Feeling defeated

Ok well yes I said it “Im starting to feel defeated” I have watched over the last 2 months sales drop, this month alone we are down $2k as of last nite.

At first in October, I was blaming it on the elections that were coming up in November, well that has come and gone and sales are still not any better , then I was blaming it on gas prices going up & down, that has not changed…UGH…

My supplier & my suppliers accounting department has told me we are not the only one who has been slow, so that made me feel somewhat better

I know for a FACT, its not my food because I’m here from open to close 7 days a week with only 1 day off every other week. I seriously have not seen it this bad since the economy took a crap back in 08-09.

As far as advertising I do radio a few times a month, and this business has been a family owned business for 30yrs and 90% of the business is word of mouth. We did do a few tv spots once a yr, that was only to sell certificates, but it did get the word out to new customers as to who we are.

I did do some research on other small mom & pop shops around the county only to look at there prices and we are right in line ± $1. My pizza sizes are bigger than theirs, example their large is a 14" and mine is a 16"

Thought about moving to another location ?? not sure though. I would have to get a loan for the moving cost, then thought what if I get the loan, move & things are not any better, then Im stuck with that debt…

Any words of encouragement or advice ???

We unfortunately can not always be up every single month. That is a self defeating policy and unsustainable.

IMO 2 months of being down is not bad, the waves will come and go. Every market is different so it is hard to say what is going on.

Just remember to keep an eye on costs and labor, and just keep making awesome product. The sales will come back, and you will feel better.

d9 has good points. Is it just the past 60 days or is part of a larger trend?

I work for a local chain and they have been down huge over the past 2 months. I do not know why it’s happening, but now is the time to watch costs. Unfortunately in my case, they have not done much in price changes over several years so that when costs rose, their profits depleted. They also coupon too much which hurts. I have $4000 a month being taken away from the bottom line.

For many of you (I wasn’t open yet) if you are comparing year over year numbers, we had the worst winter I remember in 40 years last year. You may be comparing apples to oranges for the next few months. We have just started to have a little snow here in Detroit area but nothing like last year…yet.

I am about 45-60 minutes from Daisy and my suppliers are saying the same things…everyone is down. I have only been open 8-9 months so we are still growing most months (September was the lone exception), but I am certainly disappointed with the rate of growth.

It good to always evaluate if you can do things better or improve an aspect of your operations, but sometimes you are the pigeon and sometimes you are the statue - credit to Jimmy Johns…good news is many food costs are dropping so that will make up for some of the lost sales.

I am always looking at the bigger picture. We amazingly made a hugh come back after the crappy economy, sales increased. My big picture is looking to lower rent cost, by moving i save $500 a month. The location would be in town closer for customers. I have lowered food costs by going to restaurant depot, but keeping quality high still. Its just very disappointing seeing that $$ figure drop. My last 4 saturdays we have barely broke 300 in sales.

Just trying to keep my spirit up

I understand your frustration. I was trying to fight the economy in Michigan and ended up closing for good in 2010. I learned a lot in the process. It does cost a lot money to change locations. You may lose business if that happens. You may also gain more. Smart marketing another big deal. stick with stuff that works, don’t waste resources on stuff that doesn’t. Control the costs you can like labor, rent, electric, food. Many of us here have been used in articles in the PMQ magazine and I was one of them. I talked about rent negotiating and how to reduce other costs in order to make a profit. Use flyering and other inexpensive means to spread the word. It can make a difference in short amount of time.

The reason I closed down was not due to food quality, but due to competition from national competitors like PH. Another big sports bar and pizza was moving in as well and we did not serve alcohol. So, I chose to close.

I have no way to negotiate my rent, I tried for yrs, my landlord refuses to budge. The plaza im in he has 3 empty suites, he doesnt care, he and his 2 brothers own like 20 tim hortons, and a ton of commercial plazas. Currently my lease was up nov 1st, so im in a month to month

You’ve got hunting season, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and several other big dollar holidays happening in quick succession, plus everyone is falling into the general depressing funk of winter.
Where I am at, most places simply close October 1st until Christmas. Every year.
Things will pick up in another 4-6 weeks, run strong until that mid March funk sets in.

i feel your pain and will pray for you. about 8 or 9 yrs back i bounced a bunch of checks just about this time of year, serious wake up call, made drastic changes all across the board, dropped lunches ,dropped main food supplier ( sysco ) shopped costco , dropped lead cook of 15 yrs, new menu trying to weed out high cost/labor food items, less labor, changed LOCKS , let more people go home early, no dishwasher on week nights , printed my own menu (menu pro ) got quickbooks and dropped accountant, now have tax preparer at 10% of cost, dropped newspaper delivery, dropped long distance on house telephone, rode my bike to work, quit snow skiing, eating out, bought my own co2 tanks and take them to be filled, dropped coke, now go off brand for 1/2 price bag in box and raised PIZZA PRICES ,result ,incredible,not doing more business but the bottom line increased a lot, looking back i would have to say almost going broke and losing the place was the best thing that ever happened to me in this business,it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you don’t spend !!! also mentally imagine all the happy smiles of the people who love and support YOU ,have a vision of them all calling and coming in to happily eat your food, believe it and you will see it ,these times will pass , you can do it !

JohnMorrison brings up a ton of good points,

I always tell my people to watch those nickels and dimes, and the dollars will take care of themselves.

Carryout boxes, pizza boxes and cardboard circles being used for things besides pizzas.
Chemical usage!! OMFG chemical usage! My chemical supplier wanted to know how my chemical usage dropped by 80% after letting a single dish person go. He jokingly said I should hire him back so he can take that Hawaiian vacation he was planning, and to give him his address so he could send him Christmas cards and birthday gifts for using so much product.

Heres a money saving trick that I use for our floor cleaning, and degreasing chemicals;
I get a 2-gallon weed-sprayer, I personally mix the chemicals in the correct ratios in these sprayers, the crew will mist the floor with the stuff instead of dumping a quart of cleaner into a mop bucket, it has worked out very well for us
Mops, I spend some extra money on mops, but they last forever and do a spectacular job, they are the “Grease Beater” from Ecolab, one mop head outlasts a case or 2 of regular cotton mops, and saves us huge cash in the long run.
Customer Leftovers, foil! or a small foam box, not my huge 10x9x3 foam boxes at $0.72 each my cost.

tis the slow season, We just need to ride through it no matter how rough the ride seems

I’m doing respectable sales, but I know they’ll drop off a cliff after New Years Day. Just have to keep your knees loose, try to control costs the best you can (some great suggestions!) and remember that the pendulum will swing the other way eventually- wishing you the best!

  1. Look for outside benchmarks to compare your sales to. It is far too easy to just say “everyone is down”. First of all, it is a 100% certainty that NOT everyone is down. I use monthly reports from our city for sales tax receipts. I can see if restaurant sales are up or down for the entire city. Even when total sales are down there are still winners and losers. Make plans to be one of the winners.
  2. Stop assuming that all factors impacting your sales are external. They aren’t. It may be true that there is some headwind or tailwind from factors you can not control, but you are in control of many other factors. Stop wringing your hands and develop a strategy to grow sales. That plan will include investments of some kind. You will be more comfortable with the expense (your banker will be too) if you can lay out what you are planning to spend and what the results should be.

I have done major changes in cost cutting, I go to the grocery store (Walmart - Meijers - Sams Club) when ever veggies are on sale and only buy what is needed for a 3-4 day supply, that cuts down on rot & waste, going to Restaurant depot once a week helps out on cost as well, my supplier cant beat their prices on certain things. I use circles & bags for pizzas, only boxes on deliveries or when a customer orders more than 1 pizza, thats a big cost saver, been doing it for yrs. I have been printing my own menus for yrs $$$ saver there as well.

I believe that if I could make it thru the recession from 08-11 which was extremly bad by the way, I feel I can get thru this. I just get extremely upset & frustrated seeing the $$$ weekly sales drop

bodegahwy” where do you or how do you get monthly sales reports on other businesses to see their sales, if thats what your saying

2011 was a tough year, I cant believe anyone survived that one, 2011 was horrible for everyone from what I remember

I get my competitor feedback from my product suppliers, I’ve found that to be the most accurate gauge to see how everyone else is doing. When I hear more “Thank You’s” than normal from my sales people, I know they are hurting on commission and willing to talk about other accounts and fill me in.

Keep in mind that if your sales reps are talking to you about your competitors, then they’re talking to your competitors about you (and most of them do).

I know that’s true… I really don’t say much of anything to my sales rep any more… We were talking one day about my order, I normally get 6-8 bgs average weekly of 50# flour, he had told me that a small mom & pop pizza shop in the next town get an average of 20 50# bags of flour each week. I was blown, I told him no where on this earth does a place like that go thru that much flour weekly, they must either be selling it on the side or they have an extreme amount of waste, because back in the days I worked for a well know arcade/pizza parlor, that did an average of $5k - $8k a week and we did not even go through 15 bags weekly

I do not get information on specific businesses. I get the total sales tax receipts for our town for restaurants by month. That gives me a broad benchmark for the restaurant business in my market.

I take anything my rep says with a grain of salt. It’s too common to hear him say ‘everyone is up’ and ‘everyone is down’ each time I mention it… for once I’d like him to be ‘Everyone is up expect you’ and than I’d give him a little less doubt. Although I have friends with stores and we keep close tabs on each other, things tend to trend either up or down at the same time. Anyway the reps know how you are doing whether you say anything or not based on what you buy.

Earlier this year was terrible, I’ve only got two years of data to look against but I was down 4k in back to back months. Well the winter is here and I’m having record months to the point where we already hit what we did in sales all of last year. I tried to remain calm for the slow months but it’s hard. I almost want to go buy a newspaper to see if we’re on the front page under the headline, “Don’t Go Here”.

Yup, and let them talk all they want.
It just depends on what information that you decide let out.
Pizza in this area; there are only 2 places who do it as their primary item, and both of them are franchises. The only places who are not hurting in the off-season is the bars. But, this is wisconsin…