Please help!

Hi,
We have been in business for a little over a year now and the sales are barely keeping us open. The only competition in town is Little Ceasers, Pizza Hut and Domino’s. We started out strong, then the sales slowed, now we are barely keeping our head above water. We have done door hangers, we do monthly mailing advertisements and hold inhouse specials weekly. Our repeat customers say we have the best pizza they have ever tasted, but for some reason new business is just not there! Anyone have any suggestions? I am about to throw in the towel as I am struggling with the costs! Thanks for any help!

Tell us something about the business. In what city or kind of city is it located? How many people in service area? What is your monthly sales range (don’t need to be exact - $10K weekly, $4K weekly, $50K weekly)). What’s your location like? Did anything happen before sales started falling that could explain the fall?

How did you do the door hangers? How often did you hit same houses? What are the monthly mailing advertisements you use? How much is your large pepperoni pie (what size is it in inches)?

What is your food cost%? Labor cost%? Total fixed cost%? Type of business - delco/dine in?

Information on any of these things will help us know what to suggest. Help us understand more about what your business is an dwas, and what you have already tried, and how you tried it.

We are located in central Missouri in a town of about 30,000. We do monthly advertising in the form of direct mail flyers, every household in the local area receives our advertising one time a month in the mail along with other advertisements. Unfortunately, since our sales are down, we do not have the manpower to do doorhangings at the moment. Our large 16" cheese pizza is $12.00. We also offer appetizers, salads, sandwiches, desserts, beer and wine

How are you judging the reponse to the direct mail? I would think it is not working for you. Find a way to do the door hangers.

We have probably all seen this but it does have a ring of truth to it.

Once there was a street vendor who sold hot dogs-- the best hot dogs in town. Because he was hard of hearing, he didn’t have a radio; because he had trouble with his eyes, he didn’t read a newspaper or watch much television. But he sold delicious hot dogs. He started with a few signs on the highway advertising them; every day he was at his favorite corner crying, " Buy a hot dog, mister?" Soon the word was out about his great hot dogs. He increased his meat and bun orders. He brought a bigger stove to take care of his trade.

One day his son was home from college and decided to help out.

“Dad, haven’t you been listening to the radio? Haven’t you been reading in the newspapers? These are tough times. There’s a recession on. The stock market is collapsing. The dollar is falling. Nobody’s buying hot dogs anymore.”

“Gee,” the father thought, “my son’s been to college, he reads the papers and listens to the radio, so he ought to know.”

So the hot dog vendor cut back his meat and bun orders, took down his few highway signs, and no longer went out with his hot dog cart. His sales fell overnight.

“You’re right, son,” the hot dog vendor said. “I had no idea times were so hard. We certainly are in the middle of a big recession.”

So go and advertise.

Hey daddio, you hit it my friend!

You do have a point! The mailings do well for about a week then the sales drop until the next mailings go out. It is just hard to find/afford the manpower to do the doorhangers. If I had a list of people that would be willing to volunteer! Well - a new idea - we do have a college in town and if a “group” wanted to do a little advertising I could provide a free meal.

What are your current sales?
whats your prime cost?
Rent?

How confident are you that you serve the best pizza in town and that once they try your pizza they will remain loyal customers? If you really believe this then your solution for lack of new customers is to comp a pizza to each and every household in your area. I am in the midst of mailing a free pizza certificate to each house in my delivery area and am $80K up on YTD sales from last year. Also, find time to get doorhangers out. With the right coupons, they can be the most effective advertising out there.

Paul:

Can you post your free pizza certificate. I think that is an awesome idea. Are you including a menu or anything else with the certificate?

Okay are you following the Basics.

  1. LIT CARTOP SIGNS??? 750,000 IMPRESSIONS A MONTH CAN’T GO WRONG HERE.

  2. BOXTOPPING??? ARE YOU GIVING YOUR CUSTOMERS, OR THERE FRIENDS A BE-BACK OPPORTUNITY?

  3. DOOR-HANGING??? I AM KINDA FAT AND SLOW BUT I CAN STILL DOORHANG ABOUT 50 HOMES AN HOUR. IF YOU HAVE SOMEONE RELIABLE TO RUN THE STORE AFTER LUNCH RUSH, GO OUT BY YOURSELF, OR WITH AN EMPLOYEE FOR 2 HOURS BETWEEN 2 PM & 4 PM, YOU SHOULD EASILY BE ABLE TO HANG 100 TO 200 DOOR HANGERS A DAY, 5 DAYS A WEEK THATS 500 TO 1000. THIS ALONE WILL PROBABLY RAISE SALES $1000 A WEEK, IF YOUR CONSISTENT.

  4. PRODUCT CONSISTENCY??? HOW DO YOU GAUGE YOUR CONSISTENCY?

HOW BIG IS YOUR DELIVERY AREA?

MY GUESS IS IF YOU HAVE 30,000 POPULATION IN CENTRAL MISSOURI THAT IS A HUGE DELIVERY AREA, PROBABLY 10,000 HOMES. TRY SHRINKING YOUR FOCUS. INSTEAD OF MAILING EVERYONE A MENU EACH MONTH. JUST FOCUS ON A CONCENTRIC CIRCLE AROUND YOUR ADDRESS, AND ONLY MAIL THE CLOSEST 2500 ADDRESSES.

WHEN I WORKED FOR DOMINO’S PIZZA OUR FOCUS WAS ON “PRODUCT, SERVICE, & IMAGE”

SERVICE IS REALLY THE CORE TO YOUR SOLUTION. A PIZZA ONLY TAKES ABOUT 3 MINUTES TO MAKE AND 7 MINUTES TO BAKE, SO YOUR OUT THE DOOR TIMES COULD BE 10 TO 12 MINUTES IF YOU WERE STAFFED CORRECTLY. THE INDUSTRY AVERAGE FOR DELIVERIES IS SAID TO BE ABOUT 45 MINUTES. IF YOU SHRINK THE SIZE OF YOUR DELIVERY AREA, AND YOU FOCUS ON A THREE OR FOUR MILE RADIUS, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE 20 TO 25 MINUTES DELIVERIES ALL THE TIME, AND YOUR CUSTOMERS WILL TAKE NOTICE.

IF YOUR EXTREMELY SHORT HANDED, AND YOU ARE IN A LOW PRICED MARKET YOU MIGHT CONSIDER OFFERING A TWO-FOR-ON STRUCTURE “WITH THE PURCHASE OF TWO BEVERAGES” DINE-IN ONLY. THIS WILL DRIVE MORE PEOPLE INTO YOUR STORE WITHOUT INCURRING THE COST OF DELIVERY.

WHAT EVER YOU DO DON’T GIVE UP. IF YOU HAVE CREATED A MARKETPLACE, YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO SELL WHAT YOU GOT, AND AT LEAST GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU HAVE PUT INTO IT. BUT IF YOU GIVE UP, ITS ALL FOR NOT!

Consider co-oping a PIZZA promotion with a Community or Charitable cause in a way that will benefit both of you. A High School, A Church, Local Charity, whatever… the short and long term benefits to you are imeasurable

Here’s an idea for one to benefit a local HS (or college) Football team:

  1. Promote your regular $12 Two Top Pizza for 9.99 and agree to give the school $4 per pie purcahsed (dine in/pick-up only…this helps generate extra sales and lets customers learn where you are and what you offer by making them visit you!). The 9.99 (or less) price lets you recoup your costs and still give a nice donation to the Organization you have chosen.

  2. Pick yourself a “Hook” promotional name (like “999 ways to benefit the BHS Footbal Team”.

  3. Make sure the organization you select will agree to help promote and market the idea for you…after all they are the benefactors? they should be willing to make flyers, anouncements and coupon giveaways at ALL games and events, do phone calls, etc. etc.

  4. Call (and have the school call) the local nespapers and radio stations for some FREE community announcement space that will get your program and name out there free.

  5. Get the school to give you FREE banner space at all home games!

It goes on and on… just use some imagination and have fun… YOU HAVE EVERYTHING TO GAIN and nothing to lose!

Sure, You could just give FREE PIZZA to the world… but is it really necessay to accomplish your objective? For many reasons, I believe providing a great price on a great product is a better way to go.

how close to Columbia MO are you? I’ll have a better idea of your market.
PM if you don’t want to post that.

thx,

B

when you had good sales it was for 2 reasons one the newness of the store or you had a better products
16inch for 12$ that is kind of cheap do not keep up with competetion what is the uniqueness of your pizza why is it different from others from the chain it is not?? will it should be so try to have specialty pizza that no one elese in town has and promot that when you answer the phone :would you like to try our pizza of the week artichoke spinach pizza
things like that good luck

paul what is your yearly sales if i may?

Last year was just shy of 1 million and I hope to be close to 1.2 this year.

your pizza is almost double the cost, per sq. inch than Little Ceasars, so you are not in price competion with them, you are in closer competition to PH and Dominos
since customers have a choice, they may think your pizza is better than LC but not twice as good, so some are choosing LC…
LC is 14", get around their size, 12, 13, or 14",
do blind taste test with customers comparing yours to LC and go from there,
you may or may not want to make adjustments in your formula from LC…
make it perceicably different and better.
I think their cheese is a blend of mozzarella and muenster, just you be different and better, could offer different topping, service is primo, I go where I am treated with respect and will pay more.
LC may have a good manager and the customers like going there, you may have to out service them…customers will pay more when they perceive it is better at your place, twice as much is a streech(sp) though and some of your customers are on a budget and 2 14" LC for $10 roughly and 1 16" for $12, customer gets more pizza and change for a cold beer at the convenience store…
you serve beer, give a free beer with a pizza, you’d get my business

…these are just my suggestions, there may be other thing you can do that would be better…the key word is “do”,
hope this helps,
Otis

:o lordi lord what is the name of your pizza place

Hi Suffering:

Just an observation. You mention that you serve beer and wine. That would indicate that you have a dining room.

I know this is not true in every case but many of our clients have found that the public often does not perceive a dine in operation the same as the well known delivery operations. It appears that, in general, the public is more inclined to order pizza for home consumption from the deliver – carry out shops than from shops with dine in.

Most all of our clients do not offer any dine in option and concentrate on delivery with some carry out.

Others may have a different experience.

George Mills