hey guys- hoping someone can help or maybe I just need to vent. Sales have been slumping horribly- down about 20% from last year. Employees are good, food is good prces are good, wahts the problem?? I have been through alot this year, had 3 breakins, some personal medical problems, a tree went through my house. Got through all of that and now wondering if I have to file bankruptcy? I may just be very burnt out, but I just don’t feel very much fight left in me. After working 75-100 hrs a week, most of the time I get my breath back but lately just feel like crawling in corner and dying. I feel like my business is dying. Where would I go? these questions are haunting me 24/7 and I know my mind is gone, I just don’t know how to get it back. In my heart I know this business could easily triple what it is doing now. How to get it there though? I would be happy if my sales were even the same as they used to be. Some of the problems I am considering- location. I moved into this building 2 years ago, it has not done much for me. I am on a very busy road, it just seems like noone wants to turn off the road. I am in a strip mall and am the only tennant. Buliding looks completely dead all the time. Comments I hear- Do you guys ever get busy- I never knew you were even here. I have got banners, flags, lights all over by the road in front. Still noone sees. Another problem- area MI. I know you can still do good when the economy is down, I was for quite awhile. They are building all of these new stores and retaurants about 10 miles from me. We now have all these huge restaurants out by the mall and they are packed. No chance of me going there, franchise already one there. Local businesses are going under but we have these great big shiny new ones. The only other problem I can think of is me- am I not doing enough? We doorhang about 400 a week. I hand out menus and catering ads to about 100 businesses a week. This week i am going to have an insert in the local chronicle that will go to about 8000 homes. Im hoping you guys will be my prayer and tell me something that clicks. If I ever needed an AHA moment. The restaurant has been open for 8 years. I have had it 3. Competitors are PH LC and 5 local. One of the newest seems to be hurting the most, my pizzas and everything is seriously better and way better priced. He has my old location though. I am down about 15,000 right now. Any thoughts, help and prayers would be very appreciated.

Without knowing everything going on, I cannot offer much advice. But I wanted you to know that I feel for you and will keep you in my thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime.

From the information given it sure sounds like your problem is location. So the guy in your old location is kicking your backside, Why did you move? There is generally a reason for a strip center to be empty, was the center empty when you moved in?


It sounds like a location problem. An empty shopping center is no good. How many years are left on your lease. Could it be that the landlord is selling the place totally empty? ALso, we’re hearing alot of people having problems in michigan.

Adjust your labor. Send people home early. Do what you have to do to survive.

First of all take a deep breath. Our minds can truly control our lives…for the good or the bad. So pick one…Good … or bad?

Mentally get it together even if you have to pretend. Your customers…your employees feel it when we are mentally down. You must always and I mean always stay positive and hopeful. Employees perform better. Customers don’t feel like something is wrong with your place.

We have been slow at one of our locations…it lasted a season…when customers say stuff like that we say yeah you came right at the right time…the rush just ended or the rush is coming.

Employees need to be busy when people come in not sitting around guaking at customers.

Okay all that is great but not going to help.


What do you have that the others don’t? Why your place and not the others? Ask yourself that. It can’t be great food, great ingredients, great prices. Everyone else does that. Something unique to just your place?

When you figure that out…advertise it.

So you got 8000 flyers going out…be prepared beyond belief. You have to make sure every single order is perfect. Have menus and magnets available. Make sure every single box is topped with a coupon. Every single order is checked and double checked. One mistake is not okay. Have a small pep meeting with your employees about 100% satisfaction.

Do you have dine in?
You need to create a buzz, traffic coming IN. Getting them in sounds like the problem. If your food is good they will come back.
Sooooo how do you get them in?

Crazy deals…a customer appreication day let’s say monday or tuesday. A large pizza for 6 bucks. Some may say it devalues your product…maybe but at least you will be selling your product. We started doing it on Thursdays…oddly our slowest day of the week. We advertised it a little by box topping and putting it on our sign…We would sell about 200 pies. Then we would upsell appetizers, soda etc. We started doing 2500 on Thursdays. Our business picked up on other days cuz people tried us. We gave out menus, coupons, magnets.

Birthday program, coloring contests. Have kids color a picture and put their name address and b day on it. Everyone wins (they don’t know that)
Assign an employee to take care of it for you. Make a winning certificate for a free kids pizza dine in only on your computer get 100 printed. Make a b-day card on your computer (4 to a page postcard) and get a roll of stamps. Send the picture back with a magnet and a menu. Then write their b day on a “calender” book and send them a b-day card.
Also a week or two before their b day send them a postcard advertising a bday party special.

Put a fishbowl at your front counter and do this with business cards

Go to your local schools and see it they do a scrip program. Do it.

Contact the biggest church in your town (in person) drop off a flyer on ways they can raise funds…for the church, youth, vbs etc. Give them some options. Like a night (when they have some kind of service) each month and anyone who orders and mentions them you will donate 10% back to the church. That is only 2.00 for every 20 spent.

See what kind of activities your community is having…donate certificates. Always a tiny pizza for dine in only.

We give those certificates out like crazy. What do I care really…we are standing there doing nothing so we may as well be making pizzas. Every single one that is redeemed has at least 2 sodas and another pizza. Usually though is ends up being a 30.oo ticket.

I have lots more but I am sure others do too…

And finally and most importantly…you are a fighter…you have had a tremendous year…dust yourself off…stand up and fight.


Kayhill is there anyway you can stagger the 8,000 flyers so they do not go out all at once…My experience was that a 5 week rotation seem to work best…In my pizzeria days I divided our town into 5 zones and did 1 zone each week and went around and around for years…Doing too much all at once may cause so much biz at times you can not handle it and customers can slow service and so little biz at other times you have staff sitting around doing nothing…Do some testing of 4, 5, 6 zones etc. and find what work best and then stick to that…If you are door hanging, consider a marketing piece that sticks around longer…A magnet if your budget is small and perhaps a magnetic memo board if you can afford a little more…It is unfortunate that when sales are down you need to spend more money (that most do not have) on marketing efforts…

Do you have a college in your area?..Do you have fountain pop?..If so you can hand out stadium cups at the dorms that can be filled with soda when the students bring them in and buy a pickup pizza…You need to make sure you have somewhere to rinse out the cups so they are not to dirty when you refill them…An you might have to keep extra lids on hand…If you want to make things easier you can specify a certain size and kind of pizza…So you can have some ready to put in the oven…Good luck…

key when you said your business is down 20% is it your sit down business or delivery take out ? knowing that can help us figure if it is your location also the new pizza place could have effected your sales to go south and over all this year business in general less then last year it is like that everywhere
ok your location you are in a strip center how far is it from the road ?

Here’s a couple “quick fix” ideas. I was actually very recently in the same boat as you are now: sales falling with no apparent reason…

  1. Have you and all your employees park in front of the store (even drivers), creating a “busy” look at your restaurant.
  2. When everything seems to be blowing up in your face the first tendency is to try to conserve as much cash as possible because the bills are coming and there’s no end in sight… and that’s what most people will typically do (it’s a defense mechanism). However, that’s exactly the opposite reaction of what you should be doing. You should develop your marketing plan to be cheap, simple, but effective in reaching as many homes as possible. Just remember the times when you were doing well and all the advertising you were pouring out there. Sales just kept getting higher and higher. Well, it’s the same thing here. Keep putting it out there, slowly and cheaply at first, then increasing in budget, volume, and frequency after you start to take off.
  3. Take a day off. Although sales are dropping and it’s not really that busy in the store, you’re still there. You’re not giving yourself time to get away from the day-to-day operations and by doing so, you’re forcing yourself to suffer even more because now you don’t have a clear head and the whole situation is bogging you down. Take a day off and come up with a marketing scheme to get you rolling.

On a side note:

The only thing a location is truly going to effect is the dine in and carryout business. If the bulk of your business is delivery then the problem is lack of print material being exposed to the public. If the bulk of your business IS dine in and carryout, then the best solution would be to come up with an aggressive offer and print it onto a banner to be:

A) Hung on the pole sign in front of your building
B) Hung on your building if there is no pole sign
C) “Banner-shook” (definition: to frame a banner with PVC pipe and to bring it out onto the road by a team member with the purpose of “shaking” it in front of cars to attract attention to the ad printed on the banner).

Hope some of this helps.


Are you positive your product and service are as good as you think they are?

Find out for sure from an objective source; use mystery shoppers.

Call your customers after they order to make sure they were 100% satisfied with every aspect of their experience.

Little Ceasars had the same problem nationwide…

the $5.00 hot and ready fixed their problems…it may not be right for you depending on your oven capacity etc…

Do you deliver…if so how many households are in your delivery area?

WHat does your flyer look like? Is is nice stiff Glossy four color menu…??

Life sometimes sounds the bass drum…sometimes the piccalo…sounds like this is your bass drum year…but its life’s contrasts that make it vibrant…(maybe too vibrant right now) IF your working 75 hours -100 hours a week…YOu can make more money doing other things if you have too.

Please give us more info…

Big Sal

Something very strange happened after i printed that post… Sales in the last 2 days have been double of what they have been for the lasy few weeks. We actually had a regular lunch crowd in here today, something we haven’t had that strong in at least a month of what used to be our regular. The biggest problem with my location is I had to move. Found out 2 months after buying the place. I didnt want to but we were leasing from a gas station and they wanted to put their own “to go” shop in their with sandwiches and what not so they gave me 60 days notice. Yes, always get it in writing on the lease, now I know. The building would be great, had other tennants but they are gone now, just me and our building looks sooo dead. Have been parking our cars out front, it does help a little. Mostly it is just our lunch, our whole lunch gone. Very little sit down, 0-2 deliveries and few p/u. Usually did at least 300 for lunch everyday close to 500 some, now down to 150-200. A huge part of that used to be deliveries to big corporations, I’ve asked if we’ve offended them somehow they just say theyre cutting down and no corporate paid lunches anymore. Anyways, I am claiming the last couple of days luck as just having some extra prayers my way from you guys, thanks for letting me vent, am printing off and following all of your ideas will keep you updated and looking forward to hopefully an extremely busy weekend! Hope all yours are too!
Thanks- Kay


If the other shops are empty have you thought of approaching the landloard and getting permission to do pizza graphics on their shop fronts / windows.

If you can do it try and get “street artists” looking for an outlet to do it by just supplying the paint and a few pizzas and drinks. Get it bright and “topical”. It will brighten up the area around you and you may even be able to get it in the local papers. I’ve senn some brilliant “street art” (aka graffiti art) done here and it has become a tourist attraction.

Good way to get your store noticed in a quiet location.

Worth a try.