Does anyone charge for boxes?

I noticed on a competitor’s menu that it states (in very fine print) “Take Out will be charged 30 cents extra for the box”. Does anyone else do this and if so, how do the customers react to this added charge? Just curious, I would probably never do this myself.

As a consumer I don’t think that I would tolerate being charged for the box the pizza comes in. It would be better just to raise the price of something else (a drink for example) by $0.30 and not mention anything about the box charge. It’s not like the customer has a choice of whether they want the pizza in a box or not.

I see the point of this argument, but find it really weak. They want to take home a pizza, and I am more than willing to put it into THEIR box if they prefer. Ooops . . . they do have a choice after all :smiley: they could also dine in and not use a box at all.

The other part of Chris’ argument is where I fall. If I openly nickel and dime customers, then they will rise up and think I am ripping them off, or at least start looking for other competitors who don’t charge for boxes. I decided to put the cost of the box into the base cost of the pizza, and price it accordingly. Delivery and take out is 80% or so of my pizzas, so it makes sense. For those who dine in, we look to provide added value so they aren’t subsidizing the deliveries.

You might get away with a “take out charge”, but that is often perceived as low-end as well.

My take on this has always been the cost of the box is probably less than the cost of washing the dishes of the dine in customers. So no charge should be made for the takeout containers.

i would be happy if my competition does this as it will come back to bite them and send more business my way

I am with Nick on this one, just price it into the price of your pies. If you separate it out you just bring attention to it, and that is not needed in this time of quickly rising prices. People feel gouged at the pump, grocery store, and just about everywhere else these days.

I agree with pretty much everything above. I don’t think charging for boxes is a good idea. Maybe this is the way things will be in the future. But for now, I think the consumer is tired of being battered with rising costs in every direction. This could be just another excuse not to eat out. I’ll let this competitor be the trendsetter on this one.

In my restaurant, approximately 15 percent of my orders are take out. This is an added service. It costs approximately .65 per 16 inch pizza for the box…this is a truly variable expense, no different than if a customer chooses to add extra cheese. So, who should pay or subsidize this extra cost…I think the person who chooses the take out should. You’re kidding yourself if you think your saving money by not washing dishes…the expenses of paying your dishwasher are fixed, not variable. Although I don’t charge the whole charge to my customer…I do charge .35. I’ve had only a handful of complaints in 30 years, and with a little dialogue was able to convince most that the charge was reasonable… I also have a delivery, take out store…the box charges are included with the price at that location.


What about the cost of the chemicals, water, energy to heat the water and run the dishwasher, napkins, breakage , etc. all variable costs?

You make an important differentiation here. You started 30 years ago with the policy. It is not new to anyone. People who do choose to make that new charge today will have a little more rocky startup. The economic tension is pretty tight right now, so it could have some backlash that has to be addressed in the whole implementation plan.

There are always risks and costs . . . . whatever the choice, do it boldly and with confidence. Find out why it is better for the customer doing it this way (if there is one) and let them know.

If you run the math, you will find that it often costs $3 or more person to offer seating over the course of the year (occupancy cost, utilities, replacement and maintainance, staff) all of which you do not have to pay for carryout. Give them the box. Price it into your cost of goods just like the parm and red pepper.

I wouldnt charge them for the box i think some of my customer will go crazy over that 30cent just because i charged them for a box…

I wonder how many folks simply do not complain, however, they never go back…I was in a pizzeria the other night that wanted $2.50 for WiFi while I ate my pizza and drank my beer…Not a place I will ever go to again…

I would worry more about the people that don’t complain and just never come back b/c they think you are nickel and diming them…either way I think back in the day that might fly but not now.

Then again like anything else it all depends on your market and if they accept it then more power to you…it would never fly over here and if it did it would not be worth the aggravation

The reality of the situation is: if you are running a restaurant…that is most of your sales come from dining in…you make less profit on a to go order than a dine in because of the cost of packaging (unless you charge for the additional costs). To try to allocate the costs of sitting in your restaurant the expenses of rent, utilities, dishwashing etc is ridiculous, since these costs are fixed and are paid whether your marginal customer sits or takes his food out. This is like saying selling an unbaked pizza costs less than baking it, because you didin’t use and oventender or the gas in your oven…you pay your oventender and your gas bill whether you cook the pizza or not. The one huge advantage of a take out order (in my opinion), is that it leaves one more table empty for me to fill up with customers. There is no correct answer to the charge/not charge question…do what’s best in your market. Be profitable guys!!

I don’t agree that you should charge extra for the box, however, if you want to cover the costs of the box you could do it with a slant from Waffle House. They charge 15% for all carryout orders. A thought would be to charge a certain dollar or dollars and say that the charge is for all carryout orders and includes plates, napkins, parm chz, red peppers and plastic utensils. This way you can give the customer a value for them and at the same time cover your costs.
Food for thought

Everyone has to do what they think is best for their business but as long as the big three don’t do it…I won’t either. Sooner or later the big guys more than likely sell a pizza to your customer as well and I think that the customer would feel the charge was unfair if they noticed that you charge and the big three don’t! Some people are funny and will drive miles to save a penny a gallon, others will drive to another city just for dinner, I for one want both of those customers buying from me, not just one of them!

I noticed one place a couple towns away is charging 30 cents for boxes. On top of a $25.95 15 inch combo, and minimun $3 delivery charge, I don’t know how they pull it off. I think because a lot of their business is from tourists. We, on the other hand are located in a small town off the beaten path, where I believe we would get linched if we tried it.
I think it’s more wise to build the cost into the pizza price.

Tom R

I WISH my competitor would do this. I promise you I would have a girl on our corner with a sign that said FREE BOXES! get lots of people asking and I would let everyone know…
I think a smart operater should have that cost built in to the price of the pizza.
when ever I see that or a charge for using my credit card…it infurates me…kind of like when i pay the elctric bill over the phone they charge you a conveince fee! TO GET THERE MONEY.

I’m with you on the customer anger at repeated little upcharges. We do what we can to find a way to minimize the fees.

The utility bill thing, though, is about their need to collect the bill amount and NOT the bill amount minus 3% credit card fees.