how to handle future orders

I have long struggled with ways to handle busy friday and saturday nights when people want to place an order in advance for, say, 6pm. We are a first come first serve, counter service, pizzeria who does roughly 60% of our sales in take out orders. Because everyone wants dinner pizza about the same time, we get clogged up taking these future orders and it pushes our wait time for everyone else. Last year we started charging a 20% service fee for 2 reasons: 1) to deter people from calling ahead during those busy times and 2) essentially we allowing people to butt in line and charging them for the convenience.
I don’t like this system and am wondering what other pizza places do. Does everyone take future orders? Do you charge extra? How do you control the flow?

Do you use a POS?

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Our pos closes out every 15 minute time slot for deferred orders so it caps at a certain amount. We simply cannot make everyone happy.
If they want a specific time , they are told to call 45min to 1 hour before they want the delivery ,but we can’t guarantee the time. It will get there when it gets there. When calling , they get the estimated time.

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We love future orders. Helps us plan better. Sounds like you are busier than what your location can handle. What can you do to to increase production?

Im having this issue also, I tell the customers who order future orders for the rush I need a 15 minute window either way- earlier, on time, or late. TBH it doesnt help much.

Ive came to the conclusion delivery is just a shitshow no matter what you do.

I agree with Pizzapirate, timed orders are great as they allow us to plan ahead. It is rare that my ovens are at full capacity for long periods of time so struggles with business are more of a prep and labor issue. Orders placed ahead of time help me avoid these as I can prep appropriately and have staff stay late or come in early as needed.

Clogged up how? Let us know specifically where you’re running into problems and maybe we can offer some ideas to break the logjam. When you get an order on Friday morning for 10 pizzas that’s supposed to be ready at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, what are your procedures from start to finish?

I agree with paul who agrees with pirate. My campus store does crazy amounts of business at lunchtime and the vast majority of it is large orders placed in advance delivered at a specific time. And it’s the easiest, most profitable business we do because we know what needs to be done before the day even begins. I honestly wish all my orders were placed in advance!

We actually encourage it: [MEDIA=facebook]10153231256371813[/MEDIA]

Future orders always get first priority for us. Delivery times for current order might get pushed back to accomodate a timed order. We encourage our customers to place large orders a day in advance, but we don’t require it. Not sure why you would want to deter people from ordering ahead of time. If somebody is going to be ordering 50 pizzas during Friday night rush, I would much rather know about it ahead of time so I am prepared and can stay ahead of it.

How many pizzas did you dish out that day? We do a similar lunch business generally about 300 to 500 pizzas by noon.

Not sure to be honest. All I remember specifically about that day was that we had 100 additional 16" pizzas going out to the school corporation in a neighboring town. That’s the reason we had our guy come in and make a video, we knew it would look great with all those racks filled up. Our “regular” pizzas are pan style, so stacks of those aren’t quite as visually interesting.

We don’t turn quite the volume you do, our busiest lunches probably would be considered pretty average at your store.

When I take multiple future orders to be delivered during a rush at 7:00. Then at 6:00 we get bombarded with multiple other huge pickup and delivery orders all placed for as soon as possible my cooking equipment becomes backed up. I tell the customers I need 30 mins, but they show up in 10 minutes and stare at us running around. Pick up orders get priority over delivery.
Meanwhile during the rush we’re getting more and more big orders adding to the choas.
Now I have this pending future order looming over me to get out so it can be there at 7:00.
It may be easier for the guys on here that have an easier cook split but its hard for us.

Is that one store? how the hell could do that? given that I am sure the big 3 are also in your area. That is a lot of pizza.

Very impressive video Brad.

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December may have summed it up. But the reason I dont like timed orders is because I have the overwhelming feeling that no matter what, they need to arrive pretty much on time. As oppose to they just call in and then they get it when they get it. Whats the best time to start the order, if I start to soon the pizza will get cold, if I start to late it will arrive to late. I agree with Adamhersh, they do cause some anxiety.

I am unable to see the Video. It says video unavailable.

We have a couple of locations that are in what we call “warehouse land”. Manufacturers, logistics, offices and everything in between. The daytime population exceeds 40K at each spot. Yesterday 1 location cleared 800 pizzas and the other 600, just for lunch. Its was quite a ride.

Click the “Watch on Facebook” link below where it says “video can’t be embedded”. I should have uploaded it to youtube, I didn’t realize Facebook doesn’t play nice the bulletin boards.


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We use conveyor ovens, so I’ve created a chart that tells the manager/cook how long it takes to cook X number of pizza in X number of lanes. If you make the pizza a bit ahead of time, you can start feeding them into the oven at the right moment so they come out in time to deliver them within your normal flow. Then you just have to tell the driver “this has to arrive at x:xx, so take it first” or whatever works to get it there when they’ve requested it. If they arrive a bit early, just have them say, “I wanted to make sure I had it all unloaded and delivered to you before the deadline!” Just don’t be TOO early…

A snippet of the spreadsheet so you have an idea of the layout:

Cooking Capacity for 14" pizzas using different numbers of oven lanes.
One Lane
Chamber Cook Time 10 10 10 10
Length of Pan 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5
Length of Chamber 60 60 60 60
Number of Pizzas 5 10 15 20
Number of Lanes 1 1 1 1
Minutes Cook Time 22 34 46 58

Two Lanes
Chamber Cook Time 10 10 10 10
Length of Pan 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5
Length of Chamber 60 60 60 60
Number of Pizzas 5 10 15 20
Number of Lanes 2 2 2 2
Minutes Cook Time 16 22 28 34

Three Lanes
Chamber Cook Time 10 10 10 10
Length of Pan 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5
Length of Chamber 60 60 60 60
Number of Pizzas 5 10 15 20
Number of Lanes 3 3 3 3
Minutes Cook Time 14 18 22 26

Etc… extended all the way out to 100 pizzas/6 lanes.

If you use deck ovens, I’m sure a similar thing could be done. When the staff knows how long it takes to cook the pizzas, it helps them to lay out a strategy to tackle the bigger orders and get them there on time.

very cool video!
just curious… At what temp your oven is set at? is that the normal color of the crust?