need some help guys!!!

im about ready to call it quits :frowning: dont want to but cant keep beating a dead horse as many no we live in a rural south area have about 4000 person cust base to draw from 7 mile radius we moved back in to the little building i was in to start with its carry out only just not enough dine in business to stay in big building with the added overhead. im the only person doing fresh pizza i origanlly only had three c-stores doing frozen hunt brothers pizza but now im dealing with eight stores sellin frozen pizzas the newest one that opened sells 16" cheese for 9.00$ and a new restraunt re opened down the street and i trully under estimated them. there doing well but could be just that there new people say there food is only so so and they dont sell pizza . i have good cust. base have attracted many new cust. with mailings and radio tv ads but just to many slow days we are open from 3-8 3-9 on friday and sat. we just dont have a lunch crowd up here. there are 11 stores that sell food around us short order style thats just average food at best . we have good food service etc. but i trully feel that people want cheap food quality just doesnt matter. please take a look at my menu on my website we have never relly advertised the web site but its the best way for you guys to check it out the weekday specials have never been used its something we were just foolin with . i do not do delivery i bought a scion xb for that but never got it up and runnin to do that mostly due to my wifes lack of enthusiasm she has already checked out of the biz and her doom and gloom drags me down. :frowning: the 11 store number includes the ones sellin pizza. just dont know what direction to go :?: im stuck with what i call stinkin thinkin. i know you guys can tune me up and hopefully get me going in the right direction whatever that way is. what really got me down was on the radio today they said even though oil and fuel prices are down dont expect to see food drop any.

thanks in advance
rick whiting

Rick I am sorry to hear your story…The first tip I have for you is “Do not sacrifice a wife for a pizza business”…Any business involves the whole family and if your wife has “checked out” it is time for you to join her…I sacrificed a wife in the past and even through I am re-married and happy I still have regrets…And 2nd do not take it personal…It may be that despite your best efforts you can not turn your market your way…And 3rd you should always know what it will cost you to close your business and track that number daily…If you are digging your self into a big hole it would be best to cut your losses and tell your wife because you love so much it is time to move on…Good luck…

Hi Rick, I know how you feel, I truly do. PIZZA place #9 is about to move into my area, that is within a 2 block RADIUS! Of course I am in a city, not urban, but still this is ridiculous!
You asked to take a look at your website. I am going to make some notes about it, I hope you dont mind, but…sadly it is slow here, so I will give you some things that stand out to me. Then make a couple of suggestions.

  1. Opening page, you say coupons and specials coming soon. To me this implies that right now you are over charging me as a customer. Either have coupons or take that sentence down right away. I know you have a coupon on the coupon page, so either put a link to it from that sentence or dont mention it.
  2. Put everything you are passionate about in your about us page!! People love reading this page, believe me!
  3. Since you dont have any events in your calendar, either get rid of it, or change it to a daily specials page.
    I had a radio/tv guy in my store one day, he said the only thing worse than not advertising, is having a dead advertising space. People think either dont do anything worth noting, or are to lazy to type it up. If it doesnt exsist they dont know its missing…I think that made sense.
  4. Menu could use some work, a little hard to read. I would say put things in boxes. People like boxes, lol.
  5. You have a deal for 50% off second pizza State it LOUD AND PROUD at the top of the page. People RARELY read all the way to the bottom. Not only that, people are LAZY! Dont say buy 1 get the second 50% off, say
    1 Pizza 11.99
    2 Pizza Deal 17.99
    Looks better I think, if they have to start calculating they start feeling anxious, and will grab for the next flier, TRUST ME on this. I have been going through some menu changes.
    Here is what I found on test ones from customers
    If i said buy 1 get second 50% off
    1 pizza 10.50
    2 pizza deal 16.25

They ALWAYS say I would order the 2 pizza deal! AND IM CHARGING MORE!!! Gawd!
It is all about perception and ambition. They dont want to do math, they want to eat pizza. so make it easy for them!

Now that said, I will repeat the advice I have been getting. #1, are you pounding the pavement? Are you a member of your local chamber of commerce? Talking to people? handing out your card with a freebie or discount to EVERY single person you see?

I find when I am down in the dumps, like I have been the last few weeks I change something, gives me the excitement of starting again! Or…if you know it is over, and you just dont wanna do it anymore, then dont!
Move on, and find passion and excitement again.
I hope this helps some…

I live in a community with about 10,000 inside my delivery area. The locals are working people. Then we have visitors, tourists. They have money. Sounds idea? There no less than 20 (TWENTY!!) places that serve pizza here. Eight of them deliver including mine.

All I can say, is that if there are several places selling pizza, at least you don’t have to wonder whether there is enough business for pizza in the market.

Back to my favorite analogy: Its like a race with a bear. I don’t have to be faster than the bear… I just have to be faster than you.

I don’t know your business situation, but I can tell you that Royster is right… No way do you trade a pizza business for a wife. Good wives are a lot harder to find than good Pizza!

Give it all some thought. Bring in somebody from outside to look things over. Heck, go at least 50 miles away, find a good pizza store owner and pay him or her to spend a half day with you at you place looking things over and giving you feedback. I have done that for businesses. It is not cheap, but well worth it if you can find somebody that thinks clearly.

So true!

I experimented with this once. I ran two coupons on the same postcard: The one on the left was an XL pizza, bread and salad for $19.99. The one on the right was an XL pizza for $11.99, and they could add bread and salad for an additional $6.99. The total price on the second one would be $18.98 if they added the bread and salad.

The left coupon pulled better by 3 to 1. There should have been no reason for anybody to use the coupon on the left. The paid $1.01 more than if they would have used the one on the right.

People like it simple :slight_smile:

Sometimes. we have a large menu to try to Please all of our customers. However, in trying to do a large menu we end up spending too much on food and labor and selling pizzas that are less than perfect. One idea would be to streamline your menu, drop your pizza prices, and show those frozen pizza customers what a real pizza tastes like. Making your own dough, shredding your own cheese, and using a quality sauce puts your pizza head and shoulders above those gas station pizzas. I would consider getting your large cheese pizza down to the $9 or $10 range.(you should still be able to run 28-35 % food costs) Simplify your menu to the point where one man(you) can run the store on slow days. Two people on busier days, with a third person for peak rushes. Depending on your overhead, 4k-5k a week can become fairly profitable while being easy to run. Contrary to what some people say, price does sell pizza. Quality will bring them back. Down the road, you can always raise prices to increase margins if you feel the need to. Beat them on quality, beat them on price, sales will grow.

Price does sell pizza. It takes no special genius to give away the store. However, it is not neccessary to beat the competition on price to sell pizza. You can not be out of the ball park, but you do not have to be lower. there are lot more businesses out there that have not figured that out than there are that understand it though.

By the time you have an average coupon expense, you can not sell 16" pizza for $9 or $10 with acceptable food cost as an indi. Food cost is not limited to what an idealy made pie comes in at for recipe cost. You will run 2-4% higher cost than your ideal cost based on recipe because of mistakes, waste, discounts, employee food, theft, condiments, paper and supplies etc. Not many can survive with 35% food cost.

You certainly do not have to sell freshly made pizza at the same price as frozen pizza. Don’t be afraid to charge what you have to and tell your story.

Every market is different. In rural Tennessee, Hunt bros. pizza and hot stuff pizza being sold out of the gas stations is the norm. They sell them reasonably cheap and they sell a lot of them. This is a market with a median household income of 22k a year. If I was going to try to compete in this market I would not be selling a large cheese pizza for 13.95. You do not deliver, you are asking your customer to get in his truck and drive 6 or 7 miles(past 3 or 4 “gas station pizza shops”) to pick up your pizza. Some markets will support $14 pizzas. I wouldn’t consider this to be one of them. You absolutely can make money selling 9 or 10 dollar pizzas. There is nothing wrong with 35% food cost. Its all about whats left at the end of the month. I would rather have a simple menu with 35% food and 20% labor than a more complicated menu with 30% food and 30 % labor. The bottom line is to find a niche and fill it. Reasonably priced pizza served in 10 minutes? Pizza and mouth watering bbq? The only place in town delivering? Two for one pizza? Find a niche and fill it.

PP is right about one thing. Every market IS different. We have Hot Stuff gas station pizza here too but they are insignificant players in our market.

Macdonalds sells $2 hamburgers all day long but the places with good burgers don’t match their prices. I don’t sell frozen pizza or national franchise pizza and I am not interested in matching their prices.

If I ran 35% food cost I would be in big trouble. My cost used to be 28.5% and has risen to 29.9% over the last year with the increases in cheese and flour. That cost includes all paper and supplies. Labor is about 31% but I don’t work there. If I stepped in and replaced my manager and worked in the kitchen, labor would be 23%. Rent here runs about $29 per square foot (includes common area expenses, tax and property insurance)

Pizza Cooks: $10-$12 per hour
Key Holder: $14-$16 per hour
Manager 50K

I have never tried to run a business where the median household income is 22K. My pizza makers earn that. I would not even try to open in a market like that. At least the rent must be low.

I stand by my position. If you are making fresh pies you do not have to match frozen pizza prices… but you do have tell the story and reach out to customers.

thanks so much guys my wife and i spent the morning going over our menu we streamlined it got rid of some stuff thats not good movers . now my wife and i talked and she just hates the restraunt biz nothing is going to change that plus she has her own biz under construction and shes jazzed about that but she will help out because she knows i dont want to close.we will give it 3 months and then make a decision unless it just completly fails. before that . i lowered my price on my pizzas to 9.99 on my 12 inch pep or cheese 11.99 on my meatlovers and supremes and other specialty pies my16 inch is now 11.99 pep or cheese and 13.99 on others do you think these numbers will work i will be higher than other guys but not much and will no longer offer the get 2nd pie 1/2 off. but will be focusing on bundling products for value deals. and advertising the heck out of the stuff they cant offer like fresh breadsticks calzones cheesybread oven cooked hoagies etc.we also streamlined our bbq side also lowered some stuff raised others . how do you deal with cust. that still expect the old deals and items you dont have anymore.and what do you guys think about the delivery ? no one brought that into the picture.

the big picture on our shop in a nutshell :smiley:
building and land paid for.
electric $500.00 per month no gas.
insurance 110.00 per month
phones $ 65.00 per month
1 worker 256.00 per week shes totally happy
my son working apprx 125.00 per week

i understand lot of people would not mess with this market on purpouse but this is our home. :smiley: we just have to try to make it work


Take a breath a minute… that is what I suggest.

First off you are making a whole bunch of decisions just on the whim.

Give us a minute to go over the stuff before you run to the menu press.

I will post more just wanted to tell ya to hang on a minute!


I wouldn’t lower your prices. First off, where did you get these new numbers (prices) I don’t think your prices are high. And quite frankly as the other posters posted price is not everything.

How is your food cost. I mean really…are you free throwing toppings?

Your menu is quite big, so is ours but our menu is all derived from products we will carry for other stuff.

Have you checked your vendor prices lately? Are you getting good prices there?

What kind of marketing are you doing?

Instead of lowering your prices why not run a couple of specials bundling and see how it goes?

I would take a microscope to your menu and see what food cost items are out of whack and get rid of them. You can sell 12.00 pizzas all day long but if they are costing you 6 bucks to make them it won’t matter how many you sell…

I would take a good hard look at your menu, portion sizes, marketing.

Just my thoughts…I know you are in panic mode right now but you have to make great decisions right now.


im hangin on not runnin to the presses yet just putin these numbers up for heading to the shop now will post some of my supply prices this evening for you guys to look at i am very grateful for all the help.

14 oz dough balls .81
20 oz dough balls 1.21
cheese 2.33
pizzaiolo sauce 4.63 can
25# pepperoni 69.90
12 inch box .31
16 inch box .43
5# fresh mushrooms 10.45
bell peppers 5# 4.40
beef topping 10# 24.40
sausage topping 10#22.40
wings 10# 33.10

14 oz dough balls .81
20 oz dough balls 1.21

You can cut this dough price by 75% by making your own dough and it will be better too. Even after paying labor to make it your cost will be cut by 50%. If the labor happens when people are sitting around anyway it is free. A medium size machine will do 40lb batches. You can develop a dough recipe that will keep in the walk-in for 2 days easy, three days in a pinch.

cheese 2.33

This cheese price is on the high side this week but not out of sight.

pizzaiolo sauce 4.63 can

You can get good tomato product for $5 per case less than this and make your own sauce.

25# pepperoni 69.90

Might be a dollar or two a case here but not big$.

12 inch box .31
16 inch box .43

Boxes are tough. I am paying about a nickle less on 16" but I buy a ton of them.

5# fresh mushrooms 10.45

I thought that looked like a good price until I saw it was for 5#. I pay $11 for 10 lbs.

It looks to me like it might be possible to save as much as 90 cents to $1 per pizza and improve the product at the same time.

Boy do I know about paying for pre-processed because you can’t afford the equipment to do your own. I am suspecting that is part of your dilemma.

You can cut your cost of goods with some prudent buying and enough cooler space. I use Stanislaus products for an average of 4.35 a can . . . and add water to it plus seasonings, and get a lower cost per oz of prepared than you will have with the fully prepared. I pay about $.018 per fluid ounce for sauce. You are probably at about $.0386 for the fully prepared. I’m not getting a great deal, but it is about half as much per ounce, and about 20 cents savings per 16" pizza.

If you have a fryer, you can save huge money on wings. $1.21/lb here at my place, plus oil to fry them. that is for fresh never frozen 6-9 count wings. Going to 8-12’s would bump the COGS per serving down handsomely. Only useful if you have the fryer installed, though. Not worth it to get one since the ROI is wayyyyyy out there. Mushrooms do seem high to me; we get the 10# for your price as well. That isn’t going to save your bacon getting the #10 pound box for same price.

Off my head, I’d suggest looking at your menu and ingredients to try to develop some new food items with what you already keep on hand. Generate some interest, and try to upsell into these new items. Calzones, pies, stromboli, pepperoni rolls, garlic knots, BBQ wraps, dessert pizzas/hand pies, anything that can be an add-on with low food and/or labor costs.

Assuming a 40 lb batch of dough (25 lbs of flour) you will save $20-$25 per batch compared to buying dough balls…

The machine will pay for itself very quickly. The same machine will grind or shredd cheese for you which will also save you about 5-10 cents per pound on cheese by buying block instead of the shredded or diced I imagine you are currently buying.