In a funk...

Hi all, I am depressed today. I will share with you a little that has been going on. I am doing, OK, meaning, we are not breaking even. But im not going to far into the hole…yet.
It has been really tough. I think the reason I am in a funk at the moment is because I stopped sending out my menu for 3 weeks while I waited for my new menu’s. This was a DUMB idea. But such as it is. That is what I did. I do not think I was getting the return I should have because my last set of menu’s was not what it should have been. Now, I have, I HOPE, a really great menu. Yup, still could have done a bit more maybe, but a much better menu than the old. Menu’s hit the mailbox today and tomorrow. And will be sending out to a new area every week. Have a true campaign set up, not like before when sales started to slag I would send out another batch, now I am sending them out every week like clock work have it all laid out in my marketing plan.
I am sending out my menu’s, doing sampling in our parking lot which draws in alot of customers, putting menu’s on cars once a week (yes, that is allowed here) and after putting them on over 5,000 cars have only ever had to pick up one. So obviously people are keeping them. But I only do this once every week or 2 so that I dont releaflet the same cars, or hope not to.
Now, after all that complaining, here is the question. What else can I do? I mean this is nuts, I am going to throw some numbers at you. In the area I live in there is 100,000 people.
In my town there is .5 million. Why the HELL am I only getting 35 customers a day? I can HONESTLY tell you that we have the best pizza here, hands down. That is not a brag, its true. We have excellent customer service. I have great staff. Now up until a month ago I WAS the customer service, I was the only one who dealt with customers, now this isnt the case. I have a really great staff now.
We only have chain pizza’s around us and it is terrible. Mind you there is 6 pizza places on my 1 block! When I moved in here 1 year ago there was only 1. It’s been horrible, but again, its only 2 for 1’s, and cheap garbage.
I am working full time in my store as a full time employee, which is causing some problems. I am not getting the time to do the things that I should to grow my business, and again, I am not sure what I should be doing exactly. I am drowning. I need some serious intervention.
Anyone have really great advice for me?
I would appreciate it more than you know.

It sounds like you have a serious marketing problem. There is only one way to get customers into your store, advertise. Noone cares about your pizza store or even knows you’re there unless you tell them…and tell them often!

You may have the best pizza in the world - and that’s great. But having the best pizza doesn’t SELL pizza. No matter who you decide to use for advertising…just make sure you do it. I’d recommend a huge doorhanger campaign in your area with your menus.

As I recommended in another thread…get a bunch of full-color trifold menus and staple a rubber-band to them. Then have your staff (or someone) go out and distribute these on doorknobs EVERYWHERE. This should provide a shot of adrenaline to your business.

Don’t let another bad weekend come and go - act sooner than later so that you don’t find yourself in a hopeless situation down the road.

Anyone else agree on this? Sounds like it’s a clear advertising problem.

Thanx Chris. You are right, I know you are right. Doorhanging is the answer? I saw you post about the elastic bands. That is a great idea. I responded to it yesterday. I am stapling elastics to my menu’s as we speak. What I am also doing, started yesterday, is creating a marketing calendar. So June 4, 5 have menu distribution, June 6,7,8 have doorhanging, etc. What I need is more ideas. Does doorhanging work that well? Honestly? I am not questioning you on it. I am excited about the prospect. Maybe waiting to do doorhanging till the 6-8 is a wrong idea, and do it today? Do it everyday? Anything else?
Thanx so much

If you only had any idea how many times I’ve kicked myself for the EXACT same thing. I’ll fall behind on getting my artwork done for mailers and then have awful weeks.

You answered your own question, I think… you know what needs to be done. You need to be marketing consistently and following a plan. Send your stuff out every week and never let up.

Can you tell us a little bit about your pricing compared to your competitors?

I realize you said that your pizza was much better - and I believe you - however, I’m typically inclined to beleive that doesn’t matter to 90% of your customer base - especially in big areas such as yours.

I will have a talk with the team and get back to you soon. With ideas.

Thank you MPM.
As far as my pricing, I am resonably priced for the product I offer. How do I put it, I am more expensive than the junk pizza around here. LC etc. But as far as the chains I am comparable such as Domino’s, Panago etc. And less than our premium competitor like Boston Pizza, and its a better product with more heavily topped pizza’s than them.

I just noticed your signature - are you a Take-n-Bake shop?

yup, I am a take-n-bake. Take-n-bake is a very new concept here. Please, do not tell me to start baking, it is not a possibility here where I lease. I do bake personals, and smalls. But that is my capacity.
What I need to do is get take-n-bake to stick here. Papa Murphy’s has just moved into the complex next to me. Which is JUST GREAT. I say this in a good way and bad. First the good, they advertise like hell, and I reap the benefits, everytime they market I can tell because my sales go up. People wanna try the Gourmet option, as well as the locally owned option, as far as I can tell from my POS system, I retain about 70% of those that try us and compare.
Bad, because they market like hell, and people dont know I am here. I am working on that.
I am Italian, that is very helpful in our marketing, we are a true Italian pizzeria, which is IMPOSSIBLE to get here, ALL the pizza places here, chains and the very few indy’s are all ethnic owned. This also works in my favor. It’s just a matter of getting it out there. When people come here, they almost ALWAYS come back. We have a 87% retention rate. Which is just barely keeping us in business. The same people over and over, its a matter of getting newbies on board.

I wouldn’t tell you to change your concept - not at all.

I just think that is a very important piece of information that we need to know.

I don’t know much about the take and bake business - as in my area there are none. However, I would question who your “competitors” are - since you are serving a different product than a “baked” place, do you think you can compare? Or is it apples and oranges?

How do you know if the fact that people need to bake their own pizzas is what drives them to buy from a “baked” place? Again, I’m not saying this is the case - I have no idea - just asking if you’ve considered that as a possibility - and that TnB is a concept that isn’t currently (or may never be) accepted in your area.

How does your marketing position your TnB concept? Do you market the benefits of TnB (whatever they are) vs. a “baked” pie? I guess what I’m asking is why would I want to buy a pie from you and bake it myself vs. buy from another place and eat it right away? I’m sure these are questions you’ve answered for yourself.

Thank you very much for your response. And in answering all of your questions, realized a big OOPS.
I do know, and tell my CUSTOMERS what the benefits are. But have never put in my marketing material the reasons. OH NO! What the heck have I been thinking? I am in idiot.
Here is my answers to your questions, and then I have some serious work to do.
If I was to say true competitors it would be firstly,
Papa Murphy’s being they are a tnb as well - marketing points against them, #1 they are an american chain, sorry guys, but this is a canadian point, point two, its a chain, not an indy, #3, they are lightly topped, thin cuts of meats, bland dough, bland sauce, etc etc… Marketing points for them, they are heavily advertised, have a recognized branding system. We have heard about them in Canada, YEARS before they ever came here.
number two would be M&M they are a place that has frozen, pre made meals that you bake at home. marketing points against, frozen, lightly flavored, did I say frozen? lol. Points for them, they are widely known, Canadian company.
#3 is baked pizza’s, it is standard, its what everyone buys at some point, the chains are well known, etc.

What I think, and tell my customers, is this (please no one get mad) #1, Yes its baked, but when you finally get to eat it, either delivered, or you pick up, its cooled down, starting to harden. You get the benefit of having the pizza baked in your oven, on your time. You get to decide, rather than wait for delivered pizza, when you want it, you pop it in the oven and 15 minutes later, your place smells great of baked bread, and you get a pipping hot pizza.
Because we dont have the huge ovens, the cooking staff, we are able to put better quality toppings on and way more of them.
We have thicker sliced meats, fresher veggies, etc.
Next point we are styled like a Subway sandwhich shop in that you can see everything that is going on your pizza as its being made, there is a glass sneeze guard in between us and the customer, they can look at all the toppings, see the freshness and also pick what they want, and where they want it. Our slogan is your pizza, your way. and we mean it.
Lastly, we prep all our products in store, visible by the customers. We do NO prep in the back, again giving the customer the satisfaction that their food is being dealt with in a safe, and healthy way.

That is part of the issue I am mulling over. I know at least a big part of her business is still T-N-B, which is a different spin than I am used to. A lot of my ideas involve selling business to business with cooked product. I don’t know canukfanlady’s capacity for handling pizza delivery orders.

Do you think delivery will increase my business. Even though I am a take-n-bake? I know i read something about PM trying delivery, but it wasnt a great sucess. But this may be a different market here.

Survey your customers to see what they want. You could use your email news letter (which by the way is great) to get feedback on delivery.

The customer calls for delivery you have them turn their oven on to pre-heat and when the pizza arives the oven is hot and the pies go in. They are the hero for having fresh baked pizza hotter than any other delivery in town.

Thanx Daddio! Yes, I do not think it could hurt to survey my customers on this question. Find out what people really want.

Because so many of your customers come back to you why not get them to promote your pizzas for you. You can do a referal rewards program. Get some business sized cards with a special on them and on it have a spot for the customer to put their name and phone number. Every time they give out a card to a NEW customer (you will have to let them know it must be a new customer) they get points or 10 cards back they get FREE… or $$$ off their next order figure out what will work for you but remember it has to be good enough to bring the customer in and to also reward the customer that hands it out. The card could read something like this Have you tried the mouthwatering pizzas from Naida’s Gourmet Take and bake? Now is you chance to try the freshest hottest pizza you have ever had bring this card in for ________________ but hurry cause this offer expires on _________. I also use an expiry date, I tell the customer that is going to hand it out to put a date 2 weeks from when they hand it out. This gives urgency to it which will make them come in sooner.

The other thing is to keep up your marketing. I suggest 1250 homes for each area why that number? because it works for me you may want more or less it has to be what works for you I only have 5000 addresses in my area so this make it easy for me as I have the town split int 4 different quadrents. You want to hit your customers 3 times in a 2 week period direct unaddresed ad mail door hang and then one or the other again all in 2 weeks then move on to the next area. I have been activly marketing for 1 year now and in the last 4 months I have seen an increase of 3K (smallest increase) and up to 6K increase last month over the same month last year and I know it is because I am sending something out every week.

Your only problem is people have habbits and they are hard to change so you need to change them the other thing is T&B is not well known so that is even more reason to market hard.

If you want to talk give me a call just in case you dont have it anymore it is 403 782-5552

My ideas for u would be

Get out of the store a little bit…if you trust your staff and have faith in them this should be no problem

When i say get out i don’t mean go home and watch TV…Forget door hanging for 24 hours…Go to schools, community centers, Offices, anything…Get your name out…

I would get a collard shirt with your logo on it and sit at the bar…You may not drink…have a burger…Its about being social…Make people feel like they can get cuustomer service cause they met you or “Know the owner”

We opened 9 months ago and i have never advertised…make some sandiwch or wrap platters if u have them or jsut some pizzas if you have to

Try truck night at the local fire hourse, doctors, lawyers, accountants anything…the best for of advwertising is free food!! good luck

Thanx everyone, and keep it coming. I am listening.
Pizzaguy, you are right. And, lol. I do 5,000 a week and have my 2.5 mile radius cut in 8 sections because its 40,000 just in my 5 block radius. That is why i am so dang frustrated, I have a HUGE market out here!
As for the referals, GREAT idea. My customers do do this all the time, it has been what has helped me survive, but I am sure they would do it more, or more would do it if they had a reason too!
I am going to be calling you tomorrow i think, if not then on Monday. Thanx for being so helpful. I know you gave me this advice before, and ugh, I get so bogged down in working in the business, I forget to work on it. Now im in big trouble, poop is hitting the fan. I am dissapointed in myself, I expected better in one way, and in another, now that I know what I know, I realize im really lucky I have even made it this far!
Ugh! I just want to see something happen. FAST, but the new menu’s are working, I am up in sales today (first day of new menu’s in mailboxes) And already have orders called in for tomorrow. That has never happened before. So anyway, I am crossing my fingers, but keeping focused on increasing business. No more pissing around. Its time to poop or get off the pot eh? If I dont do it now, there will be no later…

Pakula, you are right, and that is something I am working on. It is time to get out there. I have the personality to do this. Being in sales for along time (who would have guessed, sigh) But ugh, I am just to A type, I think it won’t be done right if I am not here, and I am afraid of paying to much in wages, but man, if i pay out 50 bucks in wages, but in that 2 hours bring in a grand in business…I am doing to much negative accounting. Not figuring in what I could be drumming up in sales. I am only counting the money going out, and not enough on the potential coming in…does that make sense? I am so tired…stressed…and what not, well, I dont need to tell you all. You are all so great, I look up to you all so much, I truly admire your nerves of steel! Most of the time I just read on here, never say anything cuz you are all so dang intimidating, but let me tell you, I have learned so much!!!

If you have a local Chamber of Commerce, it could be a goldmine waiting to happen. Connected to the right people and with good exposure, you could generate some cross-promotional marketing. Find a business who wants to go in a build a “package” of both product/services? G