Humility lesson (AKA got my butt kicked)

So, largest voter turnout in recent history, record lines at the polling places, and huge economic interest in presidential race. We got smacked around. And not totally in a good way.

We did twice our recent Tuesday average sales last night . . . and basically in a 2-hour window (we are open 4 hours for dinner). And we were nowhere near prepared. Due to an oversight and a different mistake, we had only 25% of the 16" pie dough prepped for a usual Tuesday setup. AS we use Frozen dough balls, that meant we were completely hosed. I set out several trays of dough and placed into our warming cabinet for a speed thaw.

Add to that our oven was cooking wayyyyyyy slowly, and impacting our pie quality. Two cooks doing the hourly volume normally handled by 4 cooks (on a normal Friday shift). We were sending food out way too slowly, and some of it was not what would would be proud to sell on a given night. Cheese was oiling out on some, crust may have been drying out from prolonged bake . . . and wait times pushed about an hour for pickup . . . 40 minutes+ for dine in.

We were just simply not prepared. In our town almost nothing bumps sales beyond reach on a Tuesday, so we were slack. Not having the dough we needed is what we did to ourselves to set up the falter. We are sending out gift certificates to each customer from yesterday as an ‘apology for not bringing our best’ to the table that night. We figure that $10 certificates ($3 COGS) for maintaining, and possibly bumping up customer impressions should work out favorably. Even customers who were fat, dumb, and happy will see it as a gret gesture.

Lesson learned.

Now if you used freshh dough …

I feeel for you big boy. Nothing worse than everything going pear shape when you least expect it.

Good marketing response. Did you make the offer only available Mon - Thursday when its quieter so you can bump sales for these nights and not add to the burden on the busier nights?

Well one consolation for you with the election night was that Hiallary Clinton wasn’t in the race and you were spared having her as your president (don’t let Kim read this part :wink: )


I know the feeling all too well. Something to look at that might help prevent another similar disaster.
We have found that most frozen doughs will keep for two days in the cooler. Pull the dough balls and place onto sheet pans in the cooler to slack-out and the following day is day one. If the dough isn’t used, and has remained in the cooler, it wil generally be fine to use yet on the following day (day 2). Give it a test with your dough to see if it works with your brand of frozen dough. Then, you can always pull extra dough balls for slacking-out (thawing) knowing that if they are not used, they will still be good to use on the following day. Then you will have nearly as much flexability as we do with fresh made dough. It’s worth a try, as there isn’t anything quite as bad as running out of dough. It’s sorta’ like riding a winning race horse ahead of the pack and then stopping him just short of the finish line for a rest.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Nick I am stumped you truly are human???

Just kidding,feelin for ya…those nights are rough.

I really like the gift certificate idea.

Don’t forget to thank the crew…as I am sure you have.


Sometimes it is good to get a butt kicking. It makes you think on how to improve the way you do things so the next time it doesnt hurt so bad.

When my staff go above and beyond I make an effort to reward them. On Friday we were short staffed and were just shy of an all time record. I gave each of the staff a movie ticket as they left to show just a little extra appreciation for their efforts.

I have found that you can often trade gift card/certificates with other places for this purpose. Everyone wins when you do.

Here’s where I personally dropped the ball and caused chaos. We are closed on Mondays, and I am the guy pulling dough to start the week. We had some REALLY cold dough from Saturday that . . . believe it or not . . . was going to be usable on Tuesday. So, I checked the tray count, and set out enough for the shift. Weeeelllll . . .

It seems that some dough got shifted around, and I did not recognize that 3 of the 5 trays I thought were 23 oz . . . were actually 13 oz. Yeah. I know. How the heck did I think that? 6 balls in the tray is 23 oz dough, and 13 oz get 12 to the tray. So, we blew through the slacked dough in like 20 minutes, and had to put frozen dough into the saviour of all that is sacred, the warming cabinet [size=2](all hail the warming cabinet)[/size] We had slack dough about 2.5 hours later, just in time for the wheels to fall of the rush wagon.

LESSON 1: use a scale and confirm dough ball weights when trays are not clearly marked.

LESSON 2: set dough Monday, and then check again on Tuesday morning to give time to recover from problems.

LESSON 3: never, ever bake pizzas in a Blodgett 981.

Nick would different colour trays for each size help?..In a panic the easier it is to find things the better…

Probably a good idea. The issue really was carelessness for me . . . but colour coding will help a lot. So will putting labels on the trays when they are set out. I’ll start cracking the whip on those ideas this weekend.

LLoyd Pans sells some terrific dough trays:

That you very much dewar for sending that to me. It goes in my equipment bookmarks!

We’ll need to use the trays we have (we have three colors) effectively before spending $30 on new trays. Cash outlay on this one isn’t my solution. Consistent processes and using resources at hand is our key . . . and buying some of those spiffy clean-looking colorful trays next year :slight_smile:

Nick how much did your recent mistake cost?..And even with all your best effort will you repeat it again in the future and how much will that mistake cost?..Only then can you consider whether or not this investment will be worth it…

Royce makes a very good point. When I was young (way back in the last century) I remember an old carpenter who I used to clean the shop for. One day it dawned on me this guy had all the best tools that money could buy. When I ask why he spent so much on his tools he said, “I make my living with these tools. If I tried to get by with cheaper tools the job would not be the same quality and would take longer to do.”

I have remembered those words and when staff identify a need for “tools” to make the job easier, faster or better I will spend the money.

Call Lloyd’s. Depending on how many you buy, they give pretty good discounts.[/code]

two words . . . cash flow. One must work within the sometimes painfully realistic limits of budget and cash flow.

Really, I have the tools I need to do the job. I just need to develop the really simple process and get the staff (all of us) trained to use the tools. If I find that the tools I have are somehow inadequate, do believe me that I’ll get what we need.

You are right one must know how to use the tools. Being a VERY lazy person, I tend to hunt for the easiest way to do any job that must be done on a regular basis. I actually have a color code chart on my cooler door to tell the staff what color each size of dough is store in. I also have my dough placed on racks for each day with a magnetic arrow on both the inside and out side of the cooler to tell them which rack they are to use from first. With any luck the staff look at the arrow and take the dough from the correct rack. This works well as long as the person placing the dough remembers to turn the arrow.

We use post it’s and put on the front of the dough trays…they are stacked in the order they are to be used, but after that was not idiot proofed we now use post its.

We don’t use frozen dough but maybe add it to your clean up lists to pull the dough. Heck…add it to everyone’s that way 3 or so people are triple checking.


I sure understand about the cost issue - spent a fortue this week of fixing ‘stuff’ that doesn’t really do anything directly for the business.

Why don’t you use coloured stickers to stick in the same place on every tray say blue for large, red medium etc - you can get them from most stores and costs a few cents. This will be much cheaper, but still visable, than post it notes and less likely to fall off. Just make sure you remove them when you wash the tray.


LOVE the arrow idea. We will also be putting day dots on the trays to indicate the day they were set out. Gives a clear indicator of age in case the trays get shuffled for some reason. Wizzle’s idea has me pondering as well . . . a colored label of some sort for each color. Maybe a permanent enamel paint that I can write the word on the trays . . . whatever it takes that is affordable while we build our cash flow up.

Already started my sign for the cooler door that will say what shelf and what colour to look for.


Reading your posts and understanding your passion for this business coupled with your community involvement, you should have been ready. Your shop is the go to place as evidenced by your experience.

A lesson learnt.

Good for you, though - your holiday shopping season should increase numbers.


We got lulled by Halloween. Everyone projected huge sales around the country, and we hit right below average. Everyone predicting huge pizza sales on election night. We figured folks would eat at home, or turn out big. we thought we were prepared for a bump in sales, just not from the opening bell. That dough mistake I made would have been a difference maker. Had we enough dough, it would have been more graceful. Still understaffed for the rush, but would have been more consistent and quicker food going out.