Hey everyone.

One of my major competitors uses frozen dough. I just read his menu and he states that the pizza is “hand tossed FRESH dough”. This is clearly not true, and is deceiving. I have spent a good deal of money attempting to educate the local people about our fresh product and why it is worth the extra money.

On top of that he copied two of my best selling sandwiches.

What would you do? He is attempting to steal business by lying to and cheating people, many of those customers are or have been mine.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

I would take the high road and keep educating people about how great homemade handtossed pies are. They really are better. Breathe, breathe, breathe and keep on with marketing your homemade from scratch, handtossed pizza. Maybe throw in there NEVER FROZEN!!!

Well you certainly can not go accusing him publicly unless you have “proof” that will withstand a court case…

How do you know is dough is frozen?..How is the word “fresh” defined by a court of law?..Can you find a dictionary definition that defines fresh in a way that he is not lying?..In my mind there are lots of definitions that he could use that still apply to his frozen dough…Marketers quite often use words that are misleading but not necessarily lying…My gut says that even though he is annoying, I do not think he is doing anything that is “legally” wrong…

If you send his pizza dough to a lab and the lab report says it is frozen you can certainly tell the world “so and so” is using “frozen” dough…But sometimes that is risky…Some clients will get bothered by the negative approach…

Maybe in your marketing material you can tell your clients that your dough is made from scratch every day and not from a frozen dough box…Make it about what you do and not what the other guys do not…I can imagine a panel on your menu with a nice picture of fresh dough and ingredients and another picture of canned and/or frozen ingredients…

Good luck…It sounds like you have a challenge ahead…

Thanks for the input. Keep it coming.

I know 100% that he uses frozen dough. He employees have told me this and you can see the dough balls thawing on top of the pizza oven.

I was thinking of an advertising as follows:

We are comparing our pizza with our competitors and need to place a high quality picture of our pizza next to theirs. I would like text with an arrow pointing to each section of the pizza comparing them.

Example: (arrow pointing to the crust on ours) Made by Angela at 6:30 pm tuesday.
(arrow pointing to theirs) Made by general Mills six weeks ago, frozen and then thawed yesterday on top of the oven in a plastic bag

Ours: Pepperoni: Sliced by Nicki at 10am today
Theirs: Sliced by Tyson foods in Atlanta, Ga 42 days ago, frozen then shipped.

Dough balls thawing on top of the pizza oven…Sounds like a health code violation?..

That is how they do it in a pinch. Our health inspector comes around once every two years. It will never shut them down.

What would you do?

I would concentrate on my own business. I would discover what I do best and do it. I would quit even discussing this guy and his business instead I would discuss my business and what I am doing. :wink:


In our area Hungry Howies has been doing a radio campaign for a while where they stress they “make dough fresh daily, our competitors, most of them use frozen dough balls.” They don’t call them out by name but we know who they are talking about.

I had a similar idea when a lowball pizza shop moved in next door to me, I sketched a piece that had an us and them column. For where dough comes from, the us column had a picture of the Hobart, the them column had a picture of an old freezer with stacks of boxes labeled pizza dough. I had other comparisons like our pizza coming out of the oven theirs coming out of a warmer etc… I never completed it so I can’t tell you if it worked, someone convinced me of the same thing Chowtimepizza said, take the high road, sing your praises instead of trashing the other guy.

You in a smaller coastal town in ME. aren’t you? Who moved in?

THanks for the input. I am in a small coastal Maine town. Nobody moved in. My competitor has just decided to play dirty in the current economic downturn. I think that the comparison ad would be a huge plus.

If you do want to play the us vs them game (and I do not reccomend it) just use a question mark when it comes to the them portion.

US dough made form scratch in our shop daily, THEM ???
US custom meat from the local butcher shop with no by-products, THEM ???

or you could spin it a different way and ask, Does your pizza shop make their dough from scratch, WE DO.

I will kind of say the same as above . I would push forward and wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of knowing it bothered me

  1. Just tell people in your marketing material the pains you go to make a great pizza starting from scratch Tell them you do not use frozen dough. Be specific so there can be no room that people may think you are being vague.

  2. People borrow ideas from other businesses all the time. Any good business looks around to see what others are doing. I am always on the lookout for new places to try. If I see an idea I like I will try and implement it into my business. Why wouldn’t I? If a local competitor starts using ostrich meat as a topping and his sales go through the roof am I not to do it because he thought of it first?

Years back we had a local competitor that had “100% mozzarella cheese” printed on his boxes (but he had switched to new cheese before he printed new boxes)…We knew that the cheese was a soy based product and sent it out to a lab for testing…We confirmed our suspicions, however, before we could put the lab test to use the other place closed down…

At the time we put a slogan on all our take out menus something to the effect "If you want great pizza for your wife and friends call Rosies…If you want cheap pizza for the babysitter & kids call XXXXX Pizza 555-444-3333…It drove the other guy nuts…

Now that was 15 years ago when I was young and fiesty…I am not so sure that kind of marketing would work today…At one time both Dole and Stanislas had great material you could use for comparing “great” ingredients to other ingredients…

Sounds like you did have some nerve then. I would not go so far as printing the other establishments phone number on the boxes.

Basically, the reason that I asked the question was because I wanted feedback to the situation. I understand that many of you said to ignore it, but I believe that is unwise. We do need to constantly update our image and be aware of our competitors, for both what works and what does not. What your competition does can have an effect on you, and you should be aware of the situation.

I will probably do a comparison as noted above that compares our pizza by ingredient to “the competition”. I will not be any more specific as the the name of the place. I do feel it is wise to educate your customer base as to why your product is superior to your lower priced competitor.

You have to be careful how you refer to the competitors…If there is only 1 or 2 other stores in your market you may not have to names to get into trouble…Better to show what is in your pizza and ask a question like “What was in your last pizza?”…“Did the dough come out of the freezer?”…"Was the pepperoni sliced many weeks ago in a far off land and frozen?..You should get the idea…

I had a similar but not dough, it was my menu. I’m the ‘big’ player locally and have lots of down market competition. I live in the delivery area of my second shop and for years never had a menu from any of the lcoally pizza stores.

After we opened and started to delivery menu’s all of a sudden so did everyone else.
Then we noticed that menu’s started to come in the same land cape 2/3 folded layout that ours did.
Then the graphic’s started to look similar
THEN a guy from a couple of miles away ripped off the inside of my menu exactly in terms of layout, color and even some of the wording. I include my contact details for customer concerns and so did he. My initial reaction - go up there and give him a piece of my mind or get my lawyer involved. They after sowing a few people and having comments like - we’ll yes it does look similar but their pie’s are really bad - what are you worrying about?

After sleeping on it - I designed a different menu design (portrait, fresher colors etc). I’m pleased with it. Will they copy me - probably but it at least shows that I must be doing something right that everyone ones to copy. I’m too busy running my own business.

At the end of the day don’t get distracted focus on making your business better. I wouldn’t mention directly or indirectly anything about any of my competitors on my menu or other materials.

My take is that you are right to keep your message and product in fromt of people. My limited personal belief is that the time for high risk marketing is in a strong market . . . a recession-like economy is time for more prudence and measured risks. Instill confidence and trust in YOUR brand regardless of the others out there. Time for appealing to the heart and the desire for affordable luxuries.

Drawing direct comarisions like you describe has the definite advatage of clarity and doubtless awareness of the complete message you are delivering. DRAWBACK is that you could be harming the bigging brand that you have developed . . . seen as petty, vengeful or self-inportant. None are catastrophic, just potential drawbacks in a market full of people who are feeling beat down by circumstances.

Hammering hard on what YOUR identity is and what YOUR brand is will reinforce the brand, allow the viewer to feel successful for drawing the conclusion themselves about the competitor, and makes you appear committed to your products and customers. You can send the message that you provide your products for the customer because they deserve it rather than risk the message that you are doing it just beat the other guy.

The iomplied messages are often more powerful than the explicit ones. Gain direction by indirection.

I know this has been said but going negative is tricky - the only company I’ve seen do it well is Apple with the Mac v. PC campaign. But even that set them up for the “I am a PC” campaign" rebuttal.

How about you just saying something like…Alot of places claim to have “fresh” dough,but the difference is ours is made fresh in house not “fresh” from a warehouse.

lol, like this one best