Do I thorw in the towel, or stick it out?

I was wondering when enoughs enough. I opened a pizza shop 7 months ago, and it does average at best. I still have to put in some of my own money to keep it going. We have really good pizza, most customers say its the best in town. We are the only non chain pizzeria in a town of 15,000 people. Everybody tells me i have to stick it out at least a year, that the winter months are a slow time for pizzerias. Our competition is the three big chains, but i feel our product is more than comparable to theirs, every thing is homemade and our ingredients are always fresh. I do get hope, some nights we get really busy, but then again some nights we are dead. I am afraid that we may never get out of this slump that we are in. Should we stick it out till the Spring/Summer months, or should we throw in the towel now.


Cugino’s Pizzeria

what sort of sales are you doing on a weekly basis? The big 3 are a tough fight because they have deep pockets when it comes to advertising. In my personal experience good advertising will get you farther than good pizza. I would look at cheap and easy ways to advertise more and do lots of it.

If youve read some of the other posts about getting customers into your store i would urge you STRONGLY to at least try the door hangers, wont cost you to much and you really need to try it. Full out, do a few thousand as fast as you can, have a cut out coupon on the bottom that customers need to turn in or mention so that you can track its success. Get yourself out there, im sure you doing some things but you have to try everything, but do one or two things at a time so that you can track its success. You have to battle if you want to keep afloat, people wont just come cuz they see you, the want a reason to come, word of mouth just doesnt cut it most of the time. :smiley:

Thanks for your input.

And post some more details - where are you, what kind of shop, what marketing approaches have you tried?
You’ll get some detailed guidance from helpful folks here, and people like me (in a similar boat) will benefit as well!

mm, we are located in sedalia mo. we deliver, have carryout, and small dine in 40 chairs. we serve mostly pizza, along with subs, wings, beefrolls,and side salads. we also have beer, wine, and soda.we have tried radio, newspaper,and bulk mail flyers. i am currently thinking about door hangers and post cards. any help will be appreciated
thanks cuginos pizzeria

Dude, stick it out! you are doing good, most businesses fail from the start. It is normal for you to have to put your own money back into the store for the first few years. You need to get the word out in your community. Let them know that you are there. Advertise, you can do that cheaply by making your own flyers on your own PC. All you have to pay for is the cost of the paper and of course your own time. Get some door hangers and start offering delivery. I can almost guarantee that when you start delivering you will grow sales!

Every market is a bit different, but I will let you know it can work with some creativity. Our town has 2500 people, and we are the only pizza place. No aprtments, no college, no commercial action to speak of, and no large employers.

Our first 7 months were weak . . . averaging 10,300 monthly. Our first year was 36% over previous owner’s year. the next year was up 20% again, and last year was 20% increase. It takes lots of work, and our weekly totals aren’t paying my home mortgage, but the business pays for itself and has made a small profit for us. 2006 was a year that was very good in terms of weekly and monthly balance.

If you work it well, and find the seam for building the customer base, then making it past the first year is a real benchmark. If you can make it that far and kow where your new customers are coming from, you are in good shape. Competition makes it hard, as does not drawing a paycheck from the place for three years :frowning:

Seriously, buy the book " The Black Book Pizza Marketing on Steriods" by Kamron Karington. I have just recently read this book and his approach to advertising a pizza place is a must!! I will be implementing his strategy in the next week or two, so I will keep you updated, but basically it’s like a war. The slut, johns, and domino are the enemies and we must very strategically take the business away. The more you can do: doorhangers, marriage mail, direct mail, box toppers. The bigger your chances are for success.

concretekid writes:

mm, we are located in sedalia mo.

Also, on a side note… Now is the time to get started on working with the powers that may be on your state fair. I’ve been to Sedalia countless times and I know how big the state fair is over there. That week alone can produce sales upwards of $20k if you play your cards right and find a way to get a booth inside the fairgrounds.

Until that time it depends on your cash flow and how much money you can put towards your advertising needs. The following links will describe the types of advertising I’ve used in the past and the results you can expect from each form. Hope this info helps. -J_r0kk … ight=#6294 … ight=#5750

Alright KID,
quit thinking about it and get it done.
First focus on the closest 2000 addresses to your store, and just pound them with your menus, and DH’gers.
The closer the address, the faster you delivery times, and the less likely they are going to pass you to go to your competitor.

You don’t need to get anything special. I have found when opening a new store that I need to inform the public that (1) I am open, (2) My location, (3) My Hours (4) Major differences between me and the competition (5) My Menu & Prices.
I do this by printing a nice menu, and I door hang it, I direct mail it.
Go to and under free lookups you can do a closest carrier routes search to your address, most carrier routes are about 400 to 600 addresses. Then purchase those addresses, they cost about $9.99 per 1000. Get them Walk-Sequenced. Go to your local Post Office, and spend the $320. to get a bulk mail permit. Take the class on bulk mailing if they offer it, or sit down with your postmaster, and ask him how to do bulk mailings.

I print out 2000 menus a month, and mail out one carrier route a week. The cost is about 10 cents for my menu, 2 cents for address and label, and 12.7 cents for each address, when mailing “Saturation Letter” through your DDU, Designated Delivery Unit. At about 25 cent per piece it cost me about $125. a week, my response rate is about 7 to 10% within a month depending on the strength of the offer. I ussually put a two coupons on the menu, Buy One, Get One Free (carryout & dine-in only) and Buy One, Get One Half Off (Delivery).

This coupled with say 500~1000 Door hung menus a week should set your business on fire.

J-rok can do the math for you, I see him hammer this point in all the time.

500 to 1000 DH a week, 2% immediate response, probably upwards of 5% over the next month.
500 direct mail menu’s a week, 5% immediate response, upwards of 10% over the next month.
Create a four week cycle, and stick to it, and hammer the closest 2000 addys.

What will probably happen is you will see a $400 to $500 a week boost the first month, and it will wane a little the second month but you will still see a continous upward trend maybe you will see an increase of $300 from you previous benchmark.

And what that is, is in the first month you convinced 10% of the 2000 to try your product for the 1st time, there not happy with brand x, so they try you, for some reason you don’t completely wow 100% of them maybe you only win over 60% of them, but thats cool cause, next month you will probably win over a different 10% and you will have retained 6% from the month before, and so on.

Eventually you will plateau, it will seem that regardless of your continued efforts you aren’t growing any more, thats when you can increase you focus to the nearest 4000 customers, don’t stop marketing the original 2000 cause, at least 14% of the families will sell there house and move, this year, and you could capture the new customer that moves into a house that was buying from brand x.

Ive been open 7 months also, and I wish I would have started doorhangin 7 months ago. I started only two weeks ago and my weekly average is going up at least 400 per week, and Im already doing even better this week. Im in the same boat as you are. Im coming out my pocket every month, and it is supposed to be slow this time of the year. My distributors see me ordering more these two weeks than usual and there telling me everyone is ordering less. DOOOR HANG IT WORKS ALOT OF PEOPLE STILL DONT KNOW ABOUT YOU!!!

Hey, thanks so much for the information. I’m gonna hit the neighborhood hard! :slight_smile: