How can I change a former customers perception ???

I have just recently taken over a little pizza joint near several major business buildings.

My problem is…even though I have changed my menu and the Name of the business on my awning (I have not done any advertising just yet)…I still can’t seem to change the bad impression that the last owner left on the nearby businesses.

How do I know this…from the feedbacks of a handful of regulars that comes in. They told me my pizzas are alot better than the last guy and that they didn’t know what they were doing. These regulars come by once in a while simply because there’s no other pizza joint within walking distance for their short lunch hour.

I know if I could let the rest of the nearby buildings know that I’m a new owner and our food is now better, they’ll come back in…

How can I change old perceptions???


Then go tell them. What kind of buildings are these? If they’re larger companies (can’t imagine that since you’re the only shop in town), take their IT support desk staff a few pizzas and let them know that the shop has changed and give them their own pizza party. Why? Well, these are the guys that go to users’ desks to fix things. If you used the accounting department, the news might never leave the group (they never talk to anyone).

If they’re smaller businesses in larger buildings that share a common lobby, ask to set up a table and keep fresh pizzas rolling in, so people can grab a slice (or more) during lunch. Have some printed materials showing that you’re the new owner and give them some super deal.

I hope you know who needs to handle these tactics – YOU, not one of your drivers or kitchen staff. Let them see the owner himself doing these things.


Communication is key.

Do you have a sign out front saying, ‘under new ownership’ ? That’s a must-have.

Take time each morning and do business visits and introduce yourself. By one business lunch each day for a couple of weeks.

I’d put something on all of your print materials that states you are a new owner and you invite them to try your pizza. People love to try ‘new’ places. So make sure they know it’s new !

Thanks for the input…

The town isn’t small at all, its just that we’re the only pizza joint within walking distance. There’s several small deli’s nearby, a chinese fast food joint and even a cafetaria inside one of the business buildings that offers a rotating weekly menu.

With that said, I doubt that the business building will let me do any type of agressive marketing in their lobby as it conflicts interest with their onsite cafe. I need ideas on how to get around this and get people to come in for a slice of pizza even if its just once a week given the choices around…

Talk to the person in charge at the cafeteria and tell them you want them to sell your pizza there. Instead of ‘getting around’ them, use them to sell your product for you.

The best way to accomplish your goal, is to get these folks to taste your pizza. Simply take a few pizzas to as many offices as possible, as if you were delivering an order. Nobody from the building staff will question you. When you see the receptionist from each office, tell her/him your story, tell them here’s some free pizza to try, leave bag with menus, magnets, napkins, parms/peppers, etc,… thank her for her time, and move on. If possible, grab a business card on the way out for your mailing list.

If your product is superior, you’ll get orders.

Thank you everyone…

Have you changed the look of the place enough that people know it is new?..A few buckets of paint to change the look inside and out works wonders…Also, Get your workers bright new tees and/or aprons that “pop”…If the awnining is same as before people might not even notice the new name…Is there anyway to change the material to give it a new look?..RCS…

This really does make a difference. We bought a small, mediacre pizza joint, and gave it a complete facelift. Menues, staff t-shirts, color on the walls, new sign, painted the table tops a new color (eventually got new shairs and tables), new cartoppers, and cool new sign.

It all let people know something was afoot, different and made them curious. VERY few people confused us with the last owners, once they talked to us and/or came by the shop . . . and they found out that they preferred us. Now a new location will have a slightly updated look all around again. New name similar to old name: Pizza Stop became Nick’s Pizza Stop and is now Nick’s Pizzeria.

But, it all takes much, much longer if you keep it a secret. We sent direct mailers out, ads in newspapers, flyers at local businesses, talked personally to every person we could, shiny new business cards to every business contact we made, donated food to every good cause that asked. Do whatever it takes to let people know you are all new, live and in color.

All good advice.

Make yourself look different than the previous owner and GIVE AWAY FOOD.

I built a chain on giving away free food because our product was so superior and something many people had never tasted before.

It always amazed me when franchisee’s would balk at giving away $100 in cost of goods but think nothing of $250 on a print ad.

Today here’s how I spin it to the new people in my new business with me.

Those customers get flyers all week long from many places and many of them all look the same.
Those pieces of paper all taste the same, so how do they know our product is better than everyone else’s ? The key is to get our product into their hands (and mouths) once.

Every store I’ve opened and every franchise we opened we would always find “car dealer row” and the other business areas and drop off some product.

Within a day or two most places ordered/order enough to pay for the freebie they got.

Heck many places would just order because they thought it was cool we gave them free stuff.

So how many pies or wings or whatever could you send out for $100 your cost ?
Do you, would you do this in conjunction with flyers/doorhangers every three weeks ?

If direct marketing postcards, doorhangers, flyers … are good reminders to your “slow” customers wouldn’t your “superior” products hot and fresh in their hands and mouth be another effective “tool”?

If it’s suppose to be all about the product then why not make it all about the product.

When we would Grand Open a store we would have a 2-3 hour period where we would have a free sampling give away. We did this with every store, large city or small town. You talk about a crowd!! People love “FREE” and people love good quality food.

I’ll close with a couple other “pricing diffusers”.
Customer says, “So and so sells their (whatever) for X amount cheaper.”
Reply, " You’re absolutely right that they’re cheaper because they use cheaper product and ingredients.
If I bought frozen (for god knows how long) chicken wings 50 cents a pound cheaper I could sell it at that price also.
But we use fresh chicken that’s cooked to order in a higher quality more expensive cooking oil.
You get a nice hot fresh superior product for just a little bit more."

“You work hard for your money, don’t you? I know I work hard for my money. When you spend your money don’t you want to spend it on something that you know is of good quality and the quality of the work put into making it for you is the same high quality of work you do to earn your money?”