg up on anybody by obtaining information I’ll do so.

I’ve given indicators in a previous post on how to calculate marketshare. There’s a reason, ladies and gentlemen, on why people do this. It’s to see how you stack up against everyone else. If you’re in the lead you want to keep it, right? If you’re in 4th, you’ll want to make it up to 1st, right? You won’t know unless you take steps to find out.


Wanna find out how well you’re doing vs. the competition?

Domino’s/L.C.'s/most Indy’s - Order pizzas from them on Monday, save the receipt. Order pizzas from them the following Monday. Subtract the order numbers to give you total orders for the week. Multiply by a $16 ticket avg. and you’ve got their weekly sales.

PJ’s - Order at the end of the night every night to see how many orders were generated for that day. Multiply by $16 ticket avg.

Pizza Hut - Who cares (sorry ADPizzaguy).