New Shop Opening: I want a slow start, but not too slow...?

I am going to open my first shop in about 4-6 weeks. I am getting some really nice menus and door hangers printed.

For the first couple of weeks I would like to only get about 10-20 orders a day. How many menus should I mail/door hangers to hang to get this type of an initial response? I want to make sure we have our product down pat and have time to fine tune everything so our customers get the best pizza EVERY TIME, so I am avoiding a massive ad campaign. Problem is, I also don’t want to be so conservative that we are all standing around doing nothing.

My town is small (pop 10,000 in 5500 households). Would mailing about 1000 menus do the trick or is that not enough or too many?

Thanks to all of you for all the advice you have given, and for all your great suggestions. They are appreciated.

Mike Coleman

Re: New Shop Opening: I want a slow start, but not too slow.

I’ve never DONE it, but my plan has always been to visit businesses from 9-11am, drop off menus and offer a free pizza. Take the order then if they want to give it to you, or they can call in. If you take the orders then, you can stagger them some (so everyone doesn’t want it at noon and not enough drivers to serve them properly). A banner outside saying “Now Open” and your phone number should be enough to generate a few orders. Make sure that the free pizzas go out with extra menus/coupons so everyone in the office will have one :).

If your lunch pizza was remotely decent, you should get an order that night. Let’s face it, when you try a new restaurant when you’re not with your wife, how long does it take you to return with your wife if the food was really good? I tend to share that experience with my wife quickly, sometimes the same day. When it’s pizza and kids… turn-around should be quick.

Also, be sure to cover the front windows with craft paper (brown paper) and have some sort of teaser painted on the windows (tastefully) – Coming Soon - Mike’s Super Magic Pizza. The fact that people can’t see in bugs the crap out of them… curiousity and all. I saw a Wal-Mart that had paper up prior to their opening and people would stop by to try to look in… a WAL-MART for heaven’s sake… never seen one? :slight_smile:

Re: New Shop Opening: I want a slow start, but not too slow.

How about this? Don’t announce you’re opening, no signs in the windows yet or anything. Do the business solicitation and only make those orders. Nothing else. That way, you have a dry-run that’s making you money.

Or, don’t post hours, just be there for those that wander in off the street as if by accident (People will come, Mike, people will come…) and if it gets to be too busy, close down. (probably not a good idea. 8)

Seriously, you can’t control the response. If you send out flyers, people will respond. If you DON’T send flyers, and your location is prominent in any way, people will wander in. A dry-run with the intent of making money really isn’t a great idea, unless you have well-trained staff and tried-and-true recipes. You just may have to “eat” a night’s sales, invite family and friends IN SHIFTS and get that experience, see what the pitfalls may be, and THEN open.

my thoughts…

Re: New Shop Opening: I want a slow start, but not too slow.

I attempted this… did’nt work.
Somehow work got around in just a matter of hours before people start pouring in. It was freaking chaos!

All I can say is, train train and tripple train your staff before you open.

Re: New Shop Opening: I want a slow start, but not too slow.

I really hope they do eventually come, my wife keeps reminding me about the cash I have wrapped up in this thing, and it’s starting to wear on me.

We’re going to have a couple of “dry runs” prior to opening, one involving donating a few dozen test pizzas to the local church for one of their socials, and a few others delivering free pizza to all the people we know in town, like the pharmacist, local newspaper, car dealer, etc. Figure giving out free product is one way to show them it really is the best pizza in town.

Snowman: your idea is great. Good way to spend the pre-lunch rush while waiting for the phone to ring.

Re: New Shop Opening: I want a slow start, but not too slow.

You might try “invitation only.” Come up with a cute letter and invite maybe 100 customers per day for a week or so. Make it a real invitation. Include a fantastic offer. Remember that not all 100 people will come! Never done it, but it might work.

Re: New Shop Opening: I want a slow start, but not too slow.

If you have the cash…why not have a party (free) for everyone and their families who helped you get the doors opened…lawyers, accountants, bankers, construction guys etc…this could be a very low cost way to get things rolling…You’ll be saying thank you, and they will be eating your great food and will pass the word around!!