How many here want to see me throw away money?

Like you said in your above quote, people don’t know about your business. So what are you currently doing to let them know that your there? Since the people aren’t noticing your business on their own, you have to let them know where you are!

Let’s get down to business here:

Do you currently have any money available for advertising? If so, how much?

If you are on a extremely limited budget, here’s what you can do to get the ball rolling:
First thing you need to do is to get new full color flyers (will use for door hanging also). You can get 5,000 full color flyers from[/url] for around $310 (this price includes shipping) to get started. (Like I mentioned in my other post, if you need help designing a new menu, let me know and I’d be willing to do it for you for free.) Print up a letter similar to the Kamron’s “magic letter” ( [url=] … letter.pdf ). Now tri-fold the menu and letter together with the letter on top with the headline facing out. Next staple a rubber band to the top of it and you can now use it as a door hanger. You now need to get out and door hang around 200 of these every single day! Lets say you door hang 1400 a week: Worst case scenario you’ll get a 2% response which is 28 new customers. Say they spend an average of $20 per order, you now have brought in an additional $560 in sales each week. A better case scenario would be a 5% return (70 new customers) with a $20 avg ticket which = $1400 extra added to your weekly sales. So as you can see you need to start door hanging ASAP! Right now this will give you the biggest bang for your buck and it will bring in a lot of new customers. From there it’s up to you. Like everyone has said, your food and service need to be up to par.

Let us know what kind of money, if any, you have available for an advertising budget and I’m sure with the help from everyone on this forum, we can get you going with the most cost effective advertising plan.

Another thing that can start doing immediately that will cost you no money is upselling. For anyone that orders a pizza, ask them “Extra cheese on that?”. 50% of the time they will say yes. Also if you sell wings you can do the same thing: “Extra blue cheese and celery with that?”.

You can also try running a upsell special on certain days. Here’s one for example: Customer calls and orders and orders a small pizza. You then say “We’re running a manager’s special tonight, you can make that a large pizza for just $2 more.” Little things like this will increase your average ticket. Even if it’s just an extra dollar, remember at this point every dollar counts!

Right now you need to build sales quick. You can immediately start doing this by getting your current customers to spend more and also by finding ways to bring in new customers.

Hey guys,

Can’t thank everyone enough for all the help. This forum is absolutely invaluable to me. I would be (even more) lost without it.

Just an update… I spoke with my father, and we’re in this for the long haul, whatever its going to take. Going down without a fight is not an option apparently.

Hey Roger, thanks for the posts. Thats cool of you to make such a generous offer to help. I like the door hanging idea. I’ve been leery to do that in our town b/c I heard its not allowed without a permit. But I may just give it a try and see what happens.

As for an advertising budget. I guess you can say it depends on my partners mood lol and how much I can convince him that its not throwing good money after bad. Not sure if I could put actual figure on that tho.


Before we start talking about advertising and such. Have you talked about closing for lunch so you can work on the business, and stay sane, hire at least one employee to drive etc? It won’t do you any good to do advertising if you can’t deliver on the service aspect.

How far away are you from an L line or the Midway airport?

We’ve talked about closing for lunch at least 100 times, but we’re still open. He’s not too cool with the idea of closing for lunch. He feels we’re already paying the bills, mine as well be open. But we don’t even sell slices…

Both the L and Midway are at least 25 minutes away in Chicago.


I’ve just read the two threads describing your situation. I completely understand your struggles, probably more than you think. I also understand where your dad is coming from: you close shop, he loses everything. It’s a very sticky situation to say the least.

It looks like you two have come to the conclusion that you’re going to keep the doors open until you’re successful or until there are padlocks keeping you out. Let me be one to tell you, the task at hand is a difficult one filled with sleepless nights and pressure-filled days. If, though, you plan to see this through to the end, maybe I can offer some observations and advice:

  1. Close for lunch. Although your father is of the mindset that you’re already paying rent and you might as well be open, let me offer a different perspective:

    a) You will decrease your monthly energy bills by half.
    b) If you have just one other employee working day shift with you and earning $7.25/hour, you will save $253.75 in
    labor costs each week. Based on $200/day or $1400/week, that’s 18.13% of your labor costs being cut.
    c) Use this time to market your area (we’ll get to this part later). You may not have money, but your most important
    asset at this juncture is your time and you can significantly increase your sales volume from 4p-close by using the
    morning and early afternoon hours wisely.

  2. Something is wrong with your product. Yes, you have people who have told you that your shop has supplied the best
    pizza they’ve ever tasted in their entire lives. My question to you is: What is the ratio of people that have told you that your pizza
    is the best versus the number of people that have ordered from you once and never again? I think it would be safe to
    say the ratio is at least 2:1, possibly 10:1? Please send a copy of your dough recipe using baker’s measurements to Tom Lehman so he can evaluate your crust. You can send a copy of your sauce recipe to me directly or post it on the board.

  3. I have not seen your menu. Please send a copy to

  4. You have limited to no marketing leaving your store. Why not? Is it money? Is it lack of knowledge? Please post an answer as honestly as possible. If money IS a factor, how much could you spend per week if you absolutely had to? You cannot and will not survive if you do not advertise.

Steve, I’m going to be honest with you by saying you are in dire circumstances and there is just a slim chance this can work. However, if you have no option but to stick this out, we’ll have to take advantage of every ounce of fight you have in you. In order to help you with a marketing plan I need to know some specifics:

  1. What services does your restaurant offer (i.e. dine in, delivery, carryout)?

  2. How many employees do you have?

  3. What is the name of your town? (I need to pull a demographic profile).

  4. Are you using any coupons at all? If so, how are they distributed?

  5. How would you describe the area within a 1 mile radius of your store?

  6. Do you have good visibility? Are you in a shopping center or free standing location? Pictures of your location would be fantastic. You can e-mail them to the above e-mail address.

Get back with me as soon as you can.



j_r0kk is a legitimate resource who knows the world of pizza and survival. Some of us are alive because of him . . . some in spite of him :wink: The man knows his s**t. If you will take time to walk this with him, you will get invaluable consultation that is worth more money than you gross in a month. It may not solve all your ills, but you and your partner will get the words that are wise and founded in lots and lots of experiences of successes and challenges.


I agree jr0kk knows his stuff - however, what jr0kk doesn’t know (because he wasn’t around at the time) was that we’ve been through all of this with Steve already. Exactly the same things were preached months ago - absolutely nothing different.

And the answers were always the same “I’ll talk to my dad”. “My Dad doesn’t think thats a good idea”. “My dad said…”.

It won’t be any different this time.

Steve, “whatever it’s going to take” - well, exactly what will it take? Pissing away good money after bad makes no sense. You stated you were already $300K into this - that is insane! Unbelievable.

On a personal note, good luck to you. Since I have nothing good to say, I’ll leave your threads alone in the future.

R.G. - Again, thanks for your input. I want to let you know, no harm. Theres nothing you can say to hurt my feelings, as harsh as it may be. I do appreciate your feedback, even if it is to close up shop tomorrow. But we’re in this for good, and theres no turning back. My father and I spoke this morning again, and he sounded as if he’s going to let me make the decisions going forward. Feel free to chime in if you’d like, say anything you feel. I respect your opinions and usually agree with everything you have to say.

J - You should be getting an email soon. THANK YOU AGAIN.

Steve, as you know, I never got my shop open. I am evaluating the time spent with pizza forums, mags, etc at this point. But I DO want to see you succeed.

First, what you are doing now is NOT working. If it were me, I would do EXACTLY what j_r0kk tells you. Even if some of it does not work, I bet most of it will. Reveal the super secret recipe to Tom and let him check it out. If you had to pay either of these guys for what they will do for free, you would be looking at thousands of dollars.

Second, keep in mind the concept of “sunk cost fallacy”. Never make decisions based upon what you have already spent. Only consider the current financial situation.

Accept that what you are doing is not working. Get your father on board with following the advice given by j_r0kk and Lehmann regardless of how you and he feels about it. If you two cannot do that, then I would not ask for additional advice and just do whatever you are going to do. It is like going to a doctor and then not following his advice because you disagree. Hopefully your father sees that he is saving thousands in consultant fees and will put that savings into advertising and other recommendations.


Well it sure was refreshing to see this thread…I am glad ya still got a little spunk in ya to put up a fight. I know everyone is bombarding you with advice and although I agree with most of it I am sure you are once again completely overwhelmed with what to do…now.

I hope by now you have lost the employee who can’t answer phones and doesn’t speak english…have you?

As for the menus what I think will be nice about getting the menus is it will give a better impression of your place, you can use them for box toppers, you can hand them out like crazy. Not to mention I think just getting some good quality ones will give you and your dad some much needed encouragment. I remember our first four color flyer we got, truly changed them image for our place…from our perspective and the customers.

I agree you need to get a marketing PLAN together. Doesn’t have to cost a whole lot but it will give you a reason to wake up and market everyday instead of being hap hazard.

I am not so sure about closing for lunch…years ago we thought about closing but instead went crazy building it up and it was a great decision. We started by just having a fishbowl on the front counter to draw names from. Made some postcards on the computer and sent them a free 10" pizza as a lunch winner. We sent out one to anyone who put the card in…we put the date on the back of the card that they won…they come…usually bring someone or several people. Then the new people drop a card and it snowballs. It gets people in the door and we win them over. The post cards are cheap to mail and I just bought bright paper at wal mart and made four to a page. Also when they get it in the mail at their place of work I am sure it brings a conversation about our place. We have been doing this now for years and I would say it is our strongest lunch marketing project we have. There were times we would put a shirt, magnet, menu and post card in the box and hand deliver it but found that the 8.00 shirt and hassle could mail a lot of post cards. This is something easy you can do…today.

Also just so you know we have a nice size lunch special menu. What is funny about it is there really is no special the wording is just a bit different and it creates an illusion of a special…all they really get is a free soda.

I know everyone is going to bombard you so write down some of the suggestions…absorb it and what it will cost, what you have to do to make it happen and just start doing.



Hey email your store address too.

Also, when you go to your father about closing down at lunch. Talk to him about closing down on full day too. Probably a Monday or Sunday.


Got to thinking and thought I would suggest before going and talking to your partner…how bout getting a real plan together…setting up a real meeting and discussing the plan. You may want to include in your speal that what do you have to lose…business can’t get worse if it is all or nothing why not go for the all. I really think the re opening is a good way of looking at it but ya gotta get a few bucks to market yourself.


BTW I agree with scott on the closing one day a week…it has worked wonders for us…nothing like a day off… :wink:

Charles and Kris - I thank you for the kind words. Its a nice feeling knowing people have your back and are there to inspire and motivate me. Thats just the extra boost I needed. Today was an excellent day so far emotionally, it feels really good to get things done with a positive attitude.

Scott - I will email you as well. I think you guys are right about the closing a day. We’ve been closed on Sunday for the last 3 months, and its been absolutely GREAT! I still come to work, even for an hour or two, to finish up some weekly work like sales, customer letters, organize the database etc etc. Its nice to be here and working on the business and not here to physically work. We were open the 7 days a week for the first 3 month and it was horrible. Sundays were our worst day, even worse than a Monday or Tuesday. I’d be here all day for a measly 3 phone calls. So considering that, plus its nice to spend the time with my family, brother and sister and my niece that I absolutely adore. Working 7 days a week should never be recommended to anyone lol.

Thanks again guys, all you guys are so great. I really wish there was a way to pay all you of you back. Everytime you guys give any advice I write it down and I have a list compiled of a million things to do… I’m taking one at a time so I don’t get too overwhelmed.

I feel for you bro. I wish you all the luck in getting this turned around.

You’re getting some excellent advice from true industry professionals here. I hope you can convince your dad how worthy it truly is.

I agree with Kris that if there’s never been a better time to put your plan together. Go about it as though you’re a brand new store because after you’re done with it, it may be. In fact with you at the helm of the new concept, it may be appropriate to state “Under New Management”.

My only advice is to be totally open to advice. You can then decide whether or not it’s what you want, but only after you’ve fully assess it from all angles.

Your situation reminds me a little of an episode of Kitchen Nightmare with Gordon Ramsey (BBC America). He went to a pizza restaurant in SoCal called Sebastian’s. The owner was so set on his ways. The owner knew his restaurant was failing, but was so hard-headed to listening to advice from an outsider. Even after he got a new menu and a restaurant makeover, you can just tell his time was limited before his restaurant would die.

I think you and your dad have a bunch of Gordons ready to help for free, it’s just a matter of taking the free advice and making the most of it.

For everyone cheer leading the imminent turnaround, I can’t seem to get past this one basic, unchangeable, uncontrollable obstacle:

50 pizza places in a town of 30,000 addresses

That’s only 600 addresses per store, assuming everyone gets an equal slice of the pie. Even triple the current sales doesn’t push it past break even.

Seriously, what sort of marketing, menu printing, whatever - can change that main fact?

R.G. - I know it probably wont make any difference to your thinking, but I just re-counted and its only approx 35 place in the town we’re in. Possibly 50 within 10 miles in our surrounding towns. I know thats not a big difference b/c it does still sound the same as far as the possible outcome is concerned.

Someone once explained it like a poker game. We have invested this amount into the pot, but why fold now? What if we win? Our sales are at approx 1200 per week and thats with minimum efforts.

Again, don’t feel that I’m trying to disagree with you or telling you to leave my threads alone. That is def NOT the case. I need to hear it from all angles.

And there are 75k people in our town. I was never too sure about the residential addresses. That was someone elses guesstimate.

Steve, as much as I hate to say it I totally agree with you closing for lunch - at least until you’re doing enough to hire some support staff. Being at the restaurant for 12 hours per day doesn’t leave you any time to take care of marketing. And I think we all know that marketing is what you need.

Unfortunately, “build it and they will come” does not happen very often, and especially in your area where there are a lot of pizza places entrenched.

I think you posted in my bulk mail tutorial thread back when I originally posted it. If you decide to do any direct mail (and I hope you do, because it’s by far my highest ROI advertising) DO NOT hesitate to contact me. I will do whatever I can to help you out.

I’ll be in Chicago in July, and your store better still be there :smiley:

Anyoe remember that guy in Michgan ayear ago in the same sort of market pressure who insisted he could thrive with $5 pizza model? he had TONS of shops, and Michigan had already gone into economic nose dive.

75,000 people at 2.5 avg per household is 30,000 households estimated
30,000 households at $18.75 monthly spent on average = $562,500 monthly market potential
with even 35 stores splitting the pot, yields average share of $16,071 if equal shares (I net more than that in town of 2800 with rent of $1600)

Someone better be taking someone else’s toys away . . . in other words, for you to succedd, you will have to close down competitors. You need to be prepared and have the mindset for that. You need to have confidence and nerve to be outgoing, and prepared give a 30-second intro to anyone about your store identity and mission. You need to have rock solid marketing plan for 6 to 12 months, and the financial marketing resources. You need to have spectacular food and service all the time; pretty good will not get it. You need to be a household word. You really need Miracle Max :wink:

I just wanted to add… just cause theres 35 pizza places in our town doesn’t mean that they’re all good. I’m NEVER one to talk bad about competition, and I was brought up that way. Always walk away from a salesperson that talks negative towards a competition. But there really isn’t very good pizza in our town, overall. Most of my returns have said it at least once, that “we need a good pizza place here”.

Piper: Yes I did reply in your thread. In fact, I printed it around then, read it a couple times, but haven’t looked at it since. But I just busted it out again and I made a copy for my pops. That is awesome that you did that. So informative, I’m surprised its not a sticky, it definitely should be.