fox in the henhouse . . . forget the frog

Well, all of you were partly right not to worry about the pizza places opening in 15 miles away. I was being infiltrated by a place 7 miles away!! There is a small town with a mediocre at best pizza joint . . . we had a sort of ‘understanding’ that neither would jump into the other’s own and market hard. Well, just found out last night that about 10 people in one of our prime subdivisions is ordering delivery from that competitor. That delivery range is about 8 miles, and they have only $10 minimum. We cannot afford to let that place get a foot-hold and start gigging any customers. Sure, some will do it just for the lower prices and cheap delivery minimum. Our 16" 8-topping “Works” is 22.50, while theirs is reputed to be 18.50 . … cripes how can they do that!!! I know how, and it is with low end products and tax evasion.

I am mostly offended that we are now having to defend against a business that has unscrupulous fiscal practices, is not as good at this business as we can be, and has a product that is not as good. The place has been filthy for years, and has a poor reputation in their town, but they keep slinking by with cheapo pricing and not paying payroll taxes or their driver a minimum wage (however you define that). So, plan of action is in order:

  1. finish new menu design and get them on the street ASAP (include reviewing pricing for possible increases and decreases)
  2. Directed mailer/postcard/doorhanger to the neighborhood with identified infiltration. Super offer and aggressive pricing for that offer. If it works, then roll it through the other neighborhoods and see f we can generate a sales bump for the month!
  3. Finish development of several new products that will have lower price point (and higher profit margins!)
  4. Develop marketing tool to get into the neighboring town and take the fight to them. We have been doing soft advertising there for a couple years o the fringe where they were not serving. We get into the downtown, into the businesses, and into the mailboxes in that town. We need those customers to try out our dining room and feel the love at Nick’s.
  5. Make sure we are all playing on a level playing field. 'Nuff said on that.
  6. Be prepared for guerrilla marketing tactics that we have in hand, but were not wanting to use. Gloves are off, and now we need to let the expanded market know we are hear to fight harder for market share.
  7. October brings a festival to that same town where we are the protected pizza vendor at the event. We show up looking colorful and spectacular, and put out phenomenal food to back up the print materials we are sending around. And coupons for some add-on if they come to the shop 7 miles down the highway.

All this is stuff we have in the works; we just now have a motivator to get it done already. Got slack, and now we have some market changes that are pushing us to get it done and get it going. Both good and bad.

Your plan sounds great, almost sure to get back your marketshare plus more. You might want to think about dropping your minimum required for delivery. Some customers only have $12 to spend and even though they prefer your product they have to purchase from your competitor on that day. I will deliver anything over $5. Doesn’t happen often but when it does we suck it up and deliver them. Next week when they need three pizzas for $37. we will be the first ones they think of. I never want to give any of my customers any reason at all to call the competition. Good luck and I’m sure your competition will wish they had left this box closed.

Just curious Nick, how exactly do you plan on doing this?

This one is not a public discussion point. We all have obligations and requirements in operating a business. We run ours “clean and above board”. We will make sure that everyone who comes to compete with us is doing the same if it means we are competing in the same market. I’s dotted and T’s crossed. I will not do anything underhanded or unscrupulous by any means. If any other business outmaneuvers us in a level and fair market competition, then hats are off to them.

Some other members here on the 'Tank in the past have discussed knowing of businesses who don’t pay minimum wages, or cut corners on building permits, or evading sales taxes with cheesy bookkeeping, buying food from unlicensed sources, puring their grease down the sewers, hiring illegal immigrants, or getting electricity from someone else’s meter, and such like that. Those sorts of things are bad for the whole marketplace if people perceive the businesses to be underhanded or cheesy. I make no claims at all about anything my competitors are doing.

I just insist that everyone pay their ‘price of admission’ to see the show.

I understand your frustration. Just make perfect all your i’s and t’s before you poke a beehive.

Concentrate on all your other business ideas - this alone should take up all your time and let the other go before it takes all your mental and physical energy.

I’ve seen wars over shops taking doorhangers down from the competition - it’s not worth it.

I was passing out my menu in neighborhoods that had a high concentration of mailboxes with the paper slot under it yesterday. I went back today to finish and noticed the competition did the same thing in the same boxes as I did yesterday. I continued to plaster my menu for the past 3 hours. I didnt pull there thin corporate color boxtopper out and put mine in, I simply put mine in too. It did motivate me to pass out more…Stay away from “i’ll get them through board of health,irs,local this and local that”…

Beat them in quality and service


Both well said and well taken. Where do you run your place, PizzaTime? Might get a chance to visit some time.

Dang Nick, you part of the country must be expanding like crazy!!! I may have to look into adding a store there. :wink:

Seriously though,

Our 16" 8-topping “Works” is 22.50, while theirs is reputed to be 18.50 . … cripes how can they do that!!!
Why not do away with “The Works.” --?? How about, and I’m thinking aloud here, offer a house special (with 3 or 4 toppings) and price it @ $16.99. Why not, offer a cheese pizza, that’s to die for: $11.99?? And this concept, which some guy in Italy has been doing for EVER, is to offer a cheap base cheese pizza for a crazy price, BUT TAG EXPENSIVE TOPPINGS on top of it? For example, your toppings are $2.50, so a Pepperoni would be $14.49, a double-meat would be $16.99, and so on… If they buy your house special for $16.99 and add 2 toppings, you’re at $21.99 for 5 or 6 toppings… BUT the banger is: you advertise for a much lower price!!! So now, your FOX is asking, “how the heck is he doing that?!?!?!

Just thinking aloud.

our 16" cheese is $12 and is at the top of the market . . . people complain about how expensive it is. Toppings are $1.75

I have one local shop that I respect because I think they want to offer the same quality I do, the rest is corporate garbage. One of the most important lessons I learned was when I was a bar owner in a college town (10x more brutal than the pizza biz)

…when someone comes after you, it’s because they wish they could be you. I made more money when a new club opened and started taking swings at me thinking they could take some of my customer base, than if they had never opened. Focus on your business, not what everyone else is doing. This is what we indies do, make great food and let the corporate powerhouses and the garbagehouses feed those that don’t know any better. I bet they’re losing money with their campaign to snag your customers, it takes a lot of money to create a new customer, I bet they’re not getting any follow-up business.

I compete with several businesses around me that do business this way and when the economy was doing well, my customers loved me. “Great business, Pays his employees well, Super Clean Store, Asset to the Community, etc…” now as the economy has turned I watch my competitors do things as mentioned in the earlier post and I have seen the tide turn. Customers are now saying things like "You pay your employees too much (actually had a 14 year counter person get verbally attacked about this), spend too much money keeping your building looking nice, menus are too fancy, drivers have too nice of cars (we have our own), etc…

Anyone else having this problem?

I ran into the perception of paying your employees too much and overcharging for goods and services many years ago in the construction trades. I had a handful of customers/business owners that would never shut up about the new trucks I bought for my crews or clean matching hats or t-shirts… things that made you look good. I refuse to appoligize for running a successful business when it is the fact that we drove well maintained vehicles and looked professional and acted in such a manner that made us what we were. I refuse to appoligize for providing quality goods and the service behind it and charging an appropriate fee for it all. I really refuse to appoligize for supplying 24 well paid jobs with good benefits to good hard working legal employees that all had families to support. I know this is a little off here…but these same people that complained drove $50k pickups and lived in million dollar homes… so like I told one of my customers… stop your whining and bitchin and just find someone else to do your work. He did…then came back 3 projects later and wanted us to do his work once again. We did… at a higher factor on all jobs I bid… why… because we were good and reliable and he knew it would be right the first time.

Now too the point… I know it would be hard to tell off a customer in a store but even with the economy being slow it does not mean you have to lower your prices so they can feel better. Pizza is not an expensive meal for a family of any size. They can go to the drive thru and pay more for real crap. They can go buy cardboard for $10 a pie. They have many options…but why are they standing infront of you right now? Why? They like your pizza and will pay for it.

Do not lower your price to satisfy a few complainers at the expense of you and your employees livelyhood. People work and own a business to make money and survive. If all your work is just to provide yourself with a job until you die…so be it. If you can make a better product and sell it for a reasonable… higher than the garbage… price, then that is what you do. I do not think anyone is out there screwing the customer by asking $50 for a large pizza. Most of these complainers have zero clue to the actual expense of running a business. Just make a great product and charge the fair price that is needed for you to do well.

I know this is hard to swallow when times are slower or business is hurting… but this is all part of being a business owner and not just an employee somewhere. Hang in there and keep striving to be better than the rest. The masses will notice and it will pay off in the long run.

Hey thepizza,

Why not keep a handfull of pizza gift cards on hand from all of the other places that sell crap around you and the next time you have someone infront of you like that… nicely give them a free pizza on you from one of the other places. Let them experience first hand the “quality and cleanliness” of the other operations. Pick up the phone and dial for them… make a point in a nice way. Offer to go with them and pick it up. Point out the better points of the operation that they now idolize in this economic mess we are living in. Well…just a thought! :shock: