Lunch Special run amok

Hi guys, I have been reading posts here for a couple months now. I’m not an owner yet, I’m a manager. Here’s my dilemma though. I recently talked the owner into ditching our lunch specials on nights and weekends and I’m getting concerns from my long time employees that we’ll scare customers away with this move. The lunch specials are one slice cut off a 24" pizza a side salad and a fountain drink for 5.94 add a dollar after 4PM and a two slice special that’s the same way add a dollar after 4 PM. Does anybody think taking the special away after lunch hours will hurt business? The owner has already stated that we sell it at a loss. I feel that people who come in to dine in will be more apt to buy higher tickets if the special is not available. Thoughts?

You will likely lose customers if you ditch it. Most of these customers are most likely “bottom feeders”.

I’m rereading your post and your saying these are “lunch” specials. In my store the lunch specials are ended at 3pm. No questions asked.

What works for me is " I have lunch specials , and dinner specials. This way I can cater to “these” customers who are price concerned. I would get food cost under control and price it so you can profit instead of selling at a loss.

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Selling any kind of a regular special at a loss is going DOWN a on-way street.
I’m a big advocate of bundling for my “specials” while keeping my pizza prices in the profit range. A good lunch special would be pizza at your regular price but toss in a free order of bread sticks (customer cost: $2.50, your cost: $0.25, saving to the customer is $2.25) your margin on the pizza should easily cover your cost of the bread sticks, it’s a win, win situation.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Your boss decided to compete in “The race to the bottom”

Run the numbers, see what percentage of your customers are the bottom-feeders and how much the revenue will be hurt without them.
If I was in this situation, First I would consider raising those prices so they are not in the loss column, and then once you can make money on them, decide to dump them or not.

I don’t do slices myself, it’s like serving leftovers in my opinion but if I was to ever do it, it’d be just for a lunch special or late night. Sling whole pies in the PM hours. Not sure why anyone would offer a special where they’d lose money, especially on an everyday basis. Maybe take what you learn from him as a business owner with a grain of salt ;). You cannot try to compete with the chains in the value category of pizza. They have much lower costs due to their volumes. Be the quality mom and pop friendly neighborhood joint with good quality toppings and top notch service. It’s a lot more fun to boot.

Not knowing your COGS, but I find it hard to believe that you are selling this special at a loss. If I take our 14" pizza and extrapolate it to a 24" (which is 3x the surface area). 1/8 of a 24" pizza slice with pepperoni would cost appx $1.22. We don’t sell fountain, so lets take a 20oz Coke $0.86. Plus a side salad (that we load with cheese) $0.95. Total cost: $3.03. FAR from losing money on that special.
Are your lunch specials meant to cater to business customers (non-retail) who are on their lunch break? In this case I would agree with you that they should just be Mon-Fri. I would also recommend it should end around 2-3pm. Maybe create a different offer for dinner. Not knowing your business model, but do you want to be selling a lot of slices at dinner time? Wouldn’t it be better to sell full pizzas?


We are in an out of the way location for slice business. (Great for delivery though) We promote lunch business to get the numbers up a bit.

I agree with Dan, it is hard to see your special as a money loser. We do two slices (out of 8 from a 16" pie) with a 20 oz soda for $6.00 regularly during lunch and promote it for $5.00 at times. That means I am giving away the soda and getting either $16 or $20 for a 16" pie that I do not have to provide a box with or deliver. Works just fine for me.

When I bought my pizza shop, the previous owner had a Monday special of a Large 14" 3 topping pizza for 9.99. Our cost for that is about $4, and the menu price is $15.49. I stopped this special right away. It seemed like they were only bringing in 3-5 extra customers, but they were needing to discount everyone’s large 3 topping pizza. The reason why I say I think it was only bringing in a few customers is because as soon as I stopped the special, the end of the day sales were roughly the same, if not a few bucks more because we stopped discounting the orders that were going to be placed with or without the special, and our amount of orders didn’t change enough to notice. What did stop, was the pain in the butt customers that are only looking for the lowest price pizza they can find.

Ding Ding Ding Ding!!! we have a winner!

We do very few discounts, “Local Merchant Discount” “2nd amedment discount” (we see someone carrying, they get 10%) and military discounts is a good one for us, and of course a 2nd sandwich half off coupon to support the high school football team.

I recently came to find out the owner has decided against taking the special off after 4PM and weekends. While it makes my job harder, (making higher sales numbers) I understand that he’s the owner and will be the ultimate decision maker. Thanks for all the feedback. I love reading these posts and maybe one day I’ll be posting about my own shop. (fingers crossed)