How to handle the sales

I am looking for some advice on how to handle rushes. Since covid 19 happened our sales have doubled and we have gone from doing 3k fridays to 6k fridays and it has been a rough transition.

We are a delivery carry out pizzeria and currently our setup is, order comes in and gets printed at two stations. station 1 is the make line and station 2 is the cut table. Currently on fridays we have one main person making the tickets and then a secondary person who is assisting them with either grabbing and making accessory items, things like subs, salads, making stuffed crust pizza. At the cut table we have a similar setup with one person getting most of the items out of the ovens and a secondary person adding the finishing items, lettuce, tomato and mayo to subs as an example, while also grabbing items out of the oven as needed.

We have a double stack edge 3260 and we do these 1500 hours where it just feel impossible to deal with. We are running hour pickups, 2 hour deliveries, and its just chaos. I know some people on here are doing as much and some are doing far more. What is the operations setup to try and get a handle on this.

I don’t know if it’s possible with your current system, but I would highly recommend investing in a kitchen display if you don’t already. I don’t know how I ever operated without one, and it saves a ton of time on hanging and transferring kitchen tickets. We also have a blaster label that prints the stickers for the boxes.

How many people do you have working the line? When I ran a store for one of the national chains we would routinely do 5k to 6k nights, with most of it being from 4:30 to 7:30, at 1k+ hours. During this time we had 3 team members up front, 2 dedicated to phones, 1 to counter service, and all 3 responsible for placing the labels on the boxes. We had 2 team members slapping out dough, 1 saucing the skins, and 2 to 3 members working the topping station as an assembly line (they didn’t offer subs etc, all pizza). 2 Team Members on the ovens, 1 primarily for pizzas, one assisting in packaging side items that required a few extra seconds. We had 1 expediter / router for deliveries, and 1 runner (bringing items called for by the line. Even with all those people it got pretty hectic but it was doable.

Not sure if that helps you any or not, but that is the closest I can relate to your current situation.

Is the larger problem oven capacity or production time? Are you making the food faster than the oven can handle it, or is there room to spare as the make line(s) are falling behind? How much pre prep are you able to do to ease the rush (pre toss crusts onto speed racks, pre portion dipping sauces in/on a warmer, etc…)?

If it’s oven capacity, Edge ovens will stack 3 high with a new, shorter set of legs. If it’s production time, a larger staff with more specialization can help make life less stressful for everyone, maybe even just one person to coordinate everything.

For example: I just did some consulting in a new operation that basically had 4 stations (pizza maker, grill, fryer & cutter). A manager would stand at the printer and expo the tickets as they came in, coordinating/timing everyone so the appetizers came out first/together and the entrees came out 2nd/together. On the busier nights we had them schedule a 2nd (and even 3rd) person on the make line such that a Captain kept the speed rack full of pizza skins + sauced/cheesed the pies and passed them on down to be topped. That Captain made sure every pizza/salad was being made and different styles were timed properly too. Busier nights also required another person be added to specialize to make appetizers/desserts and assist the fryer. In addition, an expo was added to the wait staff to help the cutter make sure everything was plated properly, made properly and being sent out with the correct server. So that original 4 + manager could balloon into 8 + manager as people specialized more.

When you say “chaos”, describe where you feel your system is breaking down or you’re getting behind.

We are definately maxing out the ovens but at the same time I would say there is currently little room for our pizza makers to make more and the cutting table is struggling to keep up as things are shooting out. To prep for a day we currently sheet out about 100 pizza skins, put them into racks and cover them. When a ticket comes through we grab a skin, sauce and cheese and top it. I was wondering if we should switch to have a dedicated sauce and cheeser. One of the issues also is when we have to make things that arent pizzas. In fact if we only sold pizza and breadsticks I think we would be completely fine. Its when a ticket is something like, a couple pizzas, wings, a salad, a calzone, a sub, etc… and then customers are super customizing several items on there subs and specialty pizzas (i.e I want a deluxe sub minus onions and mushrooms add green peppers and bacon with triple mayo and light cheese cooked well done). So when I say chaos its more that its a lot at once, like if we had two double stack ovens, 2 makelines, 2 cutting tables, and the staff to work all at once it probably would be ok. Another thing, to be honest, is people lately have been absolutely terrible. Just unusually cruel about small issues, which has been mentally taxing on top of the big rushes we get.

Uncle Nick, how does a kitchen monitor help vs just having tickets? It seems like it would be similar to me its just reading on a screen vs reading from a ticket? I have never worked at a place that uses labels but I am aware that alot of very busy places use them. Can you explain how the labels help vs just plain tickets?

I think this is where having a dedicated Expo could help, like the kitchen manager did in the kitchen I was describing. No one ever ordered a sandwich in that place that wasn’t modified from the menu.

That person could coordinate the different items and timing for the rest of the staff. He/she could also be aware of those special instructions and track them through the flow, “hey, cutter assistant, please note that sandwich you’re topping has no lettuce on it” or “make line, be sure to make the calzone first because they want it cooked ‘well done’ and that takes longer to make than the cheese pizza it’s going with.” Basically, someone really aware whose job/focus is keeping all these small issues in their brain so the rest of the staff can just put their heads down and is told what to do and gets it all done.

Lables are nice because they are an added layer of automation. They are faster to use than paper tickets + tape (and won’t get knocked off) or writing out information with a magic marker.

Most of the time they have a “x of y” count printed on them that helps the driver’s/cashier make sure they have all the items so nothing is forgotten or anything extra is grabbed. In the same way, they alert the cutter to missed items, “hey, this box for the anchovy pizza has been sitting here too long. Did anyone make that?” or prevent items from being skipped when marking bags & boxes, “what do these wings coming out of the oven go with?”

Whats a good label printer?


Ultimately the few seconds saved by the automation, across several orders and items, made it night and day. We use Zebra label printers, no issues

Last Friday we did a $1k hour followed by a $900 hour. We have a double stack mm360. 7:30 bake time. We fold boxes after cutting the pizza. During this period I ran the oven by myself. During a couple huge oven rushes (lots of subs, wings, breads) I had a 2nd person help me. Probably about 30-40 minutes total the whole 2 hours. During this time we had 3-4 people making food on the makeline and salad station. Another 2 people on phones / cashier. Some times the 3-4 would jump off the line to answer phones, some times the drivers would help on the line if they had breaks. This was an average / busy couple hours for it. We had a great crew that night and everything went smoothly. We have a make screen, tickets print for salads that we staple to the bag. Tickets print at cut and box, no box stickers.
It sounds to me like you need more people making food. You should have a dedicated sauce and cheeser - but they should be on the makeline. They are the line lead. They look at the ticket and start saucing / cheesing the pizza(s). They delegate down the line what else needs to be made by others. The next person down on the line will top the pizzas (sometimes the line lead will top pizzas if they are too fast for 2nd down).
What is your bake time? I can’t imagine that 2 people on the makeline are keeping a double stack stuffed full just by themselves - unless they are fast all stars. Or you have a long bake time.

We run a double stack of EdgeWB60 and they are jam packed on Friday nights but the difference is we have a separate grill/fry area for all non pizza & calzone items. I could not imagine doing subs & pastas in there so I am not sure if that is an option with space, etc. Also second a KDS for sure. We have a pizza and a grill bump and are able to coordinate the timing of orders. Our typical Friday labor has 3 guys on pizza, 2 guys on cut/box, 2 guys on grill, 3 counter/phones, 1 salads 1 dishes/prep, 11drivers, and myself putting out fires. If it makes you feel better we are running the same times…

I was gettIng crushed on Friday nights, we would have to stop taking orders.

Now what we do… if a particular station is getting buried we just stop accepting items for that station.(ie fryer is getting murdered, I quickly disable that station from online orders and we answer the phone and tell the customer grill items and pizza only, NO FRYER until the fryer catches up) a kitchen makeline will help with this. My makelines only show the items for that station, if there are over 40 items needing to be made on the station we pull the plug until it drops below 25.

Doung it this has helped tremendously instead of turning away orders

Also get rid of any pain the butt items you may have while you can. Just blame it on COVID-19. Every other industry has done it so we can too

This is the fryer makeline it only has the fryer items on it. At the bottom of the screen it tells me how many items are on the screen.

we have one oven at 7 mins and another at 8 mins. The top oven we use pretty much only for pizza and it is jam packed through the rush. The bottom oven we use for most everything else and it is probaly 75 to 80% full during the rush.

We have on Friday nights:

  • 2 PEOPLE ON PIZZA (1 guy stretches dough and pulls pizza from the oven. The other guy does sauce, cheese, and tops the pizzas, and bumps the pizza as he puts them in

  • 2 PEOPLE ON SUBS/SALADS (1 guy cooks steak, chicken, and burgers on the flattop/charbroiler
    The other guy makes the cold subs, toasts sub rolls for the grill, makes the salads, and wraps the subs up and bumps them off the screen)

  • 2 PEOPLE ON EXPO/FRYER (1 guy on fryer dropping fryer items, he hands the cooked fries, tenders,wings etc to the EXPO guy, The expo guy calls out and groups deliveries for efficiency. He bags all the orders for takeout and delivery.

  • 1 PHONE PERSON (we use pizzacloud that automatically puts callers on hold. The phone person deals with taking phone orders, ringing up customers and handing them their order. The EXPO may help answer the phone if there is a line of customers trying to pick up their orders.

  • 2 DELIVERY DRIVERS ( They wash dishes, fold boxes, dressings, keep the store tidy)

Pre COVID-19 A normal Friday was $6500
Now its $8500
I have a TINY kitchen

30-45mins pickup
80-100 mins delivery

I heard on the radio a company offers grocery
delivery in under 3 hours as if that timeframe was AMAZING… Yet our industry is expected to cook and create a product from raw materials have it taste better than anything they can make, be a great value, and deliver it to their door in less than an hour. WTF is wrong with peoples views of our industry

Either simplify the menu or raise prices…

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I am not so sure why that cannot be done. Last Friday we did $5k. Average out the door time for deliveries was 27:43. Max was 48:00. Highest average hour during peak rush was 36:00. We averaged bumping orders off the makeline in about 6.5 minutes through the day.
IMO its just hiring and staffing more people so you can provide better service. I guess it all depends on what kind of competition you have around. If you are the main gig in town, then you can run high times and no one will have anywhere to turn. If you have lots of competition you need to turn those quick times so you steal business away from the other guys.

How many people do you schedule for a Friday?

The cooking equipment can only cook so much food at a time and we can only fit so many employees in the kitchen. We just did $8300 tonight. Im not kidding what conventional wisdom says a reasonable time for delivery is not enough time

Tonight’s times
Average door time(idk what this is)47.89
Average delivery time 58.51

Label printer not popular here.
Is someone can explain how to Use them
Its seems a very funny question but if someone can help me out. So i can order

Door time is the time from when it was ordered until it left. Out the door time. Can this time be improved by adding drivers? Or are you doing mainly carryout. Are the deliveries sitting ready (getting cold) waiting for a driver to return to take them? Or are the drivers waiting for the deliveries to be ready before they can leave with them?

We normally schedule:
5 drivers
7-8 people in the kichen / ice cream
So 12-13 people working from 5-8 Friday night. Some coming in earlier, some coming in at 6pm. But for the peak 2 hours of 6-8 it would be all 12-13. Maybe I need to cut a couple kitchen people out, but I do not want to sacrifice service times either…