Pizza Olympics (or maybe a better name)

As many of you know, we’re new to the pizza industry and recently bought our first shop under unique circumstances. Because of this, we have a very green staff, many who have never worked in any type of restaurant, I was looking more for trustworthy people above anything else. Now that they are starting to get a feel for the shop, I need to start working on speed to really WOW our customers with great food and speedy service.

Tonight, I was riding one of my new guys who is particularly slow and methodical, but tends to add 5-10 minutes to a pie. I took a break between dinner and after bar rushes (and spent most of that on TT) and came up with an idea that would make a competition for my employees, rather than something I was riding their butts about. So, on my way back tonight, I grabbed my wife’s kitchen timer and started a competition between myself, the new employee and one I carried over from previous ownership. We competed to see who could make the fastest single topping pepperoni pizza, with the carryover employee winning at 1 minute and 10 seconds.

Now, I think we shaved off about 2 minutes of his build time just by presenting this challenge and I want to implement this competition for everyone. I’m thinking I’ll time single topping pepperoni pizzas and our supreme pizzas, closing speed AKA how fast you can clock out :smiley: and have a running competition for February. Is there anything else we could include in this competition? I’m thinking I’ll talk to some local businesses and trade some food for prizes.

Any more ideas for expanding this? It was amazing what happened when I made a competition out of it. I wish we had a POS system so I could include upselling, average ticket, etc.

I had a problem with the staff taking forever to fold boxes. Since I have been doing it for nearly 20 years I timed myself folding a bundle of 50 boxes. Anyone that beats my speed record gets supper on me at the DQ across the parking lot. This has cut the folding time in half.

Although I want my pizza makers to show me they can make a 16" pep from doughball to finish in under 1 minute, I certainly don’t want to time each and every pie. As important as I view speed in every aspect of my business, I do not want pizzas being thrown together sloppily just to try to beat the latest record. I would reccomend setting a time on one day every week or month and having your “olympics” then. Each person participating gets two pizzas to make and fastest gets a prize as well as most improved. Other ideas: box folding as Daddio already said, Cut and ball a batch of dough, how fast to roll a tray of garlic knots, what % of orders to sell 2 liters to ect. Worried about what to do with all that extra dough and garlic knots? Just give a free order of knots with every order you have that night. That’ll move a bit of dough.

Nice. I’m new at this, so my carry-over employees can smoke me at pretty much any of this, but they’ll enjoy beating me out. A timed run at 25 or maybe “how many boxes can you fold in X amount of time” is a good addition. Thanks!

What else?

Paul: I was thinking that I would have them call me when they’re ready for their “official time trial”, that way they’re using normal prep time to practice on their speed. Tonight we were watching to be sure it was a correct pizza, I was DQ’ed by the staff on one of my pizzas for poor spread on my cheese that would have left a “bald spot”. Kind of a thrill for me to get called out on quality over speed.

Thanks for the input!

Nice. I’m new at this, so my carry-over employees can smoke me at pretty much any of this

Take a vacation to Florida and stop by and we can have you kicking their a$$ in no time!!!

Got a free “companion flight” from T-Mobile for the wife and I to get away for a couple days. Wouldn’t mind spending some time in a high volume shop some time. 8)

I’d agree with the general train of thought here, incentivizing performance is a far better motivator than punishing slowness, and actually much more efficient in the long run. Morale matters, and employees that like you will work harder for you even when you’re not there to look over their shoulders. Just be sure not to create a perverse incentive by rewarding “improvement”, better to come up with an optimum time frame and some sort of bonus pool or other reward for staying within the frame.

One training seminar I attended, the trainer said that for a while he motivated his crew to get faster with an apron. He had an apron made that said something like “I am the fastest pizza maker in this kitchen, if you think your better try me”. I don’t recall the exact wording but you get the idea. Anybody could challenge for the right to wear the apron. Whoever was the fastest got to wear the apron every day until they were defeated. The manager was responsible for having the apron clean.
The cost was only an apron and some embroidery work.


I have kicked around ideas with my staff (small staff) of having just this exact sort of thing. I want to have a pentathalon sort of thing that has 5 different events that are timed. Things like stretching three 12" doughs, folding boxes, bulding a 16" pepperoni pizza, and others. This would set a couple of things . . . fun competition, “world records” to be overcome for prizes, my standard times that can be overcome for rewards/prizes, etc. Customers could even try their hand once a qurter or so to challenge a stff member to an “event”, like box folding, for a chance to win free food and acclaim.

Another idea that spawned out of this is having a sort of “certification” program. I want to set up maybe three titles in the kitchen that all require accomplishing certain benchmarks, and meeting them over a period of time in spot checks. This would include the line cooks up to the pizza guy. The top title would have accomplished and be skilled in all work stations in the kitchen. They would get the title and something to wear that has it on there. PLUS a plaque hung somewhere with little engraved plates showing the names and dates of those who achieved the title. The title priviledges would be suspendable for atrocious performance and such . . . but gives the new guys somethin to aspire to and some cache for the senior guys.

Ideas . . . ideas . . .

Dang this sounds fun! Wish I had me some employees! :smiley:

Hope you guys know that I’m printing off all this stuff and keeping me a “big book of stuff” for the day I get opened up!
Thanks for all your sharings!

Not to hijack the thread, but I’ve always wondered why pizza places prefold their boxes? Seems like a waste to fold boxes, unfold them, put the pizza in the box and then fold them again. Unless I’m missing something here.

When you are pulling a pizza out of the oven avery 30 to 45 seconds you have no time to fold boxes. When it is slow then you could take the time but why have one way of doing thing s when it is busy and a different way when it is slow?

What I’m asking is… You pre-fold all of your boxes and store them somewhere correct? Then unfold them, put a pizza in, cut and fold them again?

Not to hijack the thread, but I’ve always wondered why pizza places prefold their boxes? Seems like a waste to fold boxes, unfold them, put the pizza in the box and then fold them again. Unless I’m missing something here.

I don’t know about the others, but I do not unfold the boxes to put the pizza in. I put the pizza in the folded box and cut with a wheel knife. For those that use a rocker knife, I believe that they generally cut on a board then slide the cut pizza into a folded box.

There is a shelf beside the cut table where the folded boxes are stacked. The way we do it is cut the pizza on a cutting board, open the box, put the pizza in the box, close the box, label the box, and sent out the pizza.

A nice twist on this concept would be to have customers compete in the “Pizza Olympics.” For instance… for one week from 2:00 pm to 4:30 invite customers to compete in your Olympic competition. Your employees giving short training, then time them making a one topping pizza. Let them watch it cook and then take it home. Best time of the week gets a prize and picture article in newspaper article. Most small town papers would gladly give space to a fun event like this if you purchase a small ad also.

To me benefits would be innumerable for moderate expense IE: I learn best when I’m teaching, pride through showing what it take to turn out the perfect pizza, bonding with customers for a unique experience, best of all… how many people do you think they will tell about their pizza experience?

The possibilities for implementation are endless and costs minimal.

Ah ok… Thats what I was asking. I’m wondering why take the extra steps and just keep them unfolded by hanging them on the wall. Thanks for clarifying tho. To each their own I guess.

I love your idea. I will check what my health inspector has to say about the situation. I think if you hold the customers to the same standards as staff why not?

The restaurant business is one of long spells of quiet punctuated by short periods of all hell breaking loose. :slight_smile:

So anything you can do during the quiet times will make the busy times much easier. Shaving seconds off here and there will add up to significant time savings when you need it.